These are changing times, right! The emancipation of women has made them strong, fearless, and courageous. We forge forward to go where no woman has gone before and we play on the same grounds that were once the exclusive preserve of men. We are strong, beautiful and confident and we believe that sexual attraction should be followed through. Sex before marriage is perfectly fine and woe to any man or women or even society pundits who dare to tell us otherwise. We are in a modern world where women are in everyway equal to men.
Wrong! These may be modern times but we still have an ancient mindset. Women might have forged forward but the men are still languishing behind. Women may be sexually emancipated but ancient beliefs of virginity are still around and hold strong. Men from any generation are still the same and will remain the same. The very idea of having a virgin blushing bride that comes untouched to the marital bed can still be a huge turn on for any man, whether he is sexually experienced or not. This disproportion in the male: female perception of sex before marriage is now causing a huge uproar in the media. And the main outrage is whether women should conceal the fact that they have had sex before marriage, and then get their hymen repaired to “fool” men into thinking they have virgin brides!
What is the hymen? What does it do?
It’s a fact that the female reproductive system is located very near to the outside of the body. The vagina is a self cleansing organ but it leads to an internal tube called the vaginal canal that ends in the uterus. The vaginal canal can be about five to six inches long and there are very good chances that an errant bacteria sitting on toilet bowls or contaminated tampons will swim upwards causing infections of the uterus. For women getting frequent infections of the urinary tract and the neck of the cervix can be really painful and uncomfortable. Frequent vaginal discharge, aches and pains, fevers and even spotty blood in the vagina is a common sign of a uterine infection. As a result, to protect the female reproductive system, nature naturally provided the vaginal canal with a so called gate called the hymen. This was a small strip or veil of tissue that covered the opening of the vaginal canal. But every woman is unique. Just as you would find women with blond hair and brunette hair, there are very good chances that female children will be born without a hymen or half a hymen. Similarly women who have active physical lives like horse riding, bicycling, and who use tampons can have their hymens prematurely ruptured due to the vigorous activity. The appearance of the hymen is also very different as you look at the following picture
There is no reason to assume that an intact hymen indicates a virgin. Hymens can vary in size, shape and thickness and a few female children are born without any hymen at all. Each different appearance is given a particular like an annular hymen, a septate hymen, ring hymen etc. It’s not possible for a hymen to completely cover the vaginal canal as menstrual fluid has to leak out through the same opening. There are rare cases where a completely covered vaginal opening due to a thick and complete hymen can block the vaginal canal. The woman will find it difficult to pass urine, evacuate menstrual fluids, wear a tampon and even have penetrative sex. It might be necessary to have a physician to manually cut the hymen open but this is rare.
Cultural significance of an intact hymen
Since ancient times, the presence of the hymen was essential to prove the virginity of the bride before marriage. An intact hymen was checked for by a neutral party before marriage to ensure that the bride was not a pig in a poke! And the process is still done by a few cultures till date. Mother of the bride and the mother-in-law get together to confirm that the groom is getting prime untouched marital beef! And god forbid, if the hymen appears to be broken. Honor killings both on the bride’s side and by the groom’s side are still very common in countries like India and Pakistan. Other cultures that have a strong insistence of the presence of an intact hymen are Muslims from Indonesia, Arabia, and Malaysia.
The focus has always been on marrying a woman who is sexually pure for her husband. And this fact was reinforced by a French court in the northern city of Lille. The court had to annul a 2006 marriage between two French Muslims when the groom discovered on his nuptial night that the bride was not a virgin. He climbed off the nuptial bed and went out to the still partying wedding guests to announce the fact and the bride was delivered right then and there back to her parents doorstep! And the horror of the fact was that the man was a French national, with an engineer’s degree aged about 30 with considerable sexual experience of his own as the tabloids later discovered! According to sociologists, countries that focus on virginity usually are underdeveloped and have limited resources, the people are poor and clan systems are very strong. To assure the family that any progeny is purely from the same clan, marrying a virgin is purely crucial. After all, they cannot afford or access DNA testing and they will not be fooled into to supporting another mans child!
Why so much uproar about such an itty-bitty tissue?
The French courts ruling surprised the entire country at the time. When it can be possible for the court to rule that the loss of the hymen was a breach of contract as the groom had agreed to the marriage because he was told that the woman was single and chaste! The ruling aptly demonstrated the current zeitgeist of the times: the paramount importance of religion into daily life, the insistence of certain cultures for virgin brides for marriage and the inequality of the sexes as related to premarital sex!
