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In Roman times, the Vestal Virgins remained celibate for 30 years on penalty of death.

A virgin (or maiden) is, originally, a young woman characterized by absence of sexual experience (see Etymology). Virginity is the state of being a virgin. The word is also often used with wider reference by relaxing the age, gender or sexual criteria.[1] Hence, more mature women can be virgins (eg Elizabeth I of England - The Virgin Queen), men can be virgins and potential initiates into many fields can be colloquially termed virgins, for example a skydiving "virgin". In the last usage, virgin simply means uninitiated.


The word virgin comes via Old French virgine from the root form of Latin virgo, genitive virgin-is, meaning literally "maiden" or "virgin"—a sexually intact young woman.[2] The Latin word probably arose by analogy with a suit of lexemes based on vireo, meaning "to be green, fresh or flourishing", mostly with botanic reference—in particular, virga meaning "strip of wood".[3] The first known use of virgin in English comes from an Anglo-Saxon]] manuscript held at Trinity College, Cambridge.

  • c. 1200: Ðar haueð ... martirs, and confessors, and uirgines maked faier bode inne to women. — Trinity College Homilies 185 [ms B.15.34 (369)]

Further expansion of the word to include virtuous (or naïve) young women, irrespective of religious connection, occurred over about another century.

  • c. 1400: Voide & vacand of vices as virgyns it ware. — The Wars of Alexander 4665

These are just three of the eighteen definitions of virgin from the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED1, pages 230-232). Most of the OED1 definitions, however, are very similar.

The German for "virgin" is Jungfrau. Although Jungfrau literally means "young woman", a standard formal German word for a young woman, without implications regarding sexuality, is Fräulein. Fräulein can be used in German, as a title of respect, equivalent to current usage of Miss in English. Jungfrau is the word reserved specifically for sexual inexperience. As Frau means "woman", it suggests a female referent. Unlike English, German has a specific word for a male virgin Jüngling ("Youngling"). It is, however, rarely used in this sense. Jungfrau, with some masculine modifier, is more typical, as evidenced by the film, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, about a 40 year-old male virgin, titled in German, Jungfrau (40), männlich, sucht.[4] German also distinguishes between young women and girls, who are denoted by the word Mädchen. The English cognate "maid" was often used to imply virginity, especially in poetry.

By contrast, the Greek word for "virgin" is parthenos (παρθένος, see Parthenon). Although typically applied to women, like English, it is also applied to men, in both cases specifically denoting absence of sexual experience. When used of men, it does not carry a strong association of "never-married" status. However, in reference to women, historically, it was sometimes used to refer to an engaged woman—parthenos autou (παρθένος αὐτού, his virgin) = his fiancée as opposed to gunē autou (γυνή αὐτού, his woman) = his wife. This distinction is necessary due to there being no specific word for wife (or husband) in Greek.

Despite such definitions cited above, an alternative definition and understanding of the word 'virgin' has been discussed by Queer theorists. Kitzinger and Wilkinson write that Marilyn Frye, a lesbian feminist scholar described that the term 'virgin' "originally meant not women without experience of heterosexual intercourse but rather 'females who are willing to engage in chosen connections with males, [women] who are wild females, undomesticated females, [and] thoroughly defiant of patriarchal female heterosexuality'"[5]

Human sexual selection

In 1989 and 1990, evolutionary psychologist David M Buss and colleagues from the University of Texas at Austin published results from a large study of expressed preferences in mate selection, then current across human societies. The study involved more than 10,000 respondants from 37 cultures. "The desire for chastity or virginity (lack of prior sexual intercourse) proved to be the most cross-culturally variable. Mainland Chinese placed tremendous value on virginity; Scandinavians typically placed little importance on chastity."[6] Respondants also expressed preferences regarding appearance, income potential, age difference and other factors. Some factors—like kindness, intelligence and health—were valued highly across cultures and by both sexes. A mate's appearance was more commonly reported as being important to men than to women, whereas income potential was more important to women than to men.

Also published in 1989 and 1990, a much-cited study at a United States campus by Clark and Hatfield involved male and female researchers approaching total strangers of the opposite sex one-to-one and asking one the following questions.[7][8]

  • Would you go out on a date with me?
  • Would you go back to my apartment with me?
  • Would you have sex with me?

