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The Myth of Female “Purity”

English: Profile picture of author Jessica Valenti

I admit, I haven’t read Jessica Valenti‘s book “The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women”.

The book describes the myth of virginity and female purity in American culture and how the religious right has channeled this view of sexuality into the growing abstinence movement.

The strange “purity balls” in which daughters pledge their virginity to their fathers (unpack that one) and abstinence-only education have a terrible success rate.

Study after study has shown that more information and access to contraceptives are the key to preventing unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

The abstinence-only approach goes hand in hand with the Christianists’ feverish attempts to keep any and all information about sexuality out of the hands of the demographic that arguably needs it most – young people.

By the author’s estimate, $50 million in taxpayer money has been wasted on abstinence-only “education” which often incorporate outright lies in order to scare kids out of having sex.

Now there is a movie based on Valenti’s book, which is now on DVD:

The Purity Myth Trailer from Media Education Foundation on Vimeo.

The trailer looks interesting, and seems to drive home the point that all the right-wing fuss is really about controlling women.

As ever, the right continues to live in a foregone era that never actually happened.

They think that if they can force the rest of us to go along with their Donna Reed/June Cleaver fantasy, America will be great again.

If only women could do what they were designed for: Make babies, cook, clean and do laundry.

No thanks.



December 8, 2011 Posted by | Feminism, Health Care, Politics, Religion, Republicans, Science, Sexuality | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Today’s History Lesson

Fresco of Mithras and the Bull from the mithra...

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I have a similar reaction to K.C. Hulsman (the writer of the below web post) when I am confronted with accusations of being an agent of the “war on Christmas”.

Christ Is NOT the Reason for the Season

A pagan who is tired of Christian indignation over the alleged assault on “their” holiday, he explains:

Many Pagan cultures have had various forms of celebrations around this time of year. In Ancient Rome, the celebration of Saturnalia spread in popularity. Saturnalia was a time to eat, drink, and be merry while honoring the Roman God Saturn. The festival was characterized with a modest type of role reversal where slaves could get a little taste of what it might be like to be at the other end of the social ladder. The one-day festival spread into a multi-day affair lasting for about a week, roughly correlating to our December 17-23….There was also another celebration around this time of the year in the ancient Roman Empire. Mithraism worshiped a Sun deity (Mithras), and his key celebration was on December 25th, an observance called the “Nativity.”

When Christianity grew from a small cult to a major religion, it’s adherents (especially heads of state and the church hierarchy) went on an unrelenting campaign to destroy the pagan holidays. Unfortunately for them, some of the observances were far too popular to be stamped out.

In fact, many Christians were partaking in the festivities.

So the church decided to observe the nativity of Christ on the day of the most popular of these pagan shindigs — Saturnalia.

There’s a great book by Stephen Nissenbaum called “The Battle for Christmas” that details how the holiday traditions have been passed down from the pagan originators. Hulsman explains:

Most of the Christmas traditions that exist — gift-giving, the hanging of the evergreens, Christmas trees, feasting, Santa, caroling — all originated from Pagan practices. While I can understand that to some Christians this is a holy time of reflection as they celebrate their God, Christ, let us remember we were here first. And Christ is not the reason for the season. He’s just a latecomer to the party.

So Christmas isn’t exactly Christian in it’s origins, and there’s a deep history of tradition that gives license to anyone to observe this festive time of year in whatever way they wish.

Hulsman concludes:

So to the Christians, who do claim that Christ is the reason for the season, would you please consider the history and context before you get upset next time when someone doesn’t wish you a Merry Christmas. If you Christians want to wish Merry Christmas, that’s fine, but don’t be surprised when I wish you a Joyful Yule back, or someone else wishes you a Merry Solstice, Happy Chanukah, the politically correct Season’s Greetings or Happy Holidays. But to expect by default you will always be greeted at retail with a Merry Christmas is hubris, and there are many verses in the Bible that speak about the fallacies of pride. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace . . .” (Pr. 11:2). It is also arrogant to fight so that your local city hall has a nativity display, but then fight against other religious displays because they are “inappropriate” to your worldview. We are just as entitled to fair and equal treatment as you are, whether you believe in the validity of our religious worldview or not.

But to those Christians who aren’t trying to cram your religious rights or worldview down my throat, or the throats of others who are not of your religion, I say “Thank you.” May you have a Merry Christmas for letting me enjoy my Joyful Yuletide!

Well put!


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December 6, 2011 Posted by | Atheism, History, Religion | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Holidays!

Continuing a theme from a previous post, here’s a nice blog post from a Christian woman:

‘Happy Holidays’ and other four letter words

She decides not to be offended when a well-meaning store clerk wishes her “Happy Holidays”.

nothing anyone else says can take away MY meaning of the holiday. Nothing anyone else says will change what I believe. Nothing anyone else says will damage my own personal walk as a Christian. “Happy Holiday” wishers are not – as so many believe – “taking the Christ out of Christmas.” The only one who can take my Christ out of my Christmas is me.

Well said.


December 1, 2011 Posted by | Religion | 3 Comments

Rape Exists.

The Book of Mormon. Another Testament of Jesus...

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Read this post  by PZ Myers over at Pharyngula and try to keep your blood from boiling.

Religion can sure give that added push to rationalize the most obscene, repulsive ideas.

In this case, a Mormon blogger has shared his wisdom in response to the suicide of an 18-year old Texas woman. She tweeted details of alleged ongoing sexual abuse by her stepfather and another family member, then killed herself.

A tragic, awful situation to begin with.

Then Mormon author Michael Crook decided he wanted to comment. As PZ Myers put it, “a demented fuckwit has opined”:

I don’t care what did or did not happen to her. First and foremost, I don’t believe rape exists. When there are incidents that are classified as “rape,” or names that are similar, what usually ends up happening is that the “victim” tends to “forget” to mention immodesty, flirty actions, or other conduct on their part that contributed to the matter. A woman who dresses immodestly must accept accountability for her choice of attire.

If, in fact, this girl was being molested or forced into prostitution as the media outlets say her tweets claimed, then it was her fault that it happened, and continued to happen.


Read the post on Pharyngula for some more insight into what Crook thinks is Mormon morality. It’s an eye-opener.

Apparently, others strongly disagreed, because he has since scrubbed his website of the offending post.


November 22, 2011 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Debating Religion

AC Grayling speaking at 2010 Global Atheist Co...

This piece on NPR brought back a point I recently saw PZ. Myers make about debates.

The NPR debate is “Would The World Be Better Off Without Religion?” and it is an entertaining listen.

That said, debates are a terrible as a tool to determine the truth of something.

Mostly debates highlight the skill of an individual to pull emotional strings and “win” an argument.

It’s a format well-suited for our television age, but the outcome is a predictable appeal to emotion and zingers, and away from dealing with the actual evidence.


November 21, 2011 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Intelligent Design nonsense destroyed

Here’s a nice refutation of the ridiculous concept of “irreducible complexity” used by neo-Creationists to pull the wool over the eyes of the uneducated:

Science deniers are one of my pet peeves.


November 29, 2010 Posted by | Religion, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Church and State

First page of Constitution of the United States

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A little primary source documentation for you Tea Party afflicted out there:

First Amendment, US Constitution

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Thomas Jefferson, Letter to the Danbury Baptists

To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.


The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

Th Jefferson
Jan. 1. 1802.

Treaty of Tripoli, Nov. 4, 1796

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.


October 20, 2010 Posted by | Democrats, Politics, Religion, Republicans, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Nation Working Together Rally on Saturday

Washington dc

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The One Nation Working Together Rally is happening this Saturday in Washington, DC.

Smaller events will be held throughout the country on various dates.

Check the Website for more information.


September 28, 2010 Posted by | Deficit, Health Care, Health Care Reform, Immigration, Politics, Religion, Republicans, Stimulus, Tax Debate | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

NOT A Christian Nation

Cropped version of Thomas Jefferson, painted b...

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It keeps coming back from the dead, this idea that America was founded as a Christian nation.

All you have to do is ignore much of the Constitution, the back and forth in the Federalist Papers and the context of religious intolerance that made many of the founders flee Europe.

James Rudin, a rabbi writing for the Religious News Service, outlines the history of this country and why it is certainly NOT a Christian nation in his article (posted on the Huffington Post last week).

“The Myth of a Christian Nation”

Rudin also notes a little mentioned event in the early history of the nation that may have been the tipping point for how religion would be handled in the Constitution.

In 1785 Virginia, governor Patrick Henry proposed a tax on residents to pay for churches.

A variety of public figures, including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison allied to defeat the measure with the introduction and passage the next year of Jefferson’s Statute of Religious Freedom.

The statute reads in part:

” No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever … nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

Interestingly, Jefferson later penned these words in a much-talked about, but apparently seldom read document:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


September 23, 2010 Posted by | History, Politics, Religion | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How To Recognize Fascism


Benito Mussolini and Fascist blackshirts durin...

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The American Progressive Party linked to an illuminating article outlining the 14 Points of Fascism .

NOTE: The above 14 Points was written in 2004 by Dr. Laurence Britt, a political scientist. Dr. Britt studied the fascist regimes of: Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile).

To summarize, they are:

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
5. Rampant sexism
6. A controlled mass media
7. Obsession with national security
8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
9. Power of corporations protected
10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
12. Obsession with crime and punishment
13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
14. Fraudulent elections

Read the article and see if the similarities with the current political movement on the right are superficial or go to its heart.

Update: A YouTube reminder of who we are talking about:


September 22, 2010 Posted by | Democrats, Fox News, Politics, Religion, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment