Saturday, May 16, 2009

Virgin Worship: an idea for fundamentalists of all ilk

This week, thanks to a Gallup Poll, we learned that for the first time since Gallup began counting, more people self-identify as Pro-Life than Pro-Choice. None of the articles promoting the poll point out that the number of people who think abortion should be illegal under all circumstances--the old measure for the moniker Pro-Life--is still less than a quarter of Americans, and remarkably close to the percentage in 1975 when Roe v. Wade was decided.

What has changed is who uses the term to describe their views. There is little point in debating here why the change happened. The fact that the graph line jumps several percentage points in 2008 piques my interest and makes me wonder what role the reaction of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and their ilk had to Barack Obama's election to the presidency do with it.

Out-of-wedlock pregnancy (the most likely reason for abortion) has been the primary punishment for women for having sex before her prince arrives. In a Salon article this weekend, Tracy Clark-Flory outlines the wrongheadedness of America's lust for virgins in an interview with Jessica Valenti, author of "The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women."

What struck me, though she does not address it, is that when I think of virgin worshipers, the first group that comes to mind is that particular brand of Islamic Fundamentalists willing to give up their sorry lives for 70-some virgins in the afterlife. Are these folks we want to emulate?

And these purity balls and promise rings begin to smack of pedophilia or child porn at some point. And the Jonas Brothers? Ick.

Also, who knew there is no actual medical definition for virginity? According to Valenti:
Virginity is completely culturally constructed, and obviously we each have our own individual understanding of what virginity is, but it's often a really limiting version of sexuality that doesn't include certain types of intimacy that are pretty important.

Read the article. Valenti is incisive about the old double standard and its weird updating. She makes the point that if more men were instilled with concern for women's level of sexual interest, enthusiasm and satisfaction, date rape might contract a bit.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

I tried to order the book through ILL and guess what? Surprise, surprise, it doesn't exist in the Minerva system...Would be VERY interested in a book about how to raise boys so they don't grow up to be pigs...any suggestions?