The Purity Myth: Facts at a Glance


Jessica Valenti summarized what she discussed in a facts page at the back of her book. I will repeat these facts here.

“There is no working medical definition for ‘virginity.'”

“‘Vaginal rejuvenation’-in which a woman’s labia is trimmed and her vagina tightened, or her hymen is completely replaced (a ‘revirginization’)-is the fastest-growing form of plastic surgery in the U.S.”

“Over 1400 federally funded Purity Balls, where young girls pledge their virginity to their fathers in a promlike event, were held in 2006 across the United States.”

“Violence against women is going down, unless you’re not white. Between 2003 and 2004, the incidents of intimate partner violence among black females increased from 3.8 to 6.6 victimizations per 1000 women. And the average annual rate of intimate partner violence from 1993 to 2004 was highest for American Indian and Alaskan Native women-18.2 victimizations per 1000 women.”

“A 2007 report from the American Psychological Association found that nearly every form of media studied provided ‘ample evidence of the sexualization of women,’and that most of that sexualization focuses on young women.”

“Over 80 percent of abstinence programs contain false or misleading information about sex and reproductive health, including retro gender stereotypes like: ‘A woman is far more attracted by a man’s personality while a man is stimulated by sight. A man is usually less discriminating about those to whom he is physically attracted.”

“Abstinence-only education programs, which cannot mention contraception unless to talk about failure rates, have received over $1.3 billion dollars since 1996, despite the fact that 82 percent of Americans support programs that teach students about different forms of contraception.”

“Students who take virginity pledges are more likely to have oral and anal sex.”

“Between 1995 and 2007, states enacted 557 anti-choice measures-43 in 2007 alone. Since George W. Bush took office, state legislatures have considered more than 3700 anti-choice measures in total.”

“FDA approval for Plan B, the morning after pill that prevents pregnancy, was held up after a FDA medical official wrote in an internal memo that over-the-counter status could cause ‘extreme promiscuous behaviours such as the medication taking on an ‘urban legend’ status that would lead adolescents to form sex-based cults centered around the use of Plan B.'”

“More and more laws are cropping up that attempt to curb pregnant women’s rights, and even punish them. In 2004, a Utah woman was charged with murder after refusing to have a cesarean section and one of her twin babies was delivered stillborn. One legislator in Virginia even introduced a bill in 2005 that would make it a crime-one punishable by a year in jail-for a woman not to report her miscarriage to the police within 12 hours.”

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