This new openness, which is mainly the result of the sexual revolution that was initiated about 60 years ago, is reflected in a series of statistics. Various US surveys confirm that pre-teens and teens become sexually active at younger ages than their counterparts in previous generations. For instance, the proportion of women who lose their virginity to the man they are engaged to or marry dropped from 60 percent in the 1950s to 1 percent in the early 2000s.[1] In 1950, a woman’s “first time” happened when she was 20 years old on average; by 2000, i.e., fifty years later, the average age had fallen to 16. Then, the 1953 Kinsey report revealed that 40 percent of the female respondents had had pre-marital sex. According to a similar study carried out in 1994, 80 percent of the women examined were non-virgins before tying the knot.[2],[3] No equivalent figures are available for China or Japan, where vir­ginity still plays an important role in the eligibility of a poten­tial wife. However, the prevalence of hymen reconstruction surgeries (also known as hymenorrhaphy or hyme­no­plasty[4]) and the popularity of so-called “virginity restoration kits” there may be interpreted as evidence that pre-marital sex has become relatively common in these coun­tries as well.[5],[6]

Not only is getting sex out of wedlock more and more acceptable among women. Media and advertisements are also contributing to the promotion of sexual behaviour, making their tar­get audience (including children and teenagers) increasingly receptive to such dissolute indul­­­gence in sensual pleasure. The transition is now going so far that virginity has turned “from a virtue into a stigma that some people do not want to admit about themselves”.[7] Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the choice of sexual abstinence before mar­riage as a lifestyle is just as respectable as regarding the loss of innocence as a virtue. No matter how strange or creepy virgins may appear nowadays, it is not fair to criticise or ridi­cule their vow. Doing so would represent that same injustice our ancestors committed at times when women with pre-marital sexual experience were condemned for being loose. Fur­ther­more, as the stress on the chastity is already a restriction on human nature in itself, they probably suffer a lot already. There is no point in rubbing salt in the wound.[8]

So what are the arguments speaking in favour of giving in to one’s own desires? First of all, it is a fundamental characteristic of humanity to seek knowledge. As the Greek philosopher Plato implies at the beginning of his Allegory of the Cave, what we perceive as true is actually false, as our imperfect interpretations of reality and goodness are controlled by other people. In the context of sexuality, the “puppeteers” are often parents, the clergy or mem­bers of older generations, who manipulate us into thinking that intercourse is unheal­thy, dirty or evil. Some of us will tend to accept their words as facts, while others will strive for enlightenment and search for the truth, trying out new things (e.g., novel forms of plea­sure, ideas for recreation). Those individuals who dare to break their chains become aware of the reality, discovering feelings, physical sensations, or mental states that they never thought existed. They are now free of illusions and continue their life sophis­tica­tedly.[9] As for virgins, all they know is that they know nothing (and no one).


Notes

[1]    Cited in: Pease / Pease (2009), p. 49

[2]    All studies cited in: Meston / Buss (2009), p. 147

[3]    Admittedly, the two studies may not be entirely comparable due to differences in sample size and constitution. However, the gap (40 vs. 80 percent) is large enough to suggest the growing incidence of pre-marital intercourse.

[4]    The purpose of this type of surgical procedure is to restore, repair or replace the hymen of a woman. The vaginal bleeding during the (real or alleged) first intercourse can serve as a proof of her chastity.

[5]    Buss (2003), p. 68

[6]    Lin (2010)

[7]    Rosen (2007), p. 18

[8]    “Which wound?”, virgins may correctly counter though.

[9]    Warning: The present interpretation of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave contains several flaws and should not be taken at face value. It is mentioned here for illustrative purposes only.

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