Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘virginity

I’m sorry so many of my posts lately have been about television.  But I have been watching a lot of TV lately with the season premieres and everything.  I also really like analyzing TV shows, especially ones that I like, because it makes me examine my investments in feminism, society, and pop culture.  I hope to get back to some posts more specifically about feminism after I get some more time and after we get through all the season premieres and everything.

As always, here are some of my favorite posts of the past couple of days.  Make sure to leave links to what you have been writing and reading in the comments!

What’s So Funny About Abstinence and Virginity? [this ain’t livin’] – there are many TV shows that make fun of abstinence pledges and people who are virgins.  But what’s so funny about this personal decision?

Sense & Sexuality: New anti-sex website shames young women [Feministing] – a look at a anti-feminist, anti-sex website.

Feminism in Schools: Teaching Feminism When You’re Not a Feminist [Small Strokes] – As part of her series looking at incorporating feminism into the classroom, Ashely tackles an important question: can you teach feminism or feminist values if you are not a feminist?

Bright Star: Film Review [Entertainment Realm] – a look at the new movie about John Keats and his muse.

Emmys: After-Thoughts [Bitch Flicks] – television seems to still be dominated by men.


I hope everyone has had a great week!  I know that I’m looking forward to this next week for reasons that will become clear later.  Make sure you check out the link love from Tuesday and Thursday.  As always, this post will feature some of new posts from the past couple days as well as some of my favorites from the week that were already featured in a link love post.

New Link Love

Blogging as a Social Act vs. for Social Good [Small Strokes] – a post about why we blog in the feminist blogging community.

Feminist Sex Tips for Virgins [The American Virgin] – looking at an advice columnist who gave some feminist advice.

Edward Cullen, Face of Girl Power: On the Girliness of Pop, and Why It Matters [Bitch Blogs] – some more analysis of Twilight.  I can’t get enough when I constantly run into people who love it.

False Rape Accusations and Rape Culture [The Sexist] – “Both rape and rape accusations are products of the roles assigned by rape culture.”

Weekly Link Love

Carnival o’ Feminists: Numero Cuatro [Jump Off the Bridge] – some links to some great posts! And frau sally benz was nice enough to break them up into categories. Make sure to check them out!

Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner [Shakesville] – I love Dirty Dancing, and so does Melissa! See what Melissa has to say about the movie that was about “class, feminism, sex, rape and abortion.”

SWV Seeks May-December Stalker-Romance [this ain’t livin’] – Does anyone else find it creepy that vampire stories often feature a vampire who is hundreds of years old who is obsessed with a high school girl?

I feel like I have been talking about virginity a lot lately, but this was just too good to pass up. Via a tweet from @TheUndomestic, I became aware of this blog post: “Mothers Sold Daughters’ Virginity Online.”

I mean, really? Who wouldn’t want to know what that’s all about!

Apparently, Moscow police have arrested two mothers for selling their daughters’ virginity online. They needed money to cover debts and save for their daughter’s dowry and figured this was a good way to do it. For a 16-year-old virgin, the mother made $6,000 US and for a 13-year-old virgin, the mother made $12,000 US.

These mothers worked through an organization (the post doesn’t give this organization a name) that contacts families in poverty about selling the virginity of their daughters and matching them with pedophiles who are willing to pay the big bucks. But the truly sad thing, the daughters of these two mothers were unaware of this deal, thinking that they were going to see a photographer. One mother said that she hoped her daughter “sacrifice herself” to save the family from poverty. One of the mothers ever said,

“Yes, I understand that virginity is a commodity. If I wasn’t old, I would restore mine and sell it. If there are fools that are ready to pay for it, then I am ready.”

Virginity is a commodity used to oppress women. I’m amazed that mothers would further use their daughters’ virginity to oppress them and subject them to the objectification of a pedophile…without the knowledge of the daughters’!

This case use reinforces the “virginity as commodity” standard for women, further oppressing women for their sexuality or lack their of. If a woman expresses her sexuality, she’s a slut, but if a woman doesn’t express her sexuality, she’s a prude. The commodification of virginity hurts all women, not just women who are still “virgins.”

Yesterday I heard about the book How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World by Jordan Christy. This book is all about how women nowadays are waaaay to accessible and that women should let men chase them instead of the other way around.

To me, this just sounds like the same old thing: the virgin/whore dichotomy. Men don’t want women they can get too easily (aka “whores” or women that are too accessible); men want the pure virgin that they have to fight for. Yawn. How many times have I heard this? It’s amazing that people still make money off of this tired thought

But what’s really amazing is that people still think that women have to be one or the other, one of two extremes: the virgin or the whore. Women can’t be anything but pure or dirty — there is no in-between space. As soon as women do the tiniest little thing that isn’t “pure,” they are automatically labeled a “whore” or “slut.”

