How to Pick a Lover

There was a young girl from a mission
Who was seized by a dreadful suspicion,
That “original sin”
Doesn’t matter a pin
In this era of nuclear fission.
—Rev. J. A. Davidson

In the not too distant past, a good girl—the kind fathers and mothers wanted for a daughter—was chaste and pure. If she did not marry, she remained virginal as her status slowly changed from nubile maid to simply old maid. The good girl modeled her virginity on such celebrated celibates as the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I. Whatever Good Queen Bess did or did not do with Leicester or her other courtiers, the official story was that she remained unsullied. To suggest otherwise was treasonous; to suggest the defloration of any good girl was libelous.

If the good girl did marry, then she became a good wife, which meant, most of all, a faithful one. She might be unloving and unlovable, an unpleasant companion and an incompetent helpmate; but if she was sexually monogamous, she was, by definition, good.

Cover of "Sex and the Single Girl"

The counterculture revolution of the sixties and the widespread use of the pill changed such definitions for many people. Helen Gurley Brown dared to talk about Sex and the Single Girl. Instead of being pilloried, she became famous and went on to expound the same ideas in the very successful magazine Cosmopolitan. Premarital sexual involvement became an open secret. It was no longer considered of great consequence as long as there was no pregnancy and as long as the girl in question permitted sexual encounters only with one man with whom she was in love and whom she planned or, at least, hoped to marry.

The Clairol company, which manufactures hair coloring, was immensely successful with an advertising campaign focused around a provocative question with a double entendre: “Does she or doesn’t she?” The world has changed,
and the question has become less provocative. Most of the time, we assume that she does or has or might.

Now, a more relevant question is, “Will she or won’t she?” As it is realized that an affair—or even more than one affair—is not necessarily beyond the pale, the open secret of premarital sexuality has become simply open. California psychologist Irene Kassorla affirmed that “nice girls do” and no one has to ask, “Do what?”

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Comments on: "Female Sexuality: Vanquishing Virginity" (2)

  1. […] by Women In Contemporary Relationships’s post on Vanquishing Virginity, which explores the idea that we’ve moved on from the idealised notion of “pure […]

  2. thesandytongue said:

    thanks for mentioning my blog, I appreciate it and I enjoyed your post.

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