Last night, Jezebel posted a story about Therese Shechter’s new documentary-in-progress called How to Lose Your Virginity. Not only did the topic strike a personal chord with me (in college, I put my ‘still-a-virgin-at-21’ history out there and actually won an award for it), but it’s a hot button social/feminist topic. As Jezebel points out, we’re living in a world of debate on abstinence-only education, obsession with weddings and marriage culture (think Say Yes to the Dress marathons?), pop culture-turned-porn, Disney stars sporting purity rings and the most popular teen book-to-film franchise, Twilight, putting the big V-word on a pedestal. And last year, author and Feministing.com exec ed Jessica Valenti wrote a book called The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women. Shechter is taking the discussion to the big screen.
From the film’s website:
The true target is idealized, fetishized virginity: its historical role in U.S. culture, its power to mold and damage a girl’s self-image and self-worth; its commodification as something manufactured, sold, given away, taken. On [her] quest [Shechter] engages abstinence ideologues, hymen specialists, sex educators, porn producers and teenage girls, to dig beneath the no-win double-message of our hook-up culture that cynically encourages virginity but sells promiscuity.
This is a film that needs to be seen. There’s a huge danger in placing so much value on virginity, as it directly pushes young women into “the trap” that Ally Sheedy’s character describes in The Breakfast Club (basically, you can’t win: you’re a virgin and you’re pure or you do it and you’re a slut). It worries me that young women who “save themselves for marriage” for whatever reason (likely their religion) are putting their emotional, physical and mental well-being directly in the hands of one man…but not until after they have vowed, “’til death do us part.” Even more eerily, how about these girls who attend Purity Balls in order to pledge to their fathers that they’ll remain innocent until another guy is in the picture? For them, “Girl Power,” must be a thing of the distant Spice Girls and Sex & the City-when-it-was-on-TV past.
You can check out the trailer for How to Lose Your Virginity here and below, a clip, featuring Susan Schulz, the former editor-in-chief of CosmoGirl!, as well as high school students, a sex educator and a doctor.
The project needs support to make it off the ground, so I encourage you to do what you can to help the filmmakers. For more info, you can visit the site. It would be pretty sweet to let Hollywood execs know that there’s a new chick flick in town, one that really has something to say.
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