Friday, April 24, 2009

Valenti's The Purity Myth

As I have said, Jessica Valenti's The Purity Myth is a very good book. Its main idea is the following:

"The lie of virginity - the idea that such a thing even exists - is ensuring that young women's perception of themselves is inextricable from their bodies, and that their ability to be moral actors is absolutely dependent on their sexuality. . . While boys are taught that the things that make them men - good men - are universally accepted ethical ideals, women are led to believe that our moral compass lies somewhere between our legs."

Everything that Valenti says here is certainly true. It does, however, sound extremely dated. How sad is it that in the XXI century a developed society would still need a book-long discussion that virginity is a patriarchal myth.

Although I agree with the central message of Valenti's book, I do have a criticism to offer. On several occasions, she refers to "our sex-saturated culture" and "our porned culture." One of the chapters is even titled "A Porned America." Valenti insists that "pornography is pervasive in America. . . we're simply inundated with it." It is sad that a generally lucid feminist writer would slip into these tired puritanical cliches. I don't know where Valenti manages to see all this sex and porn around her. I somehow never see it unless I specifically search for it. As for being "simply inundated with porn," this is just wishful thinking.

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