16 Days of Action Against Gender Violence: Day 14, Jessica Valenti

For day 14 of 16 Days of Action Against Gender Violence, we would like to talk about WAM!mer Jessica Valenti.

In addition to co-editing Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, she has also written extensively in books, blogs and newspapers on the subject of feminism and women’s rights.

She is the founder of the blog Feministing, which is said to be “head and shoulders above almost any writing on women’s issues in mainstream media” by Columbia Journalism. As her website says:

Feministing draws attention to issues that are under-covered in mainstream media, analyze pop culture, media, and advertising through a feminist lens, push elected officials and media gatekeepers to be more accountable, highlight and amplify social justice activism (of the feminist and many other varieties), and disprove the stereotype of “humorless feminists” on a daily basis. Every Friday, we post a video about something notably positive or negative in the news that week — the Friday Feminist Fuck You/Fuck Yeah.

She has also written three books:

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters

Valenti knows better than anyone that young women need a smart-ass book that deals with real-life issues in a style they can relate to. No rehashing the same old issues. No belaboring where today’s young women have gone wrong. Feminism should be something young women feel comfortable with, something they can own. Full Frontal Feminism is sending out a message to readers: Yeah, you’re feminists, and that’s actually pretty frigging cool.

Click here to see her giving a reading.

He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut…and 49 OthIer Double Standards Every Woman Should Know

“Jessica Valenti is shrewed, foul-mouthed and extremely funny. He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut should be mandatory reading. If everyone would just listen to Jessica, the war of the sexes would be over in no time.” – Ada Calhoun, Editor-in-Chief, Babble.com

and The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women

The United States is obsessed with virginity from the media to schools to government agencies. The Purity Myth is an important and timely critique of about why this is so, and why it’s problematic for girls and women. Analyzing cultural stereotypes and media messages, Jessica Valenti reveals the overt and hidden ways our society links a woman’s worth to her sexuality rather than to values like honesty, kindness, and altruism. Valenti takes on issues ranging from abstinence-only education to pornography and exposes the legal and social punishments that women who dare to have sex endure. Importantly, she also offers solutions that pave the way for a future without a damaging emphasis on virginity, including a call to rethink male sexuality and reframe the idea of “losing it.” With Valenti’s usual balance of intelligence and wit, The Purity Myth presents a powerful and revolutionary argument that valuing girls and women for their sexuality needs to stop–and outlines a new vision for how it can happen.

This latest book has recently been made into a documentary film, which is now available on DVD! Have a look at the trailer below:

Click here to see a preview

In order for big changes to happen in terms of gender equality, we have to change the conversation to include multiple forms of gender violence, like slut shaming or double standards, in our understanding of what hurts and oppresses women. In addition to writing prolifically on these subjects, Jessica Valenti also speaks at universities and events all around the country, so if your event could use a dose of awesome, maybe you should invite her.

If you like Jessica Valenti as much as we do (and how could you not?) you should head over to her website or see the new film. Or better yet, why not both?

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