Wednesday, 28 July, 2021 - 18:00


In this talk, Dr Stephanie Allen will examine an element of female sexual fraud; counterfeit maidenheads. She will discuss the methods authors imagined women to use, including herbal concoctions, animals blood and leeches. Dr Allen will also discuss how false virgins were presented within medical texts, popular works and literature, as by using a combination of sources we can begin to understand the fears of counterfeit virginity.

Dr Allen will argue that due to the malleability of women’s bodies there was a social and cultural fear that they could counterfeit the two features of virginity, blood and vaginal tightness, to deceive men. However, the arguable fetishizing of virginity in this era, may have meant that some men were willing to be ‘deceived’ by those such as doxies (prostitutes who repeatedly sold their virginity), therefore, this talk will also examine to what extent was virginity to be desired as well as feared.

Dr Allen has a PhD from the University of Hertfordshire. In 2018 she won the Social History Society's Postgraduate Paper Prize.

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