Hymen renamed

// 10 December 2009

VC.jpgThe hymen has been re-named the “vaginal corona”, in a bid to dispell some of the mythology and misinformation about it, via Jezebel.

The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education has produced an information booklet on the vaginal corona (or, slidkrans in Swedish) in Arabic, English and Sorani.

The new term for the hymen in Arabic is تاج{اكليل}المهبل،,

The new term in English is vaginal corona.

In Sorani, the term is ئهڵقهی زێ

Every woman’s corona looks different – just like ear lobes, noses and labia – and differs in size, colour and shape… It is slightly pink, almost transparent, but if it’s thicker it may look a little paler or whitish. It may resemble the petals of a rose or other flower, it may be carnation-shaped, or it may look like a jigsaw piece or half-moon.

(See image above right)

Åsa Regnér, RFSU secretary general, said:

The myths surrounding the hymen were created to control women’s freedom and sexuality. The only way to counteract this is by disseminating knowledge.

Absolutely agree, and it all tied into the outdated concept of ‘virginity’.

From the press release:

The booklet describes what the female genitals look like and what the vaginal corona actually is. It also dispels many of the myths surrounding female sexuality and the misconceptions concerning the hymen and virginity. Etymologically, the term hymen comes from the Greek word for membrane. In Swedish, the hymen used to be called mödomshinna, which translates literally as “virginity membrane.” In fact, there is no brittle membrane, but rather multiple folds of mucous membrane. A vaginal corona, in other words.

“The vaginal corona is a permanent part of a woman’s body throughout her life. It doesn’t disappear after she first has sexual intercourse, and most women don’t bleed the first time,” said Ms Regnér.

Comments From You

Jennifer Drew // Posted 10 December 2009 at 2:15 pm

But I am still left wondering which group benefits from ‘ ‘myths surrounding the hymen were created to control women’s freedom and sexuality. The only way to counteract this is by disseminating knowledge.’

Is it men as a group because certainly such myths serve to promote claims women’s sexuality is dangerous, liable to be uncontrollable and in dire constant need of male control, supression and policing.

No analysis of how male power operates is mentioned or stated because such statements would certainly raise the ire of men as a group. Or to put it another way, female sexuality has always been defined and constructed from the male-centered perspective. This is why the ‘hymen’ is considered vital to ensuring male control and ownership of women’s and girls’ bodies and sexuality. Good start Swedish Association for Sexual Equality but this organisation needs to input a systemic gendered analysis of how female sexuality continues to be subordinated to men’s sexuality and why it is not about ‘people’ but how women’s and girls’ bodies and sexualities are always viewed in relation to male sexuality – rather than as autonomous and independent.

Aine // Posted 13 December 2009 at 1:18 am

I like how it sounds like its an astrological term now:

“Well, its a bit cloudy, but if we’re lucky we’ll be able to see the Vaginal Corona to the South at this time of year.”

cycleboy // Posted 13 December 2009 at 4:50 pm

I wonder what the evolutionary explanation for the existence of the hymen? Perhaps it should be removed at birth, then we could all stop worrying about it.

Sadly, even though it’s clearly never going to happen, if it were to, I guess it would only be in cultures where female virginity wasn’t an issue anyway. In cultures where they seem to think (female) virginity it is important, then the hymen is raised to a level of importance way above what is reasonable or logical.

Femina Erecta // Posted 16 December 2009 at 3:28 pm

I would recommend The Women’s History of the World by Rosalind Miles for an interesting (if a little reactionary-good rant reading) look at the hyman (or vaginal coronas or whatevers) and its evolution in culture. In fact, I’d recommend the book anyway, as it is where I got my nom-de-plume.

On a completly different note, you know how Stella Artios in known in the pub industry as ‘wife-beater’ (think it comes from Ike Weller/Stella), well Corona is now know in my local as, wait for it, Senorita Beater! This has now formed a band name by some of the regulars who get together to jam. Suggestions about how to confront this without the usual ridicule on a post card please…

Lucy // Posted 16 December 2009 at 9:07 pm

@cycleboy,

The idea of performing surgery on a baby is horrifying. I would hope you are only joking, but even if so it’s not very funny. Too many people already have had involuntary, non-consensual genital surgery as babies and children. The right to bodily autonomy is (or should be) a key concept in feminism. Also, such a practice sends the message that the problem is with the hymen/vaginal corona itself, as well as those who have them, and not the society which constructs meanings around its existence. You also sound rather fatalistic about the endurance of those meanings while I would say most feminisms/feminists believe they can be altered/eliminated.

cycleboy // Posted 16 December 2009 at 10:07 pm

Lucy

Obviously, I was speaking hypothetically, as it’s clearly not going to happen.

However, I think my comment did have a serious point to make. Obviously, women can go through life with their hymen intact and it is not a problem to anyone. However, when marriage/parenthood is on the cards then problems arise. Firstly, for the women themselves, I don’t know of many who actually relish the pain an intact hymen would cause them the first time they ‘have sex’. Secondly, given that the hymen can legitimately tear well before the woman ‘has sex’ (or not tear at all) then the hymen is not a reliable way of proving or disproving virginity, surely not having it would remove a worry. There are part of the world where misogynists seem to attach such importance to the hymen of their wives being intact on the wedding night. Removing it at birth would remove that ‘test’ some cultures still seem to cling to.

However, as I said, it’s a purely accademic argument.

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