Levy, Female Chauvinistic Pigs. Cp. 3 “Raunch Culture”
Raunch: –noun Informal .
1. smuttiness or vulgarity; crudeness; obscenity: porno magazines and other purveyors of raunch.
2. slovenliness; grubbiness.
Following Levy’s reading, the understanding of Raunch Culture is that it is the widespread mainstreaming of the sexualization of society- in particular, of young women for the consumption of (mainly) men. Why I say “in particular” to clarify this statement is that Levy focuses almost completely on an aspect of raunch culture as it’s presented in “americanised” western societies. Which is to say, the aspect which promotes the sexual abandon of young, tall, thin blonde women who, she implies, have been socialised by their political climate to believe that by expressing themselves as sexual beings they are empowered.
I would not hesitate to say that Levy has a very clear bias and agenda in the way she has written this article. She introduces the reader to her focus of raunch culture completely, in an extreme example- the Girls Gone Wild television and video series. The article has not yet made a judgement, however, but the tone of the article is very clear- what this camera crew is doing is preying on a group of women already compromised by alcohol and social pressure, using their susceptibility to sexual suggestion, and influencing them to “take it off”. Whether or not the women might be doing these things if the camera weren’t there she glosses over- the crew were there, and they were exploiting the sexuality of women. She has the first part of the article come to a climax as the crew observe a group of young men ask a bikini wearing beach-goer to flash for the camera. The beach goer rejects the proposal, but even the suggestion of nudity for the tv has a sudden crowd of people surrounding the girl, her friends (Levy- “friends”) and the crew. The crowd are not silent- they’re yelling, screaming at the girl to strip. Levy implies that the entire scene is only a short step from a lynch mob, or gang bang. And, Levy finishes, the girl not only does not care, she gives in, and her female friend does too.
Levy talks of this “spring break ritual” as the gateway to an ongoing culture of sex and crudity that permeates the current mainstream. She cites billboards of porn stars in Times Square, porn stars writing bestsellers, vagino-plasty, Paris Hilton and Play Boy magazine as the icons of a raunch generation. She takes the time line from a repressed generation- our mothers- to what she believes is the natural progression of the women’s movement- from oppression to freedom, to excess, and just a deeper, harder to put your finger on, type of oppression. She cites that the people perpetuating the sexual exploitation of women is other women, in magazines, across fashion and in the society that consumes it.
And, I guess the final question to ask is- is it ok that society allows, even perpetuates, the mainstream sexism that requires women to oppress themselves in order to feel powerful.
And then I ask, is it ok for Levy to strip the empowerment from women who participate in raunch culture simply because SHE implies that they simply do not realise that they are being oppressed.
By Danielle Day
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