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To: Usenet
From: (Peggy Brown) writes..
Subj: Virginity (0000.vrgnity.pb)
Date: unknown

Quoting: | writes...

|The whole "virgin thing" I think comes down to the fact that if a man has 
|sex with a woman, and then did not marry her, it was probbably seen as a 
|gesture that he did not see her as "worth" marrying, thus a non-virgin was 
|not "worth" as much as a virgin.

I've read that a pagan definition of virginity refers to women 
who have not yet given birth, whether they've had sex or not.
When xtianity took hold, virginity became very important.  Not 
only was it a physical characteristic but also a symbol of 

Physical Importance:
Women know they are the mother of the child born from their body. 
Men must trust that the woman was faithful.  Taking a virgin was 
one way of knowing that she was not previously impregnated with 
someone else's child.  Also, virgins brought their family a 
higher dowry, in cultures where dowry was paid to the family of 
the bride.  Sometimes feudal landlords held the right to sleep 
with a bride on her wedding night.  

It seems a mystique grew up around virginity, so that men 
liked being the first to break a virgin.  One of those male 
"being first" things.  Similar (IMO) to competitions like 
being the first to climb a mountain, go to the moon, etc....
All this was (is?) only directed at females.  For males its a 
different story.

Symbolic Importance:
There are some interesting writings about vestal virgins.  St. 
Brigit (more a cultural symbol than one person) had links to 
vestal virgins and was a symbol of cultural unity in Ireland.  
Unlike other Irish goddesses, Brigit transcended territorial and 
political situations.  In the 12th century, the Abbess of Kildare, 
(symbol of Brigit) was raped and her fires extinguished, a 
symptom of political and social upheavals of the times.  

Its fairly common for virgins to be considered more pure than 
non-virgins, in many societies.  Then there's the story of the 
virgin and the unicorn.  Where did that come from?  Another story 
I remember had to do with Roman soldiers being afraid to kill 
virgins, so they had to be raped first, even girls.

|As for religions actually condeming the sexual act, I don't think many/any do.

Catholocism certainly did.  Maybe still does.  I don't know about 
other religions.  However, I believe its fairly common for women 
to be considered spiritually inferior and unclean, especially 
during menstruation or after giving birth.  In medieval Catholic 
theology women were more unclean after giving birth to a girl 
than they were after giving birth to a boy.

Judaism has plenty of negative references to women too.  Ever 
read the story of the Levite and his concubine or the rape of the 
women of Shiloh?

- Peggy -

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