Virgin Envy

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Feb 2017

Member Reviews

I was lucky enough to be granted an ARC of Virgin Envy: The (In)Significance of the Hymen through Netgalley. All opinions are my own! 

"Virgin Envy sets out to reconceive the ways we relate to virginity as a cultural construct. Who is a virgin? How do we lose our virginities? What if we regret our "first time"? Contributors to Virgin Envy examine everything from medieval romance to Bollywood films to True Blood and Twilight, to destabilize the many "certainties" about sexual purity. In particular, the hymen is called into question. How is virginity determined for those without a hymen? How do we account for the ways in which the "geography of the hymen" has changed over the course of history? And what about male and queer virginity? Issues of commodification, postcoloniality, and religious diversity are also addressed."

I really enjoyed this collection of essays about virginity. A lot of the essays are based on TV shows, movies and books, so that made some of the theories a lot more accessible to those who may not be versed in academic theories. They also talk a lot about, as the blurb says, male virginity and male queer virginity, which is a topic that isn't nearly as discussed. 

One thing that wasn't mentioned in Virgin Envy is female queer virginity, which I thought was a pretty big oversight. I know this is an area that isn't talked about very much in academia or real life, so I think including a little something about it would have gone a long way. I know that for bisexual people, at least, a common question is when they 'really' lost their virginity (because F/F sex doesn't 'count', apparently.) 
Overall, I found Virgin Envy an interesting and accessible collection - it could have been expanded further, but it was a good start in bringing academic discourse about virginity into the mainstream. 

There are TWs for graphic descriptions of sex and virginity 'checks'.
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This collection of essays about the media's views on virginity covers the spectrum. From Hollywood's portrayal in popular movies and tv shows, including Twilight, to essays on gender, this book covers the spectrum.

Thanks to NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review
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I am not one to read through a collection of essays at one seating, but Virgin Envy is such an absorbing read that I did that.
Looking at popular media's portrayal of virginity, including Twilight and True Blood, each article in Virgin Envy is succinct but impactful. They also  cover many cultures, such as Bollywood, and many gender and sexual orientations.
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The premise for this collection was immediately interesting to me. I found I enjoyed certain chapters/authors more than others, but out of my own interest-bias rather than due to the quality of the writing and research. The editors did a great job of representing various viewpoints and themes surrounding virginity as both a cultural construct and physical/mental state. 

I particularly enjoyed the chapter about the character of Jessica from True Blood - even though I've never seen the show, or know anything about it beyond what I read in that piece! It made me want to watch the show, based entirely on the author's discussion surround the pure / the monstrous ... which probably do more credit to that subject than the show itself. 

I finished this book wanting to read more. More in-depth discussion about the themes I was interested in (the reference sections not withstanding as a great source!) and even a longer discussion from the authors themselves. In short, I found the book too short! As an introduction to a group of subjects it was very good, and piqued my interest, but I finished this book in a day and felt that the subject matter could have done with more! Perhaps more than one essay that covered a subject? I would have loved to read a few pieces by different authors, even different viewpoints, on the Bollywood portrayals of virginity for example!
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My apologies, but I've decided not to read this. I did not realise it would be written in thesis form - I was hoping it would have a more conventional non-fiction format. I do not have the mental capacity to read theses, as they're generally very dense with information and my challenged brain cells cannot process it. Thank you.
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Such an important topic to touch on, I'm enthralled with the concept and having more publishers out there touch on it because of the "taboo" surrounding virginity as well as the more prominent feminist movement emerging the last half decade.
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