“Get your virginity back now!” Yes! Adult Products India offers you exactly this.
How? Artificial hymen is here to your ‘rescue’. Literally.
What Is An Artificial Hymen?
Various online sites including Amazon selling this product define artificial hymen as a synthetic membrane that oozes out ‘blood’ during penetration. The ‘blood’ is an artificial blood powder or colouring. In its product description, Amazon adds, “In addition, the vaginal entrance can be narrowed in advance by using our tightening gel Revitalize100. This results in a narrowed feeling, which rounds off the impression of virginity.“
It claims that it is now possible we ‘reboot’ our virginity back. And this is exactly the moment in the future we’d been looking out for. It says, “Regardless of the reason you would like to have your virginity back, it can be done!“, because who wants to know what gave precedence to an invention like this? However, in their very next sentence, they try to guess a woman’s vested interest in gaining her virginity back.
“The product can be used if you wish to keep your past love life a secret from your future husband or if you are tired of your monotonous sexual routines and wish to add a bit of adventure to your sex life.“
So, my virginity is an adventure. Much like a trip to Hogwarts? Or, do we need to check our calendars again? Have we traveled back in time to the 16th century?
The Discourse of Virginity
For most parts of our past as well as our present, the topic of sex has remained a taboo. Sex education has received less or no attention from educational institutions and casual discussion on this topic hasn’t found itself in the family living room yet.
In the absence of proper methods to disseminate information, people are left uneducated thereby giving room to disbelief and superstitions. For the longest time now, virginity has become a metric to measure a woman’s chastity. The ubiquitous concept of chastity defining a woman’s character is, therefore, a patriarchal construct. In the context of Hinduism and particularly Brahmanism, historian Uma Chakravarti says, “The purity of women has a centrality in Brahmanical patriarchy because the purity of caste is contingent upon it.“
In the context of Hinduism and particularly Brahmanism, historian Uma Chakravarti says, “The purity of women has a centrality in Brahmanical patriarchy because the purity of caste is contingent upon it.”
The Myth of Virginity
In an article released by WHO, calling for a ban on virginity testing, it said, “The term ‘virginity’ is not a medical or scientific term. Rather, the concept of ‘virginity’ is a social, cultural and religious construct – one that reflects gender discrimination against women and girls. The social expectation that girls and women should remain ‘virgins’ (i.e. without having sexual intercourse) is based on stereotyped notions that female sexuality should be curtailed within marriage. This notion is harmful to women and girls globally.“
Physicians for Human Rights is an NGO that works in the field of human rights and uses medicines and sciences to spread awareness to curb mass atrocities and violations of human rights. In a forensic brief examining the ‘the validity of the use of hymen examinations to determine a women’s virginity’, it said, “Numerous medical studies undertaken in recent decades across multiple countries have demonstrated that there is no factual, scientific, or medical basis for using hymen size, morphology, or integrity to determine whether a woman has experienced vaginal penetration, and therefore the state of her virginity.“
Virgin Wife: A stairway To Heaven!
The society has embraced this archaic construct despite scientific evidence against it. A website that goes by the name ThatsPersonal.com further asserts the importance of a ‘virgin wife’. While it begins with, “Who would not like to have a virgin as his wife? Now, when it comes to displaying virginity, how do you prove that you are a virgin? The natural way is to have an intact hymen so that it breaks during the first intercourse and confirms that you are a virgin.”
It goes on to add the contrary, “Does it entail that women who do not have an intact hymen are not virgins? No, it doesn’t because one can rupture the hymen in many ways. It is not at all necessary to have intercourse to break a hymen.” However, they stress the importance of a ‘virgin’ for the husband, hence accordingly they add, “How can such women who are otherwise virgins prove to their husbands that they are indeed virgins? The artificial hymen can come to your rescue.”
While it is highly condemnable, it also stands as a euphemism for society at large. Although the myth of virginity has time and again been busted through rational explanation, we still choose to stick to an age-old belief without enough grounds or reason to support this belief.
Recently enough, the sale of artificial hymen by Amazon received massive backlash. A Twitter user’s post went viral after she expressed her surprise that a product like this existed. The post received reactions of all sorts but mostly hate. Twitteratis condemned the product‘s advertisement and sale.
The product received hatred because it shouldn’t have existed in the first place. It can be argued that the sale of such a product is very regressive; it is also a very privileged opinion to hold. While one can easily express their despair that the product exists, it is a weapon for women in a society where to talk about the sexual desires of women is still a taboo.
Post the outrage, Amazon took down the product but what would that mean?
A Detrimental Invention…Or Not?
Artificial Hymens are a cost-effective substitute for what is known as hymenoplasty.
Hymenoplasty is a method to ‘restore’ the ‘torn’ hymen in the process of intercourse. In an article published in Telegraph India, it says, “Armed with cosmetic solutions for new-age women, plastic surgeons and gynecologists across the country are recreating female virginity with a simple 40-minute surgery, a reconstruction of the delicate membrane, the hymen, which tears during sexual intercourse, if not earlier.”
It is a practical method of gaining back your virginity for a fee. The fee ranging up from 20K to 40K in a public hospital and between 50K and 70K in a private hospital in India. Hymenoplasty should also be banned, right? But what would it mean for the several women who unfortunately are still parts of this orthodox setup?
In another article by Times of India, they give a first-hand perspective of a 25-year-old woman who recently got the surgery done. According to the article she says, “I didn’t care about it but I come from a conservative family. I couldn’t tell my parents that I am not a virgin. My parents have arranged my marriage. So I chose to get this surgery done.”
The same article records the testimony of a cosmologist from Apollo Hospital. He said, “There has been a steady rise in the demand for hymenoplasty surgery over the past few years“…”There has been an increase of 20-30 percent in these surgeries every year. The majority of women who come for this surgery are in the age group 20 and 30”
Al Jazeera also reported on the prevalent practice of virgin-testing in the Kanjharbhat tribe in Western India. In the article, Priyanka Tamaichikar from Pune, who belonged to the community told Al Jazeera, “There is not a single marriage that happens without this virginity test. The council tells us they don’t want the women to go ‘out of control’. They think women would indulge in ‘illicit’ physical relationships if they don’t have the fear of the virginity test awaiting them. Our question to these councils is – what is the virginity test for men?”
“I didn’t care about it but I come from a conservative family. I couldn’t tell my parents that I am not a virgin. My parents have arranged my marriage. So I chose to get this surgery done.”
Global Exhibit: Rapper T.I.
Recently, rapper T.I. received widespread flak after revealing in a podcast that he accompanied his 18-year-old daughter for a yearly check-up to ensure that her hymen was intact.
In one of the episodes of Ladies Like Us podcast, the rapper reportedly said, “Not only have we had the conversation, we have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen. Yes, I go with her … I will say, as of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact.” Although he acknowledged that there were other ways to lose one’s virginity, he said, “So I say, ‘Look, Doc, she don’t ride no horses, she don’t ride no bike, she don’t play no sports. Just check the hymen, please, and give me back my results expeditiously.’”
Let alone a regressive society like ours, that breeds disbeliefs owing to the lack of education; but such people in power also feel the right to publicly police and comment on an adult woman’s virginity and therefore her privacy.
Who is to be blamed?
Of course, the invention itself isn’t praiseworthy. In an ideal world, the backlash it received would also be justified. But, in a society that openly sanctions people the right to humiliate women on the grounds of her virginity, it is required that we rethink who stands to be blamed!
It is tragic that one had to invent an artificial hymen in the first place but more tragic is what preceded such an invention.
Featured Image Source: The Quint