Recently I tweeted Sadie Stein's article about women restoring their virginity. To me, this topic is not new, since as an editor of a woman's magazine we have been dealing with it for a couple of years already. I have received a lot of questions about how women know if they still have a hymen. We wrote columns and articles about it, like the virginity test (in Dutch), and my one page op-ed about the virginity-paradox, published in the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad, received many reactions from all around the world.
I get outraged about this topic, each and every time. Why would a woman be judged by this itsy bitsy mini tiny thing in her body for ALL her life? What's important is that you and your partner/husband shouldn't care. And do you think virginity is a romantic thing? Come on! I get more frustrated when I hear about women who '’keep these traditions’'. What kind of woman are you when your annual gift to your husband is having your hymen restored so that you can be a virgin at least once a year? I get mad when I hear replies of dudes saying "I rather marry a virgin because sex with me is the only sex she has to know." I know, from the letters to my magazine that there are, luckily, also men saying: "I'd rather marry someone with experience because then I know I'm the best she's ever had." And I love this reply of an Arab girl to Sadie's article: "Guys who just look harder for girls who ARE virgins? Well then they can go fuck themselves because I don't want to."
And yes, this is all about the patriarchal world we are living in. According to many many tribes and religions, women are just not supposed to enjoy their body, or enjoy their life.
But we can make this stop and wash out the myth. First, hymens do not break, nor do they disappear after first vaginal intercourse. So, the expectation that a woman bleeds on her wedding night is out of keeping with the reality of many women's bodies. Because, most women (more than 50%) do not bleed their first time. In most cases the hymen is a small band on the side of the vagina (1,5 centimeters down the vagina). This band is very flexible. Not everybody has this band and it disappears by aging. Because women are all different, even a doctor can hardly tell by looking at a vagina whether a woman has had children or if she ever had sex. In rare cases there is a string in the middle. In one of a million times the vagina is closed of by the hymen. This causes problems because menstruation blood can not leave the body. If this is the case, a doctor needs to open the hymen.
But I have hope when I hear women liberating themselves. So, I want to finish this post with one fantastic and hopeful reader's comment to Sadie's article: "Why would I want to restore my virginity? It took me forever to finally get rid of it."