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Sexual Revolution Tackles Virginity: Coming To A Campus Near You

Virginity should be what people want to make of it – not what society, religion, porn or pop culture dictates or shames them into believing – according to a feminist thinker who recently debuted a new documentary on the subject.

“The concept of virginity in some ways gets in the way of making healthy personal decisions about sex, because there is so much mythology and meaning attached to it,” filmmaker Therese Shechter said in an interview with The College Fix about her latest film “How To Lose Your Virginity.”

It debuted in November and is already becoming quite popular among academics who occupy women’s and gender students departments in universities across the nation.

“Why do we give virginity so much value and meaning?” Shechter asks during the trailer for the film. “How do we undo the power of this elusive, mysterious and not always precious gift?”

The film in part takes a critical eye on the Christian dogma of no sex before marriage, abstinence-only education, and purity pledges. Shechter said losing one’s virginity is more of a process than the first time a man inserts his penis into a woman’s vagina.

“I talk about the idea that we have a series of virginity losses of many different kinds,” she said. “I think that the concept of virginity is a big deal to a lot of people, but the issue though is we do a very bad job of talking about sex with young people, and there is still a lot of stigma and shame behind it.”

The 67-minute documentary is scheduled to be viewed tonight by the women’s and gender studies department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and has already been screened at Harvard, Skidmore, UT San Antonio, Eastern Washington University, Brooklyn College, Cal State Los Angeles and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, among others.

With two ripe, red cherries as its promotional front cover, the film is touted by producers as a practical look into virginity, “which has launched both purity balls and porn franchises, defines a young woman’s morality–but has no medical definition.”

The documentary argues virginity is “fetishized” by the porn industry and manipulated by the wedding industry through the promotion of “virginal-white” dresses. It points out artificial hymens are on sale for $30 on the internet, and highlights a news story in which a 22-year-old women auctioned her virginity to the highest bidder.

It “uncovers the myths and misogyny surrounding a rite of passage that many obsess about but few truly understand” and explores “why our sex-crazed society cherishes this so-called precious gift.”

With that, at one point the film tackles purity pledges to address young girls and women who may want to offer their virginity as a precious gift to their husbands.

“When young women make purity pledges it’s not entirely clear what they are pledging,” Shechter said. “With purity pledges, they reinforce the idea that the men are the keepers of the girls’ sexuality, that their sexuality – whether they are going to put it off or not – is not theirs, it’s their fathers’, and then it’s their husbands’. … I don’t think that is a healthy message that young women are not in control of their own sexual decisions.”

Shechter said she is fine with the decision to save sex for marriage as long as it’s made on “scientifically accurate, non-shaming” information. The film includes women who’ve made that choice and are happy with it.

The notion of abstinence is also tackled in the film.

“Abstinence (only education) does not offer accurate information on sexuality,” she said. “One of the things they have to teach is if you have sex before marriage you will suffer psychological harm. … Telling people they have to wait until they are going to get married or they are going to go crazy or they are going to get an STD or they are morally in trouble … is not enough information and not accurate information.”

“I am a fan of teaching abstinence as part of a comprehensive sex education program.”

Shechter, 52, is no stranger to the feminist documentary genre.

For nearly a decade, her work has tackled the world with a feminist lens through documentaries such as “I was a Teenage Feminist,” and other short ones on sexuality, the rape culture and body image.

“They exist on a thematic continuum that runs through all of my work: The ability of each of us to define who we are and what we need, without judgment or shame,” she states on her website.

And when it comes to virginity, Shechter argues its definition has not necessarily been warped over time, but rather has changed as those in power change it. Shechter said the Sexual Revolution isn’t over.

“The Sexual Revolution maybe started to give women more autonomy over their body and choices, I think that is still happening, I don’t think the revolution is said and done,” she said. “A lot of women are still being judged…. We still have a long way to go.”

The documentary is set to air nationally at 8 p.m. EST Feb. 8 on the Fusion channel.

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. She previously worked as a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for a decade in Southern California, and prior to that held editorial positions at The Weekly Standard, Washington Times and FrontPageMagazine. She is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship recipient and has contributed to National Review.

Add to the Discussion

  • Kimo

    Feminists make my skin crawl.

  • teapartydoc

    I’d hire her. To take out the trash. As long as she doesn’t throw in a baby.

  • ElizD

    This article is an absolutely sick attack on women’s dignity, integrity, and well-being. Studies show clearly the human reality is that men more often than not look back on their younger days wishing they had exploited more women sexually, whereas women more often than not look back with keen and enduring regret at sexual activity too soon and not with the right person or persons. This article is nothing but grooming young women for sexual mistakes by radically trivializing sex and belittling sexual self control. Women benefit from having their sexual integrity respected, yes that’s right, virginity needs to be respected and not demeaned and assaulted–indeed all chastity needs to be respected and not demeaned and assaulted. A virgin is one who has never willingly assented to sex. Woman, man, and their relationship to one another are not meaningless. And unlike the animals, they are able to guide their behavior by reason and an understanding of moral principles that enable them to avoid using one another and then throwing the children in the trash can. Unlike the animals, they can choose to remain virgins through their courtship until they make a covenant of marriage with one another and start a family and raise their kids. Some people, on the other hand, remain virgin all their life. These are some of the least-messed-up people I know. They didn’t buy into the lies of the sexual revolution that most of did and they didn’t suffer the deep wounds most of us did. But healing is possible. God loves us and He wants to forgive us who sinned and who now repent. Humbled, hopefully freer of selfishness, we can re-learn integrity and begin anew to make good and loving choices.

    • Kimo

      The feminists have yet to wake up to the realization that the “sexual revolution” simply allows women to be exploited–it doesn’t “empower” them. The unworthy men take advantage of the lies women are taught, and the worthy men who don’t sleep around and are looking for a real and permanent relationship are made fun of for being prudes. With such a poor foundation, is it any wonder the marriage rate is steadily dropping and most marriages now end in divorce?

    • pst314

      Your comment does not even speak to what the article is about–the foolishness of spending lots of money on an advanced degree that does not prepare one for a remunerative career (except as a diversity commissar.)
      Step away from the crack pipe, sister, and those hallucinations will go away.

  • Dave in Georgia

    How sure are you that this is a woman.