Ready for more fun?
It’s part 2 of the quiz to see how savvy you are with patriarchal myths re sex and sexuality. In my previous blog we tackled the first myth, that the egg cell passively accepts whichever sperm reaches it first.
Ready for the next one? Here you go:
True or false: The hymen is broken when a girl loses her virginity.
Yep. We’ve been taught that the hymen is some kind of freshness seal on the vaginal canal. Biologically, there’s no reason why such a thing should exist.
While there is some variation, the hymen does not seal off the vaginal canal, because that would prevent menstruation. (There are rare cases of girls who experience menstrual cramps without bleeding, and that medical condition, called an imperforate hymen, is treated with surgery.)
Located at the opening of the vagina, the hymen is an elastic layer of skin. It is usually donut shaped and prominent at the edge of the vaginal canal in newborns. It reduces over time. Meaning, the younger a girl is, the more tissue she has there. The older she is, the less tissue remains. By adolescence, most girls’ hymens are wide enough to allow for tampons and sex. (curious? Pictures here. Notice only #1 is normal.)
“Breaking” of the hymen is simply a misnomer. For most women, there’s nothing to break. The hymen expands and contracts. The hymen is not a predictor of virginity.
Blood and pain is probably because of lack of lubrication and sexual skill, leading to abrasion of the delicate skin. For many women, their readiness did not determine the moment when they were penetrated, or with what force – leading to blood and pain.
Where does patriarchy come in? The idea of a freshness seal is appealing – we sure like them on our food containers. In a culture sensitive to cuckolding, it’s nice to think there’s a way to guarantee your mate has never mated before.
Also, if everyone expects blood and pain, it absolves the man from any wrong doing. He can have a young bride, rough sex, or skip the foreplay. He doesn’t have to be considerate of her needs.
Because they expect blood and pain, girls and women may not require their partners to be gentle, to use extra lubrication, or to engage in adequate foreplay. If she’s learning to buck up and take it the first time, it sets an unhealthy foundation for this relationship and beyond.
That’s what we need to change.
How does it feel to read this? What changes inside you? Please comment below!
Look for myth #3 in your inbox soon!
In support of you,
P.S. Happy fall! School has started for many, and parent groups everywhere are planning their events for the year. I’ve got a bunch of presentations lined up already, and if you’d like me to present for your community, I’d be delighted! Click here.
Apparently I am a victim of the patriarchy, feeling that sex is something that ought to be done to me rather than a way of expressing myself. I’m hopeful that breaking these myths and other work will re-teach me from the ground up
Isn’t that an interesting thing to have learned? That sex is done to women. That men get to explore their desires using women. That’s so one-sided! Few women feel desire for that kind of sex. Many women feel little to no sexual desire, and think that’s just the way they are, rather than an indication that the partner, power dynamics, or intimacy are off. It’s really no desire for THAT, not zero desire.
This makes me cry. And I have no trauma around sex personally. I have been raised and loved by exceptionally tender, conscientious men throughout my life. I think I cry for all the harm done, and the long road toward reaching, teaching and changing a culture of mysogeny. And for my 9 year old son who (no matter how vigilantly we raise him to be a feminist) will also have to navigate that culture and work hard to break through it. Lotta work ahead—that might be why I cry more than anything. Thank you Anya~
I appreciate you providing access to facts I did not know. I am even more grateful to have help sorting through thought processes that I have never challenged because I did not know there was another way. Anya, you are making a big difference in the way I think and value myself which leads to the ability to help my daughters have a healthier view of themselves.
Oh, I’m so glad, Joyce!
Thank you so much for these Anya, this one made me cry, and I will be sure to empower my 10year old daughter with this. I’ve just discussed the sperm/egg fact with my son and daughter – something that would never have been talked about in my home growing up. Here’s hoping it goes a little way to helping them open up to me when they need to. Thank you
love the myth-buster series. The idea of a sacred virgin runs deep in religion and American patriarchal culture. It’s used to empower men and oppress women. To justify conquest. I hope kids (male, female and non-binary) can learn more about how their bodies work and healthy ways to express intimacy and love. Instead of “popping cherries” or some other crass dehumanizing idea.