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Source: (consider it) Thread: Bishops
Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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Oh come on. This is low-hanging fruit.

(Next you'll be telling me you thought the 'personal massage wands' advertised in Woman's Weekly were really for ladies' sore shoulders...)

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Baptist Trainfan
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# 15128

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They don't seem to be advertising anything similar in "Backtrack" (the historical railway magazine).
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SvitlanaV2
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# 16967

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I didn't think I'd said anything particularly controversial there.

The 1950s occurred after the social shakeup of WWII but before the sexual revolution of the 1960s. It seems fairly obvious, therefore, that there would have been fewer bridal virgins in the 50s than before, but more than there would be afterwards.

The net has no shortage of references to the stage at which many young British women found themselves in the 1950s:
This is the passage


and this one

etc. etc.


Many women may have hidden their escapades, but before reliable contraception came on the scene they would have been taking a great risk. However, I imagine that some women would have had less to lose than others, as is always the case.

[ 22. February 2017, 13:10: Message edited by: Doc Tor ]

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SvitlanaV2
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Sorry about that. This was my first link:

here.

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Baptist Trainfan
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# 15128

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I suspect that pre-marriage virginity fell during the War, and then recovered until the late 50s or even early 60s, with that era's focus on "getting back to normal".

And then the Pill came along ...

(Read "Keep the Aspidistra Flying" - that was in the 30s, of course).

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Many women may have hidden their escapades, but before reliable contraception came on the scene they would have been taking a great risk. However, I imagine that some women would have had less to lose than others, as is always the case.

This is true, of course - that women bore the (by far) greatest risk of 'getting caught'. And we can argue about what it means to be 'a virgin'.

But we can also raise an eyebrow or two at the phrase "a rising number of women reported pre-marital sexual experience". Sex surveys are notoriously inaccurate, and I'd be at liberty to interpret it as "women more comfortable saying that they had sex before marriage".

We are the product of a long line of people who had sex.

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Anselmina
Ship's barmaid
# 3032

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
"More likely to say they were virgins" is probably accurate. But anything else is a stretch, and is unverifiable.

And what is also unverifiable is assuming that most of the women who, if questioned, were lying when they said they were virgins when married. It is entirely possible that most of these women were telling the truth.

The pill wasn't around then, religion-influenced morality was still pretty strong amongst many families and cultural expectations were still high - even if unfairly so - that the woman would not have sex before she married. And given this environment, it makes complete sense that the ordinary girl hoping to marry successfully, by keeping herself for her husband; especially in the days when being married to your child's father was arguably the best way to ensure you weren't abandoned after becoming pregnant.

There would need to be pretty conclusive statistical evidence to prove that, on the whole, most young women claiming to be virgin on their wedding night in the 50's, weren't.

Again, I expect there were more who did lie about this. But sex before marriage for young girls I would imagine was not the norm, during the 1950's, as was afterwards.

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by Anselmina:
There would need to be pretty conclusive statistical evidence to prove that, on the whole, most young women claiming to be virgin on their wedding night in the 50's, weren't.

Was that the 1550s?
quote:
Nearly a third of Elizabethan brides were pregnant by the time they came to church, despite the Church’s prohibition on sexual relations beforehand.
I could most likely find statistical evidence for every subsequent century, but I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader...

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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Oh, go on then. Another data point.

quote:
For instance, there is evidence that in rural England in the latter eighteenth and the nineteenth century 30-40% of brides had a birth within 8 months of marriage (Hair 1970, Table 1), consistent with pregnancy at marriage for a substantial proportion of brides. In 1963, the earliest year that official statistics give similar information (and before the widespread use of the contraceptive pill), the corresponding figure was about 20%.
Source (page 5-6) (pdf)

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Anselmina
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And?

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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And because I have to spell it out.

The only reliable, unbiased, statistic as to whether a woman was a virgin when getting married is whether or not she has a child in the 0-8 months after getting married. (Yes, men get a free ride on this. Sorry.)

Given that, consistently up to the Victorian age, when attitudes changed, some 30-40% of women were actually pregnant at the time they were married and subsequently gave birth, I'm going to risk calling that 'pretty conclusive statistical evidence' that certainly, a large minority of women weren't virgins when they married.

It's not much of an assumption to go from that to say that a majority weren't, since every act of sexual intercourse doesn't end in a live birth.

Yes, things changed - for women - during the Victorian era, but what we see now is very much a return to the status quo that prevailed in the previous 500 years.

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Lost in Space

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SvitlanaV2
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# 16967

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In any case, my original comment was about the 1950s, not the 1550s or the 1850s, etc.! However, I own a very interesting book about sexual licence in 19th c. Europe, so I'm aware that there were various customs and tendencies at play.

Class and environment played a factor. Medieval peasants often wanted to ensure fertility before marriage; and there was a lot of prostitution in 18th c. London, where large numbers of newly urban, self-supporting women had to top up their meagre wages, etc.

Still, in the period I was referring to sexual license wasn't the norm, although I agree it was probably becoming more so, especially among some social groups. Illegitimacy rates and very early births after marriage can tell us a great deal about how people behaved, regardless of historians' agendas.

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Anselmina
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# 3032

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
And because I have to spell it out.


No. You don't. Honestly.

Nothing you've posted deals with the issue of how many women in the 1950s claiming to be virgins before marriage were liars. That's the only thing my comments have been concerned about.

Look, we're obviously not going to agree. I happen to believe that probably more women, than fewer, were telling the truth when they said they'd saved themselves for their wedding day; even if amongst that number we should assume some, maybe even a significant number, were lying. You don't believe that. Fair enough.

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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I don't believe it because it's not true.

This study (USA) is a bit impenetrable, but this summary states things more clearly.
quote:
The study found women virtually as likely as men to engage in premarital sex, even those born decades ago. Among women born between 1950 and 1978, at least 91 percent had had premarital sex by age 30, he said, while among those born in the 1940s, 88 percent had done so by age 44.
Yes, it's a social study, and therefore unreliable, but it does actually fit with all the older data.

To conclude: most people have been doing it before they got married for time immemorial, and lying about it for the same length of time.

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Lost in Space

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SvitlanaV2
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# 16967

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Interesting material, but it does refer to the USA, which is hardly the whole world.

Moreover, I'm not sure why this particular survey is more reliable than others, specifically in relation to the 1950s in Britain.

Perhaps it's that Americans, both male and female, have always been vastly more truthful than the British on these matters, more easily liberated from the shackles of prudery and deceit?

[Biased]

[ 27. February 2017, 00:05: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Dave W.
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# 8765

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
I don't believe it because it's not true.

This study (USA) is a bit impenetrable, but this summary states things more clearly.
quote:
The study found women virtually as likely as men to engage in premarital sex, even those born decades ago. Among women born between 1950 and 1978, at least 91 percent had had premarital sex by age 30, he said, while among those born in the 1940s, 88 percent had done so by age 44.
Yes, it's a social study, and therefore unreliable, but it does actually fit with all the older data.

To conclude: most people have been doing it before they got married for time immemorial, and lying about it for the same length of time.

That's an interesting study, Doc Tor. I think figure 2 does show a clear change in behavior over the decades; although as you note pre-marital sex is eventually nearly universal among even the earliest cohort, there was a significant proportion who first had pre-marital sex at a much later age than subsequent cohorts. By age ~19, 80% of women in the last three cohorts (turned 15 between 1974-84, 1984-94, 1994-2004) had had pre-marital sex; for the earliest cohort (turned 15 between 1954-1964) this proportion was only reached by age ~25.

So perhaps the study provides some support for the perception that 50's sexual mores really were different, though not for the notion that a large fraction of brides were virgins back then.

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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It is incredibly difficult to do studies that mean respondents have to be honest about behaviours they might be ashamed of. Which is why I was using the live birth after 0-8 months of marriage as the only reliable guide, and which holds up pretty well until the Victorian era when things did seem to change - at least in the hiding/obfuscating from official records.

And, of course, it depends on what 'sex' means. It won't just mean tab A/slot B action (otherwise you've just wiped out homosexual experiences). Though I expect someone will tell me there were none of them around in the 50s.

People - good church people - have been ignoring the church's teaching on fornication for at least 500 years. I don't know whether we should be surprised, or merely surprised that others are surprised by it.

[ 27. February 2017, 08:05: Message edited by: Doc Tor ]

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Dave W.
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# 8765

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
It is incredibly difficult to do studies that mean respondents have to be honest about behaviours they might be ashamed of.

