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Consummation Counterfeit

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"But a little imagination, a phial of blood hidden beneath your pillow. You wouldn't be the first."
Cut line from Kemal Pamuk, Downton Abbey

Few brides relish the thought of consummating an Arranged Marriage. The servants are sure to gossip if they don't see the "blood on the sheets" the next morning, too. There's just one problem — you've already done the nasty with someone else, but they need to see that blood. If they don't, you could be facing execution (either at the hands of your family or the state), banishment, or good old Slut-Shaming from everyone who hears about it.

The solution? Fake it, in order to prove that you were a virgin on the wedding night and/or the wedding was consummated.

The most common way is faking the "blood on the sheets" by using the bride's own blood or that of an animal's — the husband will think the marriage was sufficiently consummated. This is common among noble women who don't go to their marriage bed virgins, especially in societies that value ladies' maidenheads. A variation is to not actually consummate the marriage at all — render your husband incapable of consummating, then fake the blood and let everyone believe you did it. Yet another is to have your husband in on it, which is often the case for more sympathetic grooms. Of course, false "evidence" may be required even if the wife was a virgin, as the majority of women do not actually bleed after their first time having intercourse. Try telling the writers that, though.

This is something of an Undead Horse Trope — while the myths of the hymen as an indicator of virginity and that a woman bleeds during her first time having sex have been discredited, there are still cultures that place a high value on a woman's virginity and require physical proof of it. And of course, it gets mileage in period works.

Subtrope of Virginity Flag. See also Common Hollywood Sex Traits.


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     Comic Books 
  • Borgia Power And Incest by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Milo Manara has Lucrezia do this for her first husband (who is Camp Gay to the point of impotence if no men are involved), via an eggshell filled with blood. A bedsheet is draped over the happy couple so the audience (yes, the audience) can't see the details, and after a few screams of pain on Lucrezia's part and effort on her husband's, the bloodstained bedsheet is revealed to all (without any actual intercourse having taken place).

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Easy A but with noises rather than physical proof Brandon when asks Olive to pretend to have sex with him at a party so the other students will believe he is straight, to which she agrees.
  • In The Handmaiden, there's a scene from Sook-hee's perspective where she hears Hideko and Fujiwara having sex next door and Hideko's sheets are shown to have a bloodstain on it the morning after. In the replay of this scene from Hideko's perspective, however, it's shown that Hideko pulled out a knife to prevent Fujiwara from getting into bed with her, masturbated on her own to make it sound like they were having sex, and then cut her hand with the knife to leave the bloodstain on her sheets.
  • The Pornographers: Ogata, the titular pornographer, has a side business as a pimp. An extremely creepy businessman demands that Ogata find him a virgin to deflower. Ogata winds up finding a hooker who specializes in pretending to be a virgin for gullible johns to deflower. She even gets a fake doctor's certificate to "prove" her virginity.
  • In Yentl, the title character is a woman pretending to be male so she can go to school. She gets trapped into an arranged marriage with a woman who doesn't particularly want to marry "him" either. On their wedding night they play around non-sexually in their bedroom and Yentl "accidentally" spills some red wine on the bed, which is taken by the others at the wedding night party as proof of consummation.

  • There is an old joke where a man, on his wedding night, has trouble with consummating the relationship. So once the wife falls asleep, he cuts his finger and smears the sheet with blood. An hour later, when he is asleep, the wife wakes up, sees the sheet, thinks for a moment and uses the sheet to blow her nosenote . An alternate version of the joke has the young couple staying at an inn, where the innkeeper finds the bloody bedsheets and, overjoyed that there are still "virtuous" couples in the world, lets the couple stay free of charge. Many years later, the now-old couple visits the same inn again, and when the wife blows her nose on the sheets, her husband asks her what she's doing. She answers: "You saved my honor once, now I'll save your reputation."
  • A woman is worried that her husband-to-be will think she's not a virgin in their nuptials because her hymen has been ruptured. So a friend suggests she place a deflated balloon inside her vagina so he won't have that assumption. On their wedding night, when they are both naked in bed, the husband looks into his new wife's vagina, puzzled. "What's wrong, honey?", she asks nervously "Is there anything wrong with my hymen?" "I don't know", he answers, "I've never seen one with 'Happy Birthday' written on it." There is a variant with a sausage wrapping and a kashrut certificate.

