Folks have been debating for decades whether or not Rose could have made room for Jack to fit on the door, but another point hotly contested is Rose’s virginal status. “Titanic” takes place in 1912, a time when, according to Marshall Cavendish’s “Sex and Society,” 61% of men admitted to having premarital sex compared to only 12% of women. However, the film intentionally leaves Rose’s virginal status vague.
When Rose is gifted the Heart of the Ocean necklace, her 30-year-old fiancé Cal Hockley (Billy Zane) says, “There’s nothing I’d deny you … if you’d not deny me.” This line makes it sound like Rose has not yet had sex with him, and he’s hoping to bribe her with a massive jewel to have sex before marriage. I’ve always believed Rose to be a virgin and Cal is rightfully an a-hole for trying to bribe his betrothed teen bride-to-be to f**k him (among other reasons). I’ve heard folks describe his character as “cartoonishly villainous,” which tells me they’ve never experienced an abusive, entitled man like Cal. Lucky them.
During breakfast, he reprimands her for attending a third-class party with Jack instead of screwing him. “I had hoped you would come to me last night,” he tells her. “I was tired,” she responds. He’s exerting his controlling behavior, yelling at her and demolishing the fine dishes on the table in a rage for her not behaving as expected. She is his “wife in practice if not yet by law” and tells her she must “honor [him] the way a wife is required to honor a husband.” This certainly sounds like he’s referring to a lack of submission and sex. Rose understands the power and societal importance of her own virginity, so her decision to take autonomous control cannot be ignored.