25 Unique Things We’ve Learned About Virginity Over The Years

For thousands of years, one’s virginity has been seen in many different cultures as the most important gift a woman could give to her husband on their wedding night. Also, virginity has been the indicator of purity and divinity in major religious traditions, with two of the most noted examples being the Virgin Mary, of course, and Athena, the virgin goddess of wisdom, law, and justice in ancient Greek religion and mythology. Fast-forward to contemporary Western society, where the word virginity is viewed with distaste, and the thing itself is seen as a shameful quality of usually a young person who has to get rid of it as soon as possible.

What has happened over time that has led the once-precious stock, so to speak, of someone’s virginity (particularly women) to lose its value in modern times? Obviously, a great many things have changed in the last century alone, but it appears that nowadays, more than ever before, an increasing number of young men and women see sex as a natural thing to do and not the taboo that it used to be. However, the list of 25 Unique Things We’ve Learned About Virginity Over the Years that follows might make you feel like some values are timeless.

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Feature image: A Yee via Flickr

Virginity is not the only issue related to sex out there. If you want to learn even more facts about human sexuality, check out these odd and bizarre facts about sex.

25

The term virgin is related to the Latin root virga, meaning “young shoot,” and virginem, meaning “maiden, unwedded girl or woman, fresh, unused.”

Roman paintingSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
24

The word virgin appeared for the first time in the English language in the ninth century, but initially only applied to women.

virgin with angelsSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
23

Throughout the centuries pearls have been seen in many cultures as a symbol of female virginity and purity, especially in the context of marriage or religious portraits.

pearlsSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: commons.wikimedia.org
22

Another popular symbol of virginity is the unicorn. According to various world traditions, only virgins could tame unicorns, meaning only virgins could calm male elements with their female ones.

symbol of virginity: the unicornSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
21

Flowers have traditionally been associated with female sexuality because they suggest growth and fertility and visually resemble female genitalia. To be more specific, the lily is almost exclusively associated with virginity, and its white petals and golden stamen are a visual reminder of the act of penetration.

flowerSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: commons.wikimedia.org
20

Have you ever heard the phrase “a lord’s right”? If you’ve seen Braveheart, you may recall it. For those of you who haven’t seen the film or know the phrase, it referred to a bizarre and tragic medieval legal right in Britain that allowed the lord of an estate to take the virginity of the estate’s virgins on their wedding night.

paintingSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
19

In certain countries, one’s virginity was sold as a valuable commodity. In Japan, for example, geishas would sell their virginity in a ritual called mizuage, but that ritual became illegal in 1959.

Japanese womenSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
18

“Technical virginity” is a phrase and concept used to describe a person who has engaged in other types of sex such as anal and oral but not vaginal.

paintingSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
17

The Aztecs believed avocados were so sexually powerful that virgins were banned from eating them.

AvocadosSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
16

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the demand for hymenoplasty, or revirgination, has been one of the fastest-growing surgeries in the past few years.

SurgeonsSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
15

The Greek word for virgin is parthenos. As you may know, one of the most famous monuments in the world, the Parthenon in Athens, was a temple dedicated to the virginity of Athena.

The ParthenonSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia

Virginity is not the only issue related to sex out there. If you want to learn even more facts about human sexuality, check out these odd and bizarre facts about sex.

14

From 1622’s The Changeling, we discover that there were a number of ways for a woman who had lost her virginity before marriage to deceive her future husband, including the use chicken blood or even scratching her genitalia.

chickenSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
13

Some Shakespeare critics believe that the red-on-white pattern on Desdemona’s handkerchief in Othello is symbolic of her virginity and that her inability to produce the handkerchief led to her death.

Othelo and DesdemonaSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
12

According to Mosaic Law, a bride’s family is to exhibit bloodstained sheets in public as proof of her virginity. If the bride could not do so, she was stoned to death. Surprisingly, many Western countries followed this tradition until quite recently.

Mosaic LawSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: commons.wikimedia.org
11

To this day in some African countries, an unmarried woman who is found not to be a virgin can be ostracized, shamed, or killed, even if her virginity was lost through the act of rape.

African womenSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
10

Many doctors suggest that the presence or absence of the hymen is not adequate proof of virginity. Many women have thin hymens that are stretched or torn easily through bike riding or other sports activities.

Girls cyclingSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
9

Some Orthodox Jews believe that the slate of a sexually experienced woman is wiped clean and that the ritual of the wedding cleanses her of her “carnal transgressions.”

Orthodox JewsSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: commons.wikimedia.org
8

Worldwide, people “lose” their virginity the first time at an average age of 17.3, with individual country averages ranging from 15.6 in Iceland to 19.8 in India.

People kissingSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
7

The phrase “V card collecting” rose in popularity in the mid-2000's among young American males who tried to have sex with as many virgins as possible.

College studentsSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
6

It seems that, at least in part, the organization Born Again Virgins of America! (BAVAM!) was founded in 2008 in response to this social development, with the express purpose of helping women (occasionally men, too) who regret having lost their virginity to “V card” collectors.

Source: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia Source: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
5

The Wasted Lesson in Morals and The Medical Examination, two paintings by the seventeenth-century Dutch painter Godfried Schalken, portray virginity symbols better than any other art of that period. In the first painting, an older woman wags her finger at a younger one, cautioning her against opening a jewel casket. In the second painting, the girl weeps while a doctor examines a flask of her urine. Both works suggest that a chaste girl is sealed and impermeable, while an unchaste girl is incontinent and porous.

The Medical ExaminationSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: commons.wikimedia.org
4

In medieval Europe, vestal virgins were supposedly able to carry water in a sieve. This is why Queen Elizabeth I holds a sieve in her left hand to publicize her virginity in a famous 1579 portrait.

Medieval paintingSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
3

However, and despite being known as the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I reportedly had affairs with the Earl of Leicester and others.

Elizabeth ISource: virginity-facts.html, Image: Wikipedia
2

Ancient Roman priestesses were called vestal virgins. They were required to keep their hymens intact as proof of their virginity until the age of thirty, or they would be buried alive.

Ancient romeSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: commons.wikimedia.org
1

“Chastity belts” appeared around the 1700's and lasted until the 1930's. They were typically fitted on teen girls to keep them virgins until marriage, but something many people don’t know is that the belts were also used to keep girls from masturbating, which was believed to cause infertility and demonic possession.

Chastity beltsSource: virginity-facts.html, Image: commons.wikimedia.org


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