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Double Standard for Traditional Value of Virginity and Premarital Sexuality in Turkey: A University Students Case

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  • Bakırköy Ruh ve Sinir Hastalıkları Hastanesi (Bakırkoy Research and Training Hospital for Psychiatry, Neurology and Neurosurgery

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This study investigates the prevalence of myths regarding virginity and the hymen and their associations with sexuality prior to marriage. This study was conducted with 534 single, heterosexual male and female students from various faculties of Dicle University in Turkey. The findings demonstrated that the rates of masturbation (11.1%) and premarital sexual intercourse (4.3%) were much lower in women than in men (87.7% and 44.2% respectively) who were traditionally expected to maintain their virginity until marriage. A higher degree of commitment to religious faith was associated with a lower rate of masturbation and sexual contact experience. Also, the myth that the hymen symbolized virginity was slightly more prevalent among male students (74.2% vs. 72.1%). Female virginity was significantly more important among male students (76.7%) than females (11.1%), and male students more frequently (30.1% vs. 11.1%) stated that "the blood-stained bed sheet" should be displayed to the family on the day of marriage. Although some myths about virginity were frequently reported by females, less significance was attributed to virginity by females than by males. In conclusion, the traditional social structure that incites sexual double standards still prevails over the sexual attitudes and behaviors of university students in Turkey.
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Double Standard for Traditional Value of Virginity and Premarital
Sexuality in Turkey: A University Students Case
Altan Eşsizoğlua; Aziz Yasanb; Ejder Akgun Yildirimc; Faruk Gurgenb; Mustafa Ozkanb
a Eskisehir Osmangazi University Faculty of Medicine, Eskisehir, Turkey b Dicle University Faculty of
Medicine, Diyarbakir, Turkey c Bakirkoy Research and Training Hospital for Psychiatry and
Neurology, Istanbul, Turkey
Online publication date: 05 April 2011
To cite this Article Eşsizoğlu, Altan , Yasan, Aziz , Yildirim, Ejder Akgun , Gurgen, Faruk and Ozkan, Mustafa(2011)
'Double Standard for Traditional Value of Virginity and Premarital Sexuality in Turkey: A University Students Case',
Women & Health, 51: 2, 136 — 150
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/03630242.2011.553157
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Women & Health, 51:136–150, 2011
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ISSN: 0363-0242 print/1541-0331 online
DOI: 10.1080/03630242.2011.553157
Double Standard for Traditional Value
of Virginity and Premarital Sexuality
in Turkey: A University Students Case
ALTAN ES
¸SIZO
M
GLU, MD
Eskisehir Osmangazi University Faculty of Medicine, Eskisehir, Turkey
AZIZ YASAN, MD
Dicle University Faculty of Medicine, Diyarbakir, Turkey
EJDER AKGUN YILDIRIM, MD
Bakirkoy Research and Training Hospital for Psychiatry and Neurology, Istanbul, Turkey
FARUK GURGEN, MD and MUSTAFA OZKAN, MD
Dicle University Faculty of Medicine, Diyarbakir, Turkey
This study investigates the prevalence of myths regarding virginity
and the hymen and their associations with sexuality prior to mar-
riage. This study was conducted with 534 single, heterosexual male
and female students from various faculties of Dicle University in
Turkey. The findings demonstrated that the rates of masturbation
(11.1%) and premarital sexual intercourse (4.3%) were much
lower in women than in men (87.7% and 44.2% respectively)
who were traditionally expected to maintain their virginity until
marriage. A higher degree of commitment to religious faith was
associated with a lower rate of masturbation and sexual contact
experience. Also, the myth that the hymen symbolized virginity was
slightly more prevalent among male students (74.2% vs. 72.1%).
Female virginity was significantly more important among male
students (76.7%) than females (11.1%), and male students more
frequently (30.1% vs. 11.1%) stated that ‘‘the blood-stained bed
sheet’’ should be displayed to the family on the day of marriage.
Although some myths about virginity were frequently reported by
females, less significance was attributed to virginity by females
Received August 24, 2010; revised December 14, 2010; accepted January 5, 2011.
Address correspondence to Altan E¸
ssizoMglu, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of
Psychiatry, Diyarbakir State Hospital, TR-21280, Diyarbakir, Turkey. E-mail: altanessizoglu
@gmail.com
136
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Double Standard for Virginity and Premarital Sex 137
than by males. In conclusion, the traditional social structure that
incites sexual double standards still prevails over the sexual atti-
tudes and behaviors of university students in Turkey.
KEYWORDS virginity, masturbation, premarital sexual intercourse,
university student, double standard
INTRODUCTION
Sexuality is determined by a complex interaction of various factors, includ-
ing social relations, living conditions, biological structure of the individual,
and the culture of the society (Sadock, 2000). Because sexual values and
the meaning of sexuality depend on the culture, the frequency of pre-
marital sexual intercourse may vary from culture to culture. For example,
while premarital sex is widespread in most western cultures with scarcely
any significant differences between genders (Finer, 2007; Darroch, Singh,
& Frost, 2005; Traeen & Kvalem, 2007), it is quite limited within Turkey
and Islamic cultures of the east, especially for women (Kadri et al., 2006;
Parla, 2001; Sakalli & Glick, 2003; Askun & Ataca, 2007). This difference
could be associated with factors, such as the traditional value of virginity
(Parla, 2001; Sakalli & Glick, 2003; Leiblum, Wiegel, & Brickle, 2003; Hirst,
2004) and sexual double standards (Marks & Fraley, 2005; Jonason & Fisher,
2009).
Social meaning ascribed to virginity is associated with traditional gender
roles and varies by sex. For example, virginity is still viewed as a crucial
indicator of purity and chastity (Parla, 2001). On the other hand, although
‘‘being a virgin’’ is still considered as a sign of high moral standing, it does
not have a special meaning for the women relatives of the men they may
marry (Gursoy & Vural, 2003). In a study conducted among 500 university
students; 55% of male students stated that they considered virginity as an
important characteristic of the women they would marry, while 92% of
female students claimed that the virginity of the man they would marry was
not really an issue (Ozturk, 1998). The dominant value in the patriarchal
system is ‘‘namus’’ or honor, which is maintained in large part through
men being in control of the sexual behavior (chastity) of the women in
the family (Kagitcibasi & Sunar, 1992). Women who reside in this patriarchal
structure are subjected to virginity checks (Parla, 2001), hymen reattachment
surgery (Bekker et al., 1996), and physical violence (physical torture) (Ayotte,
2000), and they even commit suicide and become victims of honor killings
(killing by male members of the family of a woman who lost her virginity
through unlawful sexual intercourse) (Kagitcibasi & Sunar, 1992), if they
are not virgins or found not to be virgins at the time of marriage. At the
same time, men boast about losing their virginity. Turkey is predominantly
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138 A. E¸
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glu et al.
a Muslim country, geographically situated at the passageway between Asia
and Europe, and thus reflects both traditional Islamic culture and rapid west-
ernization (Kagitcibasi & Sunar, 1992). Dicle University, where the present
study was conducted, is located in the southeastern part of Turkey bordering
Iran, Iraq, and Syria, and this region has a traditional Islamic culture. In this
regard, the culture can still be characterized as traditional, authoritarian, and
patriarchal. Rituals such as displaying the blood-stained sheet on the first
day of marriage as a proof of the bride’s virginity are still quite widespread
in this region. Studies examining the concerns brought on by the myths
surrounding the hymen in Islamic cultures and in Turkey, and their impact
on sexual behavior are limited in number. The objectives in carrying out
this study were to determine the extent of masturbation and premarital
sexual intercourse among students, and to investigate culturally based myths
concerning virginity and the hymen. The researchers also aimed to determine
the relation of these myths about virginity and the hymen to sexual behavior
prior to marriage.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Students
A total of 13,200 students were enrolled at Dicle University during the study
period in spring 2007. The study sample was randomly selected from five
different faculties (education, social sciences, engineering, law, and health
sciences). A total of 1135 students were enrolled in all classes of these
five faculties. The study was explained to the students in an informed con-
sent from 1st–21st December, 2007. Of the 1135 students, 782 participated
(68.9%). Of these, 154 (19.7%) students were excluded from the study after
refusing to give consent. Signed informed consent was received from all of
the students who participated. Approval for the study protocol was received
from the Ethics Committee of Dicle University.
The students were seated in individual seats and were unable to see each
other’s questionnaires. The forms were handed out within closed envelopes.
Every student in the class was asked to fill out the forms by him/herself. The
completed forms were gathered, again within closed envelopes, and kept in
a locked trunk which was left in the class. The completed survey forms were
later checked by the team of researchers. Forms with missing information
belonging to 19 students were excluded. Fifty-five additional students were
excluded from the analysis due to reporting a sexual orientation other than
heterosexual, and 20 were excluded because they were not single. Thus,
information in the forms belonging to 534 (47.0% of total) students (education
11.4%, social sciences 14.6%, engineering 30.0%, law 21.9%, and health
sciences 22.1%) was statistically evaluated.
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Double Standard for Virginity and Premarital Sex 139
Instruments
Socio-demographic data form. Students’ attributes, including age, sex,
marital status, whether they were always or mostly urban area residents or
always or mostly rural area residents, their perceived socio-economic status
(the respondents were asked whether they perceived themselves to be of
a lower, middle, or upper socio-economic status), and religious views were
determined. As the majority of those living in the region where the study was
conducted were Islamic those who subscribed to this faith were evaluated on
3 levels (with other faiths and non-believers constituting a total of 5 levels):
1. Fully practicing: The one who performed all the daily acts of worship of
the Islamic Faith.
2. Semi-practicing: The one who did not perform some of the daily acts of
worship, despite having religious faith.
3. Non-practicing: The one who did not perform any of the daily worship,
despite having religious faith.
4. Non-Muslim or not proclaimed: Non-Muslims who constituted a very small
number among the students were grouped together with those who did
not answer this question.
5. Non-religious: Those who reported no religious faith.
Sexuality information form. This form was prepared to obtain informa-
tion regarding the students’ sexual orientation (heterosexual, homosexual,
bisexual), masturbation experience (yes, no), age of first masturbatory expe-
rience, whether they had had sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal, or oral) with
another person (yes, no), and if so, the age, place at which the experience
occurred, and its nature (romantic relationship or brothel).
Information form for evaluating myths regarding the hymen. An 11-
item form was generated concerning the hymen and virginity. In this form,
the prevalence of myths grouped under the following headings were exam-
ined: (a) Two items regarding the structure and function of the hymen ‘What
is the function of the hymen’ and ‘The hymen is a thin membrane’; (b) Four
items about the conditions under which the makeup of the hymen could be
damaged ‘Touching has damaging effects on the hymen,’ ‘Masturbation is
detrimental to the hymen,’ ‘Falling from a great height damages the hymen,’
‘Carrying a heavy load damages the hymen’; (c) Three items about the fears
related with the hymen in the first sexual intercourse ‘Bleeding is present
in all initial sexual intercourses,’ ‘Intense pain is present at initial sexual
intercourse,’ ‘Intense bleeding is present at initial sexual intercourse’; (d) One
item about the importance of virginity in a marriage decision; (e) One item
about the tradition of displaying the blood-stained sheet as a sign of virginity.
For one item (‘What is the function of the hymen’), four choice-response
categories (‘It is a protective membrane,’ ‘It does not serve a purpose,’
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140 A. E¸
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‘It symbolizes virginity,’ and ‘Other’) were provided. For all other items,
three choice-response categories (false, no idea/not sure, and true) were
provided.
Data Analysis
The collected data were analyzed using SPSS v. 15.00 (IBM Corporation).
The demographic and parametric data were compared between groups of
students with and without premarital sexual intercourse and masturbation
experience by using student’s ttest for continuous variables and chi square
tests for the comparison of categorical data; p<0.05 was accepted as
significant. The rate of agreement in myths concerning the hymen between
women and men were compared. Binary logistic regression models were
used to identify factors associated with masturbation and premarital sexual
intercourse. Binary logistic regression analysis only included the variables
with a significant difference (p<0.05) in bivariate comparisons. Independent
variables for the analysis were gender, religious beliefs, urban vs. rural
residence, and myths about the hymen/virginity. The Hosmer–Lemeshow
chi-square test was used to assess goodness of fit of the model to the data.
RESULTS
The mean age of students who participated and were included in the analysis
was 21.2 ˙2.37 years—comprised of 326 males (61%) and 208 females
(39%). The proportion of students reporting masturbation was 57.9% (309),
while the proportion of those experiencing premarital sexual intercourse
was 28.7% (153). The proportions of masturbation and premarital sexual
intercourse among men were 87.7% and 11.1%, respectively and among
women were 11.1% and 4.3%, respectively. The proportions of masturbation
and premarital sexual intercourse were significantly related to gender with
significantly higher frequencies among men (X2D306.2, p<.001 and X2D
98.62, p<.001). The average age at first masturbation was 13.9 ˙1.97 years,
while the average age for first premarital sexual intercourse was 18.0 ˙2.76
years. Among those who had experienced premarital sexual intercourse [nD
144 men (44.2% of men) and nD9 women (4.5% of women)], women had
experienced intercourse exclusively in romantic relationships, while 50.0%
(72) of men had experienced intercourse in a brothel; 30.5% (44) of men had
experienced intercourse in exchange for money outside of a brothel; and
19.5% (28) of men had experienced intercourse in a romantic relationship
with their girlfriends.
The proportion of worshippers (fully practicing + semi practicing) was
66.7% (356). Fewer of those who were fully practicing masturbated (49.0%),
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Double Standard for Virginity and Premarital Sex 141
TABLE 1 A Comparison of the Demographic Attributes of Those Who Had/Had Not Experi-
enced Masturbation and Premarital Sexual Intercourse
Had masturbated No masturbation
Characteristics N:309 % N:225 % pvalue
Gender <0.001
Female 23 11.1 185 88.9
Male 286 87.7 40 12.3
Living region 0.016
All/mostly rural 63 69.2 28 30.8
All/mostly urban 246 55.5 197 44.5
Socio-economic status 0.14
Upper 12 50.0 12 50.0
Middle 265 57.0 200 43.0
Lower 32 71.1 13 28.9
Religiosity <0.01
Fully practicing 25 49.0 26 51.0
Semi practicing 153 50.2 152 49.8
Non practicing 95 70.9 39 29.1
Non-religious 21 84.0 4 16.0
Non-Muslim/Not divulge 15 78.9 4 21.1
Have sexual
intercourse
Have not sexual
intercourse
Characteristics N:153 % N:381 % pvalue
Gender <0.001
Female 9 4.3 199 95.7
Male 144 44.2 182 55.8
Living region 0.60
All/mostly rural 24 26.4 67 73.6
All/mostly urban 129 29.1 314 70.9
Socio-economic status 0.21
Upper 9 37.5 18 62.5
Middle 127 27.3 398 72.7
Lower 17 37.8 27 62.2
Religiosity <0.001
Fully practicing 3 5.9 48 94.1
Semi practicing 77 25.2 228 74.8
Non practicing 54 40.3 80 59.7
Non-religious 10 40.0 15 60.0
Non-Muslim/Not divulge 9 47.4 10 52.6
while those who were non-religious reported the highest proportion of mas-
turbation (84.0%) (Table 1). The relationship between masturbation, sexual
intercourse, and the level of religious faith were significant (X2D28.86,
p<.001 and X2D28.39, p<.001). Furthermore, there was a significant
relationship between where the student lived and masturbation, with more
students from rural areas reporting masturbation than those living in urban
areas (69.2% vs. 55.5%) (X2D5.81, p<.016).
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TABLE 2 A Comparison of Beliefs Held by Women and Men Regarding the Hymen and
Virginity
Female Male Total
Beliefs of regarding the
virginity and hymen N:208 % N:326 % pvalue N:534 %
Function of hymen 0.015
A protective membrane* 53 25.5 59 18.1 112 21.0
It symbolizes virginity 128 61.5 198 60.7 326 61.0
It does not serve a purpose 5 2.4 25 7.7 30 5.6
Protective membrane Cit symbolizes virginity 22 10.6 44 13.5 66 12.4
Touching the genitals has damaging effects on
the hymen
0.007
False 137 65.9 195 59.8 332 62.2
No idea/not sure 47 22.6 59 18.1 106 19.9
True* 24 11.5 72 22.1 96 18.0
Carrying a heavy load damages the hymen 0.012
False 96 46.2 140 42.9 236 44.2
No idea/not sure* 59 28.4 129 39.6 188 35.2
True 53 25.5 57 17.5 110 20.6
Falling from a great height damages hymen 0.001
False 75 36.1 123 37.7 198 37.1
No idea/not sure 60 28.8 133 40.8 193 36.1
True* 73 35.1 70 21.5 143 26.8
Masturbation is detrimental to the hymen <0.001
False 78 37.5 125 38.3 203 38.0
No idea/not sure* 104 50.0 108 33.1 212 39.7
True 26 12.5 93 28.5 119 22.3
Bleeding is present all initial sexual intercourse 0.050
False 70 33.7 94 28.8 164 30.7
No idea/not sure 19 9.1 31 9.5 50 9.4
True 119 57.2 201 61.7 320 59.9
Intense pain is present at initial sexual
intercourse
<0.001
False 29 13.9 35 10.7 64 12.0
No idea/not sure 78 37.5 77 23.6 155 29.0
True* 101 48.6 214 65.6 315 59.0
Intense bleeding is present at initial sexual
intercourse
0.036
False 73 35.1 97 29.8 170 31.8
No idea/not sure 76 36.5 101 31.0 177 33.1
True* 59 28.4 128 39.3 187 35.0
Hymen is a thin membrane 0.42
False 20 9.6 22 6.7 42 7.9
No idea/not sure 65 31.2 98 30.1 163 30.5
True 123 59.1 206 63.2 329 61.6
Importance of virginity in a marriage decision <0.001
False 166 7.98 51 15.6 217 40.6
No idea/not sure 19 9.1 25 7.7 44 8.2
True* 23 11.1 250 76.7 273 51.1
Blood soaked sheet should be displayed on the
first night of marriage
<0.001
False* 165 79.3 191 58.6 356 66.7
No idea/not sure 20 9.6 37 11.3 57 10.7
True 23 11.1 98 30.1 121 22.7
Note. *The answers which cause statistical difference.
In defining the function of the hymen, the majority of women (61.5%)
and men (60.7%) opted for the choice, ‘it symbolizes virginity.’ Regarding the
item ‘Importance of virginity in a marriage decision,’ 79.8% of women and
15.6% of men were of the opinion that this was false. Significantly more men
believed that virginity was important for marriage decisions (X2D236.0, p<
.001) (Table 2).
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Double Standard for Virginity and Premarital Sex 143
Binary logistic regression analysis was used to understand the indepen-
dent relations of gender, religion, urban and rural residence, the perceptions
about virginity, and the role of hymen to masturbation and premarital sexual
intercourse.
Male gender and being religious but non-practicing were significantly
independently related to masturbation (OR D369.6; p<.001 and OR D
5.1, pD.004, respectively) after controlling for other covariates (Table 3)
[(OR values represent the independent relation to the dependent variable
(masturbation and premarital sexual intercourse)] while controlling for other
variables in the model. When responses to items regarding myths about the
hymen/virginity were considered, agreeing with the following statements
was each significantly independently related to not reporting masturbation:
‘Falling from a great height damages the hymen,’ ‘Masturbation is detrimental
to the hymen,’ ‘Carrying a heavy load damages the hymen,’ and ‘Blood-
stained sheet should be displayed on the first day of the marriage’ (OR D
0.3; pD.023, OR D0.2; p<.001, OR D4.6; pD.01 and OR D0.3; pD
.007, respectively) (Table 3). The defined model explained between 54.7%
and 73.6% of reporting masturbation. In an additional statistical analyses
performed, when the male and female students were compared regarding
urban/rural residence, gender was significantly related to urban vs. rural
residence (X2D11.6, p<.001), with more women living in urban areas
(89.9%) than the men (78.5%). Thus, the combined effects of gender and
urban/rural residence were examined, and made gender, regardless of ur-
ban (OR D369.6) or rural (OR D242.0) residence, was most significantly
related to reporting having masturbated. Urban or rural residence was not
significantly related to the level of religious faith (X2D2.9, pD.58).
To examine the independent variables for premarital sexual intercourse
of perceptions about virginity and the role of the hymen, religion and gender
were included in a binary logistic regression model. Urban vs. rural residence
was not included because it was not related to reporting premarital sexual
intercourse previous bivariate analyses. Male gender, being religious but non-
practicing, semi-practicing, and non-Muslim/not disclosed were significantly
independently related with reporting premarital sexual intercourse after ad-
justing for other covariates (OR D54.1; p<.001, OR D9.8; pD.001, OR D
7.0; pD.003, OR D8.5; pD.009, respectively) (Table 4). When responses to
items regarding myths about the hymen/virginity were considered, agreeing
with the following statements was each significantly independently related to
not reporting premarital sexual intercourse: ‘Touching has damaging effects
on the hymen’ and ‘Virginity is important in a marriage decision’ (female
virginity was asked of the males, and male virginity was asked of the females)
were associated with not reporting premarital sexual intercourse (OR D0.5;
pD.02 and OR D0.3; pD.005, respectively) (Table 4). The defined model
for having premarital sexual intercourse explained between 32.6% and 46.6%
of this outcome.
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144 A. E¸
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TABLE 3 Binary Logistic Regression Results of Demographic Characteristics and
Beliefs Regarding Virginity Related to Reporting Masturbation
Masturbated
Independent variable OR 95% CI pvalue
Gender
Female 1.0 —
Male 369.6 9.70–1,408.6 <0.001
Living region
All/mostly rural 2.9 0.6–15.1 0.20
All/mostly urban 1.0
Religiosity
Fully practicing 1.0
Semi practicing 1.7 0.7–4.1 0.29
Non practicing 5.1 1.7–15.6 0.004
Non-religious 5.5 0.8–37.6 0.09
Non-Muslim/Not divulge 1.9 0.4–8.9 0.41
Function of hymen
A protective membrane 1.2 0.4–3.4 0.76
It symbolizes virginity 0.8 0.3–2.1 0.70
It does not serve a purpose 2.0 0.3–12.6 0.48
Protective membrane Cit symbolizes virginity 1.0
Touching the genitals has damaging effects on
the hymen
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 0.4 0.2–1.0 0.06
True 0.6 0.2–1.4 0.25
Carrying a heavy load damages the hymen
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 4.4 1.6–11.9 0.003
True 4.6 1.4–14.7 0.01
Falling from a great height damages hymen
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 0.5 0.2–1.4 0.19
True 0.3 0.1–0.8 0.023
Masturbation is detrimental to the hymen
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 0.2 0.1–0.6 0.001
True 0.2 0.1–0.5 <0.001
Intense pain is present at initial sexual
intercourse
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 0.6 0.2–2.0 0.36
True 1.0 0.4–3.0 0.94
Intense bleeding is present at initial sexual
intercourse
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 0.5 0.2–1.3 0.14
True 0.7 0.3–1.6 0.40
Importance of virginity in a marriage decision
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 0.2 0.04–0.9 0.034
True 0.7 0.2–2.3 0.58
Blood soaked sheet should be displayed on the
first night of marriage
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 1.6 0.6–4.5 0.39
True 0.3 0.2–0.7 0.007
Gender and living region rural vs. urban
Female urban 1.0
Male urban 369.6 97.0–1,409.0 <0.001
Male rural 242.0 56.9–1,030.0 <0.001
Female rural 2.9 0.6–15.1 0.20
OR values represent the independent relation of each variable to reporting masturbation/premarital
sexual intercourse while controlling for all the other variables in the model which are listed in the table.
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Double Standard for Virginity and Premarital Sex 145
TABLE 4 Binary Logistic Regression Results of Demographic Characteristics and
Beliefs Regarding Virginity Related to Reporting Premarital Sexual Intercourse
Had premarital intercourse
Independent variable OR 95% CI pvalue
Gender
Female 1.0 —
Male 54.1 19.5–149.9 <0.001
Religiosity
Fully practicing 1.0
Semi practicing 7.0 1.9–25.3 0.003
Non practicing 9.8 2.6–36.8 0.001
Non-religious 2.6 0.5–13.6 0.25
Non-Muslim/Not divulge 8.5 1.7–42.8 0.009
Function of hymen
A protective membrane 2.3 1.0–5.5 0.06
It symbolizes virginity 1.7 0.8–3.6 0.20
It does not serve a purpose 2.4 0.8–7.9 0.14
Protective membrane Cit symbolizes virginity 1.0
Touching the genitals has damaging effects on
the hymen
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 0.4 0.2–0.8 0.02
True 0.5 0.2–0.9 0.02
Carrying a heavy load damages the hymen
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 1.6 0.7–3.5 0.28
True 1.4 0.6–3.5 0.46
Falling from a great height damages hymen
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 0.9 0.4–2.0 0.85
True 0.9 0.4–2.2 0.89
Masturbation is detrimental to the hymen
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 0.9 0.5–1.6 0.61
True 1.0 0.5–1.9 0.96
Intense pain is present at initial sexual
intercourse
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 0.2 0.08–0.6 0.004
True 1.0 0.4–2.1 0.90
Intense bleeding is present at initial sexual
intercourse
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 0.7 0.4–1.5 0.38
True 0.8 0.4–1.5 0.53
Importance of virginity in a marriage decision
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 0.5 0.2–1.6 0.25
True 0.3 0.1–0.7 0.005
Blood soaked sheet should be displayed on the
first night of marriage
False 1.0 —
No idea/not sure 1.3 0.6–2.9 0.56
True 0.6 0.4–1.2 0.16
OR values represent the independent relation of each variable to reporting masturbation/premarital
sexual intercourse while controlling for all the other variables in the model which are listed in the table.
DISCUSSION
Only limited numbers of studies have been performed relating to percep-
tions about the hymen. This study offers important and new data about
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myths regarding the hymen and their relation to premarital sexual inter-
course.
Over half of students in the study reported having masturbated, and over
one-fourth reported having had premarital sexual intercourse. While these
figures are lower than those obtained in the studies carried out in the West
(Finer, 2007; Darroch, Singh, & Frost, 2005; Traeen & Kvalem, 2007), they are
higher than those obtained in the studies carried out in the other societies of
Islamic culture (Simbar, Tehrani, & Hashemi, 2005; Kadri et al., 2006). The
results of this study compared with the results of other studies conducted in
Turkey, observed lower rates of premarital sexual contact than those reported
in the studies conducted in Western Turkey (Aras et al., 2007; Askun & Ataca,
2007) and similar to the rates reported in the studies conducted in Eastern
Turkey (Donmez, 1999). This may be due to the fact that the university
where the study was conducted is situated in a region neighboring countries
such as Iran, Iraq, and Syria where traditional Islamic culture prevails. In
traditional Islamic societies, all aspects of life, including sex, are organized
by religious and conservative rules. Sexual norms, defined by these rules,
are likely determinants of an individual’s sexual behaviors. Therefore, those
who are devoted to religion may abstain from sexuality because of the fear
brought about by these rules (Kalmuss, 2004). It has also been reported for
the religions other than Islam, that the more religious individuals were the
less sexual experience they had (Laumann et al., 1994; Leiblum, Wiegel, &
Brickle, 2003; Farmer, Trapnell, & Meston, 2009).
The findings indicate that rates of masturbation were eight times higher
and premarital sexual intercourse approximately ten times higher among
men compared to women. This finding has been shown in many studies
involving various cultures (Askun & Ataca, 2007). This may be due to the
double standard (Marks & Fraley, 2005; Jonason & Fisher, 2009) of pro-
hibiting women from having premarital sexual intercourse. This may also
be the reason why the majority of men have sexual relations in exchange
for money and why their initial sexual encounter generally occurs in a
brothel. In the findings of this study, more than half of the men surveyed
reported having had sex in a brothel, while 80% admitted to having paid
for sexual relations in some form. In countries such as Turkey (Cok, 2000;
Parla, 2001; Sakalli & Glick, 2003), Pakistan, Tunisia (Douki et al., 2007),
and Iran (Simbar, Tehrani, & Hashemi, 2005) where remaining a virgin
until marriage is still considered a sign of morality, sexuality is strongly
prohibited for women, although it is quite acceptable among men. Among
male students in this study, 76% agreed with the item ‘The virginity of
my partner has an influence on my decision to get married’ while only
11.1% of the female students agreed with the item. Nonetheless, the gap
between gender-specific attitudes concerning sexuality prior to marriage in
Western cultures is narrowing (Darroch, Singh, & Frost, 2005; Finer, 2007)
and most adolescents have sexual intercourse with peers, contributing to
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Double Standard for Virginity and Premarital Sex 147
the diminishing gap in sexual experiences of males and females in Western
cultures.
While the average initial age for masturbation was similar to those of
other studies, this study also found that the age for first sexual intercourse
was older than those found in Western societies (Ompad et al., 2006). This
finding supports other studies that reported sexual experiences occurring at
a later age in Asian societies in comparison to Western societies (Meston,
Trapnell, & Gorzalka, 1996). This study showed that more students from
rural areas reported masturbation, which may have been due to the ma-
jority of students from rural areas being males (p<.01 for rural male in
logistic regression analysis). Furthermore, we found that with decreasing
frequency of performing religious practices, rates of reporting premarital
sexual intercourse increased. Not performing religious practices was also
related to reporting masturbation. Prohibition against various sexual practices
imposed by religion and more conservative levels of religious faith have been
associated with more conservative sexual behaviors, while a more liberal
level of religious faith was associated with more liberal sexual attitudes
and behaviors (Leiblum, Wiegel, & Brickle, 2003; Askun & Ataca, 2007).
In addition to premarital sex being prohibited in traditional Islamic culture
(Parla, 2001; Simbar, Tehrani, & Hashemi, 2005), this may also be linked to
acquiring information about sexuality through a religious point of view in
environments where religious activities are carried out as the extent of faith
in religion increases.
The researchers found that myths regarding the hymen were widespread
among students. For instance, 66% of the students reported that the hymen
‘Symbolized virginity.’ This showed that myths regarding the hymen as serv-
ing to preserve virginity were quite widespread. The item ‘Carrying a heavy
load and falling from a great height damages the hymen’ was reported by
20% to 25% of the students. This may show that the hymen is perceived as
a fragile tissue that needs protection in everyday life.
Two-thirds of the students in this study agreed with the item, ‘Intense
pain is present at initial sexual intercourse.’ This may be an important factor
that explains the level of concern about people’s initial sexual experience and
may also contribute to the number of reported vaginismus cases (Yasan &
Gurgen, 2009). The item of ‘Everyone experiences pain during initial sexual
intercourse’ was widespread, regardless of whether they had or had not
experienced sexual intercourse. In a country like Turkey where sex educa-
tion is scarce, this shows that fears and concerns about sexual intercourse
are not only frequent among those who are inexperienced, but that these
fears and concerns also persist and are perpetuated from generation to
generation as a result of dyspareunia resulting from fear and stress even
after the experience.
The items, ‘Masturbation is detrimental to the hymen’ and ‘Touching
the genitals has damaging effects on the hymen’ found widespread support
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among students. The former was also related to reporting masturbation.
Concerns about protecting the hymen until marriage may be the cause of
lower rates of masturbation among women in our culture.
In the study, 25% of the students agreed that the blood-stained bed
sheet, as a symbol of virginity, should be displayed on the first day of
the marriage. This shows that the current understanding which perpetuates
this tradition leading to performance anxiety among newlywed couples is
still quite widespread among these students. Also this item was related to
reporting masturbation. This may illustrate concerns about having to suffer
the negative consequences of rituals regarding sexuality in traditional culture.
For example, women who have premarital sexual intercourse have suffered
many unpleasant consequences, such as virginity checks (Pelin, 1999) and
physical violence (Parla, 2001; Bekker et al., 1996; Ayotte, 2000). This may
also be considered as one of the contributing factors to the relatively high
prevalence of hymen reattachment surgery prior to marriage in Turkey and
other similar cultures (Parla, 2001; Bekker et al., 1996; Ayotte, 2000); because
failing to display the blood-stained bed sheet on the first day of marriage
may be construed as the absence of virginity and a lack of moral virtue which
may result in divorce or even homicide.
Study Limitations
Lack of consideration of demographic attributes, such as family structure
and resources for information about sexuality, was among the limitations
of this study. Furthermore, this study did not use validated instruments
or assess the psychometric properties of the questions that we developed
for this study. Thus we cannot assure the comparability of the data or
results to other studies that have used validated instruments. Moreover,
the results may not be able to be generalized to other students in Turkey.
The data on classification regarding the living areas of the students (ru-
ral/urban area) was not sufficiently clear to delineate this characteristic.
Also the fact that researchers were not able to examine the interaction
between rural/urban residence and religiosity because of the inadequate
sample size is another limitation of this study. In addition, ‘double standards’
was not directly measured. Finally, this study was limited by the potential
for social acceptability bias due to the self reported data on a very sensitive
topic.
In conclusion, the traditional social structure that incites sexual double
standards still prevails over the sexual attitudes and behaviors of university
students in Turkey. However, traditional myths regarding the hymen were
found to be widespread among both sexes. It was also noted that the
importance of the hymen in a marriage and the task of protecting it and the
role assigned to women to this end were major factors for women making
them abstain from premarital sexual intercourse. The unexplained variance
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Double Standard for Virginity and Premarital Sex 149
was between 53.4% and 77.4% while high, indicating that other variables
should be examined in future studies of factors related to premarital sexual
intercourse behavior.
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... For example, people still hold strong negative attitudes toward premarital sex for women, and they see women who have engaged in premarital sex as less desirable marriage partners (Sakallı-Uğurlu & Glick, 2003). Double standards regarding virginity and premarital sexuality are upheld even among the highly educated (Eşsizoğlu et al., 2011). In addition, Turkish culture is largely collectivistic (Göregenli, 1997;İmamoğlu, 2003) and has also been considered an honor culture, a specific form of collectivism. ...
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There is no national representative estimate on pre-marital sex and its association with peer pressure and watching pornography among young individuals in Ethiopia. So, this study aimed to estimate the pooled prevalence of pre-marital sex and its association with peer pressure and watching pornography among young individuals in Ethiopia. A comprehensive search of international databases including CINAHL, Google Scholar, Cochrane Library, PubMed, HINARI, and Global Health was carried out to estimate the pooled prevalence of pre-marital sex and its association with peer pressure and watching pornography among young individuals in Ethiopia. The data were analyzed using STATA/SE version-14. The random-effect model was used to estimate the effect size and I-squared statistics and Egger's test were used to assess the heterogeneity publication bias respectively. A total of thirty-two studies with 18,354 study subjects were included in this meta-analysis. The pooled prevalence of premarital sex among young in Ethiopia was 33.59% [95% CI (29.09, 38.09)]. There was significant heterogeneity among the included articles (I ² = 97.9, p = 0.000). Young individuals who experienced peer pressure were three times more likely to practice premarital sex compared to their counterparts [OR = 2.90, 95%, CI (1.01, 8.31)]. As the crude analysis result indicated, there was a significant association between watching pornography (sex movies) and premarital sexual practice [OR = 3.41, 95% CI (1.99, 5.84)]. However, after doing trim-and-fill analysis, the publication-bias adjusted OR indicates the absence of significant association between watching pornography and premarital sex [OR = 1.23, 95% CI (0.69, 1.76)]. The proportion of premarital sex among young individuals in Ethiopia remains high. Peer pressure had a statistically significant association with premarital sexual practice. However, the publication-bias adjusted OR indicates the absence of a significant association between watching pornography and premarital sex. Peer counseling services, sex education, and behavioral change communications should be strengthened to address factors associated with pre-marital sexual practices.
