The sexual double standard is a social phenomenon where the sexual value of males and females are evaluated differently, based on their sexual history with sexual partners of the opposite sex.

Given the differing biology of typical males and typical females, sexual intercourse as sexual reproduction itself is a process in which a male inseminates/impregnates a female, a process in which a male performs the action of inseminating/impregnating (using) directed at a female’s body which is the object (a thing to which a specified action is directed), after which the female’s body is already inseminated/impregnated (used) and thus unavailable for another male to inseminate/impregnate (use).

Assuming that males and females desire to have sexual intercourse (associated with sexual reproduction), a male desires to use a female’s body (associated with inseminating/impregnating a female’s body), and a female desires a male to use her body (associated with a male inseminating/impregnating her body).

If a female is a virgin, she has an un-used body (associated with an un-inseminated/un-impregnated body), which means a male can use her body (associated with being able to inseminate/impregnate her body), which means her sexual value is higher (to him). However, if a female is not a virgin, she has a used body (associated with an already inseminated/impregnated body), which means he can no longer use her body (associated with being unable to inseminate/impregnate her body), which means her sexual value is lower (to him).

On the other hand, whether a male is a virgin or not, he can inseminate/impregnate a female just the same, making his sexual history irrelevant to his sexual value (to her).

Thus, according to this logic/reasoning, males and females are evaluated differently based on their sexual history and the sexual double standard is justified.

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    I know someone who had 11 babies. Being a virgin was not required.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented May 17, 2023 at 1:38
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    Strange, very male centric framing. Why can't a woman want to use her own body to get it inseminated ? Idealy, she desires the pregnancy too, so she's using the guy's body and gametes as much as he is using hers. Also lack of virginity is in no way correlated to fertility (as Scott Rowe mentions tongue in cheek), so the whole question falls appart.
    – armand
    Commented May 17, 2023 at 2:51
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    Sexual preferences are not the sorts of things that are "justified". They aren't the result of argument or rational thought processes. Instead of examining the justification, you need to examine the biological and psychological causes. Commented May 17, 2023 at 3:22
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    This question seems to make the unstated assumption that reproduction is the sole reason people seek sexual partners, without providing justification.
    – Sandejo
    Commented May 17, 2023 at 4:07
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    I hope enough people vote to close this question. Commented Nov 28, 2023 at 20:12

5 Answers 5


The reasoning is a non sequitur: virginity is only losely correlated to fertility, and somewhat negatively.

Your reasoning for considering virginity desirable is that a woman who never had sex is not pregnant and therefore more likely to be fertile. The obvious come back to this premise is "why not cut the middle man and directly ask a potential mate if she is currently pregnant ?".

Also infertility is, saddly, a very common occurence. It touches one couple in five in the US (not 1 in 5 woman, as men can be infertile too, but it's quite pervasive).

Obviously, the overwhelming majority of people have no idea if they are infertile before they have tried having their first child. People who have never tried present therefore a higher risk of infertility than people who had already at least one child (check the above link).

It follows that, for a very psychopathic man who evaluates women's value only by their ability to carry his offspring, the best potential mate is, far from a virgin, a woman who already had at least one succesful pregnancy.

  • I have heard that in ancient times a pregnant bride was considered favorable.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented May 17, 2023 at 16:45
  • @ScottRowe where and when in ancient times ?
    – armand
    Commented May 17, 2023 at 19:45
  • @armand When you say very psychopathic..? Since you are not talking about integrating utilitarism with human nature... You want to emphasize the primitive impulses in women. This literally describes the monstrous feelings in women. You aren't associating a man with a woman of his equal. But that more I think you're saying men are picky. It's like the speculative and common religious arguments more you mentioned.
    – fkybrd
    Commented Nov 28, 2023 at 15:04
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    Known cases of virgin pregnancies: 1.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 28, 2023 at 17:36
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    @fkybrd what are you even talking about? What on earth is this word salad related to my answer and your first question about it? People are more than their reproductive organs. That's all.
    – armand
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 23:26

Why on earth do you consider that the role of primitive biological functions relating to reproduction can be used to adjudicate on a question of social mores? It might well be that primitive males were more inclined to mate indiscriminately, on the grounds that the greater the number of mates the greater the chance of passing on their genes, while females would be more inclined to be picky, on the grounds that they were the ones left to bring up the offspring, but so what? Humans have long passed the point at which social decisions were driven entirely by caveman instincts.

In any event, the idea of one-sided male promiscuity is simply unsustainable. If a man mates with n partners on average, then on average a woman must too.

