Book Review – The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession With Virginity Is Hurting Young Women

The Purity Myth

 

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.

Before reading this book, many unusual events seemed to take place in my personal life. First of all, my friend’s life was becoming a disastrous mess because she decided it was okay to send a picture of herself naked to this one guy. The picture and the news of such a mistake was spread throughout our grade. She was beginning to be shamed by other students and one of her friends unfriended her in real life. All of this angered me because the guy she sent it to was notoriously known for sending dick pics to almost all the girls our grade and nothing was happening to him, but when my friend sent one little pic, all hell broke loose. It’s unfair. Secondly, recently my friend was dating this guy who was a year younger than her. One evening, she was texting him then he began to propose nonsensical demands. For example, he ordered her to sit on his lap tomorrow at lunch and even asked her for nude pics. She refused both demands and he said she had no choice. She broke up with him at that moment. I needed to find the answers of why this unfairness in the balance between men and women exist. I found The Purity Myth on my Goodreads timeline and decided this might answer my questions. Surprisingly, it was exactly what I needed.

 

“A woman’s worth lies in her ability – or her refusal – to be sexual. And we are teaching American girls that, one way or another, their bodies and their sexuality are what make them vulnerable.”

 

I have no doubt whatsoever that the author believed strongly in her opinions on this subject. It was written formally and effectively which influenced me, the reader, that she does have a point, that we and the world should listen to the undisclosed problems women are still facing today. Many that include the ability for certain women to have an abortion easily or how sexually represented we are in the media, and worse how some women’s rapist won’t get the justice they deserve. Valenti, the author, aggressively battled against all forms of misogyny and you could feel the emotion that shadowed the writing.

With this firm voice, Valenti also listed the cold hard facts and crushed the ones that were complete lies. For example, there was a chapter in the book which discussed how the abstinence-only sex-ed curriculum being taught in American schools are often exaggerated and uninformative, and are using the method of scaring teens into thinking sex is terrible and leaving them with misleading information:

 

Other curricula provided false information about pregnancy risks in sexual activity outside of intercourse – one text even states that merely touching another person’s genitals can cause pregnancy. The bad science and misleading statistics go on and on: One program teaches that HIV can be transmitted through tears, while another falsely links abortion with sterility, mental retardation, and premature births in future pregnancies.”

 

I will admit at first I was uncomfortable with reading this book thinking it was primarily focused on all things sex but I was wrong. It’s about fighting against the lingering  essence of misogyny in the world. It’s about fighting for equal representation between both genders. It’s about fighting society into finally looking at us women as people and not as things men must own. So, I give The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti 4 out of 5 stars. I encourage all women (and men if you really want to support us) to read this amazing book. I have been influenced by it to start fighting for women’s rights and I will make sure my sons will become respectful men because their mother chose to raise them under the influence that women are not toys they can kick around. I hope you will join the fight too.

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