The Misplaced Maidenhead

Aargh! I just read another romance novel sex scene that demonstrated the author (a) does not understand the female genitalia and (b) is lazy and just copies from other incorrect authors rather than do her own fact-checking — or her own thinking.

I had posted this some years ago on another site, but it’s worth repeating.

We all know the scene:

Corwyndonus of the Cleaving Cock soothed his innocent young bride. “Do not fear, my dear. ‘Twill hurt only this first time, and for but a few moments. I promise to be gentle.” He then positioned his mighty staff at her virginal entrance. Slowly, slowly he entered her; inch by inch. When but halfway to his goal, he felt the brave barrier that resisted his masculine invasion. “Best I be quick,” he murmured to Shy Sheilandra. Drawing almost fully out, with but the head of his massive organ still within her, he then thrust mightily to demolish the gate of her keep, burying himself to the hilt. Sheilandra screamed shrilly, beating on his shoulders with her dainty fists and sobbing with agony. “Shush, my dearling, the deed is done,” Corwyndonus soothed her.

Later, as she lay exhausted on the bed, he gazed with masculine pride at the blood dripping from the sheets to the stone floor–proof of his virility and her virginity.

(When properly inspired, I actually can write. 😉 )

And don’t think this happens only in historical romances — it’s just as common, and as unforgiveable, in contemporaries. Bad authors! (shaking my finger)

Ahem. Let’s eradicate this ridiculous romance novel cliche. The fact is, the hymen is part of the external female genitalia. It is a thin, flexible membrane partially covering the opening of the vagina. Over half of women feel no pain and have no bleeding when the hymen is ruptured — which can happen during various physical activities, not just sex.

So the hero does not get several inches in and then burst through some barrier. He most likely doesn’t feel the hymen at all, his penis slides right past it when he starts penetration. And the poor virgin (well, no longer virgin) heroine is not going to have to lie on blood-drenched sheets — at most a few spots, if anything. Except, of course, for the “wet spot” — but that’s his fault, not hers, and anyway, why wasn’t he wearing a condom?

From Wikipedia (yes, I know, not always the most reliable source, but a place to find basic facts):

“The hymen is a fold of mucous membrane which surrounds or partially covers the external vaginal opening. It forms part of the vulva, or external genitalia. […] It is not possible to confirm that a woman is a virgin by examining her hymen.”

“In the normal course of life the hymenal opening can also be enlarged by tampon use, pelvic examinations with a speculum, regular physical activity or sexual intercourse. Once a girl reaches puberty the hymen tends to become so elastic that it is not possible to determine whether a woman uses tampons or not by examining a hymen. In one survey only 43% of women reported bleeding the first time they had sex.”

[Yes, there are rare women who have a medical condition of an imperforate hymen (no opening). But that has to be dealt with surgically at puberty, to allow menstrual blood to leave the body. ]

If you are woefully unaware of the parts of the vulva, see the illustrations at

So please, no more of those anatomically impossible deflowerings.


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