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Catching Up…

2009 February 11
by Carrie Soto

My apologies for being technologically and physically absent recently…I had a nasty case of strep throat. But I’m back and ready to talk.

Going back a few classes to the discussion of cosmetic surgery, I found the short article about hymenoplasty and the ensuing debate about virginity really interesting. I have this very distinct memory of one of my older cousin’s bridal showers, her sister bought her a gag gift that was basically a ‘Relive Your First Night’ kit. At the time I didn’t find it very funny because I was only about 10 and didn’t quite get the joke but now (and after reading this article) I’m not sure I can even find it funny. Many women go to great lengths to stay attractive and young, to stay prominent and fresh in the eyes of others but at what costs(besides the obvious monetary costs ones)? For me, cosmetic surgery has always seemed superfluous. The idea of men and women spending thousands of dollars to fix an ‘unsightly’ bump on their nose or ‘imperfect’ cheekbones or ‘too small’ breasts has always escaped me. Cosmetic surgery for medical reasons is another boat, but surgery to ‘perfect’ a person’s ‘flaws’ seems to me downright ridiculous. When did someone draw a picture of the perfect face, the perfect body, and decide that that would be the model? That major cosmetic surgery would be the cure for our self esteem issues? That it’s impossible to be happy with the face and the body that you have?

I digress from my main point obviously. The idea of hymenoplasty deals with other issues entirely – the importance that certain religions place on virginity is still striking to me. It is especially striking when it occurs in Europe, as Davide Sordella, the director of a film about this specific operation comments, “These women live in Italy, adopt our mentality and wear jeans. But in the moments that matter, they don’t always have the strength to go against their culture.” One woman describes that not being able to prove her virginity as a trauma so intense she borrowed money to pay for the surgery to obtain a certificate of virginity for her boyfriend and his family.

Dr. Jacques Lansac, the leader of The French College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians states that, “We had a revolution in France to win equality; we had a sexual revolution in 1968 when women fought for contraception and abortion. Attaching so much importance to the hymen is regression, submission to the intolerance of the past.”

Other than this article I don’t have much previous knowledge on this subject and I am always hesitant to make statements about cultures and religions I don’t know very much about but I have to agree with Dr. Lansac. Women have fought for sexual freedom everywhere and it feels like placing so much importance on virginity (the reacquisition of it anyway) is taking a step backwards. Why should women feel ashamed of their choices sexual, or otherwise? And putting religion and culture aside for a moment could hymenoplasty be the hot new thing for cosmetic surgery addicted individuals in America? A new nose, nicer cheekbones, a more defined chin and a restored hymen…something about that just doesn’t sit right with me.

One Response
  1. Marwa permalink
    February 15, 2009

    In some cultures, virginity at marriage still holds a lot of importance, like we read in the article. When I read it, I understood it as Westernized people keeping their ties with a not-so-Westernized culture and family. These people don’t believe in the importance of virginity before marriage themselves. But their families do, and if the family finds out about the child’s loss of virginity, it will dishonor them. So hymenoplasty is their way of doing what they want but at the same time, not ruining their relationship with their families.

    Since/If these people do not themselves believe in the importance of virginity before marriage themselves, they might not impose that on their own children, so things might change in the near future. Maybe. Hopefully.

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