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Miley Cyrus

Best eBay auction ever: Pre-owned Purity Ring for sale, proceeds go to Planned Parenthood

PurityRingEbay Someone brilliant* is selling their old purity ring on eBay, with all proceeds going to Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles. It's part of eBay's Giving Works program, where you can designate your sale proceeds to a specific charity. Seems like a cool idea, and the actual item up for grabs is perfect.

The auctioner's copy says

This purity ring has a double-band and is etched with True Love Will Wait. It's gently used and looks like new. This isn't weird. Really. It's just that ... how should I say this? ... the ring is no longer needed. What do I have in common with Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and Nick Jonas? They don't wear their purity rings anymore, and neither do I. This ring will bring you good luck!

*Full disclosure: This auction is by one of my favorite feminism/sexuality rabble-rousers, and she acquired the ring not at her church's youth group, but for 'research purposes' only. I think it's genius and a great way for all of us to raise some cash for PPLA. Excuse me while I place a bid right now!

"The Purity Myth" is now a movie!

The movie version of Jessica Valenti's great book "The Purity Myth" just came out and, like the book, it's a great full-frontal assault on abstinence-until-marriage, purity balls and the general anti-feminist stance championed by the religious right. The trailer, above, is chock-full of  archival clips from news, old educational films and modern-day abstinence videos.

"The Purity Myth" is being marketed exclusively to the educational market for now, so the price is steep, but you can watch a preview on the website.

We love Jessica's work here at HQ, and we're really glad the interview we did with her is a big part of the abstinence segment of our own film-in-progress.

No virginity, please. We're British.

Photograph: Ophelia Wynne for the Observer (from the Guardian article)

The Guardian (in the UK) just did a story called "Is This Your First Time?" about the work of fellow virginity geek Kate Munro (looking foxy, above) who writes the blog The Virginity Project. The blog is a fascinating collection of reader contributions about their first sexual experiences (it was the inspiration for our V-Card Diaries series, although I think we have lots more people writing about their lack of sexual experiences).

From the article:

Monro seems to have an ability to get people to open up to her and there are many who tell her things they can't even tell their own partner. One of the most candid stories on her blog is the tale of the stay-at-home father of four whose wife, a high-flying lawyer, decided one night to strap on a dildo and take his anal virginity. "I was, to put it mildly, petrified," he says. "The sight of that missile protruding from her, and meant for me, brought everything home."She also has tales we wouldn't usually hear: of a thalidomide boy (lost his to the most popular girl in school, then moved on to her best friend); an autistic man (prostitute) and a 101-year-old woman (out of wedlock, scandalous, but a bit hazy). But the story, she says, that always shocks the most, is that of the man who has been married for 15 years yet is still a virgin. "He had the opportunity to do it but just had an intense feeling he would hurt the woman and couldn't do it," she says. "I think it has just turned into phobia."

The article included an interview with me about our project "How to Lose Your Virginity," mostly I think because the writer was baffled by our virginity-obsessed American culture. The subhead of the article is "Losing your virginity is one of the few aspects of sex that remains untalked about." Maybe in the UK... I guess they're a lot more reserved over there (meaning their pop stars aren't all flashing purity rings and calling girls without them sluts.) Absorbing my tutorials on virginity in pop culture, she writes:

Like Monro's work, Shechter's film is a series of straightforward tales of real people's virginity loss. It's refreshing to hear such forthright voices in a world where any debate about virginity is often so conflicting or one-sided. Our current torchbearer seems to be Miley Cyrus who, just like Britney all those years ago, loudly proclaims her own virginity while behaving in a hyper-sexual way.

In the media there are constant stories about women auctioning off their virginity to pay for their education and more troubling is recent news of one Justin Sisely, an Australian TV producer currently looking for young virgins to take part in a new reality show. "You see all this stuff and you think: 'So this is the extent of the debate we're having about virginity in the 21st century?'" says Shechter.

Note: I'm seriously annoyed she got the description of our film wrong. It's a lot more than 'straightforward tales of virginity loss,' for crying out loud! Did she not even watch the trailer? And no links to our blog, synopsis, or any video. Lame.

