Virginity Cliches in Romance

After reading a scene in which the heroine was a surprise virgin (Surprise! Virgin!) I tweeted about how tired I was of the Surprise Virgin afterglow conversations.

Picture it. The hero figures out the heroine is a virgin because he encounters some resistance (which, don't even get me started) and she flinches and of course he Is Very Alarmed and tries to stop but she tells him not to so it's ok for him to get on with it.

Then after they've crested and reached peaks of joy and done the dance as old as time, he says something about how if he'd known she was a virgin, he'd have done it all differently, been more gentle or something.

First, why would you not bring your A game the first time you sleep with a woman you have major lust pants for? If you groin is on fire and it's not because of Gold Bond, why would you not do your very best scrumpin? What is this “I'd have been more gentle and sensitive” crap?

Second, he knew she was a virgin as soon as he encountered her gasp upon his plunge (and can we stop with the “to the hilt” nonsense? I get it, he could… go… all… the … way. But enough with the hilt). He had plenty of time to gentle it up but no, he was overcome with lust, and pounded away like a poundy thing, and it's her fault for not telling him she was a virgin before he plunged his hilt.

So I vented about it on Twitter, and this began a very rapid discussion, which I believe sets up a list of requests for future virgin sex scene cliche avoiding.

First, the OMG U WERE VIRGIN DAMN MY HARDON scenes have to go. Enough with the 'You were a virgin? I'd have done it differently….” Why? This is why:

And then there was this response:


Yes. Yes it should

The ubiquity of this type of scene begs a few more questions. For one thing, what WOULD he have done differently? Brought flowers and some wine to her hymen?

And how does he know? Sometimes he feels it. COME ON.

Do we need to go over the location of the hymen again?

Another question:

What does the differently mean? Seriously. Why would virgins want something that was more of a performance than a genuine physical expression? It's not like virgins get interpretive dance sex… do they!? 

Another question:



Yes. That too. How is it that sex is something HE does until she begs for it and then it's ok to pop her cherry in retrospect? ARGH. How is it that both people are consenting adults but he's the one what's “doing” things, and would therefore “do” them differently?

Are virgins never on top?

Then there's the reverse:

I don't think that's ok, either, but at least some difference is progress, right?

There are other scenes we are tired of, too. Kate Johnson brought up another corollary to the OMG U WERE VIRGIN? cliche scene:


YES. How is it that there are all these virginal heroines running around and everyone knows, remarks on said virgin status, and it's common knowledge among so many? WTF?

Even if I did know about someone being a virgin I can't think of any circumstance in which I'd bring it up. It's not like it's first-thing-in-the-elevator conversation each morning: “So, how's your hymen today? Still there?”

And speaking of virgins, they have their own collection of cliche scenes, including this one:



Yeah, I'm over that cliche, too. Enough of the virgin Havisham who is going to dine on the memory of her deflowering until she's old, dusty and decrepit. For never shall she meet another wang interested in her moldy wedding cake.

So, to sum up, Virginity Cliches are tiresome. I'd be happy to not read any of these again.

Oh – and this one, too:


Remember, people. Chaste is only two letters away from “chafe.”




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Ranty McRant

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    “So, how’s your hymen today? Still there?”


  2. 2

    I also hate the awkward pre-sex with a virgin conversations…ESPECIALLY the ones where he patiently explains to her that it might hurt. Totally kills the mood.

  3. 3
    SAO says:

    To go back to the cliches I hate, the sword metaphor, even when merely hinted at (sheath and hilt) always makes me of the kind of sadists they invented the death penalty for.

    Karen Robards did a nice deflowering scene with the ex-virgin expressing a polite, ‘that was nice, dear’ wedded to a distinct lack of enthusiasm for a repeat round. But needless to say, there was a repeat and much better the second time around.

  4. 4
    Tabs says:

    Lorelei James had a surprise deflowering in one of her recent books that I loved.  The guy’s responsive and paying attention but is seriously confused by the suddenly completely wooden lady (and-holy shit-crying)underneath him. 

    I thought it avoided cliches pretty well.

  5. 5
    yahtzii says:

    Duck fat and a shoe horn. So that’s what I was missing.

  6. 6
    CK says:

    LMAO! I’m so glad I put down my coffee before reading. Loved the elevator and chaste quips. I despise virgin sex scenes. Skim them in historicals and totally roll my eyes over the contemporaries “26 virgin and everyone knows it”. I hate the concept that the hero “deserves” a virgin heroine. That he can wallow in her purity because the sun shines out of her uncharted territory.

  7. 7

    I can’t read this right now… I’m writing smexy scenes and this has me snickering.  NOT conducive.  Duck fat.  Chafing.  Oy.  O.o

  8. 8
    Noelle Pierce says:

    Hehe. I’m tired of the “it only hurt a little wee bit at first and I totally orgasmed at the very moment he roared his climax.” Therefore, I wrote a scene where I started in his point of view (ecstasy, naturally), then right after the part where he was in to the hilt (no, I did NOT use that phrase in the book), I switched to her point of view. It was…not ecstasy. :)

  9. 9
    Unholyghost2003 says:

    Good thing there are men around to explain sex stuff to us ladies. I wouldn’t know anything about my vagina if there were not men to explain it to me.

  10. 10
    MamaKitty says:

    Oh my god I almost spit diet coke all over the couch! I hate the tired old clichés too and it feels like I read them ALL THE TIME!