Female students answered yes to the male researchers 50%, 6% and 0%. Male students answered yes to the female researchers 50%, 69% and 75%. (A later Austrian study attempted to reproduce the results, but found as many as 6% of females responded yes to a sexual invitation from a total stranger, concluding that social context was significant in female assent.)[9]

Studies like those above are consistent with evolutionary explanations of certain aspects of human psychology. Psychological preferences in sexual behaviour can have reproductive consequences, hence natural selection should operate on them, and may do so differently in men and women. In particular, "Males who preferred chaste females in our environment of evolutionary adaptedness, ceteris paribus, presumably enjoyed greater reproductive success than males who were indifferent to the sexual contact that a potential mate had with other males."[10] Dickerman (1981) and Daly & Wilson (1983) argue, "chastity would also provide a cue to the future fidelity of a selected mate. A male failing to express such a preference would risk investing in offspring that were not his."[11] Buss notes, "A female could be sure her putative children were her own, regardless of the prior sexual experience of her mate. This sexual asymmetry yields a specific prediction: Males will value chastity in a potential mate more than will females."[10]

David Buss has had a long and distinguished career, pioneering cross-cultural study of sexual jealousy and refining evolutionary explanations of this psychological phenomenon. The Evolution of Desire (ISBN 0465077501) makes the academic work accessible for the popular market.

The evolutionary theory also accounts for the linguistic evidence, where terminology for sexual inexperience is more often associated with women than with men. Virginity, or chastity, in women is probably simply more valued psychologically, hence talked about more. Nonetheless, the evidence also suggests that cultural influences are significant in reinforcing or suppressing any evolved, psychological factors.

In culture

Another cross-cultural study in 2003, by Michael Bozon, found contemporary cultures to fall into three broad categories.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

In the first group, the data indicated families arranging marriage for daughters as close to puberty as possible, with significantly older men. Age of men at sexual initiation in these societies is at later ages than that of women, but is often extra-marital. This group included sub-Saharan Africa (the study listed Mali, Senegal and Ethiopia). The study considered the Indian subcontinent also fell into this group, although data was only available from Nepal.

In the second group, the data indicated families encouraged daughters to delay marriage, but to abstain from sexual activity prior to it. However, sons are encouraged to gain experience with older women or prostitutes prior to marriage. Age of men at sexual initiation in these societies is at lower ages than that of women. This group includes Latin cultures, both from southern Europe (Portugal, Greece and Romania are noted) and from Latin America (Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic). The study considered many Asian societies also fell into this group, although matching data was only available from Thailand.

In the third group, age of men and women at sexual initiation was more closely matched. There were two sub-groups, however. In non-Latin, Catholic countries (Poland and Lithuania are mentioned), age at sexual initiation was higher, suggesting later marriage and reciprocal valuing of male and female virginity. The same pattern of late marriage and reciprocal valuing of virginity was reflected in Singapore and Sri Lanka. The study considered China and Vietnam also fell into this group, although data was not available.

Finally, in northern and eastern European countries, age at sexual initiation was lower, with both men and women involved in sexual activity prior to any union formation. The study listed Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic as members of this group.

Consistent with the northern European findings above. A more recent sex education survey of UK teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 in 2008 (conducted by YouGov for Channel 4), showed that only 6% of these teenagers intended waiting until marriage before having sex.[12]

The state of virginity often has special significance, usually as something to be respected or valued. This is especially true in societies where there are traditional or religious views associating sexual exclusiveness with marriage.

Female virginity is closely interwoven with personal or even family honour in many cultures, especially those known as shame societies, in which the loss of virginity before marriage is a matter of deep shame. For example, among the Bantu of South Africa, virginity testing or even the suturing of the labia majora (called infibulation) has been commonplace. Traditionally, Kenuzi girls (of the Sudan) are married before puberty (Godard, 1867), by adult men who inspect them manually for virginity (Kenedy, 1970). Female circumcision is later performed at puberty to ensure chastity (Barclay, 1964).

History evidences laws and customs that required a man who seduced or raped a virgin to take responsibility for the consequences of his offense by marrying the girl or by paying compensation to her father on her behalf.[13]

Technical virginity

Some historians and anthropologists note that many societies that place a high value on virginity before marriage, such as the United States before the sexual revolution, actually have a large amount of premarital sexual activity that does not involve vaginal penetration: for example, oral sex, anal sex and mutual masturbation. This is considered by some people "technical" virginity, as vaginal intercourse has not occurred but the participants are sexually active.

