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In my world there is a theocratic empire where all the citizens of the empire, when born, have stigma of virginity and chastity engraved on their bodies by the goddess of love. There are only two marks on their bodies on the arm, chest and back. So, you can tell if the person is a virgin and chaste. Any form of sexual act is not allowed.

The virginity stigma works as follows: the stigmata looks white and gives off a pleasant smell to those near that person. When two married people have sexual intercourse the stigma will burst into light and be gone forever. The married couple will receive many blessings from the goddess. But if a person has premarital intercourse the stigma will become reddish black like tar and a foul smell will come from it. It can be broken by any form of sexual act. Kissing and fondling would not break the stigma but it will become a little red in colour as a warning.

If someone, male or female, were raped by another person, however, the victim's virginity stigma would become blue in colour, while the rapist will find themselves marked by the goddess and will be killed.

The stigma of chastity means that the person can not do any unlawful sexual acts. The married people will be connected by the stigma. If their spouse is cheating on them emotionally or physically. the other one would know. The result would be death if they have sexual intercourse besides their spouse and divorce if they emotionally cheat. It can be easily verified by going to the church of the goddess, where a priest can check the stigma.

I want to know if there are any loopholes in my system and would appreciate any suggestions to improve it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Mar 15, 2021 at 7:05
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    $\begingroup$ "Any form of sexual act is not allowed." - So... what about self-pleasuring? Is that allowed? If not, well... real world shows us that humans are mostly incapable of going without a quickie for extended periods of time. Maybe your creatures are different. If it's OK then the question becomes - to what extent? Are toys allowed? Company? Doing it in secret next to someone who is asleep next to you while fantasizing about them? Etc. $\endgroup$
    – Vilx-
    Mar 15, 2021 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ Can the skin be cut off or burned? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Mar 15, 2021 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ Is the goddess omniscient? $\endgroup$
    – komodosp
    Mar 15, 2021 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ How about someone stating "I only consent to sex if the Riemann hypothesis is true". Then, if someone has sex with that person, and does not die, then RH is true! So, if an all-knowing being is taking peoples statements literally, and deciding what's rape or not, then this being can be exploited to be forced to answer any yes/no question... $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2021 at 22:11

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There's one that is used in real life. As long as you marry the person and then leave them afterwards, then no sin is committed.

Sex tourism and sex trafficking in Iran are increasing. One contributing cause is the practice of sigheh. Sigheh (also known by its Arabic name “nikah mut‘ah”) allows men to marry a woman for a pre-determined period of time, have intimate relations with her, and then leave her without consequences. While sigheh is often justified using moral terms, in practice it is a legal loophole for prostitution. https://www.mei.edu/publications/temporary-marriage-iran-and-womens-rights

You can research this online by searching for sigheh

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    $\begingroup$ Life finds a way. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Mar 13, 2021 at 1:01
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    $\begingroup$ As soon as you can: marry, get rid of stigma, divorce, FREEDOM. Can be done in a matter of hours, you can even preserve your physical virginity if you care. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2021 at 8:19
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    $\begingroup$ And if divorce is illegal, death of the spouse will achieve the same effect. $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2021 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ You could argue that if the goddess of love is aware of all sexual acts and can tell what is consensual and non-consensual sex, and "emotional cheating", she could also know when people marry for "unlawful" reasons and punish accordingly. $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2021 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ @TeleportingGoat or the goddess follows the letter of her own law, take the ritual fees associated with a short term marriage and turns the other way to the spirit of her law in this case. Its for her own benefit. I reckon the battle between this goddess and a million sexually frustrated teens, adulterous adults, and supressed LGBTIQ+ will end swiftly with a demolished temple and a celebratory orgy. By taking the fee and allowing sigheh your goddess can appease the masses a little bit. (Especially those rich, white, middle aged lawmakers who have all the power and can afford the fees). $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Mar 15, 2021 at 14:22
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Isn't cheating lying about it? Not simply sex or emotional intimacy with another

Some people need to form emotional bonds or do "sexual acts" as part of their employment. Actors and sex workers come to mind. Gynecologists, surgeons, and psychologists also may get into grey areas. To handle this flaw, it's common to define cheating as more to do with the lie rather than the act. "Yes my job involves touching other women's genitals, however it's not cheating, it's an important medical procedure.". His wife goes "Oh yes that's perfectly reasonable, I am informed about your occupation and consent to you performing your duties at work". Therefore zero cheating.

