Time magazine this weekend commented on the increasing frequency of hymenoplasty, surgery to recreate the hymen, or at least skin that will bleed during sex, in order to establish the appearance of virginity in women whose innocence-indicators have broken. The surgery is common in France, where some young women are expected to produce bloody bridal sheets or face humiliation and hostility.
With the advent of the surgery women are now able to do whatever they want -- have sex, ride horses, use large dildos, all of which could break their hymens -- with a safety net: they can still fool their husbands into thinking they're virgins.
But is this progress? Not really. As Time points out, "the increase in the procedure reflects the growing emancipation of women from tradition-rooted communities, but also the ongoing male oppression signified by the obsession with female virginity."
The piece comes on the heels of last month's virginity fraud case, in which a court granted an annulment to a French man because his wife had misrepresented her virginity. The French government eventually overturned the dangerous precedent, ensuing that in the future women can't be divorced for being "damaged goods."
The situation is a tricky one. On one hand, by submitting to hymen-reconstruction surgery women are endorsing a system that says they're only worth as much as their virginity. On the other, with this surgery a woman can go her own hymen-breaking way and still marry within her community, if she so wishes. But she'll be beginning a marriage with a lie, which could take more than $5,000 and a trip to the doctor to repair.