“Rape culture,” as young feminists now call this, isn’t limited to India. It lives anywhere that has a “traditional” vision of women’s sexuality. A culture in which women are expected to remain virgins until marriage is a rape culture. In that vision, women’s bodies are for use primarily for procreation or male pleasure. They must be kept pure. While cultural conservatives would disagree, this attitude gives men license to patrol—in some cases with violence—women's hopes for controlling their lives and bodies. In October, responding to Richard Mourdock's incredible comment about rape, I mentioned an absolutely essential piece by The Nation's Jessica Valenti in a way I want to reprise here, if you'll excuse the self-quotation: "As Tennessee Senator Douglas Henry said in 2008, 'Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was. Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse.'"
In other words, only virgins can be raped—sweetly white-gloved, white-skinned virgins. Any woman who ever wanted sex—yes, that includes married women who unconditionally give permission when they put on that ring—deserves what she gets.
Go read the whole thing. And let's all recognize the purity rings, purity balls, purity pledges, and purity bears being pushed by rightwing Christians for exactly what they are: a threat to women.