"A man is like a key, a woman is like a lock. A key that can open every lock is a great key, but a lock that can be opened by every key is a worthless lock."
— Old proverb
An omnipresent meta-trope about female sexuality.
For the last few hundred or more years, sexually active men have often been admired for their virility and sexual 'conquests' (unless he is a cad, or picking only low hanging fruit
while a sexually active woman is more likely to be seen as being a trashy whore. For a man, the loss of his virginity is an achievement. For a woman, it is a surrender or, if outside of marriage, a filthy defilement. This probably has something to do with how a man can have hundreds of partners without any discernible consequence, whereas a woman in the same position would most likely be irreversibly changed into a mother forever.
This means that the leading lady will be in a monogamous "meaningful relationship", usually with the leading man, while the leading man will have a varied and adventurous sex life. Anyone knocking the chastity of the hero's girl is even more likely to get punched out than anyone calling the hero a virgin
. It could sometimes look like The Hero
happily to his heart's (or other organs') content, but his best girl will still wait for him
. This is why Nature Adores a Virgin
This is Older Than Feudalism
, due to the historical sexual Double Standard
. This is partly explained by mere biology. A man can impregnate multiple women a day while a woman can only get pregnant once every nine months. Therefore, base animal reproductive instinct dictates that men should be having sex with as many women as possible while women should be very selective in choosing their mates in order to ensure that only the best genes are passed on to the next generation. note
Plus, a sexually active but irresponsible woman is far more at risk than a man in a similar position. If she gets pregnant and daddy's just a Glorified Sperm Donor
, she's the one stuck with a fatherless child, while a man who is
willing to care for his wife and children would feel rightfully screwednote
if he finds out he isn't really the daddy
Compare A Man Is Not a Virgin
, No Guy Wants to Be Chased
, Best Her to Bed Her
, Defiled Forever
, Madonna–Whore Complex
, Nature Adores a Virgin
, Slut Shaming
. Contrast The Unfair Sex
, My Girl Is a Slut
, Good Bad Girl
, Free-Love Future
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Anime and Manga
- This trope is quite frequent in the Shojo genre. The male lead is usually a stud, a player, a lady's man. He doesn't always sleep with other women (since for, whatever reason, he gets a lot of girls but is not interested in sex or is only truly interested in the female lead?). However, the female lead will usually always be a virgin, at least until the end of the series where she slept with the guy who she likes, expect her to be utterly embarrassed from her first time. However, in less optimistic cases, it is considered Sex As Drama.
- Kaguya Hime: Mayu can't stand the thought of Akira being "dirtied" and having sex.
- Kannagi had a meta version of this, after finding out Nagi had a boyfriend before, Japanese otaku were NOT AMUSED. The fact that the reveal was rather trollish and a Creator Breakdown (the author got sick, so the manga's on hiatus indefinitely) left an unresolved cliffhanger didn't help.
- A dust-up among fandom occurred with Love Plus when an official manga showed Nene kissing an unidentified boy under an umbrella.
- Katawa Shoujo: Emi, who was quite confidently sexual with Hisao in her route, experiments with anal a few days after starting a relationship with him, implies she's done some sexual stuff before ("Most of this is new to me."), and is revealed to have had a boyfriend before. Most of the fandom didn't care, but even then it wasn't uncommon to see comments about her supposed "easiness."
- Invoked in the josei manga Paradise Kiss. It is revealed two boys and a girl ( Arashi, Tokumori and Miwako) were in a Love Triangle in the past. Around the same time, we also find out the guy who got the girl, Arashi, forced her to lose her virginity with him. This is a source of many issues for the couple, because along with the (understandable) massive guilt he feels for the act itself, he thinks by raping her he stole her chances to change her mind and get together with Tokumori instead (it's even hinted he did it as a desperate measure to force her to stay with him in the first place). Then again, this series loves deconstructing shojo cliches.
- Evoked in the (almost) hentai My Balls, where Elyse tries to convince Kohta that his love interest, Minayo, in fact, is a slut. Later that chapter, he is in a hotel room where Minayo is passed out (don't ask) and decides to test the theories on physical traits from the internet. He's then shocked to find out that the traits indicate that she really is. (It's later revealed she's a Hard-Drinking Party Girl who is only a slut when drunk.)
- Enforced in Crying Freeman where Emu is required to keep her body for the Freeman only and, in case she was to be raped, to commit suicide rather than have another man sully her body. Of course, You the Freeman is free to gallivant to his penis's content.
