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Women’s Studies in Communication

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Proponents of sexual liberation and abstinence-until-marriage advocates appear to be on opposing ends of the sociopolitical spectrum; however, both are invested in the regulation of women’s vaginas. We argue that the rhetoric of both communities produces the same disciplinary configuration for the control of women’s bodies. Both communities instruct women that the appearance of a prepubescent and pure vagina is essential to sexual appeal and self-care. Whether sex positive or sex negative, both communities articulate a model of sexual health that negates women’s status as active, desiring subjects. Ultimately, we argue that public scrutiny of women’s vaginas implicitly and overtly functions to police women’s sexual agency.


This article was archived with permission from The Organization for Research on Women and Communication, all rights reserved. Document also available from Women's Studies in Communication.