WaPo Lists 'Virginity' as Something 'the World Should Toss Out'

May 7th, 2010 11:15 AM

Most people do spring cleaning to get rid of unwanted items and to perhaps start fresh. The Washington Post recently compiled a spring cleaning list of “Twelve Things the World Should Toss Out.” But instead of suggesting getting rid of old clothes or unused exercise equipment, blogger Jessica Valenti actually advocated that virginity should be headed for the dump.

Valenti, who is the author of “The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women,” first complained that there is no set definition of “virginity.” She went on to criticize efforts to remain abstinent until marriage, writing, “Promise rings, virginity pledges and other efforts to enforce chastity aren't just backward -- they're a failure, and they may even endanger teenagers.”

She complained that teenagers who sign abstinence pledges are more likely to engage in unprotected sex, as well as anal and oral sex. Yet, according in to the National Abstinence Education Association, just 33 percent of young adults who take the pledge initiate sexual intercourse. This is compared to 42.4 percent of young adults who don’t take the pledge.

But Valenti disregarded the statistics and made it appear that teenagers simply aren’t capable of waiting to have sexual intercourse. She pushed against abstinence education and wrote, “These are the predictable results of telling teenagers that sex is wrong and that the only pure thing to do is wait. A teenager who takes these messages to heart won't in good conscience keep condoms -- much better to get ‘carried away’ than to plan for an impure act. He or she may, however, look for loopholes, often dangerous ones.”

What Valenti failed to note is that more teenagers are actually waiting to have sex. According to the Family Research Council, in 1991, 51 percent of teenagers had sex. But by 2003, the number had dropped to 47 percent.

That’s not necessarily a welcome development to Valenti, given her views on adolescent sexuality. She wrote, “It's fine to have some way of demarcating sexual initiation, but old-school definitions of purity aren't it; they're more about inflicting shame than celebrating rites of passage. It's time we talked about sex as something healthy and natural. Losing ‘virginity’ is one step in that direction.”

This isn’t the first time Valenti has appeared in the media to advocate losing virginity. In April of 2009 she appeared on “The Today Show” to promote her idea that there “is no such things as virginity.”  Earlier that year she appeared on VH1 to tout sexual education and not abstinence.