Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Women’s Studies in Communication 38:2 (2015), pp. 141–145.

doi: 10.1080/07491409.2015.1027088


Copyright © 2015 The Organization for Research on Women and Communication; published by Taylor and Francis/Routledge. Used by permission.


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.