There is a huge fuss about a nice little social called ‘virginity’. You’ve probably heard phrases like ‘popped the cherry’ and ‘deflowered’, these refer to the case when people lose their virginity. The closest definition of virginity is basically the state of not having had sex, and if thats the case, then how do you lose it? The answer to this riddle is one word, the hymen. A membrane that covers (or doesn’t cover) the vagina to a certain extent. This membrane is widely perceived to be the official marking of a person’s virginity. After watching a Collegehumor video on Youtube where the lead character proceeded to explain to two men how the hymen is not so much a barrier as it is a balloon arch, meaning that its around the vagina. But that’s not entirely true either, the truth is that hymens come in different shapes, there isn’t just one possibility

(Hymen Types: http://youngwomenshealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/hymen-types.gif)

So, in the first picture of the most common type of hymen, the vaginal opening is big enough for a tampon, menstrual blood to flow out, fingers, certain sex toys, penises, and others. The second picture occurs in some vaginas, and it is actually the picture that comes to mind when people think of the hymen. Now if this were true, then that would mean that menstrual blood would not be able to flow out of the body and would instead be pushed in. Meaning that most women wouldn’t get periods, which they do. I won’t go into detail about the two other types of hymens, all you have to know is that there are different types. My point here is that our idea of the hymen, and how it breaks, is very misguided. Even bleeding the first time during sex can happen for different reasons including that you or the other person(s) were not careful, too harsh, or didn’t use enough lubricant, or it can be a medical condition. But it isn’t necessarily the hymen coming apart, and if it does, it can actually grow back again.

This infatuation with the hymen and its value has reached the point where people from certain cultures, such as mine, parade the streets with blood soaked sheets and declare that the marriage between two people is complete. And the moments existing before the blood is put on display like a gold medal, people wait anxiously for the final verdict, on whether the bride who just got married is moral, well-behaved and will honor her family or if she will await a different fate. Social and cultural norms have made it very difficult for people, especially women, to make their own choices regarding different aspects of sex such as who, when and whether they chose or chose not to have sex.

What makes it even more difficult is that certain societies aren’t aware of some basic facts and in most cases people refuse to talk about it. This has been affecting people in such a way that its even reached the point where people get fired, don’t get married, are socially/financially excluded etc.

And actually, after discussing common misconceptions about the hymen and virginity, I would like to take this article out of its hetero-normative bubble and further question, what is sex? Some would say its a penis going into a vagina, which is the covered case. So does that mean that gays and lesbians stay virgins their entire lives if they don’t have this kind of sex? Some would say “yes.” However, my personal opinion is that sex goes way beyond the penis-in-vagina scenario and encompasses a much larger spectrum.

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