This article is meant to supplement the well written article, “THE HYMEN AS PROOF OF VIRGINITY IN WOMEN.” It gives some additional info and expounds on the topic of virginity and virginity testing.
Virginity checks are a type of sexual assault. The article points out the most reliable way to do it. However, I feel the need to add that it is a gross violation of a human being’s boundaries even if it is being performed by a doctor. It is an unnecessary and unhealthy concern with controlling and shaming a woman’s sexuality.
When bloody sheets are presented to the community, did the woman consent to this? Was she consulted before her sex life was made public in that manner? Was she given the freedom to opt out of this virginity check? Or was this decision about her life and body made without first seeking her opinion? It is downright disgusting and a breach of her human rights. As the article points out, there’s no equivalent test for men. What a woman consents to do with her own body should be nobody’s business but hers. She deserves autonomy, privacy and sexual freedom.
And what is virginity anyway? Having not had sex?
But what is sex?
Most people would describe it as a vagina being penetrated by a penis. But this is reductive and ignores the wide breadth of sexual activity a person can engage in. Simply, virginity is a social construct with no clear definition. Sex means different things to different people.
If a person is penetrated anally are they still a virgin? If they are penetrated with fingers or have oral sex are they still a virgin? If they masturbate with a sex toy are they a virgin? What if they have dry sex over clothing? Or engage in mutual masturbation? What if they engage in sexual activity with a person of the same sex? Are these activities any less sex than penis-in-vagina?
And what about cultures that consider kissing more intimate than oral sex? Or religious beliefs that equate lustful thoughts to adultery? How should they define virginity?
And why does it matter in the first place? As long as people stay safe and consenting then why is it anybody’s business if they fit some vague arbitrary label of virgin?
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The idea of purity centered on virginity is designed to manipulate women into following restrictive gender norms. If a woman loses her purity/virginity, she loses her value. But in reality, when a woman has sex she loses nothing. She has not lost her identity and has not lost her worth.
Sex is simply a new thing she’s doing. It’s not a loss. It can be healthy to wait until marriage or a committed relationship to have sex. But our current concept of virginity just surrounds sexuality with guilt, shame and pressure. This makes it difficult for people to make their own healthy decisions about sex.
People say they feel dirty after having sex (even though sometimes they’re already married) and that’s just because we’re taught that virginity is such a big deal. If that wasn’t the case then people would be free to make their own decisions about sex without being held hostage by damaging social constructs.
The article was extremely useful in mentioning women born without a hymen but let us not forget that there are 5 different hymen variations. 4 of them are considered abnormalities and can be removed surgically before a woman ever has sex.
The imperforate and micro perforate hymens for example are either removed at birth or at the onset of puberty since they can cause pain and difficulty during menstruation. If the hymen is really the seat of a woman’s virginity, can a woman now be considered a virgin once her hymen is surgically removed?
And even for those with “normal” hymens, it can be so elastic that it stretches to accommodate a penis without sustaining any damage. The hymen is simply a leftover collection of cells that is used to keep urine and feces out of an infant’s vagina. Beyond that it has no biological significance.
I agree with the conclusion that the hymen and virginity are two different things.
But I do believe that it is time to reframe our concept of virginity.
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