Virgin Sacrifices in Fantasy Stories Are Stupid

So I’m sitting here watching Conan The Destroyer, which includes the age-old premise that a virgin will be sacrificed.  Personally, I think that’s a waste of a perfectly good virgin, but what struck me is the silliness of this.  There’s no way to know for sure that someone is a virgin unless they’re very closely watched.  And if you’re sacrificing to a god who demands one and you sacrifice a non-virgin by mistake, aren’t you asking for trouble?  I’d like to see a story where something terrible happens to the god (and then those sacrificing) when that mistake is made.

The virgin from Conan the Destroyed clearly doesn't want to die!
This virgin from Conan the Destroyer clearly doesn’t want to die. I will save her!

For guys, it’s physically impossible to tell they’re a virgin, which is probably why girls are the usual victims.  The other reasons are likely misogyny and the fact that fantasy readers were mostly male for a long time, meaning the male hero like Conan can rescue the virgin and stop her from being one as his reward. Readers can live vicariously.

For girls, the hymen being intact offers proof of virginity, but it’s entirely possible she’s had other kinds of sex besides vaginal. That raises the debate of just how much of a virgin a girl has to be to get sacrificed.  If she’s performed fellatio, is she still a virgin?  Given a hand job?  Open-mouth kissed?  Would the god agree she’s s virgin?  How chaste is chaste enough?  And how would you ever know what’s she’s done and hasn’t done?  And how many times?  With how many guys?  Or girls?

How would the god know?  Is that god omnipotent?

If I was a girl chosen to be sacrificed, I’d loudly claim I’d performed fellatio on half the village.  Which is better, being called a slut or being dead?

A girl can still be a virgin even if her hymen is broken, as that can break during strenuous physical activity, for example.   Granted, in “olden times,” girls weren’t doing sports like they are today, reducing this as an issue, but that raises a different point – just because a girl’s hymen is broken doesn’t mean she’s not a virgin and unavailable for sacrifice.

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During these virgin sacrifice stories, there’s never a scene where a doctor examines a girl and determines her hymen is intact. That she’s a virgin is always assumed to be true, maybe because there’s no way to tell for sure.  And because it’s considered “icky” to show an exam, as if that’s somehow worse than the girl being killed?  I suspect this is one of those “not worth being realistic” things.

If there are no definitive changes to the body, why does being a virgin matter? Are we saying there’s a change to something else about a person?  What?  Their soul?  Their mind? We’re after innocence or purity?  I had a dirty mind long before I lost my virginity, so what does that prove?  If we’re saying their soul is “better,” well, there are plenty of other ways (besides sexual congress) to not be that innocent anymore.  Murder, theft, deceit, a vice, the list goes on and on.

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The whole virgin sacrifice thing is kind of stupid. But then you didn’t need a blog to tell you that, did you?  Sorry for wasting your time.

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Virgin Sacrifices in Fantasy Stories Are Stupid

So I’m sitting here watching Conan The Destroyer, which includes the age-old premise that a virgin will be sacrificed.  Personally, I think that’s a waste of a perfectly good virgin, but what struck me is the silliness of this.  There’s no Read More …

10 thoughts on “Virgin Sacrifices in Fantasy Stories Are Stupid”

  1. Pretty funny! And I think that your points about “rescuing the damsel” are true. But, it a big part of the lore is based in history. Or, at least, mythology. Aztecs were known for human sacrifices, especially virginal ones (though I do not know how much of that is made up by Spanish propaganda.) Also, it’s the nature of sacrifice where you are giving something up to the Gods, like the best meat, gold, or women. The gods in non-Christian mythology were a bunch of pervs, so obviously to appease them you give them a virgin girl.

  2. The Aztecs used to start wars with neighbouring communities as a way to get people to sacrifice — the people being sacrificed were prisoners of war. I’ve never heard of virginity being an issue.

    Also, note the meaning if the word “virgin” has changed. Back when the sacrificing was happening, it just meant “young woman”. No hymen inspection required.

    As for the “would you rather be a slut or dead” argument: if you loudly claimed to be a slut, you’d wind up sobbed or drowned anyhow, depending on where you lived. So at best you were choosing how you were going to die.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I think you’re talking about the real world whereas I was talking a fantasy story cliche, but interesting info, especially about what “virgin” meant.

  3. This is HILARIOUS! And I agree! Very silly- waste of a virgin. But I love a good sacrifice, nonetheless. I hope you don’t read mine and think it’s silly too!!!! lol (the sacrificed person is not a virgin!)

  4. A fair point. I always assumed magic was utilized to divine where the virgins were kept.
    I’ve just started reading Umberto Eco’s THE NAME OF THE ROSE; the characters at one point are talking of heretics and devil worship, which included a variety of means of sacrificing infants. Is *that* the more sensible sacrifice, do you think?

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