The United States is obsessed with virginity from the media to schools to government agencies. In The Purity Myth Jessica Valenti argues that the country’s intense focus on chastity is damaging to young women. Through in-depth cultural and social analysis, Valenti reveals that powerful messaging on both extremes ranging from abstinence curriculum to Girls Gone Wild infomercials place a young woman’s worth entirely on her sexuality. Morals are therefore linked purely to sexual behavior, rather than values like honesty, kindness, and altruism. Valenti sheds light on the value and hypocrisy around the notion that girls remain virgin until they're married by putting into context the historical question of purity, modern abstinence-only education, pornography, and public punishments for those who dare to have sex. The Purity Myth presents a revolutionary argument that girls and women are overly valued for their sexuality, as well as solutions for a future without a damaging emphasis on virginity.
©2010 Jessica Valenti (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
Excellent book! Valentin explores how the virgin ideal has served as a foundation for policymaking, medical decisions, cultural norms, etc. Acting like an analytical sledgehammer, Valenti points out myriad logical inconsistencies in any argument that uses purity as its anchor. I found one of the most interesting and memorable arguments was that we only protect women we deem pure. If a woman is seen as less than pure, it's easier to imagine she deserved any bad treatment. This argument is particularly wonderful when she addresses purity and women of color.
IMO, she stumbled a little bit with the porn arguments. But, I have yet to read an author who hasn't. Trying to make a porn argument, from any angle, is like walking through a mine field. Where is the line between empowerment and oppression and objectification? It's not always easy to tell. despite some floundering in this area, Valenti actually brings up some excellent points and contributes to asking some very important questions about how porn may or may not affect women in all facets of society.
Valentin does an excellent job of questioning when we perceive that a woman has agency (she should know better than to walk alone at night or dress in a way that shows too much skin) or lacks agency (a woman is obviously not smart enough to have been thoughtful enough about a life changing unwanted pregnancy).
My favorite thing is how this author boils down arguments to very simple terms. The main message seems to be:
1. The purity myth ensures that women are treated like children, but children you can have sex with.
2. Power is not 'pure', so women shouldn't have it.
Excellent and on point! I highly recommend this book. Ended up being a page turner and educational at the same time.
Great food for thought on a topic that needs more talking about. The performance is pretty well delivered, but the vocal drag is kind of distracting.
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