The Purity Myth Book Review

The Purity Myth is a much-needed exploration on the myth of virginity

In her book titled “The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession With Virginity Is Hurting Young Women,” Jessica Valenti discusses the harmful culture that puts too much value on a girl’s sexuality. Valenti goes in depth about the myths of virginity, chastity, and purity, which she believes reduces a girl to her sexual experiences alone.

Valenti dives into some truth about the American obsession with a girl’s virginity, which is displayed in everyday media and even within our public schools. The Purity Myth exhibits why it is appropriate for females to address this obsession, and analyze how their self-worth is determined by their so-called “purity,” rather than their kindness or generosity.

Valenti does an adequate job in supporting her argument by talking about material such as virginity pledge, purity balls, and pornography. She also goes in-depth about how the entire concept of “virginity” is a lie itself. The definition is not concrete and its incredibly heteronormative, by not addressing the many different ways a person can have sex. The abstract definition of “virginity”, Valenti finds, is what makes the concept so useless to begin with.

The author also discusses the inherent issues with trying to save your “virginity.” Valenti notes how the culture surrounding purity will judge a girl’s morality based off of whether or not she’s a virgin.

”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,” she states.

Valenti goes on to argue how girls “deserve a model of morality that’s based on ethics, not on their bodies.”

Overall, I found Valenti’s argument to be an adequate consensus of society’s overall attitude toward the female sexuality. Although the concept of abstinence is a personal decision and not always necessarily a harmful ones, it’s important to make clear to young women that their value is not based off of whether or not they decide to make that decision.

Furthermore, I appreciated Valenti’s criticism of “purity balls,” which are formal celebrations of young girls pledging their virginity to their fathers. The overall concept is both creepy and problematic, as it’s based off of older men having control over young female’s sexuality.

I also enjoyed the juxtaposition placed between the pressure that girl’s face to maintain their virginity until marriage to the “girl’s gone wild” scene they face elsewhere. It demonstrates how our society has an obsession with female sexuality. Everyone is dying for women to be promiscuous while simultaneously pushing them to remain chaste. In both scenarios, however, women are still criticized — either being a “prude” or for being a “slut.”

Although a lot of what Valenti discusses is not necessarily new information, the material is organized efficiently in supporting her case. The short, face-paced books is accompanied by witty footnotes that keep the reader attentive to the argument.

Overall, Valenti does an excellent job in arguing her case against the myth that both purity and virginity. The book is adequate in discussing the narrative of nearly every female in the United States, and the struggle to be more than just their sexuality.

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Natalia Gevara

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