Kathryn Knight Harper'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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's review
Nov 04, 2011

really liked it
Read from November 04 to 08, 2011

This is an extremely interesting book. As a person who does, in fact, believe in waiting until I get married to have sex, I was a little apprehensive about reading this (but insatiably curious). I assumed that the author didn't want girls to wait at all.

And that was the point she was trying to make.

She expertly, and with a quick wit that I enjoyed, explained the different ways that the Virginity Movement is impacting America. From the ridiculousness of abstinence-only education (which lies to teens about the effectiveness of contraceptives, making teens MORE likely to practice unsafe sex rather than making them wait) to the effect of the "virgin/whore dichotomy," Jessica Valenti shows how the Virginity Movement is doing more harm than good.

She referenced scientific studies and politicians for references throughout her book. She spoke candidly about her own experiences and how they shaped how she viewed sexuality in a way that I found both engaging and refreshing.

The most interesting part of the book to me was the idea of women who aren't virgins being "dirty." The idea is so prevalent that even some of the people I call friend ascribe to this notion...whether they realize it or not. The way journalists report on women who are victims of sexual assault is a huge tell of this idea. If a girl was a virgin when she was attacked, she receives pity. But if the girl is not a virgin, or was walking alone late at night, she herself is blamed for the rape! "She should know better than to _____," is an idea that is stated over and over again. Ridiculous.

I gave this book four stars because there are some aspects of the author's political views that I disagreed with. But for the most part, I enjoyed this book very much as it opened my eyes to some things I hadn't thought of before.

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