- When outed as a virgin seconds after mocking Okabe for the same trait, Steins;Gate's Kurisu attempts to save face by invoking this trope, even citing the lock and key proverb to back it up. Okabe declares her argument dumb, adds "American Virgin" to his list of many nicknames for her, and continues to tease her for it from then on.
- A strange case happened in Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to. While it does not involve any Love Interest, but being a moe enthusiast, Aito has that kind of sentiment towards the girls he created in his manga. In one skit he actually had a Heroic BSOD just because by drawing the wrong type of Panty Shot, he inadvertently portrayed them as slutsnote .
- She-Hulk in her current series sleeps with quite a few other supers (who else is going to survive, really? Woman of Gamma, man of Kleenex) and has some issues with this trope. She's very irritated whenever people ask about her night with Juggernaut, then a member of the X-Men but still a known a supervillain (this has since been retconned into her genuinely not sleeping with him). She also asks Tony Stark how he gets away with sleeping around (while in bed with him).
- More recently, she has sworn off Super Hero bedhopping...and then "falls off the wagon". But, she notes, if you had to fall off the wagon, you could do worse than Hercules...who is stunned when she treats it as a one-night stand and not something more.
- Lampshaded in one issue, where She-Hulk is legally required, thanks to an odd lawsuit, to tell the court the names of all her sexual partners. This takes hours.
- Averted in Sin City. When Marv learns that his one and only one night stand was a prostitute, it surprises him but he doesn't really care. Dwight, likewise, apparently doesn't care that his on-again-off-again flame is a prostitute as well.
- Averted in the Harry Potter fanfic Say you don't want it. Emma was definitely not a virgin before deciding to add Remus to her list. She became monogamous when she was in a stable relationship, though.
- This trope is why Anthony was pissed upon finding out Elizabeth wasn't a virgin in The New Retcons, driving Elizabeth out of the wedding suite and right into Warren Blackwood's arms, leading directly to James Allen's conception
- This comes up a fair amount for The Prayer Warriors, such as when Jerry watches Annabeth fight in the coliseum (she isn't his girlfriend- or even Percy's- though).
Crowd: "You Christian slut! I bet you had sex with your priest!"
Jerry's Narration: I knew deep down that Annabeth was not a slut. Although she was a prostitute when she was under the controls of the false gods Zeus and Venus, since she had converted to Christianity she had stayed clean.
- Empath practically yells this trope to Ares when he comments about what Smurfette may be doing with her fellow Smurfs while she is separated from Empath via time travel in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Smurfing In Heaven". Bear in mind that all the Smurf characters in the story series (excluding the previously-married Papa Smurf) are virgins right up to the point of Empath and Smurfette's marriage.
- Piercing Gaze's opinion of The Great And Powerful Trixie in A Long Night At The Hippodrome. Fully justified, as Trixie was a virgin when he semi-accidentally seduced her, and as she is either semi-asexual or has a Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality (it's not obvious which), promiscuity is not one of Trixie's (many) character flaws.
- Averted and downplayed in Gensokyo 20XX with Ran. She isn't a virgin, as she has had sex before in 20XXI, that having been her first and only at the time, but her fiance later husband Ren knows and doesn't mind, as she was honest about it and has long moved on from that previous one and neither is she considered slutty or a whore.
- The Buster Keaton film Go West has a rather unusual example with a cow. Buster, who is working on a cattle ranch, makes friends with a cow called Brown Eyes. When he sees Brown Eyes getting a little too involved with a bull, he takes a pair of antlers that are hanging off the wall and ties them to Brown Eyes' head so she'll look like a bull too.
- Porky's 2: The Next Day: In the previous film, Pee Wee was so desperate to have his Sex as Rite-of-Passage that he was happy to go with the easiest girl in the school and announce his new-found manhood with a Tarzan yell. Now he finds he likes her, and her reputation bothers him. "Before, I wanted it to be true, now I guess I don't," he says. Fear not, Pee Wee, Wendy's reputation was much exaggerated.
- The movie Tom Jones is a particularly good example of this trope taken to its extreme. It's more funny than offensive, though.
- The focus of two separate Kevin Smith films Clerks and Chasing Amy. Chasing Amy was loosely based on Kevin Smith's relationship with star Joey Lauren Adams. Kevin Smith's character goes into a monologue about how sexist, conservative, and double-standard this is, and how it mostly derives from fear.
