Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

From yesterday's Times: 'Artificial Virginity' Kit Opposed
Published: October 5, 2009
Conservative lawmakers have called for a ban on imports of a Chinese-made kit meant to help women fake their virginity. The Artificial Virginity Hymen kit, which is distributed by the Chinese company Gigimo and costs about $30, is intended to help newly married women fool their husbands into believing they are virgins, an essential marriage requirement for women in much of the Middle East, by leaking a blood-like substance when inserted and broken. Sheik Sayed Askar, a member of the parliamentary committee on religious affairs, demanded the government take responsibility for fighting the product, which he said would make it easier for women to give in to temptation. (Italics mine)

The Vatican and the imams may be tweeting and twittering, but some things just haven’t changed. Who would have imagined that, centuries after moveable type, penicillin, lycra & space travel, virginity would still be the fulcrum upon which a woman’s life rests.
Thousands of years ago, young women were often killed as they tried to defend their virginity; and for this they entered the annals as “Saint, Virgin and Martyr.”
Today, for instance, we honor Saint Osyth of Mercia (AD 675). Against her wishes, her parents married her off to Sighere, king of the Saxons. His real passion was hunting, so much so that on their wedding night he was distracted from his connubial duties by a roaming stag. Off he went to slaughter the antlered beast, and when he got home Osyth had decamped. She took up residence in a convent where she lived happily until a pirate raid. Osyth resisted the piratical marauders wishing to take her away for their nefarious purposes, and for that her head was separated from her body.
About Saint Justina little is known except that she was devoted to her virginity and to God. In that order. She is generally portrayed with a unicorn to underscore that virginity, unicorns being symbols of virginity, presumably on account of their whiteness, and not the single (and frankly, phallic) horn.
I could go on, citing Saints Reparata and Faith, virgins martyred when only 12 years old. And the catatonic/ecstatic Saint Flora. And Saint Dymphna fleeing her incestuous father’s lust. But I will resist.
As for the Artificial Virginity Kit, I ask myself, which is worse: That there is a need for such a clever device? Or that it is banned?

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