But her kicker about Kate's and my mission is dead-on: Encouraging a more honest conversation about what our sex lives really look like:

"These days we see sex everywhere, but there's very little that's honest about it," [Kate Monro] says. "I think ultimately what brings people to tell me their stories is that we all have an innate desire to want to compare our experiences with other people. We all just want some sort of affirmation to know that we are normal."

We did our own fun interview with Kate Monro here.

Do we need to define virginity in order to have a conversation about it?

Please welcome Ellice, the newest member of Team Trixie! After assisting with some of our interviews for the film, Ellice started wondering how she defined the V-Word for herself, and whether to even bother:

Therese (aka Trixie) has been asking a lot of people how they define virginity. She gets responses that run the gamut: it’s a loss of innocence, it’s a cultural construct, it’s heterosexual penetration, it’s sexual initiation, it’s miraculous, it’s bunk.

As much as these conversations pique my feminist interests, and as comfortable as I am examining them from a swiveling office chair, when I turned the camera on myself the other day, I found myself suddenly a lot less certain.

How do I define virginity? What does virginity and losing it mean to me? OK, I told myself, I can totally answer this. A whole gender studies curricula under my belt, no problem. Right?

Sure, the term is thrown around all the time: dresses are virginal, as are landscapes and olive oil. But the word virginity, at its most literal, tends to mean the state a person is in before she or he has had
heterosexual intercourse. Once you’re not a virgin anymore, the idea is that you have had this very specific kind of sex.

If you spend five minutes thinking about this definition of virginity, it’s hard to ignore how limited it is. And I think if you spend five minutes wikipedia-ing its history, how you use the concept of virginity to understand your own lived experiences, and the experiences of real people
you know, becomes relevant.

I know I use virginity in its most literal, conventional, narrow definition out of convenience; I define it more or less the way Miley Cyrus does. But, considering its history in controlling women’s bodies and lives, is this idea at all meaningful to me?

My immediate response is no. My sexual life doesn’t fit into the story that popular, scientific or mythical virginity definitions want to tell. This is partly because I'm queer. But I also know it's just because I'm a person whose sexuality is just as complicated as anyone else's.

What if I feel like I was sexual long before I "lost it?" What if there was in fact a marker of when I claimed my sexuality, and it had nothing at all to do with being penetrated? Virginity is not the framework that makes my experiences mean anything at all, and the centuries-old weight of meanings the word “virgin” carries does nothing but repulse me.

So, what is there to be done really but throw the word, the idea, the history out?

But I also wonder: what if this is not possible? And don’t important conversations require a language?

To me, "what is virginity" and "what does virginity mean to you" are very separate questions. To the former, I look to people working to imagine alternative definitions for what virginity (and "losing it") could mean. To the latter I personally say: it means nothing.

What does 'virginity' mean to you?

VH1's 'The New Virginity' this Thursday

VH1's News division is presenting a show on virginity this Thursday and Friday called "The New Virginity." From the description it sounds like they're focusing on celebrity virgins with a bit of Purity Ball and Natalie Dylan virginity auction thrown in for good measure.

They spoke to me way back when about being interviewed but it didn't pan out, however fellow virginity geek Jessica Valenti is on the show (although she cautions: "You never know how your quotes are going to be used, often out of context. So if you see me saying something horrible assume it’s not me, but the editing.") Jessica recently announced that there's a film being made based on her book "The Purity Myth" so I'm thinking a virginity film festival might be in order!

Frivolous Thanksgiving Content:Celebrity Firsts

Culled from the finest celebrity gossip sites. Perfect for those breaking those awkward silences around the Thanksgiving table.

The Sexually Precocious:

From Flava Flav: "I lost my virgnity in the bushes on a box...I lost my virginity when I was 6 years old...yea, man. Becuase you know we learned to have done the nasty back in the days, and me and this girl we experiment, we were experimenting."