- Test audiences of Starship Troopers all thought that "The wrong girl died", not because Diz was a good friend and comrade in arms to Rico while Carmen was a haughty career-driven ice maiden who never loved him, but Carmen deserved to die because she slept with another man. Never mind that Rico sleeps with another woman even though he thinks he still loves Carmen; death to the woman who dares fall in love with someone other than the leading man.
- Sita Sings the Blues (not to mention the Ramayana, the Indian story the movie is based on) has Rama refusing to take Sita back because she lived under the roof of another man... another man who kidnapped her, and with whom she specifically DID NOT have sex.
- In the original source, though, Rama's refusal of Sita comes to bite him in the ass HARD. He changes his mind, but Sita does NOT forgive him and asks the Earth to literally swallow her in front of Rama so she won't have to see him again. Rama could never get over it and was horribly depressed until his death and reincarnation.
- However, that happened when he doubted her the second time - the first time she's just like "okay, I'll leap into an open flame to prove I'm a virgin". Later, they go back to the kingdom, she gets pregnant, and then a random subject questions Sita's loyalty, causing Rama to send his pregnant wife into exile. Ten years late, he meets his twin boys and asks Sita to jump into the fire again because he can't bear to be apart from their sweet little faces, which is when she says screw you.
- The examination of this trope and everything that it implies was a main focus of Easy A. Olive, the heroine, is ostracized at her high school when she develops a false reputation for promiscuity, whereas all the men that she pretends to have sex with become more popular. The Double Standard is explicitly discussed.
- In the original Total Recall, Quaid's "wife" is Richter's girlfriend.
Richter: I want that fucker dead!
Helm: I don't blame you, man. I wouldn't want a guy like Quaid porkin' my old lady.
Richter: You saying she likes it?
Helm: No, I'm sure she hated every minute of it.
- This is the attitude of effeminate cowboy Elmer in Undead or Alive, who doesn't seem to realize that his fiancee is the town prostitute. This leads to him attacking Luke when he sees her getting flirty with the newcomer near the beginning of the film.
Elmer: "I'm not gonna just sit there and watch you soil my Princess!"
Luke (laughing): "I hate to break it to you, but she ain't your princess. She's a whore!"
- Pretty Persuasion. Kimberly has a boyfriend who persuaded her to have anal sex with him then dumped her because he felt she had degraded herself by allowing him to do that.
- Just about every Bollywood Movie in existence to the point that a female lead who isn't a virgin until marraige would be considered a averted. It would be easier to note exceptions here but this is changing.
- Bollywood movie - Patiala House. The heroine takes care of a boy and everyone assumes that the boy is her son. They have a scene that is introduced for the sole purpose of telling the viewer that the boy is not her son, and yes, the heroine is a virgin.
- Bollywood movie - Averted in My Name Is Khan. The heroine is divorced, and has a son who plays a major part in driving the plot.
- Bollywood movie - Averted in Guzaarish. The main character's caretaker is separated from an abusive husband. She divorces her husband in the movie and in the last scene marries the main character and fulfills his wish of euthanasia the day after the marriage. No hanky-panky here, because the main character is unable to have sex.
- Downplayed in Watch It. After Rick and Ellen have finally have sex, she reveals she hasn't slept with anyone in a long time before him, nor has she slept with many people before him. This ends up freaking him out, because he realizes she only sleeps with people she really cares about, and he wants to keep the relationship casual. It ends up leading to some major Jerkass behavior on his part, though he eventually gets better.
Live Action TV
- Openly criticised by Christina Aguilera's song "Can't Hold Us Down"
The guy gets all the glory the more he can score
and the girl can do the same and yet you call her a whore!
- Any time female rapper sings about sex. Khia's sexually explicit song "My Neck My Back" is put on Youtube, the comments are full of people calling Khia a whore for releasing a song about a woman's desire and demand for sexual 'fulfilment'. A few people will always point out that Khia's lyrics are hardly any more shocking or explicit than any number of songs released by male rappers.
- A rap "Spit Your Game" by a teenage girl called OG Niki got a similar response.
- The Weezer song "No One Else" is pretty much about this - completely unrealistic expectations by the man in the relationship. For what it's worth, the next track (which Rivers Cuomo has said is essentially from the viewpoint of the same male character) is about how the chick dumped the guy.