Well, in the last study you cited nearly everyone admitted to pre-marital sex so it's hard to see how that could have greatly distorted the results; if they were willing to admit that, it seems unlikely they'd be dishonest about the first time it occurred.
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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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There's a lot less shame now about acts committed in the past. I can't conceive of a similar survey being carried out contemporaneously in the 1950s and producing the same result.

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Chamois
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# 16204

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Originally posted by Anselmina:

quote:
Nothing you've posted deals with the issue of how many women in the 1950s claiming to be virgins before marriage were liars. That's the only thing my comments have been concerned about.
Originally posted by Doc Tor:

quote:
I don't believe it because it's not true.

This study (USA) is a bit impenetrable, but this summary states things more clearly.
quote:

quote:
The study found women virtually as likely as men to engage in premarital sex, even those born decades ago. Among women born between 1950 and 1978, at least 91 percent had had premarital sex by age 30, he said, while among those born in the 1940s, 88 percent had done so by age 44.
Yes, it's a social study, and therefore unreliable, but it does actually fit with all the older data.

To conclude: most people have been doing it before they got married for time immemorial, and lying about it for the same length of time.

This is bollocks. Women born between 1950 and 1978 wouldn't have been legally old enough to marry in the 1950s. In the UK a woman born in 1950 couldn't get married before 1966 at the absolute earliest. So the information you are quoting has no bearing whatsoever on Anselmina's point.

Women born in the early 1950s would have been teenagers in the "permissive" years of the 60s, when sexual mores changed significantly.

And a woman born in the 1940s who was still unmarried at age 44 would have been living in the 1980s before she had pre-marital sex.

So your response has nothing all to say about the virginity or otherwise of women who got married in the 1950s.

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Augustine the Aleut
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# 1472

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
It is incredibly difficult to do studies that mean respondents have to be honest about behaviours they might be ashamed of. Which is why I was using the live birth after 0-8 months of marriage as the only reliable guide, and which holds up pretty well until the Victorian era when things did seem to change - at least in the hiding/obfuscating from official records.

*snip*

People - good church people - have been ignoring the church's teaching on fornication for at least 500 years. I don't know whether we should be surprised, or merely surprised that others are surprised by it.

Longer than that. Chrysostom in his homilies on 1 Timothy and Colossians, among others, teach on this in a way that suggests that the faithful clearly were staggering in to hear sermons after a night of shame and dissipation.

As far as chastity rates go, I leave others to do the sociological research. In Canada, there seem to be historical variances between rural and urban, and RC and non-RC, as well as other regional and class indicators. Let us not take away from the availability of dissertation topics by generalizing, but I most enjoy the work of bicycle historians at York University who ascribe the downfall of virtue to widespread cycling among young women, and their ability to socialize without supervision. Since then, it's been downhill.

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
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Surely, only if you live at the *top* of a hill...

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by Chamois:

And a woman born in the 1940s who was still unmarried at age 44 would have been living in the 1980s before she had pre-marital sex.

So your response has nothing all to say about the virginity or otherwise of women who got married in the 1950s.

Those born in 1940 would have been 15 by 1955. So unless you can show that they all waited until 1979 to have sex, then get married, I think you probably need to take a couple of remedial maths lessons.

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Lost in Space

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Chamois
Shipmate
# 16204

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No, you are the one who needs remedial maths. The data you've quoted only gives the proportion of women born in the 1940s who had had sex by the time they were 44. It says nothing about how many had had premarital sex before 1960.

You can't use data which is based on birth-date ranges to draw accurate conclusions about marriage-date ranges. It's not valid.

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The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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*face palm* Pre-marital does rather imply something.

But whatever helps you sleep at night.

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Chamois
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# 16204

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Please try to concentrate. This really isn't difficult.

Anselmina is talking about women who married in the 1950s.

First: women born in the 1950s cannot possibly have been married in the 1950s. They wouldn't have been old enough. Therefore whether they did or did not have pre-marital sex is not relevant.