  • Happens in the second duology of Arcia Chronicles: Dariolo Kerna is supposed to be a virgin when she marries Arthur Barrot, when, in fact, she already has two (illegitimate) children from Alexander. Arthur, automatically assuming that his wife was a victim of sexual abuse (and that that's why she ran away from home), cuts himself to produce a stained bedsheet as proof that his wife was a virgin before marriage, as the nobility custom dictates.
  • Mentioned in Aztec as one of the services provided by a local witch-woman. She provides a type of pigeon egg that "bleeds" when broken, which a woman may insert before her wedding night.
  • Suggested on Chronicle of a Death Foretold to keep rich suitor Bayardo San Román from finding out that Ángela Vicario (who he had just married) is not a virgin. Unfortunately, the plan needed him to fall asleep drunk for Ángela to perform the simulated motions... and his high tolerance to alcohol became a Spanner in the Works, and the ensuing panic over the loss of honor became the trigger for the titular murder.
  • In The Constant Princess, Catherine of Aragon cuts her foot to stain the sheets in order to fool Henry VIII into thinking she was a virgin on their wedding night and had not consummated her marriage to Prince Arthur.
  • The trope gets used again in The Cousins' War Series. In The White Princess Henry Tudor cuts Elizabeth of York's foot in order to fake it. In this instance, it's because not only had Henry and Elizabeth had slept together prior to their marriage, but Elizabeth had previously slept with Richard III too.
  • In Abel Posse's Dogs Of Paradise, Isabella and Ferdinand had some trouble waiting until the wedding night... so they present a large Japanese flag.
  • In the Young Royals book Patience, Princess Catherine (a historical fiction about the early life of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII) Catherine of Aragon and Arthur Tudor use goats' blood as proof of consummation so they don't have the pressure of having to consummate the night of the wedding for the bedding ceremony. They never actually have sex together, but the "proof" (along with some cuddle sessions in the same chambers) causes problems when Arthur dies and she wants to marry his brother Henry, as a church doctrine prohibits the marriage of a widow to the brother of her deceased husband if the marriage was legal and had been consummated.
  • In the medieval Romance Novel Enchanted (the final in a trilogy), the heroine refuses to sleep with the hero on their wedding night (readers know, but he doesn't, that she was raped and therefore has a Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality). So he cuts himself and spills blood on the bed so that necessary people believe that they've consummated their marriage.
  • Invoked in The Fire's Stone when Aaron offers to kill a chicken to stain the sheets on Chandra and Darvish's wedding night.
  • Accidentally done in Grave Mercy. The protagonist, Ismae, is pretending to be the mistress of Viscount Duval in order to explain her presence at court. He visits her bedchambers every night for a few hours to keep up the ruse, but they do not have sex and Ismae is a virgin. However, when Duval tries to wake her from a nightmare, she immediately lashes out at him with a knife and ends up cutting him. The next morning, the housekeeper sees the blood on the sheets and kindly assures Ismae that "it will not always hurt so", much to Ismae's embarrassment.
  • In Elizabeth Chadwick's The Greatest Knight, William Marshal, the knight of the title, has just been rewarded for years of good service with the hand of a rich royal ward. The girl is frightened and William is nursing a wounded leg so he suggests a rain check on the consummation and supplies the necessary blood himself with a prick of his dagger commenting that the better the lover the less the blood. As it turns out he could have saved himself the trouble as her period starts in the night giving them the perfect excuse to put of the consummation till they get to know each other a little better. By the time her period ends Isabelle's only doubt is whether it would be to forward for her to remind William that they have unfinished business.
  • In Malediction Trilogy human girl Cecile is married to troll prince Tristan in order to fulfill a prophecy. He is a decent guy and does not want to force her, he even goes to sleep on the sofa — but his father demands that marriage be consumed and offspring produced. Since trolls themselves Cannot Tell a Lie, Tristan tells his wife to lie about what happened during the night. He also pretends to be totally disgusted by his wife so that she does not have to lie too often.
  • In The Serpent & Dove Trilogy Lou and Reid need to consummate their marriage, or it won't be official. However Lou does not want to sleep with him and Reid doesn't want to force her, so she cuts open her arm and lets her blood drip on the bed to fake a consummation.
  • In A Thousand Splendid Suns, after her husband falls asleep, Laila cuts her finger the night she consummates her marriage and lets the blood stain the sheets.
  • A variant in Warbreaker. Princess Siri of Idris needs the priesthood of Hallendren to think that she's sleeping with their God-Emperor (since she was sent down from Idris as an Arranged Marriage to produce an heir), but the God-Emperor in question is something of a Manchild and has no clue how sex works (at least at first). Eventually, she just starts bouncing up and down on the bed and moaning, satisfying the listening observers. The God-Emperor, of course, has no clue what to make of this until much later.
  • The Wild Tales short story The Seed of the Dervishovs by Bulgarian writer Nikolay Haytov has the trope inverted and deconstructed. In a mountainous village, an Arranged Marriage happens between a boy and a girl. They fall for each other, but both are shy and he doesn't want to force himself on her. They fake the consummation in order for the village to leave them alone and let them stay together. It works, however when a brutish neighbor notices that the girl isn't getting pregnant for a long time, he deduces she's still a virgin. He bribes her brothers into kidnapping her and forcefully marries her, making everyone's life miserable.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Camelot: Guinevere puts some pig's blood on her bedsheets after her wedding night with Leontes, worried he would know she lost her virginity to Arthur otherwise.
  • The 1986 miniseries Peter The Great by NBC Productions showed the newly crowned Czar Peter of Russia taking the introverted virgin Eudoxia to the honeymoon bed. When Eudoxia claims that she must "sacrifice" herself for the good of Russia rather than out of love for Peter, Czar Peter shatters a wine bottle and lances his finger with a shard. His blood stains the center of the bedsheet, which he then displays proudly to his loyal palace guards downstairs.
  • The White Princess: Having already raped Elizabeth prior to their wedding, Henry takes a knife to their wedding bed and cuts her foot to get blood on the sheets. He knows she's pregnant and won't have talk of their son being conceived extramaritally.

  • Done by accident in Queen Of The Dead by A-gnosis. Persephone's period starts shortly after being abducted by Hades. She sardonically tells Hades that they can use the bloodied sheets as 'proof' that he took her virginity (which is wrong on both counts; she's not a virgin and he never touched her).

    Real Life 
  • In some places that still place a high value on a woman's virginity at marriage, there exist a few surgical procedures (though they might be illegal, in order to prevent this trope). One such procedure involves creating an artificial hymen (that has no actual blood supply, but contains a packet of fake blood.)


Video Example(s):


Henry and Elizabeth

Elizabeth of York is already pregnant with Henry Tudor's son at the time of their wedding, so he cuts her foot to dribble blood on the sheets for her and their child's reputation.

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Example of:

Main / ConsummationCounterfeit

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