Only when he and one of his patients run off for a "private examination" in a hotel room does it become cheating because what is happening doesn't match what he described to his wife. He's lying to his wife, and thus now it's cheating.

However that safer definition is also an issue for your goal - notably open marriages and polyamory.

Me and my spouse have freely and with informed consent given each other permission to have sex or maintain secondary relationships outside the marriage with whoever we choose so long as we tell each other. She can sleep with whoever she wants with my consent, thus it's not cheating.

Also - if we invite a person to join us in the bedroom we're obviously not cheating, as we never left each other's presence.

How will your system deal with more complex rape cases?

  • Steve sneaks into woman's house, woman asks "John is that you?", Steve says "Yes, it's me, John". Woman and Steve then have hot, enjoyable, sex. Later the ruse is discovered and the woman is shocked, she'd never consent to sleep with Steve, only John. This is rape by deception, and results in consensual sex becoming rape after information is learned. What if this reveal occurs 20 years later? Or 50 years? Are they still put to death in the retirement home? Does the victims stigmata change after the ruse is revealed?

  • A similar situation occurs when defrauding a sex worker. Consent was given assuming conditions (payment), once the conditions are violated, the consent didn't exist. Therefore it was rape. I hope the goddess has a data feed to the bank to make sure cheques clear.

  • Brainwashing / grooming will result in sex being temporarily consensual, but then reclassified into rape once the brainwashing is broken. For example a cult leader. How will this be handled? "It was consensual at the time but now I think of it as rape".

  • Under (at least Australian, probably more) law when someone passes out they withdraw their consent, and it automatically becomes rape from that point. Marked for death is pretty black and white, and someone getting a bit woozy from over stimulation and starting to pass out in orgasmic bliss is a spectrum of grey.

  • People rape their married partner. Many societies struggle to recognise this a rape legally (Australian law for a long time defined rape as "man forces sex on a woman who wasn't his wife"). I define domestic violence rape as rape obviously, Does your goddess?

  • I hope no love potions are available for sale in your kingdom, as taking away someone's freewill so they fall in love with you, and thus have sex, is rape.

  • How would you handle mutual accusation cases? Two drunk people, neither of whom consented, both accusing the other of rape. Do you just kill them both? And if your policy is just "kill the guy" then what if they're both the same gender?

  • How will you deal with parasomnias? There are sleep disorders in the same family as sleep walking which can cause people to rape those nearby in their sleep, and then wake up with no knowledge of it.

  • How will you deal with child abuse survivors who imitate their attacks on those around them? This is a very real problem for children in emergency accommodation after being removed from abusive homes. I've done relevant volunteer work with abused children, and the most distressing thing I ever saw was a 6 year old girl who had been so badly raped, so often, that when given some time alone with a 5 year old girl attempted to rape them - it's how she understood human interaction. Is your goddess going to kill a 6 year old girl as a rapist?

Is IVF and surrogates cheating?

Scientists inject my sperm into my wife's eggs, which they then implant in a surrogate woman's womb. This is all consensual and paid for. How many of us are put to death?

Doesn't this system encourage divorce?

It seems once your divorced, you can live your life in peace without these rules. I see a festival in which 4 tennagers just getting into puberty, 2 guys and 2 girls (assuming heteronormative here) line up in a diamond, everyone having two people of the opposite sex next to you. The men get married to the woman on their left, then they turn to the woman on their right and make eye contact. While making eye contact everyone lists all the positive attributes the other, then talks seductively, then romantically, then dirtily, then explicitly if needed, until it classified as emotionally cheating, all 4 walk into the temple and are then "divorced", and are free of the curse of the goddesses smelly hand symbols forever, and they can have sex with whoever they want without being executed.

This awkward festival could be integrated into high school sex ed, with the trip to the temple being a sex-ed field trip educating them about the past beliefs of human sexuality.

You can get used to any bad smell eventually

I don't think I need to say too much about this, but if you entire society stinks of the same bad smell, within a few days no-one will be able to smell it, it'll just be what people smell like.

Within a few generations, someone whose remained a virgin until marriage will just smell wrong.

