Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Virgin Territory

Warning: bad taste alert...

The front-page human interest article of the Wall Street Journal (I'd link, but a subscription is required) is about hymenoplasty, a surgery that re-attaches the hymen so that women can pass themselves off as virgins. Aside from the "ick" factor of this concept, several considerations come to mind. If a woman with a sexually transmitted disease has a hymenoplasty and subsequently infects a man, can he sue for false representation? Is the discomfort of surgery worth it for a one-time experience? (Surgery tends to run about $5000-$8000, though some places will do it for $1800.) Why should anyone want vaginal cosmetic surgery? The thought of it is disgusting.

And from a woman's point of view, why should anyone want to re-create a rather painful and awkward experience? Several of the women interviewed in the article said they wanted to give a second honeymoon to their husbands. "It's for the man who has everything," says one wife. Ugh! Gak! Talk about making an object of yourself...

But let's talk ethics here. Most of the women profiled in the article were well-to-do wives looking for a little spice in their sex lives. But some proponents think that this could be a life-saver for women in cultures where virginity is highly prized, such as hard-core Islamic communities. I don't know much about Islamic mores and restrictions, but as a conservative Catholic I can say that it's not the physical expression of virginity that is cherished so much as the purity and faithfulness and commitment that lead a woman to save her virginity for marriage. Hymenoplasty makes a mockery of a serious Christian approach to sexuality because it implies that the only thing that is important is the physical preservation of a bit of membrane. (And if it's being done for the benefit of the man, the elevation of the man's pleasure above all other considerations, including the woman's comfort and dignity, is of serious ethical concern.)

I would venture to state that this kind of procedure also denigrates women who have been victims of sexual assault. A hymenoplasty can't restore the shattered dignity of a rape survivor, nor can it erase the experience. It's disgusting and manipulative to suggest that one gains any benefit from having a hymen reattached for any reason, and any serious feminist ought to be up in arms against such a procedure.

Giving her reason for having the surgery, a woman says that she wanted her husband to have the experience of having sex with a virgin and adds that if the woman wasn't a virgin at the time of marriage her husband can always put her down for that. Guess what, girls? There's a cheaper, less-painful, and far more fulfilling way to give your husband that chance, if it's important to you. It's called self-control and waiting until marriage. More people, female AND male, should try it. But if it's already too late, there are better ways of seeking healing than by prostituting oneself with the aid of the latest surgical advances.

2 comments:

CincyDarwin said...

Just when you think you've heard it all...

LYL said...

I know - I thought I'd heard it all too - but I sure didn't see that one coming. Heck!