Monday, January 7, 2013

The Purity Myth

The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young WomenToday’s Non-Fiction post is "The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women” by Jessica Valenti. It is 263 pages long including notes, resources and discussion questions. It is published by Seal Press. The intended reader is someone interested in how to change the world for young women so I think that anyone could read this book. There is no foul language in this book or any sexual language; it is just about what women have to face in this world today. The cover is very simple with one white daisies and one petal less stem on it. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- 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.

Review- In my continuing education on feminism I am learning so much. This book is about something that I have thought for years. Namely that virginity is over-rated. Valenti puts into words what I have silently thought for years. That here in this world, not just America, a woman’s value is based on how much sex she is or is not having. Valenti examines this from many different angles from purity balls, where daughters promise their virginity to their fathers, to abstinence-only education in schools. She helped me put into words what I struggled with for years to find words for. In whole book is about how women are only important as sexual objects for men. Everything comes back to that topic and I, personally, believe that she is right. Valenti discusses how abstinence-only sex education is not helping America’s youth (both male and female) because it does not give truthful information about sex or reproduction itself. The chapter about the purity balls was just creepy. Here is a sample from Generation of Light, Purity pledge, from www.generationsoflight.com-

I, [daughter’s name]’s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband, and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide, and pray over my daughter and as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come.

Just the thought of my father saying anything like that about me makes me sick to stomach. I am not saying that men should not be involved in their children’s lives but that it just really creepy. I read it to my spouse and he was creeped out by it. The only problem I had with this book is that Valenti was not able to keep politics totally out of it and I think that feminism is more that politics. No way am I saying that sex is not an important emotional thing that anyone should have before they are ready and neither is Valenti. We both are just saying that the right to have sex is something that a woman should decide for herself and not society choosing for her. The notes at the back of the book include a list of places that teens and parents can go to for more information about sex, pregnancy, and STD's. Please do not be afraid of this book because she is talking about sex but read it because Valenti giving very good information that really needs to be talked about.

I give Four out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.