Fighting with the Sky

Virginity is Being Rebranded

Posted on: June 24, 2009


I am a huge fan of Jessica Valenti and all of the people over at Feministing, so when I saw Valenti’s article, “The Virginity Movement, Rebranded,” in The Nation, I had to read it right away. Valenti’s book, The Purity Myth, is about how the virginity movement is sexualizing abstinence and rolling back women’s rights. According to Valenti, the virginity movement is,

much more than the same old sexism; it’s a targeted and well-funded backlash hellbent on rolling back women’s rights using modernized notions of purity, morality, and sexuality. Its goals are mired in old-school gender roles, and its primary tool is young women’s sexuality.

In this article, she discusses how the virginity movement is fighting back against some of the bad publicity they have gotten recently, from Bristol Palin to Leslee Unruh, founder and president of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, screaming “I want more babies” on Fox News.

After these hits on the virginity movement, it has been trying to change its image. It has changed from abstinence-only education to “abstinence-centered” education apparently grounded in science.

Joe Sonka, managing editor of the Advocates for Youth blog Amplify, wrote of the lobby day, “Instead of abandoning their demonization of condoms and adherence to social conservative ideology over sound science, they would simply rebrand themselves as a curriculum that ‘wasn’t just about abstinence,’ but was all about ‘holistic approaches’ to ‘healthy lifestyle choices.'”

So while they claim that they are grounded in science and not just about abstinence, they are still using the same old tactics and same old curriculum to scare teenagers into not having sex.

They have even turned Bristol Palin into a poster child for abstinence. In a People magazine article, Palin said, “If girls realized the consequences of sex, nobody would be having sex.” What sex education was she getting if she didn’t know that sex could lead to babies? I’m pretty sure most people know this, they just aren’t educated on how to stop a pregnancy from happening. It’s unrealistic to expect teenagers to not be curious about sex. What is realistic is expecting them to make responsible choices about their sex lives by educating them about birth control and contraceptives.

According to Valenti, stopping the virginity movement is very important for women, teenagers, and basically the entire American population.

It’s about stopping a movement committed to the regression of women’s rights, enforcing gender norms and teaching America’s youth — especially young women — that sexuality is wrong, dirty and dangerous.

Jessica Valenti does a great job at explaining the goal and strategies of the virginity movement and the reasons for fighting back. Another must-read by Valenti.

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