There’s something strange happening in our culture. I first noticed it a few years ago, when I saw an ad for Barbie clothing that featured a nine-year-old girl in a short skirt and fishnet stockings (which, despite their current “in” status, are still a tried and true fashion staple of prostitutes everywhere).

Several months ago, I was again alarmed when I turned on Breakfast Television and saw the perky host introduce a group of suburban women learning how to pole dance like a stripper at a local gym. And then, on Halloween, a friend of mine told me she had purchased her “costume” from the Victoria’s Secret catalogue. When did it become so normal for women to embrace the trashy, hyper-sexualized lifestyle showing up everywhere nowadays?

I got my answer from Ariel Levy. In her new book, Female Chauvinist Pigs, the journalist and author writes about the rise of “raunch culture” in North American society. You might have seen her on The Colbert Report promoting the book and sharing her views on the image of the modern sexy woman.

In her sharply funny, very observant, and carefully researched book, Levy looks at the phenomena that make up raunch culture, and explains what implications raunch has for feminism and the place of women in society.

The book looks at many figures of raunch culture, from the “sexually empowered” organizers of sexy, women-only parties in New York City, to the creators and stars of The Man Show and the founders of the Girls Gone Wild amateur porn empire (one of them a gay man). It also features in-depth reports on the sexual activities of pre-teens and adolescents (a section entitled “Pigs in Training”).

Though Levy doesn’t offer any solutions to the bizarre degradations women happily put themselves through, she does explain the viewpoints and ethical positions involved. It’s an important book that should be required reading for all young women. Next time your friends try to convince you to slut it up it in clubland, the ideas in Female Chauvinist Pigs might make you pause. Hopefully.

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