‘I’M NOT A feminist” is the first line of many a contemporary discussion of gender. The disclaimer isn’t even followed by a “but” any more. Even purportedly progressive, youth-oriented publications distance themselves from the f-word. Instead, dragged across the pages of magazines like VICE are women’s bodies, exposed, degraded, almost grotesque. VICE claims to be a satirical publication, but this is difficult to gauge from its tone. When it tells us that “all women want to be dominated”, it’s hard to see the irony.
Eminem, who raps lustily about the rape and murder of women, is cool. Earnest folk singer chicks with guitars and politics are definitely “wack”. And on the dance floors of the world, young women strut stripper-style in an explicit performance of heterosexuality that has been dubbed “raunch culture”. Those who object to the new misogyny are labelled prudish, restraining. As Ariel Levy, author of Female Chauvinist Pigs (Simon and Schuster, 2005) writes: “Raunch culture, then, isn’t an entertainment option; it’s a litmus test of female uptightness.”
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