There are anthropological reasons for the view that vaginal penetration, especially on the part of the woman, is especially indicative of a change in status, a threshold irrevocably crossed, the most incontrovertible "loss of virginity". This may be because a woman who has been vaginally penetrated is one who potentially could have conceived.

Loss of virginity

The act of losing one's virginity, that is, of a first sexual experience, is commonly considered within Western culture to be an important life event and a rite of passage. It is highlighted by many mainstream Western movies (particularly films aimed at a teenaged audience). The loss of virginity can be viewed as a milestone to be proud of or as a failure to be ashamed of, depending on cultural perceptions. Historically, these perceptions were heavily influenced by perceived gender roles, such that for a male the association was more often with pride and for a female the association was more often with shame.

In human females, the hymen is a membrane, part of the vulva, which partially occludes the entrance to the vagina, and which stretches, or is sometimes torn, when the woman first engages in sexual intercourse. The human hymen can vary widely in thickness, shape, and flexibility. Throughout history, the presence of an intact membrane has been seen by some as physical evidence of virginity in the broader technical sense, though the hymen can be easily broken by other means.

In the majority of women, the hymen is sufficiently vestigial as to pose no obstruction to the entryway of the vagina. The presence of a broken hymen may therefore indicate that the vagina has been penetrated but also that it was broken via physical activity or the use of a tampon or dildo. Many women possess such thin, fragile hymens, easily stretched and already perforated at birth, that the hymen can be broken, or merely disappear, in childhood, without the woman even being aware of it.

In contrast to the common cases of an absent or partial hymen, in rare cases a woman may possess an imperforate hymen, such as prevents the release of menstrual discharge. A surgical procedure known as hymenotomy, which creates an opening in the hymen, is sometimes required to avert deleterious health effects. The playwright Ben Jonson claimed that Queen Elizabeth I of England, the Virgin Queen, had a "membranum" that made her "incapable of Man", and that a friend of hers, a "chirurgeon", had offered to remedy the problem with his scalpel and that Elizabeth had demurred.

The presence of a hymen is a possible indication, but no guarantee, of virginity, given that it is speculated that some degree of sexual activity may occur without rupturing the hymen and because there may exist varying definitions as to the type and extent of sexual activity that is required to terminate the state of "virginity". This is further complicated by the availability of hymenorrhaphy surgical procedures to repair or replace the hymen. (This procedure is more common in countries where virginity is greatly prized, as in the Middle East.)

In males, there is no physically visible indicator of virginity.

In some countries until the late 20th century, if a man did not marry a woman whose virginity he had taken, the woman was allowed to sue the man for money, in some languages named "wreath money".[14] Emphasizing the monetary value of female virginity, some women have offered their virginity for sale. In 2008, Italian model Raffella Fico, then 20 years old, offered her virginity for 1 million Euros.[15] In that same year, an American using the pseudonym Natalie Dylan announced she would accept bids for her virginity through a Nevada brothel's web site.[16][17]

Analogies relating to virginity

The sexual partner during the loss of virginity is sometimes colloquially said to "take" the virginity of the virgin partner. In some places, this colloquialism is only used when the partner is not a virgin, but in other places, the virginity of the partner does not matter. The term "deflower" is sometimes used to also describe the act of the virgin's partner, and the clinical term "defloration" is another way to describe the event.

One slang term used for virginity is "cherry" (often, this term refers to the hymen, but can refer to virginity in males or females) and for a virgin, deflowering is said to "pop their cherry," a reference to destruction of the hymen during first intercourse.

A curious term often seen in English translations of the works of the Marquis de Sade is to depucelate. This word is apparently a literal translation of dépuceler, a French verb derived from pucelle (n.f.), which means "virgin". Joan of Arc was commonly called "la Pucelle" by her admirers.

Academic study

Further information: Human sexual behavior

Although a wide variety of terminology is employed within academic literature, a common term for "losing virginity" is sexual debut. One theory hypothesizes there is an appropriate developmental stage for this, hence an approximate age (see age of consent).

Cultural anthropology

Cultural anthropologists have discovered that romantic love and sexual jealousy are universal features of human relationships.[18] Social values related to virginity reflect both sexual jealousy and ideals of romantic love, and appear to be deeply embedded in human nature.

