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The cherry that can't be popped!

The haunting humiliation evidenced by the white bedsheet upon the administration of the virginity test on their wedding night, accounts to the lack of sexuality education and the myths surrounding human anatomy which till date, handcuffs the educated class to a lifestyle that is redundant to this century.

From invalid representation of the hymen to the inexistence of the clitoris in our biology textbooks, our K12 boards have failed to provide us with the necessary, fundamental anatomical understanding of our own bodies.

The emotional connotation underlying the tale of the "lost virginity", is governed by myths that are not only dangerous to a young woman, but are also the remnants of the once strong-footed patriarchal rule over a vulva. In Tonga, the white bedsheet is hung outside the next day to indicate to the villagers that the bride had bled the previous night. In India, the bedspread is displayed at a large family gathering, post the wedding night, where every attendee assesses if the blood is real or fake.

There is now a 30% hike in hymenoplasty in India (just before marriage), thus hovering a dark cloud over the traditional values and virtues that grip the nation. Among the western demographic, in the United States, 10.1% of the 300 interviewed gynecologists, agree to have had at least one patient request a virginity test. In the United Kingdom, there are 21 clinics offering hymenoplasty, with a charge up to £300 ($410) per "Virginity Certificate". This practice is nothing short of female genital mutilation.

Cultural suppression of a vulva-owner's right to their body, governed by the shame and guilt surrounding their upbringing is unfortunately, still shadowing our developed societies.

Indonesia forces a virginity check upon every womxn whose plan is to join the military. In Egypt, from 2011 to post-rebellion, every female protestor was rounded up for forced military virginity tests. In 2007, in Belgium, 310 virginity certificates were issued and 238 hymen reconstructive surgeries were performed.

It is not a sheet of tissue blocking the vaginal opening. Although in the case of an Imperforated Hymen, it can do just that. This is a condition where the hymen fails to open up, therefore blocking menstrual blood and secretions from ever flowing out. Commonly diagnosed during puberty, it can however, be identified at birth as well. With pelvic or abdominal pain being the primary symptoms, the patient can experience several urinary symptoms.

Hymen a rim of tissue on the outer edge of the vagina, resembling a doughnut or a half-moon shape.

The deciding factor in a vulva-owner's position in society, even till date, is their "honor" and their "intact cherry". Such cultural and religious beliefs are perpetuated by the patriarchy's attempt to control and manipulate a vulva owner's sexuality. For numerous vulva owner's, the hymen doesn't act as a gate-keeper to the vagina. It is not a foil atop a jam jar, awaiting a rupture. Hymen is like a hair scrunchie: when bunched up, it appears to not have a hole in the middle, however, it has one when stretched out.

To summarize, hymen is a restorative tissue that is situated along the walls of the vagina. Its rupture and associated bleeding cannot be correlated to the "loss of virginity". Virginity is a quality, we are culturally conditioned to hold dear to our hearts and minds. A vulva owner's sexuality and body cannot be owned by someone and no one can receive a prize upon popping their cherry. The cherry can never be popped!


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