Josie Sustaire, Resident Blogger (’14, University of Oregon School of Law)
There have been few times in my life that I have thought about my hymen. Somehow, it just hasn’t come up in conversation. I wasn’t aware that I had essentially taken its existence for granted until my friend introduced me to the artificial hymen. My immediate reaction was giggling, followed by more giggling, followed by disgust, and ending with contemplation. And I’m still contemplating. For me, the idea of the artificial hymen is completely offensive. To think that virginity can be bought for $29.95 or that virginity even matters enough to necessitate faking is ridiculous to me. Particularly after reading descriptions of the “device,” I realized that gummy, fake blood-gushing artifices that you wedge into your vagina aren’t my style.
What I didn’t take into consideration while I giggled and then turned my nose up at the artificial hymen was the reality that for some women in the world, virginity is no joke. While my friends and I can giggle over the idea of faking chastity, a number of countries permit “honor killings” of women who lose their virginity before marriage. Women in Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, and a whole host of other countries are under threat of being asked or in most cases forced to undergo a virginity examination. These tests, as one can imagine, are highly invasive and demoralizing examinations of the woman’s hymen in search of signs that she is no longer chaste.
After all these hymen considerations, a friend brought to my attention yet another. What about the virgins? “What about them,” I asked rather clueless. She then confided that she was a virgin and as much as she might have enjoyed giggling along with the rest of us, inside she felt as though the joke was on her. As shocked as I was at the idea of the fake hymen, I was just as shocked at the idea of the 25 year-old virgin. But why? In the world we live in, it seems, she has surmounted incredible odds with her chastity intact. But only to feel inadequate? I say enough is enough.
Fake hymen or real hymen we need to stop defining ourselves by them. I won’t get into comparatives among males and females (I would be here all day). The fact of the matter is that men have rarely, if ever, fallen under the scrutiny that women face. A woman is more than her hymen.