Social psychology

Psychology explores the connection between thought and behavior. Seeking understanding of social (or anti-social) behaviors includes sexual behavior. Joan Kahn and Kathryn London studied U.S. women married between 1965 and 1985 to see if virginity at marriage influenced risk of divorce.

This article examines the relationship between premarital sexual activity and the long-term risk of divorce among U.S. women married between 1965 and 1985. Simple cross-tabulations from the 1988 National Survey of Family Growth indicate that women who were sexually active prior to marriage faced a considerably higher risk of marital disruption than women who [sic] were virgin brides. A bivariate probit model is employed to examine three possible explanations for this positive relationship: (a) a direct causal effect, (b) an indirect effect through intervening "high risk" behaviors (such as having a premarital birth or marrying at a young age), and (c) a selectivity effect representing prior differences between virgins and non-virgins (such as family background or attitudes and values). After a variety of observable characteristics are controlled, non-virgins still face a much higher risk of divorce than virgins. However, when the analysis controls for unobserved characteristics affecting both the likelihood of having premarital sex and the likelihood of divorce, the differential is no longer significant. These results suggest that the positive relationship between premarital sex and the risk of divorce can be attributed to prior unobserved differences (e.g., the willingness to break traditional norms) rather than to a direct causal effect.[19]

This study makes no recommendation, it simply notes that the women most likely to exercise freedom to enter sexual relationships prior to marriage, overlap significantly with the women most likely to exercise freedom to leave a relationship after marriage. Men were not the subject of this study; they may show a different degree of overlap.



In Sanskrit a virgin is called akṣata-yoni. Kṣata means "diminished", a is the negating prefix and yoni refers to female reproductive organs generically — used freely for womb or vulva as context requires. Hence akṣata-yoni suggests something like "undefiled womb" or "unspoiled vulva", but could be understood specifically as "unruptured hymen". Common related words are kanyā and kumārī, which refer to a young, unmarried girl, a bride or a daughter in general. Whilst virginity is not strictly implied by the words, it is generally presumed. These are also names of the goddess Durga, who is a virgin in some of her aspects or manifestations (see avatar).

a Purāṇa text:

The sun-god said: O beautiful Pṛthā, your meeting with the demigods cannot be fruitless. Therefore, let me place my seed in your womb so that you may bear a son. I shall arrange to keep your virginity intact, since you are still an unmarried girl."[20]

a legal text attributed to Manu:

The nuptial texts pertaining to unmarried virgins are applied solely to unmarried virgins, (and) nowhere among men to unmarried females who have lost their virginity, for such (females) are excluded only from (those) nuptial religious ceremonies."[21]

Contemporary Hinduism

In conservative Hindu societies in Nepal and India, any form of premarital sexual intercourse is still frowned upon and is considered an act destined to bring great dishonour and disrespect to the family. It is practically impossible for a non-virgin girl to find a partner from a traditional family in rural areas, though in cities and among the urban middle class Hindus the criteria of virginity is generally relaxed. Among some castes of Hindus virginity is not a requirement for marriage even in theology. No legal statutes exist that explicitly require virginity as a requirement for marriage. Virginity is primarily seen as desirable because of longstanding traditions rather than from theological justification (which most Hindus outside the clergy do not regard as literal guidelines)[How to reference and link to summary or text]


Virginity first appears in the Jewish scriptures in Genesis, where Eliezer is seeking a wife for his master's son. He meets Rebekah, and the narrative tells us, "the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her" (Genesis 24:16 ). Virginity is a recurring theme in the Bible — the nation is frequently personified as the virgin daughter of Israel in the prophetic poetry. It is a wistful phrase, since Genesis also says that Israel's (Jacob's) only daughter Dinah was, in fact, raped as she entered the promised land. The Torah also contains laws governing betrothal, marriage and divorce, with particular provisions regarding virginity in Template:Bibleverse-lb.

Sex in Judaism is not seen as dirty or undesirable — in fact, sex within marriage is considered a mitzvah, or desirable virtue (literally a 'commandment'). Jewish law contains rules related to and protecting female virgins and dealing with consensual and non-consensual pre-marital sex. The thrust of Jewish law's guidance on sex is effectively that it should not be rejected, but should be lived as a wholesome part of life.

