Society

Is Virginity Overrated?

| by Jill Stanek

By Heather B

Recently, MSNBC's
Today Show hosted a forum between guests
Jessica Valenti, author of The Purity Myth and
founder of the leftist blog Feministing.com,
and Lakita Garth, author of
The Naked Truth, former CEO of her own company in CA,
and virgin bride at age 36.

The 2 enthusiasts were invited to "discuss how women view sexuality and
whether virginity pledges are a good idea for young women."

Valenti and Garth agree on the obvious: young women neither wish nor deserve
to be identified solely on the basis of their sexuality. The routes by which
they arrive at this vague yet mutual conclusion, however, bear stark
contrasts....

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According to Valenti, whose first sexual encounter was
during her freshman year of high school, "The purity myth is the lie that our
sexuality has some bearing on who we are and how good we are."

Her attitude is such that, rather than stigmatizing young women with labels
chaining them to their sexual past, "we really should be teaching our daughters
that their ability to be good people is based on their intelligence, their
compassion, [and] their kindness, not what they do with their bodies."

While everyone can agree with a resounding "amen!" that casting stones does
no one any good, this empowering message is incongruent with the theme of
helpless victimization portrayed in Valenti's mentality, which deems young women
"unable to live up to the ideal of purity that's forced upon them."

Consequently, our next generation is choosing a "hyper-sexualized alternative
that's offered to them everywhere else as the easier - and more attractive -
option."

Valenti and Garth agree girls shouldn't be objectified,
degraded or identified according to their sexual activity: Valenti - because
girls can't help it, Garth - because girls can.

So how can society veer from this downward spiral of double standards and
inconsiderate labels? The question opens up a new can of worms, fanning the
controversial flames of debate regarding public schools and the teaching of
abstinence-only programs.

Valenti holds that
abstinence-only programs are "a complete public health failure," and the answer
is not to "focus on their virginity, because that's just another way of focusing
on their sexuality."

Garth, on the other hand, believes
"abstinence programs are not about degrading people who have had sex," rather,
"they're about putting sex in the proper priority." She says:

"If you are smart and witty and fun and intelligent, then those are
the things that you need to bolster: get an education, it's all about future
orientation."

It comes down to empowerment: Are we going to dismiss poor choices, labeling
young women as incapable of controlling their hormonal and social motives by
handing them condoms on a silver platter, or are we going to bolster the things
that truly merit recognition?