The United States is obsessed with virginity from the media to schools to government agencies. The Purity Myth is an important and timely critique of about why this is so, and why it’s problematic for girls and women. Analyzing cultural stereotypes and media messages, Jessica Valenti reveals the overt and hidden ways our society links a woman’s worth to her sexuality rather than to values like honesty, kindness, and altruism. Valenti takes on issues ranging from abstinence-only education to pornography and exposes the legal and social punishments that women who dare to have sex endure. Importantly, she also offers solutions that pave the way for a future without a damaging emphasis on virginity, including a call to rethink male sexuality and reframe the idea of “losing it.” With Valenti’s usual balance of intelligence and wit, The Purity Myth presents a powerful and revolutionary argument that valuing girls and women for their sexuality needs to stop–and outlines a new vision for how it can happen.
“This book is solidly researched, candidly personal, and smartly political. Valenti skewers sexism from abstinence campaigns to pop culture. Every young woman should read The Purity Myth – and it sure as hell would help if every young man read it as well!” - Robin Morgan, Author and Activist
“Valenti brilliantly outs the virginity movement. She shines a bright light on the cultural misogyny that – yes, even today – keep women struggling for the simple justice of owning our bodies, embracing our sexuality, and fully assuming the right to our own lives. It’s important, too, that the message is delivered by a young woman to other young women in this personal and engaging book.” -Gloria Fledt, Author of The War on Choice and former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America
“A classic and timely work on the reproductive oppression of women, The Purity Myth paints a truthful picture of the well-financed virginity movement in the U.S. In the feminist spirit, Valenti provides not only a sexualization analysis, but a framework for activism.” - Loretta J. Ross, National Coordinator, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective
“Valenti seeks to turn back thousands of years of history, a bourgening cult of abstinence-only education and purity balls, and a deeply entrenched myth that so long as a girl is ‘pure’ she is moral. If anyone can do all that, it’s Jessica. Starting from the premise that there is in fact no medical or scientific definition of virginity, The Purity Myth offers a crisp and compelling refutation of the obsessive claim that ‘saving it’ means saving the world.” -Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor, Slate.com