The Rules Do Not Apply is a well written memoir about real life, disappointments, successes, grief and joy. Ariel Levy has a compulsion for adventure, drawn to untraditional relationships and the need to become “the kind of woman who is free to do whatever she chooses.” She was a writer, following stories of powerful women around the world, and during this time she also experienced much drama and trauma.
At 5 months pregnant Ariel agreed to take a business trip to Mongolia, a choice she later regrets. “When I got on the plane to Mongolia, I was pregnant, living with my spouse, moving to a lovely apartment and financially insulated by a wealthy man. A month later, none of that was true. Instead, i was thirty-eight, childless, alone, emotionally and monetarily unprepared to be a single mother.” Grief and sadness expressed so eloquently in this memoir yet Ariel Levy writes with a sense of hope and trust in nature. Powerful and heartbreaking, this honest memoir is infused with humor and I highly recommend it.
About the Author:
Levy was raised in Larchmont, New York, and attended Wesleyan University in the 1990s. She says that her experiences at Wesleyan, which had “co-ed showers, on principle”, strongly influenced her views regarding modern sexuality. After graduating from Wesleyan, she was briefly employed by Planned Parenthood, but claims that she was fired because she is “an extremely poor typist”. She was hired by New York magazine shortly thereafter.
At The New Yorker magazine, where Levy has been a staff writer since 2008, she has written profiles of Cindy McCain and Marc Jacobs. At New York magazine, where Levy was a contributing editor for 12 years, she wrote about John Waters, Donatella Versace, the writer George Trow, the feminist Andrea Dworkin, the artists Ryan McGinley and Dash Snow, Al Franken, Clay Aiken, Maureen Dowd, and Jude Law. Levy has explored issues regarding American drug use, gender roles, lesbian culture, and the popularity of U.S. pop culture staples such as Sex and the City and Gwen Stefani. Some of these articles allude to Levy’s personal thoughts on the status of modern feminism.
Levy criticized the pornographic video series Girls Gone Wild after she followed its camera crew for three days, interviewed both the makers of the series and the women who appeared on the videos, and commented on the series’ concept and the debauchery she was witnessing. Many of the young women Levy spoke with believed that bawdy and liberated were synonymous.
Levy’s experiences amid Girls Gone Wild appear again in Female Chauvinist Pigs, in which she attempts to explain “why young women today are embracing raunchy aspects of our culture that would likely have caused their feminist foremothers to vomit.” In today’s culture, Levy writes, the idea of a woman participating in a wet T-shirt contest or being comfortable watching explicit pornography has become a symbol of strength; she says that she was surprised at how many people, both men and women, working for programs such as Girls Gone Wild told her that this new “raunch” culture marked not the downfall of feminism but its triumph, but Levy was unconvinced.
Levy’s work is anthologized in The Best American Essays of 2008, New York Stories, and 30 Ways of Looking at Hillary.