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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

Open Doors and Accused Brides

Open Doors and Accused Brides

Subjectivity and a New Standard for Virginity Testing in Rabbinic Babylonia

(p.119) 6 Open Doors and Accused Brides
Signs of Virginity

Michael Rosenberg

Oxford University Press

The Babylonian Talmud introduces an entirely new standard for testing a woman’s virginity—a groom’s subjective experience of his bride as an “open door” rather than “locked.” This standard places even greater power in the hands of men, thus diminishing the safety of new brides. At the same time, it generates a discourse of male sexuality that discourages aggressive sexual activity—a revolution in sexual ideals. The chapter then studies the series of six stories that follow the legal pericope concerning the “open door.” These stories undercut the ability of men to make claims against brides’ virginity, as they create a sustained attack on the idea of objectivity, using the two kinds of virginity test developed in the legal pericope and the assumption that the “open door” test is more “subjective” than blood claims to undermine the perceived objectivity of all virginity testing.

Keywords:   Babylonian Talmud, masculinity, objectivity, subjectivity, Rabbi Eleazar

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