There was an interesting study, published in the respectable BMJ and “seasonally” titled Christmas 2013: Strange Nativities. Like a virgin (mother): analysis of data from a longitudinal, US population representative sample survey. It’s a rigorous work done by a group of 5 researchers: Amy H Herring, Samantha M Attard, Penny Gordon-Larsen, William H Joyner and Carolyn T Halpern.
The study delivers on its promise and its premise: to find, observe, interview and analyse our contemporary American “Virgin Marys”, bless their little hearts. Seriously.
Objective of the study was to estimate the incidence of self-report of pregnancy without sexual intercourse (virgin pregnancy) and factors related to such reporting, in a population representative group of US adolescents and young adults.
7870 women participated, enrolled at wave I (1995) and completing the most recent wave of data collection (wave IV; 2008-09).
The study measured self-reports of pregnancy and birth without sexual intercourse.
Results: 45 women (0.5%) reported at least one virgin pregnancy unrelated to the use of assisted reproductive technology.
Conclusions: Around 0.5% of women consistently affirmed their status as virgins and did not use assisted reproductive technology, yet reported virgin births.
The authors note that among participants who experienced Immaculate Conception, percentage of those who believe in the importance of preserving virginity until marriage was significantly higher. The “immaculately conceived” girls also admitted that their parents talked to them very little or hardly at all about sex and prevention of pregnancy. The average age of “pregnant virgins” giving birth was 19.3, which is lower than those who conceived in the usual way ( 21.7 ).
Curiously, most of the Immaculate Conceptions happened on Christmas Eve and 60% of them resulted in the birth of male babies.
I abstain from remarks of any kind here. Instead, in the spirit of Christmas sharing, I’m posting these two “Virgin-related” images.
Richard Hamilton (1922 – 2011) was often described as the founder of Pop Art – much to his frustration, by the way. From the exhibit Richard Hamilton: The Late Work comes this one: