Sexuality & Sexual Problems
Basic InformationLatest NewsQuestions and AnswersVideosLinksBook Reviews
ActionAmerica UnzippedAmerican GirlsAnatomy of a BoyfriendAnatomy of LoveBest Sex Writing 2005Better Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBoys & SexBoys Don't CryChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsCold HitCybersexDare... to Try BisexualityDilemmas of DesireDoing ItDoing ItEarly Embraces IIIErotic InnocenceErotic PassionsFinal JeopardyFinding H. F.For The Bible Tells Me SoFrictionFrom Disgust to HumanityGay, Straight, and the Reason WhyGetting the Love You WantGoing DownGood GirlsGreat Answers to Difficult Questions About SexHard to GetHit & MissHomosexualitiesHooking UpHow Sex WorksHow to Create Chemistry with AnyoneHow to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanI'd Rather Eat ChocolateIn a Queer VoiceIn the Mood, AgainIt's Perfectly NormalIt's Perfectly NormalJane Sexes It UpKids Gone WildLet's Get This StraightLikely to DieLove and DesireLove and SexLove JunkieLustMaking Peace with PornMale SexualityMaster BreastsMiddlesexNormalNormalNot GayNot My ShameOedipus WreckedOn Being RapedOne Hot SecondOne Hour in ParisOrgasmOrgasm Inc.OrgasmsPlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPornifiedPornlandPornographyPoxPredatorsPremarital Sex in AmericaPrivate Practices DVDRainbow PartyRapeSex (Ed)Sex and SpiritSex and the American TeenagerSex and the SoulSex and the Soul, Updated EditionSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex in CrisisSex ObjectSex PositionsSex Q & ASex, Therapy, and KidsSexting and Young PeopleSexual Boundary ViolationsSexual DevianceSexual EcstasySexual FluiditySexual IntelligenceSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySexual Teens, Sexual MediaShamelessSurviving Sexual ViolenceTalk to Me FirstTestosterone RexThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Birth of the PillThe Blue Moon Erotic Reader IIIThe Chemistry Between UsThe Clitoral TruthThe Emergence of SexualityThe End Of AliceThe End of SexThe Essential KamasutraThe Fate of GenderThe First TimeThe Happy Hook-UpThe Incurable RomanticThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Only Girl in the CarThe PervertThe Pornographer's GriefThe Purity MythThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Right to Be ParentsThe Science of Intimate RelationshipsThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Sex MythThe Sleep of ReasonThe Story of SexThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Vagina MonologuesThings Tom LikesThings We Didn't Talk About When I Was a GirlTransTransUltimate SexUntangling the WebUntrue VirginVirgin NationVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysVirginity LostWastelandWhat Does Consent Really Mean?What Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?When Sex Goes to SchoolWhen the Piano StopsWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Wilhelm ReichWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWritten in the FleshYou Know Me WellZen Sex
Related Topics

Family & Relationship Issues
Homosexuality & Bisexuality
Medical Disorders

by Hanne Blank
Bloomsbury USA, 2007
Review by Christian Perring on Feb 19th 2008


Virgin: The Untouched History wavers between the scholarly and the popular, which is a good place to be.  Blank says on her website that the original manuscript was over 1000 pages, so she has clearly done a great deal of research on the history and culture of virginity.  The book's bibliography has 16 pages of small print.  There's even a whole chapter on male virginity on the website that she left out of the book; the published book devotes itself to female virginity.  Historians have given the book a basically positive reception according to her summaries of their reviews.  It has two main parts, Virginology and Virgin Culture.  Virginology is about medical and official definitions of virginity over the ages, with some discussion of the many proposed ways to test virginity, and the psychological importance of the loss of virginity.  Virgin Culture details the ways that religions and different historical periods have represented the importance of virginity.  This features the Vestal Virgins, the Virgin Queen, Jesus and his virgin mother Mary, a survey of the recent eroticization of virginity, and the role of virginity in modern popular culture. 

Blank's writing is chatty, and she occasionally uses colloquialisms.  Nevertheless, the book is slow going because it isn't clear that there's a main thesis, and often it isn't clear what the main claims of individual chapters or sections are.  Too often, Blank seems to collect related facts together and leaves it to the reader to draw conclusions.  Maybe that's a wise way to approach history, since she doesn't have any theoretical axes to grind.  But it may also leave readers wondering what is to be gained from going into all this history.  The lessons are more obvious in the Virginology part of the book, where Blank makes clear how medicine has often had very little idea about female anatomy and has come up with bizarre ideas about hymens and how to tell is a female has had intercourse.  This provides excellent material for women's studies courses and provides strong examples of the ways that medicine has been often far less scientific than it likes to claim.  This is true not only of the Middle Ages, but also of the twentieth century, and gives us reason to expect that it will continue to be true in the future.


© 2008 Christian Perring

Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.


Amazon Smile


Children and Adult services are available now with no wait time.  

Please contact HBH at 860-548-0101, option 2.


powered by centersite dot net