The Women's Center will hold a screening of 'The Purity Myth' Thursday and will follow with a discussion.

In the beginning of a trailer for The Purity Myth: The Virginity Movement’s War Against Women, a younger Miley Cyrus says she does not believe in sex before marriage. 

Ohio University's Women’s Center will hold a screening of The Purity Myth at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Based on the book by Jessica Valenti, it is a 45-minute film featuring clips from celebrities, politicians and experts about their views on the concept of purity.

In the film, Valenti speaks about the idea that young women are more than sex and that “we should really be teaching our daughters that their ability to be good people is based on their intelligence, their passion, their kindness — not what they do with their bodies.”

The movie makes the case that attacks on Planned Parenthood and “purity balls,” or formal dances for fathers and their teenage daughters that promote virginity until marriage for the girls, undermine women’s rights.

Sarah Jenkins, program coordinator for the Women's Center, said protecting women’s rights to sexual health is so important because marital rape in the United States didn’t become a crime in all 50 states until 1993.

“We put all this pressure on women’s virginity as part of their value where we don’t have that same expectation for our boys and our men,” Jenkins said. “This is a long-held issue we’ve had (that does) not see women as full human beings.”

Additionally, the film will focus on the problems of abstinence-only education. Abstinence-only education could actually deter teenagers from using contraceptives, increasing the risk of teen pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

“We don’t live in an abstinence-only world. At some point, even if you believe in waiting until marriage, learning how not to do it is not going to help,“ Megan Villegas, a part-time faculty member at OU and former graduate assistant for the LGBT Center, said.“The opposite of abstinence-only education is not pornography. It’s not teaching someone how to have sex. It’s teaching people how to have sex safely.”

A discussion will follow the screening, which will tie some of the concepts covered in the movie back to some of the things the staff is hoping to achieve in the Women’s Center, Jenkins said.

“I think talking about virginity is important because we take very different approaches to it when we look at the different sexes,” Meg Sulfsted, a freshman studying media arts and studies who plans on attending the screening, said. “You shouldn’t tie your worth to whether you’re a virgin or not. I think as long as sex is consensual, we shouldn’t ever think that we ‘lose’ a part of ourselves.” 


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