Although there is a provision in Judaism for sex outside of marriage, the idea of a pilegesh, is it very seldom used, partially because of the emphasis placed on marriage and other social pressures, and partially because some prominent Rabbis have been opposed to it, for example Maimonides.

While a child born of certain forbidden relationships, such as adultery or incest, is considered a mamzer, approximately translated as illegitimate, who can only marry another mamzer, a child born out of wedlock is not considered a mamzer unless also adulterous or incestuous.

Contemporary Judaism

However, in practice, contemporary Judaism is fairly lenient about sexual relations and has been, since its early days, fairly pragmatic about the realities of sex and sexuality. The more liberal denominations (Reconstructionist Judaism, Reform Judaism, and Conservative Judaism) are relatively open to pre-marital sex: while it is not encouraged, it is not ignored, either—rules governing sexuality still apply, etc. In stricter denominations, such as the Hasidim, sex before marriage can be relatively uncommon, as religious practices of modesty, arranged marriages, marriages at a younger age, and related practices, may apply, thus restricting the mobility of single people.

Greece and Rome

Virginity has been often considered to be a virtue denoting purity and physical self-restraint and is an important characteristic of Greek goddesses Athena, Artemis, and Hestia. The Vestal Virgins were strictly celibate priestesses of Vesta. The Maiden or Virgin is one of the three persons of the Triple Goddess in many Neopagan traditions. The constellation Virgo represents a wide selection of sacred virgins.


Like Judaism, from which it was derived, the New Testament views sex within marriage positively, in fact, it is encouraged in 1 Corinthians 7 . Just as this chapter is against sex without marriage, so it is against marriage without sex. Self control is valued, however it is considered unrealistic for most, and therefore allows for sexual expression in the safe boundaries of marriage.

Some have theorized that the New Testament was not against sex before marriage.[22] The discussion turns on two Greek words — moicheia (μοιχεία, adultery) and porneia (el:πορνεία, fornication see also pornography). The first word is restricted to contexts involving sexual betrayal of a spouse, however the second word is a generic term for illegitimate sexual activity. As such it is not specific about which particular behaviours are considered illegitimate. Elsewhere in 1 Corinthians , incest, homosexual intercourse[23] and prostitution are all explicitly forbidden by name. The theory suggests it is these, and only these behaviours that are intended by Paul's prohibition in chapter seven. Two of the strongest arguments against this theory are: 1. Paul speaks as though porneia is widespread and virtually inevitable, which is unlikely of incest, homosexuality and prostitution, but plausible of pre-marital sex; and 2. the Old Testament especially, but also the New outside Corinthians, speaks against pre-marital sex;[24] without evidence Paul permitted pre-marital sex one assumes that he did not.

As in Judaism, the interpretation of Genesis is that it describes sex as a gift from God to be celebrated within the context of marriage. The New Testament also speaks of the Christian's body as a holy temple that the Spirit of God comes to dwell in. (1 Corinthians 3:16 ) Purity in general is deeply threaded throughout the entire Bible.

Christians have officially accepted the New Testament claim that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin at the time Jesus was conceived, based on the accounts in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox denominations, additionally hold to the dogma of the perpetual virginity of Mary. However, some Protestant denominations cite evidence against this including Mark 6:3

"Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren't His sisters here with us?". The Catholic Church holds [25] that in Semitic usage the terms "brother," "sister" are applied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half-sisters. Some Christians may refer to her as the Virgin Mary or the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Catholic theology

While traditional Catholic theology recognizes a physical aspect of virginity, the moral aspects are far more important. In traditional theology, virgins are thought to receive a special aureola in heaven, and as such it was important to define exactly what constituted this "theological virginity". Depending on the culture, this definition of virginity may be very different from the "social definition of virginity." In Catholic theology, virginity is technically lost by any deliberately felt sexual pleasure, and as such is forfeit even by masturbation, though not necessarily by sexual acts in which one participates but in a way that does not cause genital pleasure for oneself. In some part because of this last possibility, it is specified that not all virgins are necessarily chaste, and that an intention of purity is needed for the virginity to be meritous. However, while this intention can be lost and restored and the aureola still gained, the physical fact of sexual pleasure voluntarily engaged in is irreversible.

