Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Meghan's 2013 Master List Review #1: The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti

Wow. This book is a total wow.

I've been wanting to read it for a while, and it far exceeded any expectations I had! It opened my eyes to the many issues surrounding female purity and virginity in the US, drawing attention to many inherent biases and ideas I didn't even realize I possessed.

Valenti pulls back the curtain on some prevailing patriarchal elements of society we don't even realize. For example, she connects women's obsessions with aging and weight with the desire to look younger--a desire that comes from the societal assumption that women should appear young, fragile, and eternally infantilized. I had never connected my ideas about weight with this larger picture. Now that I realize that these ideas are based around the core purpose of keeping women from power, I am able to look at my own assumptions a lot more objectively.

But even more than I valued these revelations, I valued the main message of this novel: the morality of an individual, man or woman, should be based on their ethical or virtuous actions, not their level of sexual experience. Though this seems pretty obvious, what this novel ultimately problematized was the way our society teaches women that their morality does depend on their lack of sexual experience. This deeply entrenched attitude that is exposed in The Purity Myth is a must-read for all women, and any man who loves a sister, mother, female relative or friend.

Recommended to: every feminist, people questioning their views on sexuality and purity, those who are interested in the legal, moral, and political issues surrounding female sexuality.

Release Date: December 29, 2009  Pages: 272 Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased Publisher: Seal Press Buy It: Book Depository

This is a review by Meghan. You can find her here on Goodreads or on Twitter @meghanc303

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