The BBC News has published an article on what they are calling “the virginity industry“—(mainly Arab and some Asian) women choosing to get hymen restoration surgery in order to hide their past sexual activity prior to getting married, avoiding the social consequences of not being a virgin on their wedding night. It is indeed a shame that women feel it necessary to go to such lengths in order to “ensure that blood is spilled on their wedding night sheets,” but it is equally remarkable that the article regards premarital virginity as such a shocking and misogynous concept. Consider the following quote:
Christian communities in the Middle East are often just as firm in their belief that women should be virgins when they marry.
Incredible. Um, perhaps someone should mention to the BBC writers (Najlaa Abou Mehri and Linda Sills) that nearly two millennia of Christian teaching has stood quite “firm in the belief” that both men and women should be virgins if/when they marry. Are they really unaware of this?
Immediately following the above sentence, we get these gems:
Arab writer and social commentator, Sana Al Khayat believes the whole issue has much to with the notion of “control”.
“If she’s a virgin, she doesn’t have any way of comparing [her husband to other men]. If she’s been with other men, then she has experience. Having experience makes women stronger.”
It may be the 21st Century but the issue of virginity in Arab culture can still be a matter of life and death, especially for women like Sonia and Nada.
And while hymen repair may be a quick fix, it can’t reconcile centuries of ingrained tradition with the attitudes of modern society.
I can’t speak for non-Christian traditions, but it’s awfully hard to make this argument with respect to Christianity, given that the clear New Testament teaching is that men are also expected to enter marriage as virgins—how then is it about “control” of women?
Likewise, how does having sexual “experience make women stronger”? This statement is made with no explanation, no defense, as though it were an established truth. Amazing.