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Jessica Valenti, feminist writer and author of The Purity Myth, reasons that the concept of virginity is also dubious because of the many individual definitions of virginity loss, and that valuing virginity has placed a woman's morality "between her legs." She critiques the notion that sexual activity has any influence on morality or ethics.

The term virgin originally only referred to sexually inexperienced women, but has evolved to encompass a range of definitions, as found in traditional, modern and ethical concepts.

In this case, more-mature women can be virgins (The Virgin Queen), men can be virgins, and potential initiates into many fields can be colloquially termed virgins; for example, a skydiving "virgin". The Latin word likely arose by analogy with a suit of lexemes based on In this, and many later contexts, the reference is specifically Christian, alluding to members of the Ordo Virginum (Order of Virgins), which applies to the consecrated virgins known to have existed since the early church from the writings of the Church Fathers.

And so those become, like markers, for when virginity is lost." In a 1999 study published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association), the definition of sex was examined based on a 1991 random sample of 599 college students from 29 US states; it found that 60% said oral-genital contact (like fellatio, cunnilingus) did not constitute having sex.

Stephanie Sanders of the Kinsey Institute, co-author of the study, stated, "That's the 'technical virginity' thing that's going on." She and other researchers titled their findings "Would You Say You 'Had Sex' If ...?

Although typically applied to women, like English, it is also applied to men, in both cases specifically denoting absence of sexual experience.

When used of men, it does not carry a strong association of "never-married" status.These are three of the eighteen definitions of virgin from the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED1, pages 230–232).Most of the OED1 definitions, however, are similar. Jungfrau literally means "young woman", but is not used in this sense. The rather dated German word for a young (unmarried) woman, without implications regarding sexuality, is Fräulein.However, in reference to women, historically, it was sometimes used to refer to an engaged woman—parthenos autou (παρθένος αὐτού, his virgin) = his fiancée as opposed to gunē autou (γυνή αὐτού, his woman) = his wife.This distinction is necessary due to there being no specific word for wife (or husband) in Greek.A different study by the Kinsey Institute sampled 484 people, ranging in ages 18–96.

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