  11. 11
    Klchenw3 says:

    I hate the “gallons of blood everywhere and I’m traumatized for life” deflowering.  Especially if it’s an older heroine.  I think my favorite aged spinster loss of virginity scene was in Miss Wonderful by Loretta Chase, where she doesn’t feel any pain at all, because (and I’m terribly misquoting) her hymen died from lack of interest years previously.  I lol’ed, and in a good way.

  12. 12
    Cynthia D'Alba says:

    Yep. I’d adding duck fat and a shoe horn to my next virgin scene…not that I’ve ever written one but…hey! Contest, Sarah. Best virgin scene implementing duck fat and a shoe horn! Seriously. You HAVE to do it

  13. 13

    LOL! I honestly cannot recall reading a book with this ever!! But I know I would never write one…corny.

  14. 14
    Unholyghost2003 says:

    I also like how the only residual pain (if there is any residual pain at all) is IN her vagina nothing about hips and inner thighs that have just been worked out in a new and unaccustomed way. Even if you divide your time between yoga focusing on your hip flexors and horseback riding, having a full grown man bouncing on the underside of your pelvis (and presumably bouncing back yourself thereby picking up a full grown man) will result in muscle soreness.

  15. 15
    ECSpurlock says:

    @ CK That gives a whole new meaning to “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel”.

    In historicals I can kinda see the virginity thing because back in the day that was de rigueur (no pun intended) for well-bred young ladies. But in contemporaries I think it’s stretching things (again, no pun intended) unless you’re dealing with YA and I think most YA books don’t go there.

    Anyway, thanks for this, especially all the comments (“How’s the hymen?”). Thanks for making my sucky week so much better two days in a row.

  16. 16

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA… this is hilarious. Cannot stop laughing.

  17. 17
    Julieinduvall says:

    I must be the contrarian. Let’s face it, I loves me some Regency romps, but every time I’m reading the inevitable “I can haz hymen” sex scene, I’m always wondering what the wangalicious hero managed to contract from the oh-so-accommodating young widows/mistress(es) he hooked up with prior to meeting the heroine. Imagine the hijinks that ensue when the duke/earl/viscount of everyone’s dreams gets to explain to the previously-innocent heroine that, well, pregnancy may not be the worst case scenario here.

    Perhaps I should not even start on the multiple orgasms while losing one’s virginity. I’d like to avoid the impulse to bang my head on the desk till sweet unconsciousness takes over.

  18. 18
    Yahong Chi says:

    LOLOL, okay, this is TOO funny.

  19. 19
    SB Sarah says:

    “Best virgin scene implementing duck fat and a shoe horn! “

    MWAAAAHAHAHA. Love this idea.

  20. 20
    Sugarless says:

    Bahaha I love this. So true – though I do have to say with regards to the last one – my first time didn’t hurt

  21. 21
    JennyB says:

    Oh, Julieinduvall, I am so with you on the multiple orgasms for the virgin.  Let’s face it, the first time usually sucks.  Mind you, I didn’t have duck fat OR a shoe horn, so who knows how much of that was my own fault.

  22. 22
    di_emerald says:

    I also dislike the whole hero feels like he’s doing the spinster-virgin a favour – I will be the one to open the whole wonderful world of sex to you!” and also the scenes where the hero then feels so guilty/privileged/now has an obligation to her… as if she wasn’t a virgin the obligations wouldn’t be there.

  23. 23
    Anne_cc says:

    “If you groin is on fire and it’s not because of Gold Bond, why would you not do you very best scrumpin?—Now my boss wants me committed because I am crying at my desk..very concerned..

  24. 24
    Amber Skye says:

    LOL, great. It kind of blew my mind recently when I found out the hymen was not located somewhere on the inside. Oops. That’s what I get for learning anatomy for romance novels. But right after that, I read Gabriel’s Woman by Robin Schone, which has a great losing-virginity scene. Very different from the standard – and anatomically correct. Can’t beat that ;-)

  25. 25

    OMG! This is too much fun.
    But true! I hate the “Would have done it different?” What exactly?
    and I hate when you can recite That conversation by memory, not matter the author: THEY ALWAYS SAY THE EXACT SAME THING.

    And yeah, why are the virgins never on top? WHY?!!!

  26. 26
    Brycanthe says:

    I have recently been reading Lisa Kleypas’s Hathaway series (I’m in the middle of the final book right now) In Win & Merripen’s story (Seduce Me at Sunrise) the deflowering was painful, Win was in tears and Merripen had to try again later to make her the happy, multi-orgasmic woman she should be. Slightly more realistic.

  27. 27
    delphia2000 says:

    More poundy just made me snort my toast and tea!

  28. 28
    JaniceG says:

    I especially disliked one book where the guy apologized for “using” the virgin more than once when she was “newly opened”—sounded like she was a can of spam or something.

  29. 29
    HowNowBlackCow says:

    Me either. Is everyone else living in a world of Ron Jeremy’s?

  30. 30
    HowNowBlackCow says:

    He’s always way above average size, yet he manages not to rip her to shreds so she can ask for more sex almost immediately. I mean, if he’s Dirk Digler, it’s gonna hurt, virgin or not. Yeah, and I love the way her hymen is located halfway up her vagina. Hey, maybe someone should write a series about heroines who have had vaginal rejuvenation.

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