The Purity Myth Examines Conservative War on Women’s Health

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Just like that, the culture wars are back. No sooner has the economy shown signs of recovering than the mainstream political debate has shifted from jobs to women’s bodies. And in a big way.

First, the Komen Foundation caved to pressure from right-wingers in Congress and announced it would cut off funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings. Then the leadership of the Catholic Church joined the battle and decided to make it more difficult for hundreds of thousands of women to get contraception through their health care providers. And now, out of nowhere, the surging new frontrunner for the Republican nomination is a candidate who’s on record as saying contraception is dangerous and immoral because it reduces sex to pleasure and promotes “the whole sexual libertine idea.”

In all of this, women’s health has taken a back seat to politics and ideology — and the way Jessica Valenti sees it, none of this should come as any surprise.

In The Purity Myth, MEF’s new documentary based on her bestselling book, Valenti lays bare what the conservative obsession with Planned Parenthood, contraception, and women’s reproductive health is really all about: undercutting women’s autonomy, trashing feminism, and rolling back women’s rights.

As Feministe blogger Jill Filipociv put it in a recent post, “Jessica Valenti connects the dots between long-standing ideas about female virtue, conservative groups and politicians who benefit from marginalizing women, and the very real consequences that women and girls face when their social worth is tied to whether or not they’ve had sex.”

To get a sense of Jessica Valenti’s timely analysis, check out these clips from her recent appearance with Anderson Cooper on his daytime talk show Anderson, and keep your eye out for her forthcoming appearance on PBS’ To the Contrary.

And don’t forget that March is Women’s History Month — a perfect time to screen The Purity Myth or invite Jessica Valenti to come speak on your campus.

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