Friday, February 29, 2008

Re-Virginization? It wasn't that fun the first time around--pepper

I saw the article about "born again virgins" over at Dear Author, and I'm not surprised by it. Appalled and horrified, but not surprised. Given the course work and the books I'm reading this semester, I have a lot of thoughts about women and culture and the importance of chastity. More specifically, chastity as a commodity. And I think it's pretty obvious that chastity is a commodity, as it's referred to the "priceless gift of virginity."

Woman as commodity, objectified and silent, is common in literature. It's even common in Romanceland. Or it was, though I think there are certain tropes that have not been laid to rest yet. Think about how many romance heroines are virgins, or treasure their virginity, as though it actually means something. I'm talking about the notion of virginity as a priceless gift. Virginity's only value is that it is something that can be taken. And once it is taken, it is lost forever, regardless of whether the hymen is "repaired." Virginity is, ultimately, the mark of ownership, prized because once it is lost, the woman's place is secured, one way or the other.

And the implications of virginity as a "priceless gift" being restored because the hymen is "repaired" is beyond horrific to me. It's like repairing a broken vase or a lamp. A vase is no good if it can't hold water. A lamp is no good if it can't light a room. So a woman is no good unless that thin piece of skin is somehow in place? This is reflected in her rhetoric. "My future husband deserves a whole person."

There is something seriously wrong there. Like, the woman might need some therapy, not plastic surgery. A woman's value is not in what she can give to a man--or what a man can take from her.

Now, I'll step down from my soapbox and return to Dracula and think about the anxiety surrounding foreigners penetrating England and penetrating good, English girls.


  1. azteclady3:54 PM


    and I thought I had heard pretty much every stupid thing people might do to themselves...

  2. It is an infantile superstition of the human spirit that virginity would be thought a virtue and not the barrier that separates ignorance from knowledge ~ Voltaire

    I rest my case.

  3. Maybe this explains the apparently highly erotically skilled and multi-orgasmic heroine virgins found in some romance novels? ;)

  4. LOL veinglory!

    I agree that the rhetoric is off-putting, but I don't know... this blog is usually pretty open-minded about sexuality, so I don't see how this is that different. If that's how a woman finds pleasure and empowerment... well, that's her (expensive and unnecessary) choice.

  5. azteclady8:43 AM

    Does a woman finds empowerment in hanging her value on a bit of tissue?

    Then again *shrug* as long as no one wants to decide that I would find empowerment the same way...

  6. I don't know if I'm viewing this as an issue of sexuality. It's an issue of language. As long as virginity is spoken of in terms of commodity and objectification, I'm going to find it distasteful. There's thousands of years of cultural and religious baggage related to this particular process, and I'm not comfortable to reducing it to "different courses for different horses."

    Which is probably why I'm a lit person. So I can sit around and mull the significance of word choice while everybody else goes and gets a real job. ;)

  7. Oh, I'm a lit person, too - that's why I quibbled. :) Your rhetorical analysis just seemed a bit one-sided - but your blog, your soapbox. I've obviously had too much queer theory.

    And it's definitely not a priceless gift now that they're charging!