Secondly: the only thing your study says about women born in the 1940s is that by the time they were 44, a certain proportion of them had had pre-marital sex. Your study does NOT say how many of them got married in the 1950s. Of all the women born in the 1940s, only women born in 1940, 1941, 1942 or 1943 could have been old enough to get married in the 1950s. We don't know what proportion of these did get married in the 1950s. If they didn't get married in the 1950s then whether they did or did not have pre-marital sex is not relevant. We don't know when these women married, and we don't even know if the number of women included in the study was the same for each year of the 1940s decade (the baby boom might very well mean that more of the cohort were actually born in the late 1940s than were born before 1944). It's highly probable that most of the study cohort born in the 1940s got married in the 1960s or 1970s and some even later than that. So the study doesn't tell us anything relevant to Anselmina's point.

Got it? I hope so. If not, get some maths tuition before you start spreading statistics all over someone else's argument.

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by Chamois:
Please try to concentrate. This really isn't difficult.

Anselmina is talking about women who married in the 1950s.

It was Svitlana.
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Sounds like quite an interesting procedure, and I wonder when it was first devised. Brides in the 1950s were more likely to have been virgins than nowadays, of course.

quote:
First: women born in the 1950s cannot possibly have been married in the 1950s. They wouldn't have been old enough. Therefore whether they did or did not have pre-marital sex is not relevant.
You're absolutely right. It is irrelevant. That's why only you are talking about them.

quote:

Secondly: the only thing your study says about women born in the 1940s is that by the time they were 44, a certain proportion of them had had pre-marital sex. Your study does NOT say how many of them got married in the 1950s. Of all the women born in the 1940s, only women born in 1940, 1941, 1942 or 1943 could have been old enough to get married in the 1950s. We don't know what proportion of these did get married in the 1950s. If they didn't get married in the 1950s then whether they did or did not have pre-marital sex is not relevant.

I'll stop you there. You do realise the prerequisite for having pre-marital sex is not being married? This study says nothing about married women having sex. As soon as women get married, they exclude themselves from the study. When they get married is not a data set. Whether they have sex before they get married is. And for those born in the 1940s (which is the earliest group considered), that's 88%.

Whether women in the 1950s were virgins when they married is what we're arguing about. If you make the assumption - and you appear to - that 1950s women married relatively young, then please consider that 82% had had pre-marital sex by the time they were aged 30. That's pre-marital sex. Not sex when married.

quote:
Got it? I hope so. If not, get some maths tuition before you start spreading statistics all over someone else's argument.
Yes. I absolutely do get it. I get you are provably and empirically wrong.

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Dave W.
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# 8765

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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
There's a lot less shame now about acts committed in the past. I can't conceive of a similar survey being carried out contemporaneously in the 1950s and producing the same result.

I think that's probably true - but my point is that the different behavior of the earliest cohort isn't that far fewer had pre-marital sex, but that a significant fraction had their first (pre-marital) sexual experience at a noticeably later age than subsequent cohorts. Their line in figure 2 is distinctly different from the others, even if it does eventually end up near the same total incidence of pre-marital sex.

This difference in reported behavior is unlikely to be due to a shame-based artifact, since these first cohort women who are (now) reporting a later age are, after all, still admitting pre-marital sex.

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
There's a lot less shame now about acts committed in the past. I can't conceive of a similar survey being carried out contemporaneously in the 1950s and producing the same result.

I think that's probably true - but my point is that the different behavior of the earliest cohort isn't that far fewer had pre-marital sex, but that a significant fraction had their first (pre-marital) sexual experience at a noticeably later age than subsequent cohorts. Their line in figure 2 is distinctly different from the others, even if it does eventually end up near the same total incidence of pre-marital sex.

This difference in reported behavior is unlikely to be due to a shame-based artifact, since these first cohort women who are (now) reporting a later age are, after all, still admitting pre-marital sex.

Yes, I take your point. Lack of opportunity when living in the family home? I don't know.

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Lost in Space

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Chamois
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# 16204

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Originally posted by Doc Tor:

quote:
I'll stop you there. You do realise the prerequisite for having pre-marital sex is not being married? This study says nothing about married women having sex. As soon as women get married, they exclude themselves from the study. When they get married is not a data set. Whether they have sex before they get married is. And for those born in the 1940s (which is the earliest group considered), that's 88%.

