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Jessica Valenti on "The Purity Myth"

Salon recently did an interview with Jessica Valenti on her wonderful new book* The Purity Myth. Being virginity obsessives, we've covered a lot of this material here on this blog, but the Salon interview is a really nice precis of the most interesting/maddening issues. Salon introduces the story with one of our favorite themes:

Purity balls and "barely legal" porn both feed the same idea – That a woman's worth is between her legs.

In another post, I'll write a bit about our day on the Barely Legal set, and porn's own take on the concept of virginity. The video we shot of Gram Ponante's tutorial on virgin porn is here.

Here are some excerpts of Jessica's responses to Salon, and some links to additional coverage on this blog:

On Bristol Palin:

Well, I don't think they had a choice, really. The interesting thing is that the abstinence-only movement shames teen moms and often tries to get them kicked out of school. In this case, they had to publicly embrace her to show what good Christians they are -- but I don't think that's the treatment that any other teenage pregnant girl would get.

Bristol embodies all of these contradictions behind the purity myth. First, she said that abstinence wasn't realistic. Now she's promoting abstinence and trying to prevent teen pregnancy -- but also saying that her baby is the best thing that's ever happened to her.

On Natalie Dylan and virginity auctions:

I don't know why we're so surprised by it. This is going to sound terrible, but that's essentially the same thing the abstinence movement is saying: “Hold off until you can auction off your virginity to the person with the biggest ring.” It's really the same thing, only done in a more explicit and economically honest way.

I think it's really interesting whom we decide to call whores. [Natalie Dylan] is a whore because she's being really upfront and honest about it. But you would never think to call a woman who is getting married [for financial security] a whore.

On why Abstinence and Girls Gone Wild are two sides of the same coin:

It's strange. I think that both "Girls Gone Wild" videos and abstinence-only education classes tell women that what's most valuable about them is their sexuality. Porn has all of this “barely legal” and “virgin porn” stuff, where the most fetishized woman is the virgin. It's the same thing with abstinence-only and the purity pushers: The most revered person in their world is the female virgin.

*Thanks so much for the book, Jessica, but we're still waiting for your release form!