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    @nobody his answer and mine are addressing different points. I agree that his last sentence is correct, but it is not a point I wanted to make. My answers will be as emotional as I wish them to be. Commented May 17, 2023 at 6:35
  • @Nobody my answer may look emotionally detached, but there is an actual reason for "very psychopathic" to be put in bold font. The framing of the question in itself is deeply concerning.
    – armand
    Commented May 17, 2023 at 6:36
  • @armand very well said! Commented May 17, 2023 at 6:38
  • @armand and MarcoOcram, you both missed the point of my comment above - "too emotional". As the question itself is quite biased, the answer really needs to be less emotional as it can be so we can seriously answer the question, otherwise, why not close the question? (I can't, I am low rep, but both of you can). Your opening remark "Why on earth" strikes me as too emotional because you didn't have to use "on earth" to justify your answer.
    – Nobody
    Commented May 17, 2023 at 7:14
  • @Nobody- fine, I agree. However, I did want to seem emotional, so the emphasis was deliberate. I am too polite to tell you all the other things I initially thought of typing in my answer- they would definitely have been TOO emotional. Best wishes! Commented May 17, 2023 at 7:26

Virginity Is Largely Psycho-sociological, Not Biological

There are asymmetries in human sexuality, to be sure, starting with the differing biological roles that a male and female have in reproduction, but there is also a lot of cultural interpretation involved in understanding sexuality, because human beings are social creatures who adhere to social norms. Thus, in sexual relationships, there are actual presumptions built in that are not scientific fact so much as cultural convention. One of those is the valuation of 'virginity' whatever that means in a culture. In fact, the preferences of males for virgins is not a biological orientation, but a psychological and social preference. You write:

If a female is a virgin, she has an un-used body (associated with an un-inseminated/un-impregnated body), which means a male can use her body (associated with being able to inseminate/impregnate her body), which means her sexual value is higher (to him).

From WP:

There are cultural and religious traditions that place special value and significance on this state, predominantly towards unmarried females, associated with notions of personal purity, honor, and worth. Like chastity, the concept of virginity has traditionally involved sexual abstinence. The concept of virginity usually involves moral or religious issues and can have consequences in terms of social status and in interpersonal relationships.

But strictly speaking, these valuations of virginity aren't biological strictly speaking, because defining virginity usually requires shallow indicators like "intact hymen" or "having intercourse" which themselves are often misleading indicators. For instance, the process of hymenorrhaphy is the surgical reconstruction of the hymen. Having intercourse might be argued to occur after penile penetration that lasts mere seconds. And a woman who has never had any penile penetration may have had prolonged sexual activities in every other conceivable way. So, the notion of virginity isn't so much biological as it is sociological.

For more information on the philosophy of sexuality, please read Sex and Sexuality (SEP) and Feminist Philosophy of Biology (SEP). There is a long history of men making "biological claims" about women that give them social dominance without any legitimate biological science to support them:

The science of biology is of importance to many feminists because women's biology has been used to rationalize women's oppression. There is a wide range of biological arguments supporting the oppression of women. Take for example Edward H. Clarke's nineteenth century argument that intensive study would physically harm women by diverting energy from their uterus to their brain. He claimed that higher education would result in women with “monstrous brains and puny bodies … [and] abnormally weak digestion”

Justification, Double-Standards, and Epistemology

Now, the root of this question has nothing to do with sexuality at all, but philosophically speaking, is more of a question about "justification of a double standard" which is epistemological in nature since justification of a claim to truth is the philosophical meat in this post. By asking about a double-standard, you are using loaded language philosophically speaking since epistemologists do not like to be accused of inconsistent logic and its application thereof:

A double standard is the application of different sets of principles for situations that are, in principle, the same. It is often used to describe treatment whereby one group is given more latitude than another. A double standard arises when two or more people, groups, organizations, circumstances, or events are treated differently even though they should be treated the same way. A double standard "implies that two things which are the same are measured by different standards".

On it's face, no, no double-standard can be justified, because to do so implies that logical consequence breaks down. In mathematics, you only have a function if the same inputs give you the same output every time, so the idea that we can have similar or identical premises, but then lead to a different conclusion is an affront to logical consequence itself. There's a word and a whole sub-field of epistemology for this: rationality. Double-standards are a sign of irrationality, and philosophers on the whole aspire to be rational.

Therefore, the question you ask is better asked, not whether a double-standard can be justified (because from a preference for rationality it can't), but whether men desiring women who are sexually inexperienced be justified for biological reasons? And there are certainly reasons some men would prefer to have an encounter with a 'virgin'. The obvious one men often cite is being free from disease. Historically speaking, sexually transmitted infections posed a risk to a man's health. Another is an appeal to the virtue from religion X (where X is any of the traditional Abrahamic religions).

