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Signs of VirginityTesting Virgins and Making Men in Late Antiquity$
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Michael Rosenberg

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190845896

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190845896.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 September 2021

Virginity and Violence in Cross-Cultural Perspective

Virginity and Violence in Cross-Cultural Perspective

(p.21) 1 Virginity and Violence in Cross-Cultural Perspective
Signs of Virginity

Michael Rosenberg

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers a wide range of virginity tests across cultures. Although virginity testing is commonly imbricated with issues of sexual violence, the specific form of virginity manifest through bleeding and wounds is unique to cultures influenced by Deuteronomy. In literature and legal texts from the non-Christian and non-Jewish Greco-Roman world, there is a total absence of descriptions of physical tests of virginity. The chapter briefly describes other medical exams of virginity in the ancient and medieval West. The chapter then turns to discuss tests based not on the physical traits of a woman, but rather on her ability to survive some ordeal or to perform some particular task. The chapter concludes by examining virginity tests not in terms of their means, but of their effects, asking, Do they encourage, or discourage, male physical violence as a component of sexual activity in general and initial sexual experience in particular?

Keywords:   virginity testing, violence, Greek romance novel, ordeal, Deuteronomy

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