Virginity Sells… Sex Sells

Posted on: 01/26/10 6:15 PM | by Jonathan McKee

On January 17th VH1 News presented a piece called “The New Virginity.” (You can catch some very amateur-captured glimpses of it all over YouTube) VH1’s website brags that the show “explores the roots of our current obsession with chastity–the stars who’ve made their virginity a major part of their public persona.”

You know- the Jonas Bros, Selena, Demi… VH1 seems to hint that their “purity pledges” will be short lived. They argue that stars want to keep their audience as they get older. The pattern that we see so far from artists like Britney is to be innocent, then slowly become more and more provocative.

This article about the VH1 show says it like this: “virginity may sell when you’re a teen, but sex sells when you’re an adult.”

The article goes on to present some polarized views:

Sexuality, not virginity, VH1 said, is the key to success for these soon-to-be adult stars like Cyrus and Gomez.

If purity rings and pledges aren’t practical for long-term Hollywood success, VH1 wasn’t any more positive about their value to even normal teens. If abstinence isn’t going to sell records or land you a TV show, don’t bother taking purity pledges, since they create “unrealistic expectations.” 

“There’s now an iPhone application,” said Jessica Valenti, author of “The Purity Myth,” “that’s a purity ring that you can have on your phone to show that you’re a virgin. I guess it’s actually kind of useful because once you lose your virginity – like most kids who take virginity pledges do – you can just trash it.”

Since teenagers can’t control themselves, Valenti said that “sexual education,” not abstinence, should be the focal point.

“Thirty-three percent of kids that take the pledge are more likely to initiate sex,” she said, “yet very few of them know anything about protection, so they’re less likely to actually use a condom and more likely to get an STD or get pregnant.”

That’s one way to read the statistics. Another way would be to note that the 33 percent is 8.8 percent less than the 42.4 percent of non-pledgers who initiate. And that pledgers are no less likely to use a condom when they do have sex.

VH1’s description of the show contends:

“In a world where tweens grow up too fast, a public declaration of chastity until marriage is a statement against the fast and furious life that many young stars succumb to, particularly those in the entertainment industry. But, as the show will point out, virginity doesn’t stop celebs from looking and acting provocatively–playing both sides with impressive marketing results. The stars aren’t the only ones caught up in virgin-mania. At Purity Balls across America, dads and daughters are living an abstinence fairy tale.”


2 Replies to “Virginity Sells… Sex Sells”

  1. Oh man, it’s hard to know even what to do with this! I think that the whole virginity is intriguing to this culture. It’s weird and nerdy, really taboo to the secular world. I think people are just weirded out about these celebrities who are opting to not exercise their sexual “freedom” (like when Russell Brand ridiculed the Jonas Bros.).

    I think this should be a good thing, but there’s a part of me that sees it almost as a scam. If Miley is claiming virgin and abstinence, but then dressing provocatively, perhaps this becomes more of a game in the world’s eyes: “Who is the ‘lucky’ guy gonna be?” It seems a little more like supply and demand. A celebrity wants more attention. What better way to appear as sexy than to dress sexy but claim you’re unattainable?

    Does that make any sense? I’m just saying that maybe we should be wary of the publicity that virginity gets.

    In any case, it does start good conversation. And that’s what we need with our kids.

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