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Virgin Tension

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Virginity in women is highly prized. The loss of virginity, on the other hand, is not. Even if it's from rape or abuse or other things that aren't their fault. This distinction doesn't always get made, and the prospect of a heroine losing her pure Virgin Power is often treated as on par with her dying (if not, indeed, A Fate Worse Than Death).

So movies and other stories will often go out of their way to indicate that, against all odds, their Damsel in Distress is still a virgin, just to add that extra layer of tension. Doesn't matter whether they're prostitutes or in relationships with sexually active people. They're virgins, and damn it, the script will make that EXCEEDINGLY clear to make the audience worry: "Oh no! Will the pure chaste maiden be devirginized? Say it isn't so!" This can happen with a My Girl Is Not a Slut moment or just with dialogue.

Compare Their First Time, Virgin Power, Nature Abhors a Virgin, Defiled Forever.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Fan Works 
  • ''Angel of the Bat: Times of Heresy has a running theme about this. Cassandra's physical sexuality makes her very uncomfortable, due to her heightened senses and Catholicism. When her girlfriend, Sadie attempts to initiate sexual intercourse, Cassandra feels sick and excited all at the same time before she finally says no, stating she's saving herself for marriage. Considering she's in a lesbian relationship, her girlfriend finds this extremely offputting.
  • A Crown of Stars: Asuka was Winthrop and Jinnai's plaything for years. Daniel rewrote the past using time-travel so she never had actual sex and was free to give her virginity and herself to someone she cared for. It was repeatedly stated afterwards that she was now pure "again".

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Parodied in the 1987 film of Dragnet where Joe Friday constantly refers to a rescued woman (intended as a Virgin Sacrifice) as "the virgin Connie Swail." Until the end of the movie...
    Joe Friday: Not that it's any of your business, Mr. National Enquirer, but I had the pleasure of spending a quiet evening in the company of Connie Swail.
    Pep Streebeck: Wait a minute. "Connie Swail"? Don't you mean "the virgin Connie Swail"?
    [Joe silently turns with a raised eyebrow as the Dragnet theme begins to play]
  • Inverted and parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Sir Galahad "the chaste" faces almost certain temptation from the young ladies of the Castle Anthrax but is rescued from this dire peril by the other knights.
  • Slumdog Millionaire: Latika becomes a prostitute, but her virginity is emphasized when Jamal tries to rescue her and is told, "Do you know how much this little virgin is worth?" Justified as she is being trained to be a prostitute and has not started yet. They were probably planning to sell off her virginity for a high price. Subverted later, when (it is heavily implied that) Salim rapes her.
  • Taken. Kim's been kidnapped by all kinds of sex traders but remains a virgin. The movie goes out of its way to point out how she's "certified pure". Justified in that it would have gotten them a higher bid for the opportunity to "deflower" her, and wanted to keep her in "mint condition".

  • Witches in the world of the Black Jewels can be "broken" and stripped of their power if their Virgin Night is not performed with care. After a certain age, young women can have the ceremony, but until then a virgin is highly vulnerable. Averts "undesirable loss of virginity" in that a properly performed Virgin Night will secure a witch's power, while still playing up the "fear of possible deflowerment" part of the trope (as in The Invisible Ring, when the hero realizes that the heroine is a virgin and flips out about the risk she's taken.)
  • In Juanita Coulson's The Death God's Citadel, this trope is first invoked and then subverted. Ilissa's social-climbing jerkass fiancé rejects her when he finds out she's been raped...then, conveniently dies. By contrast, Erezjan—who genuinely loves Ilissa rather than just wanting to marry royalty—is worried about what Ilissa has been through rather than whether or not she's "untouched."
  • In Dragon Blood, this is discussed with Tisala. Ward hopes that she had lots of lovers before she was raped, but no such luck, she was, indeed, a virgin.
  • A rather sympathetic, twisted male version in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Frollo, the priest, keeps it as a point of pride that he's been chaste all his life and has an intense fear of women. He winds up feeling intense sexual desire for the first time in his thirties when meeting Esmeralda. Since Esmeralda has no desire to be with him (she finds his advances disgusting), the Virgin Tension is within Frollo himself; can he give into temptation, which to him is deeply sinful, or get Esmeralda arrested to remove the source of temptation. He goes back and forth for a while, finally offering her a chance to sleep with him in exchange for freedom, then turning her in to the cops when she says no. When she's hung on the gallows, he lets out an Evil Laugh (either out of revenge for her rejecting him or relief the source of temptation is out of his life) and Quasimodo shoves him off the cathedral in anger. For added tragic flavor, Frollo was a friendly, kindhearted man before he met Esmeralda, and it was only his attraction to her (which he couldn't understand or cope with) that drove him to do evil things.
  • Inheritance Cycle never mentions the word "rape," but still informs readers that Arya was not taken advantage of while captured by the Empire, because she used her magic to fight the men off/make them impotent. Even though she was unconscious. Or...something.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • This is obviously a pretty big concern in Jaime Lannister's mind when he goes back to rescue Brienne from the Bloody Mummers. It's a bit unclear whether he's specifically worried about her getting deflowered or just, you know, raped in general (probably both), but the fact that she's a virgin does make it easier for him to figure out whether or not what he worried about had actually happened without having to have an uncomfortably direct conversation with her.
    • For political reasons Margaery Tyrell is regarded as a virgin when she's married to King Renly, then King Joffrey and finally King Tommen. While it's plausible (Renly is known to be homosexual, and Joff was poisoned before the wedding could be consumated) there's some skepticism.
    • Much is made of how Sansa Stark's maidenhead is still intact, despite her marriage to Tyrion, as he didn't exert the Marital Rape License. This allows Littlefinger to engage her to the heir to the Vale instead.
  • In The Sword of Truth series of books, Confessors are forced to remain virgins for the safety of their would-be lovers: the man's mind would be destroyed when the Confessor's power is released during the act of passion. Confessors therefore choose their eventual husbands not based on love or desire, but simply based on the need for procreation to pass their powers on to the next generation. The husband has his mind stripped away and becomes not a lover, but a mindless slave whose sole purpose is to teach his child everything he can. Of course, the main characters eventually find a way around this.
  • Somewhat interesting used in David Eddings' The Tamuli, when we get the backstory of Mirtai, a member of the Proud Warrior Race, the Atans. She was kidnapped by Arjuni slavers when she was just a child, and spent virtually her entire life as a slave: a beautiful, female, golden-skinned slave. However, the sheer amount of Badass In the Blood she has has ensured that anyone who tried to take advantage of her wound up messily dead. As such, she's still a virgin and intends to remain that way until she's married. As she tells her paramour, Kring, when he suggests making an 'early start', "I've killed too many people in defense of my virtue to waste it on 'almost married'."
  • In Wax and Wayne, shortly after being rescued from a gang, Steris informs her rescuer and fiance Wax that she's still a virgin, which Wax thinks is Too Much Information. Arguably justified on both the 'plausibly still a virgin' and 'why she cares so much' fronts; Steris was abducted as a plot to breed Allomancers, and the gang raping her before she reached headquarters might prevent her from producing one later. Steris cares because her marriage to Wax is between their houses; his house is highly aristocratic and hers is rich, and she's afraid he won't want her if her first child isn't his heir.
  • In the Witch World books by Andre Norton, witches (at least in the first few books) are traditionally virgins, and men who plan to capture them usually have a few ideas on how to rob them of their "powers". However, since witches are good at defending themselves, this rarely works.

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Horror Story: 1984: Brooke is still a virgin, and the mere thought that she isn't one anymore drives her fiancee to mass murder, while in good Final Girl terms, Brooke's virginity seems important. She is constantly teased by other characters for her virginity.
  • Daytime Soaps are fond of this trope, especially Days of Our Lives.
    • The then virginal Hope Williams (she's a grandmother now, Days is a Long Runner) spent several months managing to avoid consummating her forced marriage to Larry Welch by claiming she was pregnant by her true love Bo Brady. Needless to say when Bo found out about the lengths Hope was going to in order to avoid Larry's advances, he was thrilled. After Bo and Hope had a secret getaway to New Orleans behind Larry's back there was no more tension.
    • Carrie Brady was the victim of an Attempted Rape by a masked man on the night that she was supposed to lose her virginity to her true love Austin. One of the suspects in Carrie's attack was her ex boyfriend, Lucas Roberts, who would've been successful in his earlier attempt to bed Carrie had not his true motives for dating her been exposed. However, the culprit turned out to be Alan, another of Carrie's rejected suitors. Notably, once Carrie finally did lose her virginity to Austin, Alan lost interest and eventually raped Carrie's younger(and still virginal) sister Sami instead.
  • After the titular Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is rescued from renegade dog soldiers by beau Sully, he gently asks if they "hurt" her ("hurt" being a frequently used euphemism for "rape" back in those days). Just as gently, she tells him "no". The audience knows she's been able to fight off their lecherous advances, but Sully doesn't.
  • Heroes Fanon has an unhealthy obsession with Claire's honor. While the writers remain coy about her status, fans keep going on about how her regeneration abilities might leave her with "perpetual virginity" no matter how many times she might have sex.
  • Similar to Heroes, Jessica from True Blood was turned into a vampire (against her will) and everyday returns to the status she was turned as. It is explicit (and a minor plot point) that she "re-virginizes" after each time. Like Prometheus, this is a bad thing for her, as sex with her boyfriend will always be painful. note 


    Video Games 
  • Haunting Ground: Fiona's virginity is constantly at risk throughout the game, since Riccardo plans to rape her. However, he isn't driven by lust (at least, not entirely), it's actually her Azothnote  that he's after. So if he succeeds in impregnating her, she'll eventually give birth to his reincarnation. When he finds her unconscious in the forest, he takes her back to his hidden laboratory and strips her down to give her an ovulation test. According to the results, she would begin producing eggs within the next 2-3 days. Meaning, she'd soon be ripe for the taking. Thankfully, he dies before he gets the chance in most endings.