Monday, August 2, 2010

Book Review: The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti

Book: The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti
Genre: Non-Fiction, Women Studies
Published: 2009
How I Got the Book: Library, for a class

Synopsis (from
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.

My Thoughts: I loved Valenti's tone and voice throughout this book. From the first chapter I found myself nodding along in agreement and crinkling my nose in repulsion of some of the stories she presents. I believe in this crusade, whole heartily. Purity rings are disturbing to me, always have been, and this book gave my thoughts clear words as to why. I no longer believe in virginity and I don't think I really did before reading this book either. There are a lot of misconceptions about her message but Valenti CLEARLY states before even beginning the book : "“Culture, religion, and social beliefs influence the role that . . . sexuality play in women’s lives-sometimes very positively. So, to be clear, when I argue for an end to the idea of virginity, it’s because I believe sexual intimacy should be honored and respected, but that it shouldn’t be revered at the expense of a woman’s well being, or seen as such an integral part of female identity that we end up defining ourselves by our sexuality” (22). It is completely recommended to read this book, essential even. The knowledge and ideas found in this book are eye opening and empowering.

Characters: Not applicable.

Cover Art: I don't know officially but I wonder if its a play on the popular Twilight covers and being ironic with the whole 'deflowering' cultural stratification

Overall: ★★★★★


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