Virginity is an anatomical term

In my novel Almost Adept, my heroine Eriale’s original goal in the beginning of the story is to lose her virginity. Some reviewers disliked it. They thought she should be less blasé about it, more ‘virtuous.’ Instead, she pursues her goal without false modesty, even while engaged in the more heroic activities that comprise the bulk of the novel. Her quest to lose virginity quickly becomes secondary to saving people’s lives, but Eriale never abandons it until she succeeds.
AlmostAdep180x270JI’d like to explain her position here: why is losing virginity so important to her. Eriale is an Adept – a magician of enormous power. To be able to harness such power at all times is mandatory for an Adept, no matter her emotional or physical state: pain or grief, fury or elation, illness or sex.
Anyone who’s ever experienced a sexual intercourse knows that in the best case scenario – the best climax – for a few moments before, during, and after, humans become mindless embodiments of instincts, relinquishing almost all conscious control.
An Adept can’t allow this to happen, can’t allow control of her power to slip even for one second, or she could cause colossal damage. She must learn to compartmentalize her mind, so even during the most vigorous sex she would keep a tight leash on her magic.
Of course, like in any other activity, in sex, practice makes perfect. Eriale must experience sex multiple times to insure she has the necessary control, before the magic guild even allows her to apply for the Adept license. Being a virgin would equate an automatic denial to her application. Furthermore, the guild will check her status as a non-virgin before issuing the license. In their world, it’s a public safety issue, without any morality snags.
Sadly, for some readers in our world, the entire situation becomes a personal affront. In our society, virginity has been associated with morality for centuries. Keeping a girl’s virginity intact before marriage was always a social inhibition. Although the standards have laxed somewhat in the past fifty years, Eriale’s push to lose virginity still annoys some people.
I didn’t set out to upset their sensibilities when I wrote this novel, but I sincerely think that virginity and morality shouldn’t be linked. My protagonist is not moral or amoral, just practical. For her (and for me), virginity – an unbroken hymen – is a biological condition, akin to baby teeth. She can’t access her full magical (or female) potential until she gets rid of it. It has nothing to do with her morality.
Lois McMaster Bujold in her sci-fi Vorkosigan series has the right approach to the question of virginity. On Beta Colony, a rational, technologically advanced planet, all women lose virginity in the same way. When a girl reaches puberty, around 13 or 14, her parents take her to a doctor. He cuts her hymen (painlessly, with a sterile instrument), pierces her ears, and installs a contraceptive implant. After that, the girl is considered an adult and can experiment with her sexuality until she is ready to start a family. It’s not a moral issue but a common-sense way to deal with teenage hormones.
I tried to implant a similar value system, at least for magicians, in the fantasy world I created for Eriale and her friends.

This entry was posted in Almost Adept, Fantasy, Magic, Olga Godim and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Virginity is an anatomical term

  1. Widdershins says:

    Just goes to show, you can’t please all the people … but you know, there’s going to be a woman, somewhere who’ll read your story and it’ll be an ‘Aha!’ moment for her, and you will have changed her life.

  2. Olga Godim says:

    One can hope, Widdershins, one can hope…

  3. fionamcgier says:

    Many years ago I wanted to get rid of my virginity so I could find out what all of the fuss was about. I found a willing volunteer and we clumsily did the deed. I was just happy to get it out of the way, so I could get on with my life. I’ve since learned that almost NO females had the same attitude, but it really was the way I thought at the time. Unromantic? Sure. Immoral? To some. But it was my reality. I love the idea of a girl having her hymen surgically removed so she can be considered a consenting adult.

    In the books I write the females are strong and independent…bordering on being alphas in their own right. Some reviewers don’t like them for that reason. I guess the current hot button is females who secretly, or not-so-secretly, long to be dominated by a big, strong man. Bleah. Nothing bores me more. I’ve read some of those books and I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that it’s supposed to be a good thing when the hero slaps/ties up and beats/abuses the heroine. To me that makes him liable for a court order of protection…and a good, swift kick in the “churlies” (my late Faither was from Glesga.)

    I say write what your muse brings you. Whether or not you become rich and famous remains to be seen. But you will be writing stories that resonate deeply with you, and hopefully some of the readers who find you will feel the same way.

  4. Olga Godim says:

    Fiona, you understand. I’m on your side. I dislike female doormats. My heroine is also strong. Nobody is going to push her around or abuse her. In fact, the novel starts with an attempt by a stupid macho guy. She is so mad at his handling she turns him into a muttonhead in retaliation. A literal muttonhead – she turns his head into a sheep’s head. She is a magician after all. Nobody is allowed to mess with her.

  5. mbousquin says:

    Olga, This is fascinating & you give a most excellent overview of the internal logic of your book & your character. The reader response does not surprise me in a culture that wants to control women’s bodies. That the reader would sacrifice the female character’s power in the name of virginity is a sad reflection of deeply engrained cultural values (hehem: sexism). I so appreciate your response in defense of Eriale & of your book. Best, Marilyn

  6. Interesting premise, though I happen to disagree with you–I hold virtue near and dear to my heart and instill that value in my family. However, I don’t hold morality completely upon one’s virginity, but I feel that it is a state of mind as the basis of all action and thought regardless of one’s sexual state. (A married woman can be very moral, so long as she is faithful to her husband and a man to his wife).

    This seems to be a matriarchal society; what of the boy’s virginity? I’m interested on how you introduce the couples so that the female feels, well, accomplished?

    Thanks for stepping out and sharing your inner self through your work, sometimes it’s not easy doing so, and you are brave for doing it! Gotta let our voices be heard!



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