Whether women in the 1950s were virgins when they married is what we're arguing about. If you make the assumption - and you appear to - that 1950s women married relatively young, then please consider that 82% had had pre-marital sex by the time they were aged 30. That's pre-marital sex. Not sex when married.

Yes, exactly, we are arguing about whether women in the 1950s were virgins when they married. My point is that the majority of women born in the 1940s did not get married in the 1950s. Most of them probably married in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

The women who got married in the 1950s (which are the ones we are arguing about) would mostly have been born in the 1920s and the 1930s. So those are the women who you need to ask whether they had had pre-marital sex.

I'm assuming the peak age for marriage was in the woman's 20s.

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Chamois
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# 16204

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Originally posted by Dave W.:

quote:
This difference in reported behavior is unlikely to be due to a shame-based artifact, since these first cohort women who are (now) reporting a later age are, after all, still admitting pre-marital sex.
My guess would be the Swinging Sixties had a lot to do with this.

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RuthW

liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
There's a lot less shame now about acts committed in the past. I can't conceive of a similar survey being carried out contemporaneously in the 1950s and producing the same result.

I think that's probably true - but my point is that the different behavior of the earliest cohort isn't that far fewer had pre-marital sex, but that a significant fraction had their first (pre-marital) sexual experience at a noticeably later age than subsequent cohorts. Their line in figure 2 is distinctly different from the others, even if it does eventually end up near the same total incidence of pre-marital sex.

This difference in reported behavior is unlikely to be due to a shame-based artifact, since these first cohort women who are (now) reporting a later age are, after all, still admitting pre-marital sex.

Yes, I take your point. Lack of opportunity when living in the family home? I don't know.
This, and other cultural factors may also have contributed. I would guess young women were more likely to postpone sex before oral contraceptives came on the market -- they became available in the US in 1960. The so-called sexual revolution might also have had an effect.

An important thing not discussed in that study is how much of all this pre-marital sex was post-engagement sex. 50% of that cohort of women who turned 15 between 1954 and 1963 had pre-marital sex by the age of 20. 20 was also the median age for women getting married in the US then (source). In the next cohort, women turned 15 in 1964-73, 70% of them had pre-marital sex by the age of 20, and the median age for marriage was still only 21 or so. Someone with a better head for numbers can tell me if I'm misinterpreting them, but to me this says the rate of casual pre-marital sex went way up very quickly. There's a big difference between having sex with someone who has proposed marriage with a diamond engagement ring (since breach of promise laws were no longer on the books) and having sex with someone you're only dating, or picked up in a bar, or whatever.

Posts: 24173 | From: La La Land | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Aravis
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# 13824

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As my parents married late in life I had six rather elderly aunts (the oldest was born in 1916 and her husband was born in 1889) so have heard many anecdotes of how life has changed for women over the past century.
My parents and my oldest aunt went to university (the other five didn't) and there was a noticeable difference in the amount of freedom you had as a student. My grandmother was appalled that her eldest daughter had gone to a concert on her own with a young man. It just wouldn't have happened at home.
Life was more segregated halfway through the 20th century. More schools were single sex. When you left school, if you trained as a primary school teacher or a nurse or a typist you would spend most of your time with other women. If you lived at home your family would want to know where you were. It was harder to arrange liaisons; less people had phones, and even if there was one, you'd be unlikely to have a very private conversation. Less people had cars too.
I know this may seem obvious and trivial, but if sex is very difficult to arrange before marriage, you're a lot less likely to have any. Especially if society tells you that being seen as immoral will drastically reduce your chances of marriage and security.

Posts: 624 | From: S Wales | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged
L'organist
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# 17338

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Reminds me of my uncle (a prudish cleric) who insisted his 3 daughters were all home by 10pm (10.30 on a Saturday) until they were over 30. The cousins moaned a bit but seemed to put up with it very well.

It was when I stayed with two of them while their father was away that my eyes were opened: as they said, if their father thought 'sin' (by which he meant sex) could only take place outside the family home during the hours of darkness, who were they to disabuse him? To quote one, My own comfy bed on a glorious sunny afternoon while Pa is visiting his housebound - bliss!, while another used to visit the man who became her husband every morning for 'coffee'.

There will always be opportunity if you're prepared to be inventive.

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Rara temporum felicitate ubi sentire quae velis et quae sentias dicere licet

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