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Feminist author will speak on rise of “raunch culture” Tuesday

Ariel Levy will speak at Lehigh Tuesday.

Feminist author Ariel Levy will give a lecture titled “Have All the Girls Gone Wild? Raunch Culture and Internalized Sexism” at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Packard Auditorium.

Levy, a staff writer for The New Yorker, is the recent author of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, which examines sexually explicit behavior in young women and its association with pop culture.

In her book, essays and guest appearances around the country, Levy decries a culture that encourages women to "make sex objects of other women and of ourselves … by resurrecting every stereotype of female sexuality that feminism endeavored to banish.”

Why, Levy asks, “is laboring to look like Pamela Anderson empowering?”

Levy’s views are drawn from her experiences with the camera crew of Girls Gone Wild, her observation of sexually explicit “Cake parties” in New York City, and various other encounters and discussions with young women who openly embrace lewd and provocative behavior to gain social acclaim.

The role of pop culture

Rita Jones, director of the Lehigh University Women’s Center, says Levy’s talk will be relevant for young women.

“She is writing about controversial issues and what is happening in the early 21st century with women, particularly young women, their bodies, and how they are responding to sexuality, sexual empowerment and how pop culture plays into that,” Jones says.

Michelle Issadore, assistant director of the Women’s Center, says that young women are “seeking out ways to feel empowered or powerful,” which is creating a backlash against that kind of behavior.

“We see it on Lehigh's campus in terms of theme parties or ironic clothing choices,” she says. “It is very relatable for students to think about and form an opinion on.”

A Women’s Studies panel hosted by the Moravian College Women’s Studies Department will be held in conjunction with Levy’s talk at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the UBC room in the Haupert Union Building on the North Campus.

The Lehigh University Women’s Center will host a post-Levy discussion on healthy sexuality at noon Thursday in the Women’s Center. All the events are open to all LVAIC students, staff and faculty.

“I think that it is important to be informed in general,” Issadore says. “This presentation is a jumping off point to seek out your own information on this issue and form your own opinion. If women want to seek more information about it, they will be more critical about the choices they are making and have a bigger range of options about what women's sexuality is supposed to be.”

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Women's Center, Dean of Students Office, Office of Special Projects, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Student Senate, University Productions, Lehigh University Police Department, Humanities Center, Student Activities, Lehigh University Women’s Studies Department, Sociology/Anthropology Department, English Department, and Moravian College Women's Studies Department.

--Gabriela Saade

Posted on Friday, March 14, 2008

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