Author's Note: This is a repost from my amazon.com review.
I am new to the feminism scene, and while there are a few issues I support, many I did not pay much light to. This book changed that.
Jessica Valenti provides a tantalizing argument on why virginity is not what mass media makes it to be in simple, easy to understand language that even the most basic of those entering the world of feminism can understand. Throughout the facts, she sprinkles her own humorous comments in the form of footnotes (more on this later).
The book is split into sections of subtopics on the subject of the book, and while they mostly can be read front to back, Valenti's constant reference to previous or future chapters in the book can make individual reading or academic reference somewhat difficult due to the fact that one may have to dig in order to understand what he or she is looking for. The facts are, however, well studied and Valenti supplies an extensive appendix as well as a list of feminist resources and websites in which one can visit to find out more. And yet, she constantly refers to her own website, feministing.com, and while I am a fan of the site, I cannot help but feel that the overall tone of "The Purity Myth" was written more for site self-promotion than educating the masses.
Valenti's "The Purity Myth", despite these flaws, is actually a highly entertaining read, and Valenti's snarky humor consistently pervades the book (especially in her humorous footnotes), allowing the feel that perhaps this book doesn't take itself as seriously as it claims it does in the terms of dry feminist jargon. The book has attitude, making it an excellent choice for those first dipping their toes in to this issue. Even the most reluctant on non-fiction readers, I feel, can pick up this book and enjoy Valenti's viewpoint, even if they don't agree.
The only thing keeping me from giving this five stars, despite some of it's downfalls is due to my own personal opinion of the book. Valenti fails to explore both sides of the argument, sometimes giving off a condescending tone to those that do keep their virginity for other than religious reasons and that sexual freedom and education is the ability to have a choice, and while Valenti constantly reassures the readers of this in her book, she doesn't always stay her stance on this, preferring the proverbial soapbox instead (though, in her defense, she does acknowledge this). The footnotes, while entertaining, also give a glimpse to her political stance, where the Bush Administration is constantly blamed. Not being active in the political sphere, I found this a bit of a kick in the teeth.
However, the book does complete its aim to educate, and I enjoyed this book immensely and even passed it along to my extremely conservative mother and recommend it at every turn.