I have a new post up at Global Comment
The Purity Myth (Avalon, 2009) was written by Jessica Valenti of the feminist blog Feministing. It seeks to explore the issue of virginity as obsession and comment on how said obsession is ultimately harmful to young women.
The American conservative movement, as deconstructed by Valenti, has particularly latched on to the purity myth to roll back the rights of girls and women. However, chastity is not a new model for girls and women, and many cultures construct the value of a woman as based solely on her sexual behaviour.
This book is limited to discussing this phenomenon from an American perspective. A wider critique would have allowed a discussion on how patriarchy is a global force and the broader understanding that though there are no sexual taboos that are universal, women’s sexuality is regulated for the purposes of maintaining male hegemony.
We have a tendency to view the world from a uniquely Western perspective due to privilege and this in turn limits who is able to represent the category of ‘woman’. However, the over-valuation of virginity is not suddenly a more important issue when it is attached to a white, middle to upper-class, heterosexual, woman.