Sex on Sunday: sworn virgins, passionate nunneries and slutty women

Sworn to virginity and living as men in Albania, The New York Times

The sworn virgin was born of social necessity in an agrarian region plagued by war and death. If the patriarch of the family died with no male heirs, unmarried women in the family could find themselves alone and powerless. By taking an oath of virginity, women could take on the role of men as head of the family, carry a weapon, own property and move freely. They dress like men, adopt a male swagger and spend their lives in the company of other men.

Why Venetian nunneries were once hotbeds of passion, by Tony Perrottet at The Smart Set

Historians have established that Venetian nunneries were the most liberated in Europe. In the 1400s, the skyrocketing cost of dowries meant that many of the city’s noblest families were obliged to place their teenage daughters, regardless of their wishes, in convents. Few of these developed a spiritual calling. It was openly accepted that the top convents were a “safety valve” for Venice’s surplus of well-born single women, who could go on to enjoy a level of sexual freedom unique for the time.

The Virtues of Promiscuity, by Sally Lehrman at Alternet

“Slutty” behavior is good for the species. That is the conclusion of a new wave of research on the evolutionary drives behind sexuality and parenting. Women everywhere have been selflessly engaging in trysts outside of matrimony. And they have been doing it for a good long time and for excellent reasons. Anthropologists say female promiscuity binds communities closer together and improves the gene pool.

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