From MSNBC: Born-again virgins claim to rewrite the past
Across the country, "revirginization" appears to be gaining steam. Spiritual efforts to reclaim virginity emerged back in the early 1990s and now, prompted by abstinence-only school courses taught to thousands of girls nationwide, and by religious teachers, there are reports of more and more young women like Watts attempting a sexual do-over. Other women are opting for a more radical route to reclaim their virginity: surgical replacement of the hymen, the small membrane that stretches from the walls of the vagina and that typically breaks when a woman first has intercourse — or for many other reasons, from tampon use to vigorous exercise.
In the last few years, say doctors who perform the surgery, a steady stream of patients, many motivated by the conflict between mores in this country versus their country of birth, or the country of their parents' birth, are interested. "The rate of inquiries is increasing," says Dr. Denise Baker, a Bradenton, Fla., surgeon who performs the procedure on about 100 women a year. [emphasis mine]
Okay, look, I can get wanting to be a "spiritual virgin" again, sort of. I personally find the idea a little silly (barring instances of rape or sexual abuse), and this quote encapsulates one of the problems with the logic of "re-virginalizing":
“To some people, remakability is precisely what cheapens the thing in first place," Carpenter says. "Virginity is not special if you can be a virgin again.”
But come on
now. If I physically lost my hymen, I would not
want that fucker back again.
Of course, I'm speaking from the standpoint of a privileged, culturally Catholic middle-class girl in suburban Chicago. If you were in a situation where being able to physically prove you were a virgin was going to save your life, I can completely understand wanting to undergo the surgery, i.e.:
Alinsod’s typical patient may have been born and raised in the United States, but with significant family in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan, India, the Middle East. Without evidence a new bride is a virgin, she risks being rejected, or, worse, the victim of an “honor killing.”
But something like this -
Once in awhile, Baker says, she’ll get a patient who just wants to give a present to her husband. “One patient of mine gave it to her husband as an anniversary gift," says Baker. "She was not a virgin when they got married so we re-attached her hymen to reproduce that experience.”
- seems completely ridiculous to me. If I'd already had sex prior to getting married and wanted to give my manslave a gift, I wouldn't want to recreate an uncomfortable, awkward situation for me - I'd want to give him lots of Hot, Wild Sex. (So says the aromantic asexual...)
Honestly, something's wrong with how we've been handling the concept of virginity. It's completely, totally fucked up for a million and one reasons, and I wish people would stop making such a big deal over remaining a virgin.* I can understand wanting to have some sort of way to mark the point at which one fully(?) becomes a sexual adult. But I don't see how or why that should translate into mass idolization of celibacy, either before or after the first time you have sex. This isn't like Ye Olden Tymes where remaining chaste until marriage was required so that we all would know who inherited what from whom. I don't see any real practical need anymore to place importance on remaining a virgin until marriage. That's not to say that choosing to abstain from sex until then is a bad choice, and certainly we shouldn't demonize anyone who decides to make this choice, for religious reasons or otherwise. But trumpeting the abstinence-only approach to sexuality as the only
way to go, which is mostly based on an idolization of virginity, has been shown to not work
(although you may want to check out some of the comments by people over at Dark Christianity
with regards to some of the specific details of this particular study), and in fact may have contributed to rising teen pregnancy rates
(although this article isn't very in-depth about the numbers and methodology by which they came by this information).** My point is, the idea of "re-virginalizing" as well as our common understanding of virginity in modern American times is just part of a larger problem of unhealthy attitudes towards sexuality which need to be fixed somehow.
(I will admit to struggling with my own personal hypocrisy over this issue of sex and virginity. Logically, I'm a pretty liberal person. Emotionally, I still get the visceral "omgslut!!!!11" reaction when I find out that people I know who are close to my age have had sex - a reaction which I blame on having gone to private Catholic schools for grammar school and high school. It probably also has something to do with the fact that I haven't had sex yet either. Hey, I'm workin' on it, aight?***)
I have a number of thoughts on the spazflailfest that is the concept of virginity, but I unfortunately do not have the talent to articulately verbalize them all in this entry, so instead I invite y'all to check out Hanne Blank's Virgin: The Untouched History
. She explores various aspects of virginity, raising from the biological to the historical to the cultural. Or you can bug me about something in the comments. Talk to me, people!
-Reileenyeah, I've been up and down your block
*Yes, I realize the possible irony in me saying this, seeing as my matron is Artemis, one of the three virgin goddesses of the Hellenic pantheon. However, the term "virgin" back then meant "a woman not beholden to any man," and did not have the sexual overtones that we modern folk attribute to our perception of the term. Regardless, I don't think that Artemis had/has much of a sex life, but it's really none of my business.
**Those crazy Freakanomists have gotten in on the whole abstinence-only sex ed thing, too. Did you know that abstinence-only sex education is like South Africa's driving test?
***Er, the "getting over my hypocrisy" stuff, not the "haven't gotten laid" yet part. Dirty jokes aside, I'm actually kind of a prude.