Sexualisation and objectification of the female body and anatomy has a long history. A woman's body is often singled out and seen as an object of male desire. Myths about tampons and virginity also continue to trouble many young as well as adult women even now. Let’s deconstruct some of these myths:
Debunking Virginity Myth
It is important to understand that the idea of virginity is not a medical definition but a cultural construct, says health expert Sujata Pawar, Founder, and CEO of Avni. The corelation of ‘virginity’ and ‘intact hymen’ is desiged as ‘proof’ of the absence of sexual activity. It only acts as a way to uphold the concept of 'idealised chastity' in absence of a patriarchal guardian.
Many men all over the world presume that the hymen is a membranous tissue that completely covers and protects the vaginal orifice, when in fact, the hymen is a small membranous tissue that surrounds minimal portions of the vaginal orifice and has no known biological function. This membrane rarely covers the entire opening of the vagina; it does so in one in 1,000 and one in 10,000 girls.. Hymen can get torn without sexual engagement and can result in significantly less bleeding as the hymen membrane has few blood vessels. There have also been documented cases of girls being born without hymen. Therefore women subjected to the ‘virginity test’ before marriage in certain cultures is nothing but a way to control women.
Debunking Tampon Myth
As menstrual health awareness and initiatives are gearing up to provide quality hygiene products to women to mitigate their period problems, it has also given rise to a few worries in women. The popular belief is that using tampons makes women lose their ‘virginity' being one of those worries.
- