Saving sex for marriage: an analysis of lay attitudes towards virginity and its perceived benefit for marriage

Emmanuel Olamijuwon, Clifford Odimegwu

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Abstract

How do young people interpret virginity loss, and does saving sex for marriage have any socially constructed benefit for marriage? This study answers this question using data obtained from a peer-led Facebook group with more than 175,000 participants, mostly in African countries, particularly Nigeria. A reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyze 100 public wall posts and 3860 comments posted on the group between June 2018 and May 2019. Four distinctive interpretations of virginity loss comprising the gift, precondition, stigma, and process emerged from the data. These interpretations were also gendered, such that a woman’s virginity was interpreted as a gift but a stigma for men. The wall posts and comments further suggest that saving sex for marriage may have some culturally sensitive benefits, including trust, and marital sexual satisfaction. Altogether the findings expand the current understanding of the diverse perceived benefits of virginity that move beyond honour and respect to more complex benefits like trust in a union, sexual satisfaction and ultimate satisfaction in marriage.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalSexuality & Culture
VolumeFirst Online
Early online date16 Sept 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Sept 2021

Keywords

  • Sexual abstinence
  • Marital satifiaction
  • Women's health
  • Social media
  • Facebook
  • Africa
  • Virginity

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