Says Zubeidaa Halleem,“I have been studying in the US for the last ten years and the culture here is very different! I fell in love with this fellow student and we followed up our relationship with a sexual relationship too. At the time, even though my family was very orthodox and they did not know about him, I had decided that this man would be my life partner so it did not really matter. But eventually, we broke up. My family has fixed my marriage with a man back in Morocco and I will have to do something. If it means surgery then so be it! Earlier it was possible to fool a man by dropping a few drops of blood on the wedding sheets and tying up pubic hair into knots to simulate a difficult penetration…but it’s not that easy now.” And her practical attitude just demonstrates is the current attitude towards women who do have sex before marriage. Arab women or Muslim women (not the only minority who opts for the surgery) often travel long distances and give fake names and addresses to carry out the 20 minute surgery that can cost anywhere from $400- $1000. And the sad fact is that they think is an entirely justifiable expense.
What does the surgery of hymen repair entail?
A hymen repair surgery is just one method of making a fake hymen at the opening of the vaginal canal. The entire process takes about ten minutes and the cost of the procedure can vary according to what else you want to include in the surgery. A few women ask only for a hymenorraphy where the hymen is recreated by stitching the remnants together. Surgeons also offer an option of inserting a gelatin filled delicate capsule that is filled with blood like material that will be released on penetration. A new hymen can also be built by the doctor by taking tissues from the vaginal wall. But the only drawback with the process is that most doctors agree that hymenorraphy is not taught in medical colleges and it can be a risky procedure if not done properly. The process was first tried by am American doctor called Dr David Matlock who then trained a handful of others in the same process. Most patients are also advised no sex and no physical exercise for six to ten weeks after the procedure till healing is complete. Of course the price of the surgery will also vary with costs ranging from $1000-$2000 in the US and ranging to as low as $700 in countries that encourage medical tourism. Countries like China and Korea encourage hymen reconstruction and offer as much as a 50% discount for students and women who want to look their best.
Bottom line is…..
It’s sad but it’s a fact. When you have everything to lose in the form of loving family, a potentially wealthy husband who will care and love you and a happily married life; a single hymen seems to weight very less against it! If you can afford it and if it reassures your potential partner then no one has the right to tell you what to do. No one needs to know and you don’t need to tell your husband about it. You can even ask your doctor to expunge the surgery from medical records. All you have to do is make sure no one finds out about it.
Is it just women who want to fool potential husbands who are doing the surgery?
No its not! Surprisingly there is another category of woman who voluntarily does the procedure without any fear of reprisals! If there are thousands of modem Muslim women students getting the hymen repair done to assure their husbands of their purity; then there are an equally large number of women doing the surgery as a gift to their husbands and partners after several years of marriage! That’s right! Prettification or beautification of the vagina, repair of the hymen and tightening of the vaginal canal are just a few of the procedures that are being opted for by women in their late 30s as anniversary or second honeymoon gifts for their husband.
What does prettification of the vagina mean!!!
Just what it says! Doctors and surgeons can pull, tweak, bleach and clean up your privates to make them look as pretty as possible just like a little hair peach. A few doctors have stated that reducing the size of the labia, polishing up the internals and building up a hymen are just a few of the procures that wealthy married women are going in for to make their men happy. Women are willing to be revirginsed ten years into their marriage just to keep the sparkle alive with second honeymoons. Hymenoplastys, hymenorraphy, vaginal rejuvenation, labioplasty were a few of the techniques that have been opted for and they seem to have increased in popularity over the last few years. Recreational hymenorraphy is now a trend with the regular advertising appearing at the back of women’s magazines and costs dropping to about $1,000. Medical tourism has also got into the act with countries like China, Hong Kong and Thailand offering a tour and a package deal where they offer surgery, plus travel and a second honeymoon.
Is it a fad?
Prettification can work but it just seems to be another shallow depth that society women are drooping to. For women who have had multiple pregnancies and now experience problems like loose vaginal canals, urinary incontinence and other problems; tightening up the vaginal canal is an essential operation that is very necessary for pelvic health. Just carrying out the surgery to zing up marriage is really nonsense! But hey, its your money and your life.