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The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti
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The Purity Myth (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Jessica Valenti

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407None26,016 (4.14)47
Member:lalachan
Title:The Purity Myth
Authors:Jessica Valenti
Info:Seal Press (2009), Kindle Edition, 277 pages
Collections:Your library, Non Fiction
Rating:****
Tags:non fiction, library book, Jessica Valenti, culture, sexuality, virgin, manliness, gender roles, abstinence, pornography, feminism

Work details

The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti (2009)

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» See also 47 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Outstanding. Who would have thought that a church-based movement would elevate "purity" and "virginity" above basic ethical behavior (lies, theft, violence)? ( )
  Netherto | Oct 17, 2013 |
Disturbing and fascinating. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
This is a terrific book. Valenti starts right off in the introduction saying: Girls "going wild" aren't damaging a generation of women, the myth of sexual purity is. The lie of virginity - the idea that such a thing even exists - is ensuring that young women's perception of themselves is inextricable from their bodies, and that their ability to be moral actors is absolutely dependent on their sexuality. It's time to teach our daughters that the ability to be good people depends on their being good people, not on whether or not they're sexually active. This is such an important book, especially right now with all the craziness about reproductive rights. She discusses rape, the weird incestuous vibe of purity balls with young girls pledging their purity to their fathers, myths about purity, and the need to trust women to make their own decisions. It's a pretty short easy read too, in fact I was surprised and disappointed when it ended. But then there's a great section listing resources for women and women's blogs. Because of the resource section this is a book that should be owned not just taken out from the library. ( )
  Citizenjoyce | Mar 18, 2012 |
I've read Valenti's "Full Frontal Feminism" and "He's a Stud, She's a Slut," both of which are geared towards younger readers. "The Purity Myth" came highly recommended to me, but it is written more for adults, and the book is highly readable and thought-provoking. I found that I enjoyed this book far more than the other two (if "enjoyed" is the right word; the inequalities detailed in the book are somewhat rage-inducing).

Valenti takes a long hard look at the purity pushers in America, and the effect that they're having in our society. And if you think it's just purity balls or abstinence-only sex education programs, you're wrong. Valenti ties the obsession with virginity to rape, abortion, laws against women, and a host of other ills that American women face.

Intriguing and infuriating, I'd recommend this book to anyone. ( )
  schatzi | Mar 18, 2012 |
Very interesting read. The author puts forward the argument that defining women by and labeling their morality by their sexual activity and choices is problematic. Valenti argues that overvaluing virginity is on the same continuum and spectrum as labeling women “sluts”. In the end, Valenti is not promoting promiscuousness. She is not promoting prudishness. She is not discouraging men from finding women attractive. What she is arguing for is for an identification for women that is separate from their appearance and separate from the judgment of how much sex they have. As Valenti stated so well, "Our daughters deserve a model of morality that's based on ethics, not on their bodies."

Valenti is well known for her role on the website www.feministing.org; even if I had not known that, it would be obvious from reading this book that the author is a blog writer. I think she overstates the power of blogging, but I understand why as that is who she is. The book read too much like a blog entry and every paragraph ends with a snarky comment. Which was fun at first to read, but I am not sure if that is effective over the long read of the book -- snark and cutting comments may rob the book of any broader base appeal beyond feminists and may prevent its staying power. The topic is already inflammatory, so that people who approach the topic and are not in agreement with Valenti (unlike myself), may very well put the book down from insults. She ends the book with asking for a positive and non-attacking response from the purity pushers, but I can see how the snark could turn them off. Despite my liking the message, it was my impression that Valenti attempted to cover too many topics in this book. I think it would have been more workable had she limited it to less topics.

Great quotes from the book:

“It isn’t sex unless you’ve had an orgasm.”

“equating this inaction with morality not only is problematic because it continues to tie women’s ethics to our bodies, but also is downright insulting because it suggests that women can’t be moral actors. Instead, we’re defined by what we don’t do – our ethics are the ethics of passivity.”

“there’s no separating virginity, violence, and control over women’s bodies. When it comes to women who are perceived as ‘impure,’ there’s a narrative of punishment that underscores it.”

"[t]here's no getting around the fact that society's current version of sexuality makes it difficult for young women to have a healthy sexual outlook that centers on their desires .... raunch culture promotes inauthentic, performance-based female sexuality."

"The thing is, naked women aren't the problem -- a woman believing her only venue is sexual is what's dangerous. It's not women's sexuality that we have to watch out for, it's the way [it is constructed].”

“The desirable virgin is sexy but not sexual. She’s young, white, and skinny. She’s a cheerleader, a babysitter; she’s accessible and eager to please.” ( )
  ReginaR | Jan 9, 2012 |
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Epigraph
"I believe that there is an ideal of fastidiousness in the world. An ideal of impossible purity in a world that is, in its very essence, impure." -- Mary Gordon in The Story of Mary Gordon
Dedication
For Andrew
First words
There is a moral panic in America over young women's sexuality -- and it's entirely misplaced.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"The United States is obsessed with virginity--from the media to schools to government agencies. The Purity Myth is a critique about why this is so, and why it's problematic for girls and women. Analyzing cultural stereotypes and media messages, Jessica Valenti reveals the overt and hidden ways our society links a young woman's worth to her sexuality rather than to values like honesty, kindness, and altruism."--From publisher description.… (more)

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