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Posted at 05:51 PM ET, 02/09/2012

Was Mimi Alford unusual in losing virginity at 19 — in 1962?

Like many other people, I’ve been fascinated at the revelations former White House intern Mimi Alford has made in her new memoir about her affair with President John F. Kennedy. Alford reports that she lost her virginity to the president in 1962, when she was 19 (and he 45).

That got me wondering: Was it unusual for a young woman to have her first sexual intercourse when she was 19, way back in the early 1960s?

The latest data, from the Guttmacher Institute, show that nowadays, 70 percent of American females have had their first sexual intercourse by age 19 and that, on average, people first have sex at 17.

But we don’t have much parallel data from 1962. The closest I could find was from Alfred Kinsey's groundbreaking 1953 “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female,” which reports that 11.2 percent of females had their first sexual intercourse at age 19; only 4.9 percent had their first intercourse at age 17. Of course, 1953 wasn’t 1962, but both were before the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s had taken hold.

I find it fascinating that we don’t have better data, going back farther. But I guess that’s why Kinsey’s work is considered groundbreaking.

I was born in 1960, so I don’t have a clear, first-hand impression of what the sexual environment was like back then. Would a young woman losing her virginity at 19 feel isolated by that experience? I’d be interested in hearing from readers who might remember what it was like to be a teenager or young adult back in the early 1960s.

By  |  05:51 PM ET, 02/09/2012

 
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