Breck C. (Reciprocal Crap Exchange) sent in a link to an “artificial hymen” sold at the sex-toy site Gigimo. The link in and of itself just shows a box with a little package in it, but it’s on a sex toys site and says Artificial Virginity Hymen in large letters, so I’m putting it after the jump just in case it’s Not Safe for your workplace.
Here’s a screenshot:
The text [without the typos]:
No more worry about losing your virginity. With this product, you can have your first night back anytime. Insert this artificial hymen into your vagina carefully. It will expand a little and make you feel tight. When your lover penetrates, it will ooze out a liquid that looks like blood, not too much but just the right amount. Add in a few moans and groans, you will pass through undetectable. It’s easy to use, clinically proven non-toxic to humans and has no side effects, no pain to use and no allergic reaction.
When I first saw the product, I assumed it was a toy for couples to use if they want to act out a fantasy that requires the woman to be a virgin, and I’m sure that’s what a lot of people use it for. But the description itself seems to imply that women could also use it to fool an unknowing partner into thinking they are virgins, which puts a different spin on it.
The other thing that’s interesting is the way in which this constructs virginity: as a purely physical state, rather than a mental or spiritual one. It’s sort of the flipside of the “re-virginization” ceremonies some evangelical groups in the U.S. have, where people are defined as virgins again due to perceived spiritual cleansing and recommitment to religious ideals and abstinence.
You might pair this with a discussion of the chapter “The Disappearance of Virginity” in Joan Jacobs Blumberg’s book The Body Project. She looks at how perceptions about virginity, and specifically the hymen, have changed since the Victorian Era. In the Victorian period, parents would sometimes take their daughters to doctors to certify their virginity; virginity was defined by the presence of the hymen. Of course, this is a ridiculous way to decide whether a woman is a virgin, since many women tear their hymens long before they have sex and it’s possible to have sex and still leave the hymen at least partially attached (not to mention that even intact hymens vary widely, with some almost entirely covering the vaginal opening and others barely visible). Blumberg traces changing ideas about the importance of the hymen, as well as the patient-doctor relationship. Today it would be difficult to find a doctor who would agree to “certify” a girl’s virginity or report her sexual status to her parents, due to increased acceptance of the privacy of information patients provide to doctors. But parents are also increasingly unconcerned about the status of their daughters’ hymens, regardless. Hymens simply aren’t the obsession they once were, the sign of a young woman’s moral worth.
Thanks for the link, Breck!
UPDATE: A couple of commenters brought up the possible uses for this product among women in cultures where “proof” of a woman’s virginity is still extremely important. One comment:
These kinds of products are often marketed to women from cultures where there are serious consequences if there isn’t blood on the sheets the day after the wedding. That’s why they exist. Haven’t you heard of this? Obviously this sex toy company isn’t marketing to these women though. They’re hoping that “devirginizing” is enough of a turn-on that people will buy it for other reasons.
Thanks for the additional context!