“Many women whose hymens are intact refer to themselves as shojo (a virgin), but this condition is not necessarily ended through the dramatic breaking of the hymen through the penetration by a penis (!). Nor is the condition necessarily ended through one session of sex. It may be that ‘shojo’ should be used to refer to a woman who is unfamiliar with sex.”
Writing in her bimonthly column in Shukan Asahi (Dec. 14 and 28) Minori Kitahara, 42-year-old authoress of numerous books on gender and sexuality, decides to delve into the long-neglected subject of hymen restoration surgery.
In general, two types of procedures exist. One, which is relatively simple, involves suturing together folds of tissue near the opening of the vagina using thread. When the stitches are pulled, the tissue ruptures, causing blood to flow. Typically this can be performed for as low as 50,000 yen. But as the surgical wounds heal completely within about one week’s time, the woman who undergoes such a procedure must lose her “virginity” expeditiously or the desired results (bleeding) will not be realized.
The other procedure is to suture together the tissue directly. “Just hearing this is enough to make me lose interest in sex,” writes Kitahara, “since the breakage thereof does not involve just skin, but internal flesh.
“I wonder how many men really have an accurate knowledge of the shape and location of a hymen,” Kitahara wonders. And since women have been known to fake the loss of their virginity, what’s the whole point of going through with such surgery anyway?
In a continuation of the first installment, Kitahara probes how such a situation came to pass. A woman’s hymen, in visual terms, is nearly unrecognizable, except perhaps to a specialist. And men who place a value on it are probably up to no good.
But from a woman’s perspective, wishing to “sacrifice” one’s virginity to a man doesn’t make sense any more; nor does using her virginity as a means to entrap a male make any sense either, since the days of such stratagems are long past. The most common pattern seems to be women who undergo the procedure one week before their weddings. Apparently the shedding of blood, to signify consummation of the marriage ritual, is still obligatory in the eyes of some.
On the other hand, many women who undergo hymen restoration surgery, it appears, are the victims of sexual violence, and whether they were virgins or not at the time the violence occurred is irrelevant. What is clear is that they do not wish to “revert” to their virginity, but rather that they want to alter their awareness so that they can turn back everything to the way it was before the act of violence against them occurred.
For some women, even as long ago as 10 years after such an incident, undergoing this surgical procedure is their way of “getting over” the experience.
So it is not so much, then, that they want their hymen back, nor is it that they place any particularly high value on their virginity. Rather, they want to undergo, at their own expense, a procedure that enables them to recover their body after it was used as the object for another’s act of self-seeking violence.
Whatever else one may think, concludes Kitahara, hymen restoration surgery is “pitiful.” (K.S.)
Source: “Nippon Supponpon,” Shukan Asahi (Dec. 14 and 28, pages 62 and 60)