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Virgin Territory

From Elizabeth I to Britney Spears

by Ken Goldstein

Think about poor Joseph for a minute and you'll know what I'm talking about. You know Joseph, Mary's husband? Yeah, that's the guy. He married a woman who claimed to be a virgin, then it turns out she's been knocked up by the Lord. Just how is that supposed to make a guy feel?

I'm sure that's where our obsession with virgins comes from. Every husband has his moments of insecurity where he's convinced the wife is secretly comparing him to her previous lovers. Then it's the wife's job to reassure him of his manhood. That works just fine when the previous lovers were other mere mortals.

But poor Joseph. Come on, now. Her previous lover was... you know... "Him." I mean, even if you want your wife to stroke your ego (among other things), and say that you're the best and all that, do you really want her to have to blaspheme like that? Seriously, if that wouldn't be taking His name in vain, I don't know what would qualify.

The whole point behind all this being that there's an historical basis for why some men still hold tight to the ideal of marrying a virgin. Further, women know this and have found ways to use it both against us and for their own purposes.

And don't think for a moment that women don't use virginity as a weapon in the war of the sexes. The most famous historical example of this would be Elizabeth the First: The Virgin Queen. (Actually, I went to high school with a virgin queen who's now doing a night club act in Vegas. But that's a different story.)

Elizabeth I (that's "I" for "the First", not "I" as in "I Claudius" or "The King and I") used her virginity as the cornerstone of her political power. Many people today assume that her virginity was the result of living in rather prudish times. Quite to the contrary, the Elizabethan era was known to be extremely bawdy and lusty. The political reality of the day, however, was that if a Queen were to marry, she'd lose most of her power to her new husband who would become King.


Detail of the Angel, from the Virgin of the Rocks
Detail of the...
Leonardo da...

Elizabeth extracted political favors and maintained control of the country by teasing many important men of the day into believing that they might get to be the one to sail the maiden voyage. Historians agree that Elizabeth probably fooled around quite a bit, even sharing her bed with her suitors, but always ending before achieving coitus. Many people, including Sir Walter Raleigh, supposedly got quite close to the royal cherry, but were all stopped just short of removing the stem.

More recently, back in the late 1970s, teenage star Brooke Shields got a lot of publicity surrounding her virginity. It wasn't enough that she declared her intentions to keep it in her autobiography (written at 16). No, she had to go further than that. Her contract with her publisher required her to remain a virgin for a certain number of years.

This wasn't virginity for morality's sake, it was virginity as a publicity stunt, pure and simple. By focusing on the absurdity of a beautiful teenage girl declaring her intentions to remain a virgin they were able to sell more books, and Brooke was able to get more acting roles. She may or may not have had good intentions behind her virginity to begin with, but by putting it into the contract it became a business decision.

Again: virginity as a means to power. In this case financial power. And again, it only worked because we men are stupid enough to believe virginity is important.

What's interesting about this is that it was more recently tried by Britney Spears, but not with as much success. Following the publicity of her spending three days locked in a hotel room with her boyfriend, the virginity announcement wasn't taken very seriously. Maybe she would have had better luck if she'd had it written into her contract. Oh well.

But, the point of this whole article is, if you're hung up on virginity for whatever reasons, or if you're afraid your wife's comparing you to other men, just grow up and get over it. Virgins can be just as dangerous and manipulative, and destroy your life just as easily, as any other woman - maybe even more so. Just be glad you're with a nice girl, forget about her past, and make a nice future.

All I'm saying is, put yourself in Joseph's shoes for a second. Think about if your wife were always comparing you to Him. It could be worse, you know? Just think about poor Joseph for a minute and you'll know what I'm talking about.


Ken Goldstein is a California-based writer with far too much time on his hands. You can read more of his fiction, non-fiction, and general ramblings at

2001, K.R. Goldstein. All rights reserved.

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"It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue." 
       Voltaire, 1694-1778

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