Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Good quotes from an author condemning the virginity-as-a-must culture

Jessica Valentini, author of Full Frontal Feminism, has written a new book called The Purity Myth.

Got the quotes from this link.

"It’s time to teach our daughters that their ability to be good people depends on their being good people, not on whether or not they’re sexually active."

"So what are young women left with? Abstinence-only education during the day and Girls Gone Wild commercials at night!...the message is the same: A woman’s worth lies in her ability — or her refusal — to be sexual. And we’re teaching American girls that, one way or another, their bodies and their sexuality are what make them valuable."

"Whether it appears in a story about a man killing his girlfriend while calling her a whore or in trying to battle conservative claims that emergency contraception or the HPV vaccine will make girls promiscuous, the purity myth in America underlies more misogyny than most people would like to admit."

"When young women are taught about morality, there’s not often talk of compassion, kindness, courage, or integrity. There is, however, a lot of talk about hymens (though the preferred words are undoubtedly more refined — think 'virginity' and 'chastity'): if we have them, when we’ll lose them, and under what circumstances we’ll be rid of them."

"Some of us get unnecessary plastic surgery — down to our vaginas, which can be tightened, clipped, and 'revirginized' — in order to seem younger."

"And don’t be mistaken about the underlying motivations of our moral panic around the hypersexualization of young women. [boldface by Mysterious Vortex] It’s more about chastity than about promiscuity. T-shirts sold in teen catalogs with 'I’m tight like Spandex' emblazoned across the front aren’t announcing sexiness; they’re announcing virginity. The same is true for 'sexy schoolgirl' costumes or provocative pictures of Disney teen pop singers. By fetishizing youth and virginity, we’re supporting a disturbing message: that really sexy women aren’t women at all — they’re girls."

On politicians' belief in the purity myth:

"Virginity fetishism has even made its way into politics and legislation. In 2007, Republican South Dakota representative Bill Napoli described his support for a ban on abortion that allowed no exceptions for rape or incest by relaying a (quite vivid) scenario to a reporter. He explained under what circumstances the procedure might be warranted: 'A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated.' [boldface Mysterious Vortex]

I found this moment so telling: Napoli couldn’t help but let his misogyny and paternalism seep into his abortion sound bite, because, to him and to so many other men (and other legislators, for that matter), 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 U.S. policy and public discourse — be it legislation that limits reproductive rights through the assumption that women should be chaste before marriage, or a media that demonizes victims of sexual violence. And, sadly, if you look at everything from our laws to our newspapers, Napoli isn’t as far out of the mainstream as we’d like to think." [bface, MV]

Check out Jessica Valentini's book, The Purity Myth

She ended this article with a hope for a "new morality" where women would be judged morally on their character not what they do with their body. But for anyone who thinks that her views are now have consensus among the public (who has pre-marital sex 95% of the time, since the 1940s), stay grounded with these blog comments.

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