The Value of Virginity in Different Parts of the World

Essay by jumeeCollege, Undergraduate January 2010

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The purpose of this research is to evaluate the value given to virginity in different parts of the world. According to Wikepidia, a virgin is, originally, a woman who has never had sexual intercourse. Virginity is a state of being a virgin. It is derived from the Latin word virgo, meaning a sexually inexperienced woman (Wikepidia).

There are several reasons why many societies value virginity in unmarried woman or girls. The reasons range from men's dominant nature, to family values, to religion, and to some monetary or property gain.

In most societies, women have always been dominated by men. Men feel more secure to have a virgin bride. It is a source of pride and satisfaction for a man to know that no one else has touched his bride or wife except him. This feeling has driven many societies' ideology about the importance of virginity among young girls, apart from that Virginity is seen as a symbol of purity, self control, and decency (George).

Another reason why virginity was so valued by some societies is because of the stigma attached to having a bastard child. Most families expect their young girls to remain virgins because if they get impregnated before marriage, it becomes the problem of the family to bear the shame of having a bastard born in their family. In addition to that, in many societies, it is just a moral issue-sex is accepted only after marriage (Abramson).

With the invention of contraceptives, pregnancy became of less concern, however, the most important reason why virginity is valued in most modern societies is because of religion. In both Christianity and Islam, sex before marriage is condemned. In Christianity, it is not only sexual penetration that is condemned, but other lewd sexual activities are also prohibited (George). Virginity is a serious matter in most Islamic countries. From my experience (my wife is from an Islamic country), I learned that if a girl loses her virginity, her father can beat or even kill her. There are many instances where the brothers of these girls were instigated to kill their sisters for losing their virginity. This is just because they (the men) believe that she has brought shame and damnation to their family.

Another important reason why virginity was valued in our history is because marriage used to be a source of gain, either as a dowry or as a contract that benefits the girl's family. In some Asian countries, virginity is important because families want to use their daughters as a source of upward mobility in the society to higher positions, to gain favor of an important family or to keep their high class status or assets. They arrange marriages to suit their needs (Abramson).

In the western countries today, virginity is less valued. In fact, it is abnormal for a girl to still remain a virgin until her wedding day. If a girl is still a virgin at twenty five, she is often ridiculed, whereas, in traditional middle Asian societies, virginity is still a big deal. Men want their brides to be virgins, and their women to be covered modestly.

In Africa, some societies still highly appreciate a virgin bride. Historically, in most African cultures, a bride is supposed to be a virgin, but that ideology is changing drastically. In my survey of ten Nigerians men (20 to 25 years old), when I asked if they prefer to marry only a virgin, only two out of ten men from Nigeria answered, yes! Two of them will appreciate it, but would not care if their brides are not virgins while the rest of them dismissed the idea that virginity is important for marital satisfaction.

In a survey published in London on The Economic Times titled, "Asians Losing their Virginity" (07/04/ 2007). The report as showed bellow, even though it does not specify if the participants were married or not before losing their virginity, it is still a reflection of the value attached to virginity in those countries.

" People in Asian countries, including India, lose their virginity at a much older age than those in the West, according to a worldwide study of sexual behavior and contraceptive use published today"(Asians).

"Malaysians were the oldest to lost their virginity at 23.0 years old, followed by Indians (22.9) Singaporeans (22.8), Chinese (22.1), Thais (20.5), Hong Kongers (20.2), Nigerians (19.7) and Japanese (19.4)" (Asians).

" On average, age for first having sex was 19.25, according to the study "The Global Face of Sex", compiled by Durex Network, the social marketing arm of SSL International, which manufactures Durex condoms" (Asians).

" The Austrians were the first to lose their virginity at 17.3 years old, followed by Brazilians (17.4), Germans (17.6), New Zealanders (17.8), Australians (17.9) and Americans (18.0). But despite waiting longer, Malaysians came top among those who said they were the most ready for sex (41.5 per cent), followed by the Dutch, Greeks, Americans and Australians. In contrast, Japanese, Nigerians, Thais and Hong Kongers said were the least ready for first sexual experience, with less than 13 per cent saying they were comfortable with losing their virginity when they did. Meanwhile, more than a third of Nigerians (37.5 per cent) said they felt pressured into losing their virginity -- by far the highest percentage" (Asians).

In conclusion, I have observed that, families and men in countries with high context culture, for example, Mid-Asians that value religion and morals tend to value virginity in unmarried women more than in countries with low context cultures, for example, Europeans, that religion and morals has less influence. The other thing I have construed from this search is that, there is a general tendency of men becoming more less concerned about the necessity of their bride to be a virgin.

In my opinion, it is a good for young girls to keep their virginity for their future husbands, but it is unfair, for a man who is sexually active to demand for a virgin bride.

Work CitedAbramson, Paul R., and Steve D. Pinkerton. Sexual Nature, and Sex Culture. Chicago, 1995. Print.

"Asians Losing their Virginity." The ecomnic times 4 July 2007. PrintGeorge, Eric. "The value of virginity." (2005). Print.