Abstinence Cinema: Virginity and the Rhetoric of Sexual Purity in Contemporary Film

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Follow a decade of cinema relatively silent on virginity loss, films from the 2000s onward both reflect and help constitute American culture’s anxious preoccupation with subject. In Abstinence Cinema, Casey Ryan Kelly examines the rhetorical and political weight of films about virginity from the Twilight film series to The 40-Year-Old Virgin. This book connects the emergence of more conservative and fearful representations of sexuality with the success of the contemporary abstinence-until-marriage movement. Kelly shows how many contemporary films overinflate the personal and social value of remaining chaste, imploring audiences to think more carefully about the potentially dangerous repercussions of sexual activity. This book shows how pro-abstinence discourse in film and society stifle national conversations about sexuality and cultivate nostalgia for a world before feminism and sexual liberation.


Published by Rutgers University Press. Book can be found through WorldCat.