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    $\begingroup$ The stigma is 'smart' since it knows it's bearer thoughts and memories. The first point you mentions is confusing. Can you elaborate it more. The second point is that there would be no sex workers. Even if there are only minority of minority would work or even someone having sex with them if they want to ruin their lives. The third point is that if victim is brainwashed then they are victim. Unless they self brainwash themself. Martial rape falls under domestic abuse. It another matter. $\endgroup$
    – TheStigma
    Mar 13, 2021 at 3:11
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    $\begingroup$ @TheStigma The first point amounts to: If somebody gives consent based on incomplete or false information, what happens? In most real world judicial systems, that counts as rape if the missing or correct information would have resulted in the person not giving consent. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2021 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ "Martial rape" is an amusing spelling, considering that rape is often used as a military weapon $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2021 at 4:26
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    $\begingroup$ These “grey areas” really aren’t a deal-breaker for the OP’s vision. Every legal, religious, or philosophical system that’s ever legislated sexual morality has found somewhere to draw a line. Not often in a good place, by our present-day standards — but they’ve drawn it somewhere, and often erring on the restrictive side. What’s to stop OP’s goddess/stigma doing the same? $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2021 at 22:30
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    $\begingroup$ @PeterLeFanuLumsdaine Nothing, but the OP asked about potential loopholes. This answer gives a very thoroughful and insightful review of most potential problems with the system - I specially love the last sentences: "Ugh! You reek as a virgin!" $\endgroup$
    – Rekesoft
    Mar 15, 2021 at 10:56
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What about homosexuality? Is gay marriage allowed in your world? If not, what happenes if a gay man is forced to marry a woman? You already state that marital rape is different, so the wife would likely be safe from being killed, but what if the husband falls in love with his male best friend? Would just having those feelings outside his forced marriage cause the stigma to light up for emotional infidelity? And would he be free to have intercourse with his male lover if both men were divorced from their heterosexual marriages for emotional infidelity? Or would having any sort of consensual intercourse for gay people result in death beacuse they can not marry? The virginity stigma would be gone since the wedding night, if I understand correctly, so bad smell should no longer be a problem.

And then, in hindsight: would the marital rape he endured while married be re-interpretet as actual rape after the divorce? And would not knowing about her ex-husbands lack of true consent save the ex-wife from the resulting death sentence?

In the same vein, what about arranged marriage - for money, status, to end a family feud, or simply because you can no longer withhold your sexual needs and so marry the first guy/girl you feel okay with? What if one or both of the married people later meet their actual soulmate?

If divorced for emotinal infidelity, can you remarry the person you actually love? Or will you be branded as divorced forever, and unable to have sex with your true love lest you be killed? Suicide by unlawful sex could be a serious problem in this case, just like the homosexual example above.

If, on the other hand, having out-of-marriage sex is no longer deadly once divorced for emotional cheating, and if having been married once removes the virginity stigma for ever, you have, of course, the freedom to have sex with everyone likewise freed from the goddesses' marks, like a lot of people here have already stated.

Also, if there is a split between government/church and the goddess herself, that opens up more possible loopholes:

If the goddess is okay with homosexuality but the government/society is not, simply outlawing gay marriage abuses the goddesses' stigma to punish homosexuals.

If the goddess only marks rapsist for slaughter, but the government executes the sentence, there is wriggle room for social bias; homosexuals, homeless or other people with low social standing will be immidiately killed, rich or famous people might get away because 'being branded as a rapsist is punishment enough' and they are such an asset to society as a whole/ contribute so much to our culture/ everyone loves them.

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  • $\begingroup$ If feel like that last sentence is missing the common "they gave me a lot of money" argument for not punishing the rich. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Mar 14, 2021 at 8:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Erik I think that's implied, and that SoraNoRyu's quotes are just what the officials would give as a reason. $\endgroup$
    – Llewellyn
    Mar 14, 2021 at 16:58
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You mentioned that stigma knows it's bearer thoughts and memories. What if those thoughts and memories cannot be trusted?

  • A woman with a mental illness is prone to mistaking random people for her husband. She sleeps with random person after mistaking them for her husband. Will this be considered cheating if her actual husband is still alive? Will that be considered rape if the guy did not know about her conditions and simply accepted her advances in a bar?

  • A psychopath is absolutely sure that they have consent (while actually they don't). Their victims are drugged and do not remember what happened and do not even know that they had sex. Will virginity stigma disappear? Change? Will this be considered rape?

