Learn How Society’s Ideas on “Purity” Can be Harmful to Women in “The Purity Myth”
Jessica Valenti’s non-fiction work The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women is an eye-opening read about how our society sends conflicting messages: women must be “chaste” and not sleep around, but on the other hand, they’re judged for how sexually attractive they are.
Using well-researched cultural and social analysis, Valenti shows her readers just how damaging these two extremes are to the psyches of women everywhere. Not only are they judged for how “sexy” they are, but if, goodness forbid, you enjoy sex then society condemns you for having “loose morals.” This Madonna/whore dichotomy only reinforces the idea that a woman’s value is in her staying a virgin until marriage, not in her talents, skills, career, or other accomplishments. It doesn’t matter if you graduated at the top of your college class or if you foster shelter animals, if you’re not a virgin, then all of that goes down the drain.
Valenti also looks at the danger of abstinence-only education, the “purity balls,” and the misinformation that’s spread by anti-feminist organizations as well. By the end of the book, readers will be thoroughly informed on why America’s obsession with women staying “pure” is so dangerous as well as how it affects women of every age, ethnicity, and class.
However, Valenti’s work isn’t entirely depressing. She provides instructions on how to change this destructive line of thinking. Getting the message out there in the world is always the first step.