Friday, September 17, 2010

Why's it always gotta be the virgins?

I'm watching this new show on SyFy called Beast Legends, and this ep is on dragons. And the legends reminded me.

Why is it always the virgins? Whenever there's a monster that requires human sacrifice (or a god, sometimes, but the human sacrifices I recall off the top of my head to gods varied a lot more, and weren't necessarily virgins. A lot of them were warriors.) it's always a virgin. At least once Christianity comes of the scene. I'm not well versed in European/Eastern Europe/Asia/Middle East/African human sacrifice prior to the Christian period. I wouldn't even really consider myself well versed in it *after* Christianity appears, but I at least know bits and pieces.

Anyway. Here's my completely unoriginal and unenlightening theory. The 'dragon' (which we know isn't a real animal) is associated in the Bible with the devil, demons, bad nasty things. Dragon/monster = evil, and since Christian Europe was a *tad* obsessed (story wise, if not in fact for the most part) with a girls purity and virginity a virgin girl = good. *makes chomping motions with her hands* So the evil wants to eat the good, destroying it.

But it's not just that huge, basic good vs. evil thing either. Monsters represent the darkest urges of humanity (and in these cases, men, since they were the ones telling the stories). So on another level, it's really the dark parts of men that want to take what they have been taught to perceive as ultimately good and pure and untouchable and destroy it. Which, to their minds, they would be doing if they touched it. The minute a girl lost her virginity, she was no longer pure (I don't think there are any stories of dragons demanding (AND ON A RANDOM SIDE NOTE: DEAR SYFY, SHARKTOPUS? *FACEPALM* WTF?) the sacrifice of the virgin prince) and he'd basically destroyed her.

It occurs to me that some of the people who were/are obsessed with *keeping* people from having sex in what they believed to be immoral ways (which for some of them would be all the ways!) were just reacting to their own problems. They didn't have the 'purity' that they thought they should, and just assumed that if *they* were this bad, then everyone else must be worse! They thought about sex and 'dirty wrong things' more than the people who were having sex!

This utterly pointless ramble brought to you by SyFy, and the wacky random thoughts it produces in me.


  1. You reminded me of this song. :D

    More seriously, though, interesting theory. I think it makes a lot of sense.

  2. Interesting! I like how you translated the symbolism of this practice.

    I guess I thought of how the Israelites were permitted to sacrifice ONLY perfect lambs to God. Nothing that had blemishes. Do you think virgins = pure have something to do with why VIRGINS were the ones needed to appease the dragon/gods/whatever. Does this mean that MEN - having sexual relations with them - pollutes the women so only pure, virgin women were permitted for the sacrifice?

    And why women over men except men were often given a free pass. Their purity wasn't as valuable because men could get away with sowing some wild oats and most people just turned the other way since this was expected. (Hateful double standard!)

    But a pure woman was expected and a prize ... and what a great offering to the gods/dragon. I've not watched enough of this stuff to understand why a sacrifice was needed and to whom it was made to speak intelligently on this subject. However, symbolically it shows me that MEN destroy the purity of women and what god/dragon wants a woman polluted by a man? Who wants 'used goods' so to speak?

    It's too early on Saturday for such musings so sorry if this makes no sense.

    Have a good weekend!

  3. Susanne,

    I get where you're thinking re: the pure sacrifices demanded of the Israelites, et. but that implies that the act of having sex leaves a blemish on the soul even if it is sex between properly married spouses. Which is not the case. Of course that doesn't rule out the fact that people misunderstood this - they still do.

    I think some men *thought* that sex was polluting, and always evil, and they were unfortunately able to pass on their thoughts, somewhat changed and diluted and the idea that sex = bad spread. It's partially where we get the whole virgin/whore complex.

    It was women over men because the monsters represented the mens urges to take the women. So of course the 'monster' in the story is going to demand what the men want = women. Or really girls, since people married very young back in the day and wouldn't be virgins up into any sort of age that we consider womanhood.

    Why the sacrifice was needed depends on the story. Mostly it was because the dragon/god/monster had come and was trashing the village/pissed off/insulted and demanded a sacrifice to leave the people alone.

  4. I didn't mean to imply sex was bad, but I was trying to think like these wacko men of the past who valued women's virginity to the extreme. Maybe virgin girls were offered because there was a number of them and boys were prized more.

    I like your theory though about the dragons (men) getting what men wanted -- pure girls. Makes a lot of sense.

    I think my earlier POV was influenced by your bringing Christianity into it and I thought maybe the people got that from the OT stories of the perfect (pure) lamb being required.

  5. Susanne,

    I didn't think you were. I think (and was trying to say) that that's what many of these people thought and what some people still think today. Not you, of course. You're far too smart for that nonsense. :)

    It could be subconsciously a relation to the OT, but then the monsters would have to be equated to God.

  6. Aha...God = monsters. Yeah, that's not so good unless it was their secret thoughts of him that they just wouldn't admit out loud so they did it symbolically. It's fun to speculate on others' reasons sometimes. :)

  7. Hmmm...maybe. Prior to Christianity the gods did all demand sacrifice (not all human by a long shot, but they did want things that people might not have necessarily wanted to give up).


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