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Articles > Relationships June, 08, 2020

The Illusion of Virginity

Nazish Bibi
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In many cultures, virginity is highly valued and sex before marriage is strictly forbidden. This puts an enormous amount of pressure on women, who must prove their virginity on their wedding night, with some even turning to surgery to keep up this illusion.

If a woman’s hymen is intact on her wedding night she will bleed, which for many cultures is confirmation that she is ‘pure’ and ‘untouched’ for her respective husband. But in actual fact, not every woman bleeds when she has sexual intercourse for the first time. There are many day-to-day activities such as biking, horse riding or even inserting tampons that can break your hymen. Yet, many parts of Europe, Asia and the Middle East still adopt the mentality that a women should bleed on her wedding night. This type of thinking can be toxic to young generations of women who are conditioned to associate sex with shame.

Recommended watch: ‘Mustang’

The movie, Mustang, directed by Deniz Gamze Ergϋven, is set in a remote Turkish village. It follows the lives of five orphaned girls, who have to face the challenges of growing up in a conservative society. The girls are accused of sexual misconduct after innocently playing on the beach with a group of school boys. The two eldest girls are subsequently sent to a clinic to get their hymen tested so they can confirm to their uncle and grandma that they are virgins. Despite proving their innocence, the girls are barred from leaving the house and are swiftly married off to men against their wishes (apart from the eldest girl who marries the boy that she likes).

On the wedding night of the second eldest girl, Selma, her new in-laws come to inspect the bed sheets. When she fails to bleed, she’s taken to a clinic once again to testify her virginity.

The film provides a powerful portrayal of the struggles that young women continue to face in conservative societies.

Turning to surgical solutions

With this type of pressure, it’s no wonder that women are turning to extreme measures. A 30-minute surgical procedure is available at the price of around £3,000 – £4,000, which will restore the hymen. A clinic in France reports that they carry out 2-4 of these surgeries a week!

One French student of Moroccan descent admitted that she’d had the surgery so that she could prove to her future husband that she’s not had pre-marital sex. This is just one story, but there are so many others.

Break the taboo surrounding sex

To quote Dr Jacques Lansac: “Attaching so much importance to the hymen is regression, submission to the intolerance of the past.”

The taboo surrounding sex must be broken in order to allow people to have healthier sex lives. This can be achieved through talking about sex and acknowledging that it’s a biological need that dates back to our evolutionary history where mating and reproducing ensured the survival of our lineage. Sex is not something that should be censored, but rather it should be normalised and discussed so that silly myths can be debunked.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or do you disagree? We’d love to hear from you – comment below to have your say or write to us at:

And if you enjoyed reading this, you may also like:

Why I Refuse To Lose My Virginity

Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?

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  1. Nazish Bibi

    I believe you missed the point of my article: I’m trying to shine the light on cultures where virginity is enforced onto women. It is not a choice, and when women choose to participate in pre-martial sex, they have to undertake surgery because they don’t have the heart to tell their family/husband that their no longer a virgin. If you choose to remain a virgin until marriage, that is your choice, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else should follow in your footsteps. After all, we all different moral values.

  2. Olga

    I think that the problem of virginity should be raised, it is enough to live by medieval norms. This issue refers to the issue of gender inequality. I do not understand why in the 21st century people still adhere to these outdated absurd norms. I liked the examples given by the author of the article, especially about the film, because the main source of inequality is planned by religion, in particular Muslim countries, where women are almost not valued, in these countries they can not even protect their rights and depend on men. This is outrageous. Why are men allowed and women not?

  3. M. Chicheley

    Marriage is the time to lose one’s virginity, not before. I say this in all seriousness, as a white Englishman, who fully intends to retain his virginity until he marries. It is a shocking degradation of society when morals are lax enough to allow behaviour such as pre-marital sex.