By Mathu H. Liyanage –
Virginity has caused and is causing many a personal and social problem to individuals and the members of their families as a result of rigid customs, norms and societal attitudes veiled by misunderstanding and ignorance.
Virginity is a state of a person who has never engaged in sexual intercourse before marriage, and especially in the case of girls, it is associated with notions of purity, honour and worth like the colour of white, which has traditionally been associated with ritual purity, innocence and virginity.
The main cause of the loss of virginity is the rupture of the hymen through penile-penetration, consensual or not consensual.
The hymen is a thin film of membrane just outside the vulva which partially closes the opening of the vagina. However, a hymen may also be broken by physical activity. Many women possess thin fragile hymens, easily stretched and perforated at birth that it can be broken in childhood without the girl even been aware of it, often as a result of engaging in athletic sports and games.
It is possible to repair or replace the hymens by hymenorrhapy or hymenoplasty that may cause vaginal bleeding in the next intercourse as proof of virginity and become “born again virgins”.
Some cultures in the past, and even now, in certain Asian countries insist on proof of bride’s virginity before her marriage, by medical examination, by a “proof of blood” spotted in the bed sheet or on a white sheet of cloth provided for this purpose by the bride’s family which displays as proof of both consummation of marriage and that the bride was a virgin.
As a result of the rigid application of this obnoxious and unsavoury practice, there have been break-downs in marriages ending in divorce, inter-personal tensions between the couple, and honour killings to turn the anticipated bliss of life into a bizarre end.
Historically, and in the present age, some cultures, which have treated female virginity more significant than male virginity on the pretext that sexual prowess is fundamental to masculinity, have lowered the expectation of the male virginity without lowering the social status.
This raises the inequality and widens the gap between the genders, bringing about “double standards” to the fore.
In a highly civilized and enlightened society, these man-made manoeuvres and traditional expectations should be resisted so that both sexes can enjoy their sexual life by avoiding inter-personal relationships pitied against one another intentionally from outside.
All major religions have moral codes governing issues of sexuality, morality and ethics but they are less practised today.
Sex education is the need of the hour so that the younger generation could sort out the problems involved in sex and also become aware of the expectations of their parents and the society in general. They may thus be able to make necessary behavioural adjustments to lead a harmonious sex life and enjoy the bliss of life.
*The writer was a senior professional Social Worker and a Lecturer in Social Work
BBS Rep / January 20, 2014
“In a highly civilized and enlightened society, these man-made manoeuvres and traditional expectations should be resisted so that both sexes can enjoy their sexual life”.
However CT is read almost exclusively by Sri Lankans. We are neither a civilized nor an enlightened society. Your efforts on ‘virginity education’ is wasted here.
Wayne dyer / January 20, 2014
In cultures that have insisted on female virginity at marriage, the stakes have been very high. No blood on the sheets deeply dishonored the bride’s family and might even bring charges of marital fraud. Many brides have taken no chances. Often under their mothers’ direction, they have filed a fingernail to a sharp point and on their wedding night, cut themselves on the thigh, producing enough blood to stain the sheets and satisfy tradition–and the mythology surrounding the hymen.
Melani / January 20, 2014
Good idea. Why didn’t I think of that?
justice / January 20, 2014
Some women are born with only a vestigial hymen,others with a half or three quarter hymen and a few with ‘imperforate hymen’- a thick membrane with only a small hole – in these,the menstrual fluids accumulate and the vagina expands and elongates causing pain many years after puberty – easily cured by excising the entire hymen and evacuating the thick cheesy stuff – a simple office procedure.
A thick but normal hymen is a barrier to intercourse and causes a “honeymoon emergency” which is easily cured by a vertical three quarter inch incision with a clean new razor blade,and widening with gloved/clean finger.
Hymen is not altered by exercise – old wives’ tale.
Brides who were terrified by the post-honeymoon bedsheet examination by mothers in law were advised to prick a finger with a safety pin during the honeymoon night and deposit a drop of blood on the pristine white bedsheet – worked like magic!!!
Spring Koha / January 20, 2014
I have been informed of an instance where a thoroughly modern husband (a scout – be prepared!) produced a dildo to deflower his chronically virgin 36 year-old bride on what should have been the happiest night of her life. I think that’s pushing it a bit but hey, each to his own method.
Spring Koha / January 20, 2014
Thank You Dr Liyanage for your excellent article on matters that do not normally concern us here in the CT pages. When I read the paragraph re ‘born again virgins’ I thought that you were vergin on the ridiculous, maybe stretching a point, but I have verified with my secretary that indeed ‘repairs’ and ‘restorations’ can be achieved quite easily now – shows you how much I know, but then again, these matters do not concern me much these days. Seriously, in many eastern societies particularly, virginity and dowry are intertwined, though quite anarchic. It is a man’s world – he gets a virgin AND the money, and woe betide the party who cheats a man in these societies of either. Many of our men think nothing of accepting money to marry a woman – and our women, burden by centuries of tradition, think nothing of having a husband paid to take them. Truth to tell, there are some women that men will marry ONLY if given a BIG incentive. But Doctor, tradition is tradition here in our golden island, and there are far bigger social issues to confront before our people get to thinking about this subject. Meanwhile our young girls can do all the things their sisters in the west do without a care in this world knowing full well that your esteemed and talented medical people can ‘restore’ the status in time for the big day. I am so happy the day has come when girls can be girls, and boys….well, blissful ignorance is indeed a blessing.
Upul / January 20, 2014
I think someone forgot to keep you up todate with the happenings amongst Sri Lankan youth.
Only the Grand Ma’s and Grand pa’s are still concerned about caste, religion and virginity.
The youth have moved on, sometimes to far away from values we should still espouse. That is the reality. Virginity of the female was always a chauvanistic exercise with the in-laws seemingly adamant to see, not for a moment questioning their ‘boy’ about his promiscuity.
Society over time imposed limitations of people and fools all over have aggressively followed them, sometimes to their detriment.
Read the newspapers on Sunday. Some still describe their children as handsome, fair and beautiful. What is mind boggling is that the off-spring are supposedly doctors and engineers!!! So much for the
mind-expanding exercise called advanced education.
fred / January 20, 2014
I once knew a girl called Virginia. We called her Virgin for short but not for long!
gamini / January 23, 2014
The following was inscribed on a wall of a Girl’s school in Harrow.
‘Virginity is like a Balloon. With one Prick, it’s gone’.
shankar / January 24, 2014
and sex is like a bank deposit.Once you withdraw you lose interest.
shankar / January 24, 2014
why is that?Once a virgin always a virgin they say.See virgin mary for example.A virgin at heart, not hymen is what matters.The heart has all the feelings not the hymen which is just a barrier to be merrier.
PS.What a coincidence that you mentioned virginia.It is my favourite name,i don’t know why.If i ever have a daughter again which is very unlikely nless god wills otherwise, she will be named virginia.