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By extension from its primary sense, the idea that a virgin has a sexual "blank slate", can imply that the person is of unadulterated purity.The concept of virginity has significance only in a particular social, cultural and moral context.According to Hanne Blank, "virginity reflects no known biological imperative and grants no demonstrable evolutionary advantage." Although virginity has historically been correlated with purity and worth, many feminist scholars believe that it is a myth.

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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.

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.

There are varying understandings as to which types of sexual activities result in loss of virginity.

The English cognate "maid" was often used to imply virginity, especially in poetry - e.g.

Maid Marian, the love interest of the legendary outlaw Robin Hood in English folklore.Note that the term used for the starsign virgo also is Jungfrau (even it had a similar term used in Swedish was "Jungfrun" however, the Swedish title for the film used the English title instead), which makes the above movie title ambiguous.German also distinguishes between young women and girls, who are denoted by the word Mädchen." By contrast, in a study released in 2008 by the Guttmacher Institute, author of the findings Laura Lindberg stated that there "is a widespread belief that teens engage in nonvaginal forms of sex, especially oral sex, as a way to be sexually active while still claiming that technically, they are virgins", but that her study drew the conclusion that "research shows that this supposed substitution of oral sex for vaginal sex is largely a myth".A 2003 study published in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality focusing on definitions of having sex and noting studies concerning university students from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia reported that "[w]hile the vast majority of respondents (more than 97%) in these three studies included penile-vaginal intercourse in their definition of sex, fewer (between 70% and 90%) respondents considered penile-anal intercourse to constitute having sex" and that "oral-genital behaviours were defined as sex by between 32% and 58% of respondents".Fräulein was used in German as a title of respect, equivalent to current usage of Miss in English.