Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs was incorrectly recommended to me because the queer chapter was supposed to resonate with me. Um…. that chapter did nothing but fill me with abhorrent rage. When I spoke to the previous reader, they were surprised with the way I read it. So I re-read it again, and this time I felt like spitting in the book. So, no that queer chapter didn’t resonate with me. But okay, let me say something positive before I get too deep into that.
Despite the advert homophobia, transphobia, and whorephobia, there *is* something of merit to this book. It deconstructs enthusiastic sex-positivity feminism, pro-sex work feminism, AND commercialized feminism, all areas that need a hard eye. As a sex-positive pro-sex work feminist, it is really easy for me to be really open and enthusiastic about any element of a (wo)men expressing their sexuality, either personally or commercially. This book’s main idea is to be wary of this.
It reminds us that a man-centered, materialistic, commercial and very sexual feminism is very easy to sell and buying into it can lead to poor education, self-esteem issues, and issues with our consent and self-expression. Raunchiness is only one type of sexuality, but it is the one that is being packaged and bought in mass leaving minimal room for personal growth and individuality.
On the other hand, sex isn’t this monogamous pleasurable romantic experience all the time. For example, turning some tricks for money isn’t inherently oppressive because sex means more things that making love, basically. But I do agree with her point in saying that sex workers are *workers* and aren’t the sexual role models for our private life. At times the overbearing idealization of sex workers forces some women to replicate porn stars and strippers in their actual non-fantastical lives, leading to a male-centered idea of sex, the complete opposite of “sexual revolution”.
But anyway, let’s get back to the queer chapter. The author discredits genderqueer and transmen experiences by making massive generalizations about lesbians and transpeople. Basically, the author writes that the motivation between mastectomies, masculine pro-nouns, and transitioning away from one’s assigned gender (female) is internalized misogyny. This blanket statement is extraordinarily problematic and dangerous for readers who are not familiar with transpeople, and especially genderqueer people— the author straight up says that the only way to be a real boy is to go “all the way” with the transition. She also interviews transphobic lesbians and asks them about their opinion on trans* people as supporting evidence— let’s repeat that. This straight cis-feminist, a group that has historically eliminated trans* people from their community, interviews lesbians, another group that has historically eliminated trans* people from their community, about whether trans* people are ~real~ or not.
I mean, okay, her point is that misogyny is pervasive and is in queer communities, and I would agree with that. I would agree that queerness isn’t a safety net to be oppressive and queer people have been given too much slack in the civil rights world. But like, the couple of interviews with random NY/SF misogynistic lesbians she met and one queer magazine editor / “community leader” isn’t exactly fact-finding. If she didn’t have time to do this chapter right she should have just cut it.
Also, what’s up with her insulting queer people for being non-monogamous. Since queer people have been exiled from traditionalism, they have created their own relationship structures that go beyond the monogamous fairy tale idea of sex and love that the author is trying to push so badly.
Yeah, this book has some interesting points but honestly I would just read the Conclusion and Afterword in the library and then pick up something else.
- What Feminism Can Learn from Sex Workers (sisonkesweat.wordpress.com)
- Being Queer Means… (nadiacho.com)
- Let’s Talk About Sex Work (effingperfect.me)