The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women

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Seal Press, 2009 - Health & Fitness - 273 pages
14 Reviews
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-only 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 virgins 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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - marthaearly - LibraryThing

Jessica Valenti is a clear and educated Feminist who does her research and is one of my favorite Feminist writers for the contemporary woman looking to understand how social and cultural standards and ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Citizenjoyce - LibraryThing

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 ... Read full review


forever young
classroom chastity
public punishments

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About the author (2009)

Jessica Valenti is the founder and Executive Editor of and the author of Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminist Matters. She has a Masters degree in Women's and Gender Studies from Rutgers University and has worked with national and international women’s organizations, including Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Women’s Environment and Development Organization. She is also a co-founder of the REAL hot 100, a campaign that aims to change the perception of younger women in the media, and a contributing author to We Don’t Need Another Wave and Single State of the Union.

In addition to Feministing, Jessica also blogs for NARAL Pro-Choice America, the UN Foundation, Salon’s The Blog Report, The Guardian (UK) and Guernica Magazine. Her writing has appeared in Ms. magazine, Bitch, Alternet, Salon, and The Guardian (UK).

Jessica recently received a 2007 Choice USA Generation award for her commitment to reproductive rights issues and was featured as one of ELLE magazine’s IntELLEgentsia. Jessica has been quoted extensively in print and has spoken on numerous radio programs including NPR, Air America Radio’s The Majority Report, BBC Scotland, BBC Northern Ireland, and various shows on Sirius satellite. Most recently, Jessica was a guest on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. Jessica is also a frequent public speaker, her past engagements have included the National Council for Research on Women’s annual Power Matters conference, The Center for New Words’ Women Action and the Media Conference at MIT, the annual conference for the National Organization for Women and keynotes at colleges across the country.

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