50 Cent lost his virginity at 12 after being seduced by an older woman. "I had sex for the first time when I was 12-years-old with a grown-ass woman. Like, 22. She wasn't really attractive...I was a big 12-year-old...and I had no idea what I was doing, but I was ready."

Johnny Depp had sex for the first time with a groupie at 13 in his band The Flame's van.

Rachel Bilson lost her virginity at 14 and says her sex therapist mother knew the next day. "She started talking to me about sex. She said 'It happened last night, didn't it?' I was like 'How did you do that?' She did the whole mom thing of course: Use condoms, etc. Weird, but helpful"

Angelina Jolie said she lost it at 14 to her first boyfriend. But when 'sex wasn't enough' she began cutting him with a knife.

Dustin Hoffman says he lost his virginity at 15 in a darkroom with a 20-yr old woman "who realized in horror it wasn't his older brother, Ronny."

Daniel Radcliffe lost his at 16 to an older woman. He said the age difference "wasn't ridiculous, but it would freak some people out."

Sienna Miller: "I had my first serious boyfriend when I was 16 and my mother made sure I brought him home...She didn't want me doing it outside and would say 'I'd rather you did it in my house if you're doing to do it at all' "

Disney's Contractual Virgins:

Selena Gomez (above with Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus), 16, sometime girlfriend to one of the equally abstinent Jonas Brothers, wears a purity ring. "It's something I made a promise to myself, to my family and to God. People say 'She's trying too hard' It's so weird. I'm not trying to be anybody but myself."

Jordin Sparks wears a True Love Waits promise ring because "tempation is always there. It's about making the right choice and not putting yourself in that situation." And if you do have sex, you're a slut.

Says Miley Cyrus: "I like to think of myself as the girl that no one can get, that no one can keep in their hand. Even at my age, a lot of girls are starting to fall, and I think if (abstaining) is a commitment girls make, that's great."

Britney Spears' mom revealed that Britney lost her virginity at 14 to a high school football star. Can't wait for the Cyrus tell-all book in 5 years.

Still Waiting for the Right Moment:

Gary Coleman, 39, is not having sex with wife Shannon Price because he doesn't want kids. He says he's still a virgin: "It'll happen when it'll happen. And it'll happen for all the right reasons. And no one is going to make it happen any sooner."

Sex + Young Girls: Mixed Message Roundup

It's been an especially banner week for the sexualization of very young girls in the service of consumerism. Do I even need, at this point, to write about how damaging it is to a young woman to be offered such a narrow vision of what it means to be a sexual person? That presenting very young women in this manner only fuels the belief that they are fair game for men? That most of this warped mixed messaging is done in the name of selling shitty shoes, shitty shirts and even shittier music?

Miley Cyrus at the Teen Choice Awards
It's weird enough that everyone's favorite virgin does a classic stripper drop around a big shiny pole while singing her song "Party in the USA." Weirder still is that said pole is attached to a colorful kiddie ice cream truck. As an aside–and this may be so wrong of me to say–but she's such a fail in the sexy department, she actually makes me miss Britney. If you can't see the video above, click here.

Hollister T-shirts
The latest in a long line of tacky clothing for, really, anyone. In the words of Jezebel:

'Young-trending mall brand Hollister e-mailed pictures of its new girls t-shirts, which the chain calls "Hot and funny." We call slogans like "LEGAL-ISH" and "The twins are quite a handful," marketed at 15-year-olds, gross and inappropriate.'

Candies' new abstinence campaign
This is the winner of a contest to design a catchy new slogan. "I'm sexy enough to keep you waiting" ?!? I don't even know what that means! The Candie's Foundation's mission is "to educate America’s youth about the devastating consequences of teen pregnancy through celebrity PSA campaigns and initiatives" which consists entirely of the same old worthless abstinence-only scare tactics. It's important for America's Youth have the tools to say no to unwanted sex. But hey - there is another way to say no to unwanted pregnancy, too: Being taught to use contraception correctly.