In some ways, this is the most logically consistent definition; in traditional theological thought there is little objective difference, either physiologically or morally, between being brought to orgasm by one's own hand and being brought to orgasm by the body of another if the latter act was not open to life. Acts such as masturbation and sodomy have traditionally been regarded as worse sexual sins because they are allegedly unnatural for not being open to the possibility of conception, whereas fornication or adultery could still theoretically be "natural" even if not moral. Therefore, it would be odd for theology to conclude that virginity is lost by a less grave sin but preserved in worse and more unnatural sins of lust.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says: "There are two elements in virginity: the material element, that is to say, the absence, in the past and in the present, of all complete and voluntary delectation, whether from lust or from the lawful use of marriage; and the formal element, that is the firm resolution to abstain forever from sexual pleasure." And, "Virginity is irreparably lost by sexual pleasure, voluntarily and completely experienced." [26] However, for the purposes of consecrated virgins and nuns, prior masturbation is not usually inquired into, and canonically it is enough that any sexual activity of theirs is not publicly known or infamous.

Aquinas, emphasizing that acts other than copulation destroy virginity, but also clarifying that involuntary sexual pleasure or pollution does not destroy virginity says in his Summa Theologica, "Pleasure resulting from resolution of semen may arise in two ways. If this be the result of the mind's purpose, it destroys virginity, whether copulation takes place or not. Augustine, however, mentions copulation, because such like resolution is the ordinary and natural result thereof. On another way this may happen beside the purpose of the mind, either during sleep, or through violence and without the mind's consent, although the flesh derives pleasure from it, or again through weakness of nature, as in the case of those who are subject to a flow of semen. On such cases virginity is not forfeit, because such like pollution is not the result of impurity which excludes virginity." [27]

Female saints and blesseds are generally given one of two titles. Those who were either unmarried, nuns, or consecrated virgins are given the title "Virgin" while those who have been married are given the title "Holy Women", not virgins.

File:Sophia design.jpg

Virgin Sophia design on a Harmony Society doorway in Harmony, Pennsylvania, carved by Frederick Reichert Rapp (1775-1834).

Christian Mysticism and Gnostic Christianity

In Christian mysticism, Gnosticism, as well as some Hellenistic religions, there is a female spirit or Goddess named Sophia that is said to embody wisdom and whom is sometimes described as a virgin. In Roman Catholic mysticism, Hildegard of Bingen celebrated Sophia as a cosmic figure both in her writing and art. Within the Protestant tradition in England, 17th Century Christian Mystic, Universalist and founder of the Philadelphian Society Jane Leade wrote copious descriptions of her visions and dialogues with the "Virgin Sophia" who, she said, revealed to her the spiritual workings of the Universe. Leade was hugely influenced by the theosophical writings of 16th Century German Christian mystic Jakob Böhme, who also speaks of the Sophia in works such as The Way to Christ[3]. Jakob Böhme was very influential to a number of Christian mystics and religious leaders, including George Rapp and the Harmony Society. The Harmony Society was a religious pietist group that lived communally, were pacifistic, and advocated celibacy among its membership.

Contemporary Christianity

In Finland, the phrase ei ennen papin aamenta (not before priest says Amen) refers to abstinence before marriage. It is also used in any contexts to warn doing anything prematurely or before its time. The phrase includes also a side meaning "but do it for good once the priest has said the amen!".

Until recently, some states that have a significant Christian population have or have had laws protecting virginity. Germany abandoned a law (§1300 BGB) only in 1998 that entitled the deflowered virgin to compensation if the relationship ended. In Mexico, there is a very old saying, still used by women today: "Fulfill your promise to marry me (if we had sex), or leave me how I was (a virgin)". <sup(former) situation in other countries needed/sup/>


Islam provides a decree that sexual activity must occur only between married individuals. The husband and wife must always keep in mind the needs, both sexual and emotional, of each other. The concept of sex-without-marriage between "Master" and "Slave maid" had been ended by Muhammad. This is referred to in the Qur'an as ma malakat aymanukum or "what your right hands possess".[28]

Qur'an 17:32 says "And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse. Verily, it is a Fâhishah [i.e. anything that transgresses its limits (a great sin)], and an evil way (that leads one to Hell unless Allâh forgives him)." Unlawful sexual intercourse zina (الزنى) refers both to adultery and premarital sex.

Medicine and biology

In early modern Europe, prolonged virginity in women was believed to cause the disease of chlorosis or "green sickness".

