So, I was riding this massive penis in Minneapolis this past summer. I am not kidding, this thing was huge. And before you start rolling your eyes at my vulgarity (I mean this is a sex column, have a bit more grace, you know?), the gargantuan penis in question was in fact a mechanized ride, placed in the center of Sex World for photo opportunities. It was while in reverse cowgirl atop this mechanical banana boat that something caught my eye—amidst the riding crops and handcuffs, a garish sign read: REVIRGINIZE YOURSELF TODAY! I leapt off my giant member with the precision of an Olympic athlete to learn more.
I was a bit confused as to why this would have any appeal to someone unless you were a member of the Duggar family who went on a date sans chaperone. I firmly hold the belief that losing your virginity is not all that an enjoyable experience. Sure, it is meaningful and a milestone in your life, but why does it have to mean everything? Usually it is just an awkward mashing of genitals and an avoidance of eye contact at all costs. None of this Cruel Intentions drivel where Reese Witherspoon stares at Ryan Phillippe, her puppy dog eyes filled with terror and admiration. But I digress. There it was in delicate silver packaging, advertising Artificial Hymen Kits that could spice up your married life, or perhaps perpetuate the social construct that virginity is synonymous with a woman’s self-worth. I will take this opportunity to debunk a few myths about the deflowering process:
1. Not every woman bleeds during initial intercourse.
2. The hymen can be torn from everyday activities (riding a bike, a pogo stick, inserting a tampon, etc).
3. A broken hymen does not indicate loss of virginity. Loss of virginity is traditionally considered to be initial penile penetration.
Clearly these facts are not common knowledge if women in the United States are purchasing tiny packages filled with medical grade red dye and inserting them into their vaginas to experience losing their virginity all over again. Why this hysteria to feign “purity?” In actuality, most women will most likely break their hymens during a misguided gymnastics class or an over-the-jeans dry-humping session at their parents’ house when they are 15.
I will confess, I was not completely informed about this hymen jargon either. When girlfriends confided in me that upon losing their virginity they “failed” to bleed, I would proceed to panic with them about how they were now trapped in some sort of awkward, sexual limbo where they were only “half” a virgin. Here we were, intelligent young women, running around with a medieval concept of virginity, in an actual terror about our apparent ghost hymens. I bought a packet. I had to. For the exorbitant price of $21.95 I was going to experience losing my virginity all over again, because it was just so fantastic the first time around. I sent a photo of the kit to my man-friend, asking if he would be willing to embark on this endeavor for the sake of sexual journalism with me. He was not. I would have to go it alone, resigning myself to the idea that I would use the kit and go for a leisurely bike ride around the city, all the while knowing that my crotch was slowly being dyed the color of cherry Kool-Aid.
After a bit of research, I learned that the leading provider of Artificial Hymen Kits is Hymenshop.com, which advertises that you can, “Kiss your deep dark secret goodbye and marry in confidence for only $29.95!” Hymenshop ships almost everywhere in the world from Hong Kong, ensuring that “while the Hymenoplasty procedure, cosmetic surgery that restores the hymen, requires admission to a clinic and can cost thousands of dollars, the artificial hymen provides much cheaper and convenient way to become a virgin again!” Grammar mistakes were left as is.
I brought my Artificial Hymen Kit back to my apartment, my mind an exotic cocktail swirling with enthusiastic curiosity mixed with intermittent thoughts of, “God, what am I doing with my life?” I opened the packet, revealing what I can only describe as a grotesque Listerine strip that had been pre-chewed, then dried, then folded back up in an attempt to be passed off as a new Listerine strip. I took a deep breath, and as I took the strip out of its packaging, it completely dissolved in my hands. Red dye was everywhere and I looked like an Easter egg gone horribly wrong.
Hymenshop had warned me about artificial Artificial Hymen Kits (I sincerely hope this irony is not lost on you, dear reader). Competitors use an inferior red powder dye which is not realistic, warning that, “These inferior products might cause a very negative situation when the male discovers he has been fooled to believe that his wife was faking her virginity.” So there I was, standing in my bathroom in what looked like the crime scene of a horrific murder of a small badger or possum.
As I was scrubbing the bathroom tiles, however, I thought, “Isn’t this a fantastic metaphor for losing one’s virginity in general?” You have all of these preconceived notions about what it is going to be like, how you are going to feel about it, that you will know the exact moment it happens. As if it is this tangible item that you can tape into your journal later. That is awful imagery, but you know what I mean. The list goes on. But then, you have sex for the first time, feeling that you are completely ready, and afterwards you turn on your side and think: “That’s it?”
Virginity is a social construct, hyped up to the point of hysteria through media, pop songs, movies, and religious beliefs. It should mean something, but it absolutely does not mean everything. Artificial Hymen Kits only confirm the fact that society is pressuring young women to define a huge part of themselves with something as insignificant as a Listerine strip that will dissolve in your hands.