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This paper seeks to explore how the style of translation reframes an author’s changing image. In light of the transformation of Latife Tekin from being considered an author of the poor and dispossessed with whom she identifies to being acknowledged as a translator who channels the marginal world of the dispossessed people into the mainstream, as evidenced in various paratextual and metatextual discourses in Turkey, the study focuses on the style of the English translation of Tekin’s Buzdan Kılıçlar ( Swords of Ice ). The study underlines that an author’s ontological narrative, which feeds into his or her image, may impact the style of the translation of his or her work. Noting that the style of translation may serve as a way of responding to an author’s ontological narrative, the study highlights that the stylistic features (i.e., italics and quotation marks) added to the translation of Buzdan Kılıçlar appear to be in interplay with the narratives that prepared the ground for Tekin’s self-identification as a translator. Ultimately, the study points out that those stylistic features foreground not only the cultural other against Turkey’s modern and secular establishment but also the Oriental other against Western modernity.
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This paper describes findings from an in-depth case study of young people's sexuality and learning about sex. Focus groups and unstructured interviews were conducted with young women and young men aged 15-16 years in a school in the north of England. Analysis focused on disjunctions between reported sexual behaviour in a park and in a bedsitting room, and the content of school sex and relationship education. Tensions between the accounts are considered for their impact on learning about sex, sexual negotiation, subjectivity and inter-generational understanding. Despite some negative experiences in sex education, the young people interviewed desired the affirmation and support of adults, and recommend sex and relationship education as the most appropriate vehicle for providing this. The value added outcomes of participation in the study, including consciousness and awareness raising, and the opportunity, for reflection and debate and selves as 'experts', enhanced young people's view that non-judgemental and meaningful advice and guidance are possible in formal learning contexts. Implications for future forms of sex and relationship education are discussed.
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In contemporary society it is widely believed that men are socially rewarded for sexual activity, whereas women are derogated for sexual activity. To determine whether a sexual double standard exists, both undergraduate (n = 144) and Internet (n = 8,080) participants evaluated experimental targets who were described as either male or female and as having a variable number of sexual partners. Targets were more likely to be derogated as the number of sexual partners increased, and this effect held for both male and female targets. These results suggest that, although people do evaluate others as a function of sexual activity, people do not necessarily hold men and women to different sexual standards.
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In a survey of 48 men and 61 women from a southwestern US college, the gender difference in reported number of sex partners was mediated by the degree to which individuals felt that men and women who had many sexual partners were prestigious. In addition, men cared about the quantity and quality of their sex partners more than women did and these two factors were also related to reported number of sexual partners. The gender difference in reported sex partners is not veridical; it can be accounted for with attitudinal measures related to status and sex that are more common in men than women. Results are discussed in terms of understanding biased reporting in young American men and women.
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Pre-marital sex for a woman is regarded as wrong in my country. As a result, it is socially forbidden for a woman to engage in this act. In order to present a woman as a virgin on her marriage day, she is subjected to pressure, and put under control both by her family and societal norms. However, a man is free and never made to suffer any of the above. A woman found to be a virgin on her first night of marriage is seen as a normal person while one suspected to have lost her virginity is made to undergo a series of medical examinations to bring clarity to her situation.
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Key variables contributing to sexual liberality or conservatism of sexual attitudes appear to be ethnicity, religion and religiosity, gender and degree of acculturation to mainstream Western culture. This study investigated the relative contribution of these variables to the sexual beliefs of US and Canadian medical students of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Significant differences were found in total scores on a Cross Cultural Attitude Scale (CCAS) with Caucasians coming from the USA, Canada, Western Europe and South Africa being the most liberal, and students self-identifying as Middle Eastern or Asian being the most sexually conservative. However, acculturation played a major role in attenuating the impact of ethnic background. Despite significant main effects of religion, ethnicity, gender and acculturation on sexual attitudes, the overall sample tended to be fairly liberal, suggesting the impact of globalization and acculturation on students of diverse ethnic backgrounds.
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What are the relationships between self-efficacy when communicating to the partner about use of contraception, stopping undesired intercourse, and perceived self-conscious emotions in sexual contexts? How does past contraceptive behaviour influence perceived self-efficacy? These research questions were studied among 399 10th grade students with coital experience in the county Nordland in Norway. Two dimensions of perceived emotional responses were identified in a hypothetical situation related to communicating to the partner about use of contraception, namely Shame and Emotional intimacy. Two dimensions were also identified with regard to anticipated emotional responses in a hypothetical situation related to stopping undesired intercourse: Guilt and responsibility and Emotional intimacy. Most of the boys and girls reported that they would react with positive emotions in both hypothetical situations. Path models were constructed with the affective dimensions and self-esteem as mediating variables between past contraceptive behaviour and contextual self-efficacy. Past behaviour influenced communication self-efficacy indirectly via Shame, and Shame had a direct effect upon self-efficacy. Guilt and responsibility had a direct effect upon stop-self-efficacy. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
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The Social Organization of Sexuality reports the complete results of the nation's most comprehensive representative survey of sexual practices in the general adult population of the United States. This highly detailed portrait of sex in America and its social context and implications has established a new and original scientific orientation to the study of sexual behavior. "The most comprehensive U.S. sex survey ever." —USA Today "The findings from this survey, the first in decades to provide detailed insights about the sexual behavior of a representative sample of Americans, will have a profound impact on how policy makers tackle a number of pressing health problems." —Alison Bass, The Boston Globe "A fat, sophisticated, and sperm-freezingly serious volume. . . . This book is not in the business of giving us a good time. It is in the business of asking three thousand four hundred and thirty-two other people whether they had a good time, and exactly what they did to make it so good." —Anthony Lane, The New Yorker New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year