Erin's Reviews > The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women

The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti
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Jan 18, 12

bookshelves: women-s-issues
Read from January 17 to 18, 2012

I literally read this entire book in a few-hour sitting last night and could not put it down. Coming from a more conservative hometown, I have long been fascinated by the intersection of women's rights and politics in our society, and I was blown away by the author's comprehensive review of the many facets of oppression (however seemingly innocuous). The myriad elements of the "purity myth" (including purity balls, abstinence-only education, violence against women, legislative action against women's health, etc.) all come down to the fact that women are so often judged not by what they DO (professional accomplishments, community involvement, volunteering, spending quality time with their family and friends), but by simple inaction (remaining virgins), thereby putting women and girls in a passive societal role.

I also appreciated how the author refigured our notions of "rape culture," which has also long interested (and annoyed!) me. The idea that women are the moral protectors of "purity" is not only damaging to girls' personal agency, but also to young men who are portrayed as somehow inherently violent and the glimpse of a short skirt just brings out their natural rapist instincts. It is terribly insulting to the vast majority of good, moral men! I had never really thought about it that way.

Overall, read this book! It is really fascinating and thought-provoking.
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