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VINE VOICEon 16 July 2006
Does it concern you that vacuous it-girls are held up as role models for young women? If the answer is yes, then this is the book for you.

Levy, like a lot of women, seems perplexed by the way that intelligent straight women are going to pole dancing clubs for kicks and that women who essentially feign desire for a living are used as a symbol of female sexual liberation.

The book primarily explores American culture, but don't be put off by this, many of the points she makes are relevant to all women. There are chapters about 'Sex in the City', CAKE parties, the lesbian phenomenon 'bois' (the 'bois' interviewed seem particualrly scathing about other women), Playboy and teaching abstinence to American school kids. There is also a handy and very readable chapter about the feminist movement in New York over the past 40 years.

Levy's arguments always seem balanced and reasonable (although she gets her point across), so don't expect a 200 page feminist rant.

The book does contain a high sexual content so might be one to avoid if you are easily offended.

Provocative, challenging, accessible. I'm so gald that someone has had the courage to write this book. Highly recommended.
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I have thought for a long time that the way young girls are encouraged to conform to a standard of beauty and behaviour which is only a short distance from that of a female star of an adult movie is a retrograde step. Feminism was meant to get women away from the objectification of their bodies and on to more important issues. Instead things seem to have got worse. Ariel Levy makes the point that women appear to be choosing this way of dressing and behaving though the interviews she recounts show that there is something more at work here.

Even university and college educated women see pole dancing as liberating but the author recounts a conversation with a young woman who visits lap dancing clubs because she thinks the bored expressions on the performers' faces are hilarious. It seems that women who do things like visiting these formerly men-only clubs are trying to prove a point that nowhere is closed to them anymore. While the book is describing American culture similar situations are arising in the UK as described in Natasha Walter's 'Living Dolls' and Kat Banyard's 'The Equality Illusion'.

Levy comments on the clothes marketed to young girls which highlight their sexuality and asks if this is really what we want young girls to aspire to. She asks if looking like an escapee from an adult film set is really what feminism was aiming for. The majority of the women she speaks to say they think behaving like a slut is fun because it's all a big joke but to the reader there is an air of desperation in their so-called enjoyment.

Their relationships with men seem to lack depth and emotion and such events as `rainbow parties' (don't ask) show that the girls' behaviour is all about putting on a show or a demonstration rather than relating to men as people. This is what the raunch culture is all about - putting on a show of being a slut - and probably backing it up with sluttish behaviour. The author points out it is not necessary for teenage girls to behave like this as teenage boys would be interested in them however they dressed and behaved.

The author's anger at the way girls and women are selling themselves short by embracing the raunch culture comes through loud and clear and will resonate with anyone who has wondered at, or been shocked by, the way girls and young women dress and behave today. This is a well written and thought provoking book which questions popular culture today. It was published in 2006 and the situation has become even more extreme in the four years since then as evidenced in Natasha Walter's recently published book referred to above. All women, and men as well, need to read this and ask themselves whether this is really what anyone wanted when they campaigned for equality of opportunity for both men and women.
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on 6 January 2007
I want to send a letter of thanks to Ms Levy for finally giving some academic weight to a subject I have long ranted about. Now I can tell people to go read this when I get tired of trying to explain why nine year old girls in playboy t-shirts freaks me out.

It is such a shame that girls of my generation and younger (I'm 23) are being taught that sexy comes in a one-size-fits-all (blonde hair, big tits, short skirts, willingness to bend over or make out with your girl friend for attention). The media has well and truly hit on the lowest common denominator here and is running with it.

Several of my male friends have flipped through this and agree that blow up doll girls are not sexy if you've got half a brain and neither, might I add, are the sorts of guy who go for them.

I think there is a bit too much focus on lesbian culture in the book, though I understand how it adds to Levy's argument.

The most important statement for me was the idea that as long as women believe they need to 'have balls' and 'be like men' to succeed in our culture, then being a woman is still not seen as good enough. Too true and also completely wrong...
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on 21 January 2006
This is truly a good book - I recommend it - it was all I hoped it would be. Let’s face it there are aspects of this world that are a mess and one such section - feminism, sex, dating, media portrayals of women and sex, pornography, teenage pregnancy, - is openly analysed by the author. The book is a good smooth read as well as being very informative. Well done.
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on 1 February 2012
This is an easy to read book which ought to be compulsory reading for all girls aged over fourteen. Though much of the content relates to American culture, it is equally relevant in the UK. Any woman who has a daughter who thinks pole-dancing is 'empowering' should also read it - it's horrifying.
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on 26 September 2010
The brevity of this book does not diminish it's impact. It's fantastically funny but brings HUGE relief to me to read that there ARE women out there who see this "pornification" of our culture for what it is.

