Marriage and Defloration

“Today, many young girls are better informed; and their defloration has the characteristics of a rape. “There are certainly more rapes committed in marriage than outside of marriage,” says Havelock Ellis. … In England, Ellis reports, a woman asked six intelligent, married, middle-class women about their reactions on their wedding night: for all of them intercourse was a shock …

Adler also emphasized the psychic importance of the act of defloration:

The first moment man acquires his full rights often decides his whole life. The inexperienced and over-aroused husband can sow the germ of feminine insensitivity and through his continual clumsiness and brutality transform it into permanent desensitization.

Many examples of these unfortunate initiatives were given in the previous chapter [titled “The Lesbian”]. Here is another case reported by Stekel:

Mrs. H.N. …, raised very prudishly, trembled at the idea of her wedding night. Her husband undressed her almost violently without allowing her to get into bed. He undressed, asking her to look at him nude and to admire his penis. She hid her face in her hands. And so he exclaimed: “Why didn’t you stay at home, you halfwit!” Then he threw her on the bed and brutally deflowered her. Naturally she remained frigid forever.

We have, thus far, seen all the resistance the virgin has to overcome to accomplish her sexual destiny: her initiation demands “labor,” both physiological and psychic. … The woman is all the more terrorized by the fact that the strange operation she is subjected to is sacred; and that society, religion, family, and friends delivered her solemnly to the husband as to a master; and in addition, that the act seems to engage her whole future, because marriage still has a definitive character. … However, the man himself is anguished by the duty weighing on him; he has his own difficulties and his own complexes that make him shy and clumsy or on the contrary brutal; many men are impotent on their
wedding night because of the very solemnity of marriage. … The “wedding night” transforms the erotic experience into an ordeal that neither partner is able to surmount, too involved with personal problems to think generously of each other.

The difficult problem facing the husband is this: if he “titillates his wife too lasciviously,”

Simone De Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir

she might be scandalized or outraged. … But if he “respects” her, he fails to waken her sensuality. … Unless he is exceptionally lucky, the husband will necessarily appear as either clumsy or a libertine. It is thus not surprising that “conjugal duties” are often only a repugnant chore for the wife. … The Kinsey Report says that in America, many wives “report that they consider their coital frequencies already too high and wish that their husbands did not desire intercourse so often. A very few wives wish for more frequent coitus.” We have seen, though, that woman’s erotic possibilities are almost indefinite. This contradiction points up the fact that marriage, claiming to regulate feminine eroticism, kills it.”

De Beauvoir, Simone. 2010. The Second Sex. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Pp. 459-60, 461-462. 



One thought on “Marriage and Defloration

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: