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The Virgin Issue Part One: The Mythical Hymen

March 8, 2010

A few months ago I watched VH1 News: The New Virgin. While viewing it, I became increasingly angry and creeped right the fuck out by its content. However, I feel that although this was an interesting piece, it missed out on a lot of opportunity to educate women about sexuality and what it means.

Traditionally, women have been classified on their virginity based on the presence of her hymen (a membrane in the vaginal canal). It’s been given almost a legendary status in the sex world, kind of like a unicorn, and yet current researchers aren’t even sure if it exists.

What? Did I just blow your mind?

That’s right, we’re not even sure if the hymen is real, or at least a universally applicable measure of virginity. Most studies have found that some young women have them, and others do not. More commonly for women who do have hymens, have ones that are like those pictured above, and not a solid flap of tissue.

A completely intact hymen is a serious health risk. If a woman starts menstruating at around 13, but there’s a little membrane blocking any fluids from leaving, and this goes unnoticed until she’s about 15 or 18…ick. In the rare cases that this does occur, a doctor usually has to surgically cut the hymen so the fluids can drain. (Oh God, can you imagine that smell? )

But who says that a hymen even needs to be present to signify virginity? There are all sorts of activities that can stretch it out and, if it’s even there, cause it to break on it’s own such as horseback riding, dance, gymnastics, tampons, and masturbation (don’t lie). Do any of these activities then make you not a virgin?

Then of course, there’s the assumption that if a woman doesn’t bleed during her first intercourse, then she isn’t a virgin either. Again, this seems to be another unicorn of the sex world. Personally, I find this blood obsession to be beyond disturbing. And again, this is another event that researches aren’t even sure on. When surveyed, some women said they bled during their first encounter with vaginal penetration, others didn’t. Bleeding could also just be caused in general from the trauma of an object (hopefully) larger than your finger being rammed into your vagina over and over again.

The hymen assumption of popular lore makes it seem like sex should be painful to women. In fact, there are tons of things a woman can do to insure that her first sexual encounter is relatively pleasant one, such as exercises that help to widen the vaginal canal (I’ll let you google that one on your own, or you can pick a copy of Our Sexuality, which gives instructions).

Our obsession with virginity and the hymen shouldn’t factor into a woman’s sex life. She should feel free to make her own choices, hopefully responsibly, about when she has her first sexual partner, who (s)he is, and how many she wants.

Go forth and hate.

Reference: Our Sexuality by Robert Cooks and Karla Baur, 10th edition.

Links of interest:
Planned Parenthood

Related The Hating Expert posts:
The Virgin Issue Part Two: Purity Balls

Safe Sexy Time Part One: Barrier Methods


9 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010 4:56 pm

    Loved this article! I wondered, when I saw how many people had been attracted to my blog because of the hymen tag, what everyone else wrote about in reference to a hymen. I not only have my answer, but got quite a few laughs out of it.

    • May 4, 2010 7:29 pm

      Thank you!

      I have always, personally, been terrified to click on the ‘hymen’ tag, simply because my blog also contains posts about sexual assault. As a result, I get several hits of “virgin rape” or “pictures of baby virgin hymen.”

  2. unique_stephen permalink
    June 23, 2010 6:06 pm

    Saw an interesting discussion on 4chan a while ago. Someone asked the 4chan girls to anonymously post pictures of their hymens. Of the 10 or so respondents only 1 had anything like a visible hymen. Several more who weren’t game to take a pick detailed that they had no idea what there hymen was supposed to be and never remember having felt it or been aware of it and thought themselves strange for not having a piece of anatomy described in their various human development classes.

    I’ve only been with three virgins – none of whom bled. They said that it was uncomfortable and that the next day they could still feel it, like it was still there but no tearing bloody moment. I recall (we are talking 20 years + ago now) One girl felt a little different when I fingered her- different to other non virgin girls, but that was more like a less elastic vaginal entrance than a membrane.

  3. indranil sinha permalink
    February 22, 2011 7:26 pm

    I am from Kolkata (India) , I have one concern that, Does Ballet dance affect any vaginal loosing ? My would be uses to dance that kind of Ballet and in a weak she uses to take that
    dance 4 times ! now my concern is that for this activity any vaginal loosing occurs and if yes what is the way to make that tighten ? is that Kegel Exercise or anything else would best suited ?
    I am in hope for your cooperation .thank you in advance for your reply .

    • March 21, 2011 7:11 pm

      I’m very sorry for the late response!

      Hmm…this is some what of a tricky question as I’m not an expert in this area. From what I understand, certain forms of dance can help strengthen and tighten the vaginal walls and muscles, especially belly dance. I don’t thin you need to worry about vaginal stretching from any type of dancing and you’re probably in actuality tightening it.

      I hope I answered your question, but if not reply back and I will be sure to check back much more quickly.

  4. indranil sinha permalink
    February 22, 2011 7:27 pm

    Does Ballet dance affect any vaginal loosing ?


  1. Safe Sexy Time Part One: Barrier Methods « The Hating Expert
  2. ORaLlY? « The Hating Expert
  3. The Virgin Issue Part Two: Purity Balls « The Hating Expert

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