And in other news...
In order to end a spate of bad luck, and on the advice of his fengshui master, a Chinese man set out to sleep with 100 virgin schoolgirls. Over the course of two years he raped 36 girls, of which six were under the age of 14, and the youngest was only 12. Described as a "former member of China's national legislature and once wealthy entrepreneur from Henan province," he was recently executed by lethal injection for his crimes.

Hang in there, Miley.Your day will come too!

"You know what? I was quoted saying I was a virgin, but I absolutely did not say that. That's nobody's business but my own."

Former 'Lizzie McGuire' star Hillary Duff, 21, talking to Maxim about an interview she gave in 2006.
Maybe she was still Disney property two years ago and her corporate virginity pledge was still binding.

In showbiz news: Britney Spears won't be playing Virgin Mary

Sad to report Britney Spears turned down the role of the Virgin Mary in the upcoming comedy "Sweet Baby Jesus." Here's hoping Miley Cyrus is free.

The story centers around a pregnant 19-year-old unsure of her baby daddy who goes into labor on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, Maryland. So far Lily Tomlin, Tom Green and Pierce Brosnan's son, Sean, have all signed on for the comedy.

"Britney read the script and she really liked it and really wanted to play the role of Mary," [French producer Philippe] Rebboah lamented to Fox News. "She isn't as scandalous in Europe as she is in the States, and I knew she would do a good job, but [people] were so against it and she was pressured. Then she ran into all the trouble with her family so we mutually decided the timing wasn’t right."

Disney Chastity League strikes again

"I just wanna say, it's not bad to wear a promise ring because not every guy and a girl wants to be a slut, OK?"

Jordin Sparks, standing up for wearers of chastity rings, after a comedian made a joke about the ring-wearing Jonas Brothers. Didn't he understand that all Disney heartthrobs are contractually obligated to pledge their purity? And be really judgmental about people who don't?

Miley Cyrus's Vanity Fair photo shoot

As much as we here at The American Virgin make fun of Disney for requiring all its stars to be paragons of virtue, I have to say this photo is kind of disturbing.

Miley Cyrus is 15 years old - is it really appropriate to be showing her in such an obviously sexual pose? Not like photos of her flashing her bra is better, but this just seems creepier, especially since her family was right there when the shoot was taking place.

This is from Nancy Gruver at Girl Media Maven on the hyper-sexualization of young women:

Girls are barraged by sexualized images all around them and everyone they come into contact with in daily life is also surrounded by those images. The images viscerally teach "the importance of being sexy" if you are female. The images teach all of us that acting sexy is how girls/women can have power without being rejected as domineering or bitchy (see media coverage of Hillary Clinton for the way "non-sexy" female power is conveyed).

Now imagine the extreme confusion girls feel when they are surrounded by images promoting the power of female sexiness and at the same time are told that it's bad for girls to be interested in sex, to act sexy themselves, to dress sexy, etc. The real message being conveyed, of course, is that girls shouldn't want to be powerful.

Disney Virginity Watch

What is it with Disney stars and their virginity? Makes us wonder if the standard contract includes an abstinence pledge rider. Britney's chastity is off the table, but speculation about the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus has more than filled the aching void. The always-classy Perez Hilton ran a poll the other day on whether Miley would remain a virgin until marriage (as she has pledged). Not surprisingly, the results from his over187,000 cynical readers are:
She's probably already lost her virginity (56%)
No (38%)
Yes (6%)

Keeping up with the Jonases

The Jonas Brothers were on our favorite show Dancing with the Stars last night, which seemed to The American Virgin like a giant clash of the demographics. Then again, Hannah Montana's dad was a contestant last season and one of those Jonases has been linked to Miley Cyrus. Most importantly, they are all owned by Disney, which translates to big, brilliant, synergistic luvfest.

TAV has a special interest in these guys, and not entirely because we're dirty old women. The Jonas boys (16, 19 and 21) have taken virginity pledges and wear their purity rings proudly. Nick, ever the company boy, told US Magazine he got his at Disney World. Disney does love its virgin pop stars, but it's pretty refreshing when they're guys. So no sex till marriage for The JBs. We'd love to interview the boys and ask them exactly what their definition of sex is.