  • A swinger party. A partner is randomly selected and you will not know who it was. Maybe you blindfolded, maybe there is a wall between you. You had sex with someone who might be your wife. Or not. But I think it was. Certainly felt that way. What will happen? Obviously it was done with full consent from all parties.

  • A rapist (or a group!) starts performing shotgun weddings. You say that martial rape is another matter.

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You don't explain what happens to both stigmas in the case of individual sexual activity, but you say that any form of sexual act is not allowed unless in the marriage. I am afraid that going through puberty and the subsequent hormonal storm will heavily affects the stigmas and their bearers.

Since you seem to be following a moral system where any form of sexual act is not allowed unless in the marriage, in line with the western religious standards I have been grown in, I assume that solitary sex activity will count as a damage to the stigma of chastity and virginity.

Most if not all teenagers will start to smell foul, and that will simply be taken as a sign that they are "growing up". As a consequence, it will become more easy to mask out-of-marriage sex, because once the foul smell is there, it doesn't go away.

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    $\begingroup$ "Most if not all teenagers will start to smell foul" not much different from real life then. $\endgroup$ Mar 13, 2021 at 5:20
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A lot of thoughts:

These are a lot of thoughts on the subject, originally presented as comments, but they are so long I feel they constitute an answer to this rather open-ended question. All the questions I ask represent potential loopholes to the system, and are thus legitimate answer to the question "what are the potential loopholes to the system?" The theocratic empire is not listed as controlling the entire world, so questions about other faiths or deviations from the faith are legitimate problems, especially at the borders.

I suspect that, given a coercive pressure from a non-voluntary deity who makes demands contrary to human nature, people will deliberately try to thwart her will. Conversely, the faithful of the goddess will use her clear divine power as justification to kill anyone they see as deviating from her teachings, even if exceptions exist that aren't specifically covered by these rules. So if two people are divorced, get married to each other, and have sex, they don't have chastity stigmas tied to each other and should thus be put to death.

If I know young men, they'd start covering themselves in rotting meat to prove their virility. Based on historical practices of fidelity, it is likely women would be expected to ignore their husband's infidelity (despite them knowing about it) but if the law says a woman can be stoned for cheating, the woman will always be ratted out and killed if she decides to step out on her abusive husband. Unless the chastity stigma actually KILLS people itself, at which point the people would do everything they could to rid themselves of their murderous goddess, or circumvent her evil will by all marrying at 14 (when they are 'innocent'), having sex in a sort of initiation rite, then immediately being divorced.

What happens if your partner gives you permission to sleep with someone else? If you demand the right from your spouse on threat of violence? What if the local culture doesn't view a non-consensual act as rape? What if you brand a stigma with acid/hot poker to falsify an accusation of inappropriate activity? What is a tracking mark and how is that supposed to work? What if you murder the person you rape? What happens when people divorce or remarry for something other than infidelity (especially repeatedly)? Once married and then divorced, could you be a sex worker?

What happens when your spouse dies? What about people who don't follow the goddess, but instead are opposed to her faith? Are there opposing gods? Can an autocratic leader do as he pleases because his word is law? Are there other magics that can fake these effects, mask them, or otherwise nullify their significance? What if you remove a stigma with a brand or acid to get rid of it? If a spouse is merely attracted to another man/woman, is that cheating (you said emotionally...)? Can the church involuntarily dissolve a marriage as punishment, and does this affect stigmas?

Finally, what happens when someone within the empire marries someone outside the empire?

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What do the stigmas say about anal penetration (any/all genders), penetration by fingering, oral sex, or (where applicable) loss of hymen due to exercise or accident? What counts as vicinity being lost? How exactly does each of them determine when they are broken and grade them as okay or not?

What do the stigmas say about emotional cheating, or non penetrative sexual behaviour like kink or bdsm? Or mistakes, like wrong person in the dark?

What happens if a person "supposed" to divorce doesn't want to? Or someone is scent-blind or colourblind? Or someone gets a major skin injury like a burn that makes the stigma unusable? Or they just never remove their top? Or they don't want to marry but love each other and live together anyway?

What happens when you get social protests by the increasingly large number of people who parallel the Indian dalit (untouchable) caste, because the scale of lapses is that big?

See, the problem is unless they rely on goddess-magic to "somehow know", you are going to end up relying on social sanctions anyway, whatever the bodily markings. And if that happens, the stigma are going to be secondary.

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