Are these reasons good? Well, therein lies the rub. 'Good' is an axiological consideration and one that is relative to the culture. These days, with birth control and modern medicine, appeals to disease or biological superiority in reproduction, at least in the modern world, don't hold much weight. A person who gets an STI can often have it cured, and biological age and not smoking is much more important than frequency of intercourse for correlating to good outcomes in birth. So, on the face, the notion of virginity doesn't hold much scientific merit in demanding more abstinence from women than men.


This is a biology & psychology question, not philosophy.

Human sexual behaviour is faaaar more varied and complex than this question presents. Within our closest living relative species the chimpanzees, there is highly possessive status-based mating that excludes most males, and also bonobos that constantly socialise through orgies and have more same-sex contact than between sexes (underlining the non-procreative roles of sex). So we shouldn't be surprised to find such a wide array of sexual behaviours among humans. We have remnant penile spines, and different types of sperm like 'blockers' vs 'runners', which indicates competition between sperm in the same woman at the same time has been important in reproductive success.

You might like to read this answer which covers relevant points: How do ethicists tackle the question "Is it immoral to have sex in public places?" Is it possible to use rational and empirical ideas to answer? First, that sexual behaviour isn't reasoned, but driven by selection pressures like enabling cooperation. Second, that shame and disgust are powerful evolved levers to shape behaviour, that culture has coopted to more rapidly adapt human social behaviours to new circumstances, than evolution can.

Women have higher average investment per offspring, so must be more selective about partners. A partner to help raise a child, gives a huge social advantage to a child, so that is a major priority for women.

Some men will choose many attempts to have children. But given the conflicting priority of women, that's likely an ineffective strategy for the majority. Different strategies are going to exist in dynamic change, and birth control has likely decisively shifted the balance. Although young women may not hve the autonomy to demand birth control in some social groups.

Historically, uncertain paternity had big social impacts. It limited what jobs women could do, that took them away from the home. Like maids were expected to stop working once married. Home-based jobs like weaving were considered preferable. Demanding a woman be a virgin is like demanding they not work away from the home: a relic of former times. DNA tests alone resolve uncertain paternity, and women have less social pressures to confound it.

You can look at the wider benefits to society of increasing gender equality: Studies exploring the rationale of gender equality

I would suggest a focus on virginity mainly speaks to insecurity, about a partner having experience with other people to compare to, and about being able to ensure paternity through other means, like through building trust. Possibly seeking psychological support and therapy, would be a more appropriate way forward than asking strangers on a philosophy forum to justify your barely reasoned intuitions.

  • I would argue there's a philosophical teaching moment whenever "justification" and "double-standard" are invoked since most people understand neither very well especially when vague words like "virginity" and "virtue" are thrown around. Do you believe as a critical thinker that the mere question "Can a double-standard be justified?" obtains to the discussion of rationality per se? I think it's epistemological humbug to even hint yes! :D
    – J D
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 15:09
  • @JD: Virtue was a major topic in Ancient philosophy, albeit with a lot more thought about what it means. Virginity has been sociologically meaningful, to people & communities, even if exactly what it means is disputed. There is substantial discourse about these kinds of issues, young men trying to figure out their role & place, while malign voices pedal simple answers to complex questions. I think it's important to engage, & for philosophy to consider the things that in practice matter to people, or it will be left to the Jordan Petersons of the world.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 15:47
  • He is a sweaty, anxious fellow, isn't he? :D
    – J D
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 16:02
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    @JD: Egads.. 'It's Jordan Peterson Backpedaling About Enforced Monogamy' reddit.com/r/enoughpetersonspam/comments/9i5leb/…
    – CriglCragl
    Commented May 18, 2023 at 16:38
  • I always find it interesting when people have disputes involving terms that are only vaguely defined. For small values of 'interesting'.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 3:03

males and females are evaluated differently based on their sexual history and the sexual double standard is justified

It sounds a bit like the naturalistic fallacy

The naturalistic fallacy is the idea that what is found in nature is good. It was the basis for social Darwinism...

I remember someone asking something like "if there was a gene that meant some men were more likely to rape others, would that make it ok".

The fact that it's a positive evaluation rather than a more profoundly negative one makes no real difference that I can see.

Of course, you are free to find whatever you wish desirable, but that's not the same thing as ethics and there's no need to reel in just-so scenarios.