puritymyth.jpgby intern 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….

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.”
naked_truth.jpgValenti 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?

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