Male Chauvinist Pig

Definition and a Little History

Two pigs with cigars and bow ties
Dixie Allan webclipart.about.com

Definition: A male chauvinist pig (MCP) was a term used in the late 1960s and early 1970s among some feminists for some men, usually men with some power (such as an employer or professor), who believed that men were superior and expressed that opinion freely in word and action.

Example: "If that male chauvinist pig had lived twenty-five years later, he'd have been sued for sexual harassment!"

Chauvinist

"Chauvinist" means someone who assertively maintains that his or her kind -- usually people of the same nationality -- are superior; "chauvinism" refers to an extreme and bigoted form of patriotism or nationalism.

The term was named for Nicolas Chauvin, who may be a legend since no biographical information can be found about him.  He supposedly was wounded 17 times in the service of Napoleon, was significantly marred, yet continued in his dedication to Napoleon. After Napoleon's defeat, such exaggerated patriotism was the subject of ridicule.

In the 1920s and 1930s, left wing activists in America adapted the term chauvinist to refer to those who were bigoted towards minorities and to racists.

Thus, it was a natural extension to have "male chauvinism" apply to an attitude of male superiority or male entitlement to power over women.

Pig

"Pig" was a word of derision used by some student activists in the 1960s and 1970s to refer to police officers and, by extension, others with power to oppress.

Usages

The strongest public image of a "male chauvinist pig" was probably the boss in the 1985 movie "9 to 5" starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Dabney Coleman: a "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot."

There are few references to MCP or male chauvinist pig in feminist writings. A 1968 Ramparts included the sentence, "Paternalism, male ego and all the rest of the chauvinist bag are out of place today."  The New Yorker used it the same year as "male-chauvinist racist pig."  The abbreviation MCP appears as early as 1970 in Playboy magazine.

While it did not become a widely used cliche until the 1960s/1970s feminist revival, a 1940 short story, "Old House at Home" by Joseph Mitchell in the New Yorker, uses the phrase "male chauvinist" as a pejorative.

In 1972, the New York Times printed an op-ed with a "Male Chauvinist Pig Test."  Questions included:

  • If you had a mistress, would you have any objections to your wife taking a lover?
  • Would you rather hire an ugly secretary who's A-1, or a scenic secretary who's merely pretty good?
  • Are you perfectly willing for your wife to work just as long as she can keep up at the same time with the demands of house and home -- the kids, the cooking, the shirt buttons, the Christmas cards, your mother -- and doesn't kick you into a higher income bracket?

Betty Swords published a "Male Chauvinist Pig Calendar" in 1974.

Ironically, the phrase appears in print and in the text of interviews most often as used by men, sometimes to confess a past as an MCP, and some to proudly carry the title. Rush Limbaugh once said, "We're not sexists, we're chauvinists -- we're male chauvinist pigs, and we're happy to be because we think that's what men were destined to be. We think that's what women want."

The use of the term in private conversation was and is more widespread.

Many feminists, especially liberal feminists, resisted using the term, at least publicly. The use of the term fit into the media image of feminists as man-haters, and did not connect to key feminist issues of importance in that phase of feminism: child care, equal employment, educational opportunity, etc. Many disliked the term because it objectified men, reducing them to an animal, when feminists were criticizing such objectification directed to women.

Several men over the years have used the phrase to title their books. A 1972 edition of Cartoons from Playboy used the phrase, with an exclamation point, as its title. In 1990, there was a brief life for a magazine called Macho Pig: A Magazine for the Modern Male Chauvinist Pig Bastard. In 2003, Ariel Levy published Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, an attempt to reclaim the phrase by turning it on its head.

  Steven Fazekas published Memoirs of a Male Chauvinist Pig, a collection of short stories, in 2013, so the term has continued in usage. 

21st Century Uses

In 2005, a meetings executive, Betsy Bair, called Donald Trump a male chauvinist pig for his differential treatment of women winners on The Apprentice, including for calling a winner out for crying tears of pride when her team won.  In 2016, during and after the presidential election, the term was used for Trump a number of times (example).

Pronunciation: show'-veh-nist

Also Known As: mcp, m.c.p.

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Your Citation
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Male Chauvinist Pig." ThoughtCo, Apr. 8, 2017, thoughtco.com/male-chauvinist-pig-definition-3524829. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2017, April 8). Male Chauvinist Pig. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/male-chauvinist-pig-definition-3524829 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Male Chauvinist Pig." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/male-chauvinist-pig-definition-3524829 (accessed November 23, 2017).