Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Blushing Virgin

It seems to me that I've read a rash of contemporary romances lately in which the heroine was a virgin, and I realized that it was starting to bug me. I wasn't bothered by their virginity per se, but by the fact their virginity felt so contrived. In this day and age, there simply aren't a huge number of attractive, outgoing, personable women in their twenties who are virgins. The ones that are usually have a good reason for abstaining: religion, some illness that kept them out of circulation, some paranormal power that kills off any man who touches her breasts, whatever. Good reasons. I'm totally on board with that.

But, it just seems to be a plot contrivance for a modern day heroine to be a virgin for no good reason other than, it simply hadn't happened for her yet. And I've read SO many of these books lately. What's wrong with a heroine having a sexual history? I don't think there's anything wrong with it. I think it makes her real, it gives her a past that makes her interesting and dynamic, and will affect her relationship with the hero. Does it make it a better love story to have her be blushing with shock at her first penis sighting at age twenty-seven? IMHO, unless there's a good reason for her to be so pure, I find that it yanks me out of the story. It makes me think, "Hmm... the author wanted this character to be a virgin so she could do the ol' big-virile-man-is-gentle-lover-introducing-innocent-flower-to-true-passion thing." Then boom, I'm out of the story and I'm annoyed.

Historicals? No problem. I'm with you there.

Really good catholic girls? Yep. I'm on board.

Exploding breasts? She has my deepest sympathy and I'm oh-so-interested to see how the hero's going to get around that problem.

Just never got around to having sex? Sorry, not working for me anymore. It's simply not believable and it's annoying. I feel like if the author felt it was that important to make her heroine a virgin, then the author should have spent some serious time working on backstory to give the heroine a really good reason for being so pure. A really good reason will then make it so much more interesting when the hero shows up with his hot kisses and talented hands. Then, it won't simply be a matter of, "oh, I've never done this before, please show me how it's done, you burning hunk of masculinity." It becomes a matter of "oh, I've never done this before and I really want to, but holy cr*p! How are we going to get around this major impediment and get us both naked?" That's when I'll be sucked in.

What are your thoughts? Anyone?

5 Comments:

At 9:15 PM, Blogger TJBrown said...

I'm with you. If there's a reason for it, fine. Otherwise it does feel like a contrivance. And a sexual past does make her more dynamic not to mention more realistic!
teri

 
At 4:57 AM, Blogger Milady Insanity said...

I'm with you too.

I read a great deal of fantasy, and it makes me tear out my hair when the supposedly strong AND worldly heroine is...tada! A virgin!

Teri, I've heard great things about Gennita Low's Sleeping With The Agent. I plan to get it--the heroine of SWTA is in a previous book and she really intrigued me.

 
At 1:42 PM, Anonymous anonymous with good reason! said...

Speaking as someone who was a virgin well into her twenties, I disagree. I had no paranormal superpowers or strong religious convictions, and I got a little sick of trying to explain that there was no "reason" behind my lingering virginity. I wasn't out looking to get rid of it by having a one night stand with a guy I met at a bar -- I'm not a one night stand kind of person -- and I'm also generally considered to be pretty. But without a boyfriend to have sex with, it wasn't going to happen, so it didn't. Also, I lived with a bunch of women who were virgins for the same reason. The problem was, that it became difficult to let relationships go on for any length of time -- as soon as men found out about our "status" they shied away, unwilling to "take responsibility" of being The First. As if "the First" mattered. The boyfriend I ended up sleeping with was amazed, because he personally didn't know ANY virgins our age. (He was also shocked that I was a virgin, because he, like you, thought I had to have some sort of sexual hangups or religious convictions.) I guess we run in packs.

 
At 5:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an interesting topic!
Obviously personal choices, especially those that tend to go against the social norm, cause others to scratch their head and make up "reasons" for it.
Women aren't defined by their sexual history anymore, are they?
Whether you decide to have sex or wait to wait until you're in your thirties...it doesn't define you or your life. It's a choice. Not a character trait.
I will say that ANY part of a story that feels contrived and takes me out of the story is annoying. So, if you're going to go against the social norm...please give me a good reason. It doesn't have to be paranormal, it just can't be to "set up" a scene.

Sheila Clover English

 
At 8:22 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

I'm with anonymous...:) although I feel bad that she felt she had to remain anonymous. There have to be strong, dynamic twenty and thirty year old virgins out there somewhere in the world. Call me naive, but it doesn't take much to pull me into a book and believe because I know anything is possible...and hey, that coming from a woman who had sex way too young. In fact, I wish I had waited, but that's a whole new blog!

 

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