By Osama Diab
The ‘Chinese hymen' may make pre-marital sex safer in a patriarchal society but a woman's honour should not lie between her legs.
25 September 2009
“Now you don't have to worry about jumping into bed with the hot boy next door. You can have sex as many times as you want and restore you virginity in just a few simple steps. You'll never lose your honour with us.” This is the only way I can think of to advertise the new virginity restoration product: the Chinese Hymen.
The Chinese never cease to impress me. A few years ago, there was a big fuss in Egypt about how Islamic products, such as fawanees (decorative lamps used during Ramadan), prayers rugs, and prayer beads are being made in China. Egyptians found it humiliating that they couldn't compete with China in producing simple products that are at the core of our culture. The Chinese go to a place, study the culture, examine the needs and come up with products that are cheaper (and sometimes better quality) than the locally made ones.
Similarly, the Chinese have done their research and knew that if a girl loses her hymen (even if not through sexual intercourse), she will probably have little chance of getting married in a society where virginity is highly valued and is an indication of a girl's ‘purity'. Therefore, they came up with the dazzling idea of making fake hymens that can be bought on the market. But would ‘virginity' still be indicative of ‘purity' now that it takes only a few pounds and a little effort to restore it?
If the hymen is an indicator of anything, it shows how men in patriarchal societies prefer ‘deception' to ‘honesty'. It's much easier for a girl who lost her virginity, for a reason that could be out of her hands, to buy one of those virgin restoration products than confront her man with the horrible fact that she has lost her purity.
It's not just that, even women who haven't lose their virginity and have no reason to use the Chinese product will still be harmed by its mere existence due to the doubts it is going to raise about women in society. One concerned father told the al-Youm al-Sabe'e daily newspaper, “I swear to God I'd kill my daughters. I trust them and I've raised them properly, but I'd be afraid of people's talk and their perception of them.”
Even before the artificial hymen was launched, virginity still could be restored through a simple plastic surgery procedure. The operation has been outlawed except in cases of rape, which was allowed by the Grand Mufti. However, the operation can still be done underground by a doctor for quite a reasonable price. Men also ignore the fact that vaginal sex is not the only form of sex. A woman can have significant sexual experience while keeping away from this problematic area. This product, along with accidental loss of virginity, just adds one more reason why virginity is not indicative of past sexual experience.
Therefore, it shouldn't be a measure of a girl's, or her family's, worth. Women should mean more than their hymens. As much as I think this product is preposterous, I hope it doesn't give men another reason to discriminate against women and think of them as a weak link in our ‘pious' patriarchal society and the reason behind its ‘sleaze'.
I hope this product makes men reconsider linking honour to this thin fold since it can be bought on the market now, and think of other criteria for respecting women – like education, achievements or intelligence – things that can't be imported from China.
Published with the author's permission. ©Osama Diab. All rights reserved.