- The J. Geils Band track "Centerfold" has the singer freaking out after seeing his teenage crush from years ago naked in Play Boy and angsting about how it's ruined his fantasy memory.
It's okay, I understand, this ain't no Never-Neverland
Oh no, I can't deny it
Oh well, I guess I gotta buy it
- Eminem rap Superman:
I'd never love you enough to trust you, we just met and I just fucked you...
- "I'm That Kind Of Girl" by Patty Loveless is all about this Trope:
But if somewhere in the middle's what you're lookin' for
I'm that kind of girl, yes I'm that kind of girl
- Downplayed in David Byrne's song "She Only Sleeps". The narrator knows his girlfriend is monogamous, and that's good enough for him. Everyone around him thinks she's sleeping around, but he doesn't give a damn about their opinions.
- Averted in Avenue Q with (who else?) Lucy The Slut.
- William Shakespeare has a number of cases of assumed infidelity although none show a double-standard in that the males aren't implied to be sleeping around either:
- In A Midsummer Night's Dream, while Demetrius is thoroughly repulsed by Helena, he still argues with her to go back to safety because the danger of rape is too great.
- In Troilus and Cressida, Cressida is traded to the Greeks in a hostage exchange and when Troilus comes to rescue her, he suspects her of having cuckolded him with Diomedes (with no real evidence for or against in the play) and leaves her there.
- In Cymbeline, Posthumous Leonatus is informed (falsely) that his wife, Imogen, has cheated on him and immediately sets forth events to have her killed.
- And, of course, everyone knows what happened to Othello and Desdemona...
- The Moon Is Blue:
Don: Look, Slater, you're overplaying it. You know that's a nice kid. There's a cleaned, scrubbed quality about her that even you could see.
David: The greatest courtesans of history were all cleaned and scrubbed in appearance as far as I know. Mandatory to the profession, you might almost say.
Don: You know what I mean.
David: Okay, but keep the soap commercials out of it.
- College Roomies from Hell!!!:
- Averted. Roger didn't realize that his new girlfriend, Diana, was a prostitute, even after paying her for sex (it had been a bit of a misunderstanding, from him being Blind Without 'Em...), but when the truth finally comes out, he decides to stay together with her and even begs her forgiveness for the way his friends treated her.
- Played with when Diana thinks Roger slept with Margaret. It's not clear if it actually happened, but eventually Margaret finds a way to placate Diana: She apologizes to Roger for "forgetting to pay" and hands him some money. Diana instantly forgives him—after all, if you're getting paid, it's just business.
- This Loserz strip.
- This and A Man Is Not a Virgin are both explored in one chapter of Bittersweet Candy Bowl. Poor Paulo.
- Averted in Family Guy with Lois, who has in the past slept with Gene Simmons of KISS, and Peter (a huge KISS fan) is actually proud. In addition, she's slept with Bill Clinton in-series. So did Peter.
- Though played straight otherwise as Peter gets insanely jealous whenever he meets one of Lois' ex-boyfriends who aren't famous rock-stars. He even punches out anyone or anything that he perceives to be hitting on Lois, including his own reflection.
- South Park. Cartmans mother is called a slut and a dirty whore for selling sex and being promiscuous while Chef gets no negative labels for the same actions.
- Inverted when Kenny is overjoyed (to the point of dancing around and cheering) to hear that his new fifth-grade girlfriend is a "notorious whore," as Cartman puts it.
- Spoofed on King of the Hill, where Bobby asks Hank about pre-marital sex, specifically "why is it okay for a boy to do it, but not okay for a girl?" Hank responds, "It's called the double standard. And don't knock it, we got the long end of the stick on that one."
- In an episode of The Cleveland Show, the hypocrisy of this trope was the main plot point. While Cleveland didn't want to have his step-daughter to have sex at all, he encouraged his son to get rid of his virignitiy as soon as possible with anyone. He even becomes extremely embarassed and angry when his son makes an oath of abstinence in public.
- An episode of American Dad! reveals that nearly all married women in Langley Falls have cheated on her husband at least once. Francine is faithful to Stan, although he is distraught to learn that she has had hundreds of sexual partners before she met him (thought he admits that he knew she was a wild girl when they met). This causes problems in their marriage, so Francine files for divorce in order to allow him to sleep with another woman before they re-marry. She later changes her mind... but he goes through with it (after marrying the other woman first and then divorcing her on the same day).