Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

"It's Different for a Girl": The Virgin/Whore Dichotomy in Susan Minot's Lust

Presenter Information

Shannon MauldinFollow

Class

Article

Department

English

Faculty Mentor

Lynne McNeill

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

In Susan Minot's "Lust," the anonymous main character slowly loses her identity through repeated sexual encounters, highlighting the destructive nature of contemporary cultural attitudes towards female sexuality. Written thirty years ago, the story still rings true, particularly in its portrayal of the virgin/whore dichotomy, a social standard whereby women are either good, kind and virginal, partaking of sex only within societally approved boundaries, if at all, or they are morally ambiguous at best, overtly sexual and possess no other characteristics or personality traits. Forced to choose between two narrow, limiting options, young girls are unable to develop their individual identity and incorporate sexual activity as part of a complex personality. Instead, it becomes a defining characteristic and the all other potentialities gradually disappear. "Lust" shows the dangerous ramifications these stereotypes have on young girls and urges for a more equal, more inclusive approach to sexuality.

Start Date

4-9-2015 10:00 AM

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Apr 9th, 10:00 AM

"It's Different for a Girl": The Virgin/Whore Dichotomy in Susan Minot's Lust

In Susan Minot's "Lust," the anonymous main character slowly loses her identity through repeated sexual encounters, highlighting the destructive nature of contemporary cultural attitudes towards female sexuality. Written thirty years ago, the story still rings true, particularly in its portrayal of the virgin/whore dichotomy, a social standard whereby women are either good, kind and virginal, partaking of sex only within societally approved boundaries, if at all, or they are morally ambiguous at best, overtly sexual and possess no other characteristics or personality traits. Forced to choose between two narrow, limiting options, young girls are unable to develop their individual identity and incorporate sexual activity as part of a complex personality. Instead, it becomes a defining characteristic and the all other potentialities gradually disappear. "Lust" shows the dangerous ramifications these stereotypes have on young girls and urges for a more equal, more inclusive approach to sexuality.