[info]lilacsigil @ 04:59 am: and, in any case, deciding that to be “free” a woman has to remain a virgin or never have a child is a limited vision

I think it's a limited vision if this is the *only* way considered for a woman to be free, but historically (and currently), it's been a valid, interesting and frequently made choice. In Katherine Kerr's "Daggerspell" books, Jill (an apprentice sorceror) is horrified to find that as part of her relationship with the man she loves, she is expected by absolutely everyone to be a good wife and have children. She rejects this, lies and tells him that she's barren and he should marry someone else who can bear him children, and goes off for a life of travel, study and adventure.

In a society without contraception and an expectation that women take care of the children, (heterosexual) celibacy may be the only way for a woman to be free in that sense, particularly if she doesn't have the wealth or status to pursue her own desires on top of providing for her family and caring for the children. I'm not sure why you don't like this idea - I can see that setting the world up this way could be a failure of imagination, but using fantasy as a commentary almost every culture in our world is certainly not invalid, and basing a fantasy society on almost any historical setting without getting handwavy over contraception and childcare is going to have this option looming large for any female character who may want other choices in life.


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