This is no new thought. It’s just a shame that it’s still around. This unrealistic and oppressive dichotomy of virgin/whore is indoctrinated into women (and men) and functions to make women feel ashamed of themselves. If you are interested in learning more about this dichotomy, I suggest you read The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti.

Relationship advice books like How to be a Hepburn in a Hilton World, thrive off of the continuation of this dichotomy. Relationship books are meant to make women feel ashamed of themselves or that they are less than. This makes their sales go up, because after all it is all about sales. If women feel bad about themselves, they are going to buy more dating books.

Further Reading:
To snap a man, let him do the chasing [Today Show]

Last week I talked about how Jessica has become a “perma-virgin” on True Blood and how that comments on views of virginity. Hoyt’s reaction to this was deeply disturbing (Hoyt being Jessica’s love interest). Trying to comfort Jessica, Hoyt remarks that her regenerating hymen will make it so that every time they have sex will be their first time — it’ll be great! Jessica was not as thrilled.

Hoyt’s reaction in last week’s episode “Timebomb” just shows men’s unrealistic expectations of virginity in women. Men want women to be “pure” (aka virgins) but as soon as then have sex with them, they are dirty. Jessica’s regenerating hymen is a perfect situation for a man because it means they can have sex with a virgin all the time! And what a way to punish a woman for being sexual…make sex painful all the time!

After Hoyt’s reaction to Jessica’s regenerating hymen I was ready to hate him for a while. I was interested to see where they were going to go with this story line. Surprisingly, Hoyt redeemed himself in last night’s episode “I Will Rise Up.” In discussing the situation, Hoyt tells Jessica that there are more ways than intercourse to have sex. Redemption point #1. He seems to be genuinely supportive and wants to help Jessica either find a way to get rid of her hymen or find other ways that they can have sex.

Then Hoyt stands up to his overbearing mom both at home and in Merlotte’s. Redemption point #2. He calls his mother out on all the hatred (sometimes irrational hatred) that she has and stands up for Jessica.

While Hoyt’s initial reaction to Jessica’s regenerating hymen was deeply disturbing, after he had time to think about the situation (as much as a fictional character can) he had a chance to redeem himself. I actually really like Hoyt after last nights episode.

In a note completely unrelated to Hoyt and Jessica’s relationship…
Eric’s coercion of Sookie to get her to drink his blood was kind of disturbing and a complete invasion of Sookie’s person, but it did lead to a great dream scene about them in bed together and Eric being the sweet guy that I know (or hope) that he is…

Further Reading:
True Blood: I Will Rise Up [Womanist Musings]

Ever since I saw the latest episode of True Blood on Monday, I have been thinking about how to approach the following issue. True Blood is one of my favorite shows on TV right now, but I’m sometimes confused about what message it intends to send on social issues, such as gay rights, racism, etc. So at the end of the latest episode, I wasn’t quite sure what social commentary the show was trying to make with the situation between Jessica and Hoyt.

Here’s what happened in case you don’t follow True Blood as closely as I do: At the beginning of the episode, Hoyt and Jessica have sex for the first time (and it was both of their “first times” too since they were both “virgins”). At the end of the episode, Hoyt has taken Jessica back to Bon Temps as per Bill’s orders. They start to have sex again, but Jessica makes him stop. It appears that because of vampire’s regenerative qualities, her hymen regenerated since it was intact when she was made vampire. Jessica and Hoyt had very different reactions to the situation. Hoyt tried to soothe Jessica by saying that every time will be like their first time. To that, Jessica had this to say: “It’ll hurt like hell! I’m a fucking deformity of nature. I’m going to be a virgin forever!”

I’ve beening trying to figure out for myself exactly what kind of commentary this plot line is intended to have (because I believe television, and especially shows like True Blood, is always consciously trying to make some form of commentary on society).

Jessica’s “perma-virgin” status says a lot about how virginity is viewed. Virginity is a much more complex concept than just whether or not you’ve had sex, like many people believe (see the blog The American Virgin). As we can see with Jessica, who has had sex yet said that she’ll “be a virgin forever” because her hymen will always re-grow, virginity is not a cut-and-dry issue.

Jessica Valenti wrote in her book The Purity Myth that “virginity” doesn’t acutally exist. The idea of virginity can mean many things to different people. I think that Jessica’s “perma-virgin” status is trying to bring light to this issue. And even if it wasn’t intended, it does a good job at shedding light on it.

So does hymen = virginity? How do you define virginity?

Further Reading:
Born-Again Virgins, Vampire Style [The American Virgin]

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.