by Demetria L. Lucas
Over the weekend, I stumbled across the trailer for “The Purity Myth,” a documentary (available on DVD) based on author Jessica Valenti’s 2009 book of the same title.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Valenti explains, “The purity myth is the lie that women’s sexuality has some bearing on who we are and how good we are, because really I think we all know that young women are so much more than whether or not they have sex. We really should be teaching our daughters that their ability to be good people should be based on their intelligence, on their compassion, their kindness, not what they do with their bodies.”
Adds Valenti in the film, “women are still led to believe that our moral compass lies in between our legs, literally.”
It’s unfathomable to me that in 2011, the idea of a “pure” woman still abounds in some places even if its subtext forcefully runs through so-called liberal social interactions. Outside of religious circles, a non-married women having sex is generally accepted after a certain age, and yet women continue to be judged on their sexual experience as a primary factor to determine her worth.
Think of the last time a guy asked you “how many people have you had sex with?” As the question assumes you’ve had sex, the answer can’t be used to determine the likely results of your HIV status, whether your STI-negative, or whether you participated in a 10-person gangbang the day before. But the answer is heavily factored by many men in determining whether you are girlfriend, wifey or wife material. Again, your worth and “goodness” are stripped down to the most basic level of how you manage your lady parts.