It isn't empowerment and the reasons WHY it isn't are explained so intelligently in this book. Ariel Levy is genius.

This book will not only make you laugh, but it will equip you with responses to those women who SUPPORT the pornification of our culture and want to be like "one of the boys." Thank you Ariel Levy!
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on 13 July 2006
It's about time somebody wrote a book like this...for a while it's been becoming more and more obvious of the cultural shift in how many women (particularly young women) are portraying themselves - as the author herself puts it, "Only thirty years ago our mothers were `burning their bras' and picketing Playboy, and suddenly we were getting implants and wearing the bunny logo as supposed symbols of our liberation."

The author identifies this trend throughout western culture (with particular emphasis on the USA), and has a pop at "Girls Gone Wild" (a particular bugbear), Hugh Hefner and his "playmates" and the increasing social acceptance of the porn industry. The author's argument (broadly speaking) is that living and acting like a "porn star" is not "liberating" women, but is in fact a huge step backwards - whilst giving the male of the species plenty of free entertainment at the same time.

The author is very good at identifying the problem, but I would have liked to have seen more proposals towards a solution (or an alternative) -it does raise many questions that it doesn't answer, but hopefully this author (or others) will carry forward the debate in the future.
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on 13 March 2006
This book is - or should be - a wakeup call for modern women and men. As Levy says in one of the books most revealing passages "Why does the new liberation look so much like the old objectification?".

It's a question which has bothered me a lot: why were many of my intelligent, supposedly liberated friends saying they wanted to become strippers, or have a boob job or wear Playboy t-shirts? Before reading this book I thought I was the only one who felt that we'd been hoodwinked. Many people say that Levy is a prude or that she is demonising women who do these things by calling them 'female chauvenist pigs'.

This is not the objective of the book at all - of women who genuinely enjoy and feel fulfilled by these things Levy actually says herself that she wishes them well.

Her question is why can't we come up with some new ideas about sex and gender - surely becoming a stripper or a porn star isn't the apex of feminine sexual fulfillment or achievement, is it? Is this the best we can do?

We've come round in a circle from trying to free ourselves from restrictive gender stereotypes to embracing them in the name of liberation, when in fact they are just as restrictive as ever. A vast swathe of the media (including both men's and women's magazines, who are some of the worst offenders)are selling us the idea that women have to look hot and be up for it all the time. They're feeding us the line and we're falling for it. When actually it's all about marketing - this hyper-sexualised, porno ideal can only be achieved by consuming more. More plastic surgery, more clothes, shoes, makeup, hair-extensions, more waxing and beauty treatments.

These people do not have our best interests at heart. They don't care if we feel good about ourselves or whether we're fulfilled or happy, they just want to make money and they've discovered that sex with everything is the best way to do that.

Why are we chasing an idea of sex that is so joyless (and ultimately sexless)? Why should women have to change themselves to enjoy sex - can't we just be ourselves, why do we have to be a pornstar or a stripper or a glamour model or whatever?

Hopefully Levy's book will only be the start of the debate, we need to re-evaluate our position on sex, on gender. Levy asks some good questions and we shoudl all be looking for the answers. The current polarisation that is happening between the sexes and the pernicious attituides to sex (and to women) pervading our society are having a corrosive effect on us all.
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on 9 December 2010
Great book, which deconstructs what is actually happening with our culture. The pornification of women and the passive aggressive debate, which basically prevents women from speaking out about feminist issues.
I would say even women, who do not consider themselves 'feminists' should read it. It truly is a book about our society now, very relevant if you perhaps have a daughter, or just are interested in current issues.
Book I would recommend even more, which reads better than Agatha Christie is LIVING DOLLS by Natasha Walters. That truly is a must read...
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VINE VOICEon 19 January 2008
Ever felt there was something slightly 'off' with the way female sexual bravado, and even promiscuity, is held up as empowering, and even 'feminist'?

This book is brilliantly argued and hugely important for all women to read. Not only that but it is so entertaining and snappy, it can be read in a couple of sittings. If you are interested in modern feminism, but are put off by the hundreds of scary academic looking books, then this is the book for you. And this is meant as a compliment to the author.

I think if every women and girl read this, we would all be alot closer to TRUE empowerment and liberation (not just sexual), and therefor real happiness.
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