For cross breedings of some laboratory animals, females are needed that have not already copulated in order to ensure that the offspring possess the intended genotype. To do this in Drosophila flies for example, females are used that are maximally 6 to 8 hours old (at 25 °C); only after this period has elapsed do inseminations begin.

See also


  1. 'virgin' in American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.
  2. Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short, 'virgo', in A Latin Dictionary.
  3. 'Virgin', Online Etymology Dictionary.
  4. Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB).
  5. Kitzinger and Wilkinson, "Virgins and Queers: Rehabilitating Heterosexuality?" /Gender & Society/ 1994; 8; 446. McGill University Libraries, 27 Nov. 2008 < >
  6. David M Buss, 'Human mating strategies', Samfundsøkonomen 4 (2002): 50.
  7. Russell D. Clark and Elaine Hatfield (1989). Gender differences in receptivity to sexual offers. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality 2 (1): pp. 39–55.
  8. Russell D. Clark (1990). The Impact of AIDS on Gender Differences in Willingness to Engage in Casual Sex. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 20 (9): pp. 771-782..
  9. Voracek M, Hofhansl A, Fisher ML (August 2005). Clark and Hatfield's evidence of women's low receptivity to male strangers' sexual offers revisited. Psychol Rep 97 (1): 11–20.
  10. 10.0 10.1 DM Buss, 'Evolutionary theory', in Personality: Critical Concepts, edited by Cary L Cooper and Lawrence A Pervin, (Routledge, 1998), p. 423.
  11. Paraphrase from Buss (work cited), emphasis original.
  12. (2008). Teen Sex Survey. Channel 4. URL accessed on 2008-09-11.
  13. Deuteronomy 22, see also Shotgun wedding.
  14. Brockhaus 2004, Kranzgeld
  15. includeonly>Squires, Nick. "Italian model plans to sell virginity for 1m euros",, 2008-09-16. Retrieved on 2008-09-18.
  16. includeonly>"Shock jock to auction off girl's virginity: Howard Stern announces his most controversial stunt yet", Daily mail, 2008-09-09. Retrieved on 2008-09-18.
  17. includeonly>"Calif. College Grad Sells Virginity For Tuition", WJZ-TV (CBS), 2008-09-10. Retrieved on 2008-09-18.
  18. Donald Brown, Human Universals, 1991.
  19. Joan R. Kahn, Kathryn A. London, 'Premarital Sex and the Risk of Divorce', Journal of Marriage and the Family 53 (1991): 845-855.
  20. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 9.24.34, trans. by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda.
  21. Manu-smṛti 8.226, translated by Georg Bühler, (Oxford, 1886).
  22. "As a Christian pastor who has faced this problem with people many times, I would say that the following guidelines are absolutely essential. Sex between unmarried adults might be inside that gray area between the ideal and the immoral if, first, no one’s marriage is being violated by either party; second, if it is a union of love and caring, not just a union of convenience and desire; third, if sex is shared only after other things have been shared, other things such as time, values, friendship, communication and a sense of deep trust and emotional responsibility; fourth, if it is both loving and discreet, private, shielded from those who would not or could not understand; if it is valued as a bond between the two people involved and between them alone, never violating the sacredness of the exclusive quality of that moment." John Shelby Spong, The Living Commandments.
  23. arsenokoitēs (masc. noun of fem. 1st declention), literally a man who shares a bed with other men (see LSJ and BDAG).
  24. Standard interpretation of significance of "wrong his brother" in 1 Thessalonians 4:6, by sleeping with the brother's future wife.
  25. New American Bible[1]
  26. The Catholic Encyclopedia, 'Virginity' [2]
  27. Aquinas. Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 152.
    • Lewis 1990, page 14.
    • Tahfeem ul Qur'an by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, Vol. 2 pp. 112-113 footnote 44; Also see commentary on verses
    1. REDIRECT: Template:Cite quran
    Vol. 3, notes 7-1, p. 241; 2000, Islamic Publications
    • Tafsir ibn Kathir 4:24


Journal articles
  • Bently, Thomas. The Monument of Matrones: Conteining Seven Severall Lamps of Virginitie. Thomas Dawson, 1582.
  • Carpenter, Laura. Virginity Lost: An Intimate Portrait of First Sexual Experiences. New York University Press, 2005. ISBN 0814716539
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