The New Virginity: The Nostalgic Return of the Veil

  • Jan Jagodzinski


It finally happened, a “conservative” Miss America emerged as the winner of the 2003 edition of the pageant. Twenty-two-year-old Erika Harold, Miss Illinois (Urbana), part Black and part Native American, became the reigning queen for a year, setting up an unprecedented platform in the annals of the pageant by spreading the message of sexual abstinence, chastity before marriage, and antiabortion—all rhetorically embedded within the larger context of “youth violence prevention.” Abstinence becomes the master signifier that binds all of these causes together. Abstaining from drugs, alcohol, and sex is said to prevent violence such as sexual abuse! Erika Harold is also politically conservative. She embraced a black conservatism that supported President Bush’s agenda on schooling (No Child Left Behind— an accountability program that has failed miserably), religion, and race relations. Staunchly opposed to abortion even in cases of rape and incest, her political ambitions for the future include running as a Republican for governor or Senate, and ultimately for the presidency.


Eating Disorder Sexual Harassment Adolescent Girl Sexual Desire Teenage Girl 
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© Jan Jagodzinski 2005

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  • Jan Jagodzinski

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