Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Are You a Female Chauvinist Pig?


Are you a female chauvinist pig? Take this quiz and find out! Answer these questions with a number from 1 to 4:

1 = never, 2 = occasionally, 3 = often, 4 = always

1. I wear thongs and lingerie.
2. I look at men's magazines like Maxim and For Him.
3. I prefer the company of men rather than women.
4. I visit strip clubs and watch porn.
5. I have taken/would take cardio-strip classes.
6. I would get a Brazilian bikini wax.
7. I have had/would consider plastic surgery to enhance my sex appeal.

Rate your level of agreement with these statements:

1 = disagree strongly, 2 = disagree, 3 = agree, 4=agree strongly

8. Samantha from "Sex and the City" is my role model.
9. Sex sells, and I will do what it takes to get my share.
10. Women have equality now, and can show off their bodies however they choose.

Tally up your numbers and find your FCP quotient:

10-15 What are you, Victorian? Without any secrets?

16- 29 You are finding your inner FCP. You are becoming more comfortable as a sex object.

31-40 You are a bonafide FCP. You are one of the guys, except sexier.

At the risk of demeaning the noble and intelligent pig, just what is an "FCP?" As you can guess by now, the term, coined by Ariel Levy in her book Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture describes women who choose to objectify themselves and other women. And what is raunch culture? Look around: it ranges from t-shirts at the mall reading "Porn Star," grinding doggy style at high school dances, strippers for girls' birthday parties, and much more. Think Lil' Kim and Paris Hilton. If you still don't get it, tune into reality TV on any given evening for an eyeful.

Although raunch culture is not necessarily marketed to teenagers, our kids pick up on the zeitgeist and fly with it. Levy interviews a number of teenage girls for the book and asks them about sex, clothes, their bodies, and boys. At one school the girls dress uniformly in tank tops paired with skirts so short they call them "belts." They talk about how cool it is to appear sexual, even if you're not having sex yet.

One girl turns the table on Levy and asks her what it was like when she was in high school. Levy, 32, describes how it was the same in that all the girls wanted to be popular and to have guys interested in them, but they didn't want to appear slutty. The incredulous girl asks, "How did you get the guy? Charm?"

It's happening everywhere. Here in relatively sheltered Shorewood, Wisconsin, a friend tells me about a talk she had with her daughter about wearing immodest shirts to school, exposing her ample cleavage. Her daughter retorted, "It's my best asset!"

Oh, but honey, it's not. Among other traits, this girl has an effervescent personality, is smart and kind, and plays varsity basketball and soccer. Isn't this essentially the message we want to give our daughters? That they have so much more going for them than their looks. That healthy sexuality is myriad and individualized, and has nothing to do with cup size or exhibitionism. The next time I see a girl in a bikini advertising for a car wash at our high school, I've decided I'm going to wave her over. I'll say, "You are too beautiful and too smart to use your body like this. Go ahead and put your shirt back on."

Would she believe that she really is too smart to have to take off her clothes? If she's trying to raise money for the swim team or the drama club, will she draw more cars with her shirt on or off? Oh please, don't answer these questions -- I know -- times are bleak. But the more we teach our daughters to concede to prurient interests, the more powerful prurience becomes. How do we teach our daughters to claim their sexual power without objectifying themselves?

Katja, 18, dresses more creatively than seductively. But maybe it's easier, she points out, to use your looks to get attention than anything else. True, at first, but what does such attention amount to? Do the women on "Girls Gone Wild" get royalties or job offers or anything besides a GGW hat or t-shirt? Where do all the Playboy bunny retirees go?

FC piggery is basically a power grab within the status quo. We make more money with our shirts off, so what are we waiting for?! If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Levy asserts that it comes down to economics: sex sells. The free market made raunch culture mainstream, and women buy into it along with men. Our economy depends on the low self-esteem of women compelling them to continually seek beautifying products and attire. If my breasts are my best asset, than what happens after that first baby droop? Levy reports that in the last ten years, breast augmentation surgery has soared 700%, including a huge rise in the procedure for teens.

What would happen if we just . . . stopped?

Peggy Hong was born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in Hawaii and New York. She is the author of a poetry collection, Three Truths and a Lie (forthcoming, Water Press and Media); the poetry chapbooks Lies and Fables and The Sister Who Swallows the Ocean (CrowLadies Press); and a fine art letterpress book, Hoofbeats (Gokiburi Press). Poetry publications include Spoon River Poetry Review, Rhino, Bamboo Ridge, and Mothering magazine, among others. A graduate of Barnard College, she received a Master of Fine Arts degree at Antioch University with a dual concentration in poetry and fiction. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband and three children, ages 18, 16, and 13. She teaches at Alverno College and Woodland Pattern Book Center.

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Being a female chauvanist pig certainly gets you attention and recognition. By comparison, an intellectually gifted woman remains relatively invisible, and no one wants to be invisible. I feel that the fcp industry and phenomenon wouldn't have a leg to stand on if it weren't for women's own self-hatred. With two daughters, this is a subject close to my heart. Thanks for this column!
Women's self-hatred is the saddest part of raunch culture. In the book, Levy interviews the hosts and producers of cable TV's "The Man Show." She asks one of the male hosts, "what kind of women do you hang out with?" He laughs and says, "they don't even like to hang out with each other!" Have we been divided and conquered? Thanks for your comment, Allison!
Randolph Macon Women's College here in Lynchburg just opened up its doors to men and the students were furious. This article further explains why. Imagine, they found an oasis from all that you mention in this article only to have the rug pulled out from under them? Yes....let's all just stop!
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