Ritual Defloration

Originally published in 1918, Freud's (1918/1953) essay "The Taboo of Virginity" is remarkable for its use of ethnographic examples (limited to what was available in a World War I Austria), and provides some indication of the great variety of cultural elaborations of defloration. More recently, Wikan (1982) provides a first-hand account of the traditional (Near Eastern) Oman wedding ceremony, in which physical evidence for the defloration of the bride, in the form of a bloody cloth, must be publicly displayed to the waiting guests (see also, Korbin, 1987). The consequences are grave for a young woman entering upon marriage without her virginity. Similar practices have also been reported beyond the Near East, among certain societies in Oceania.

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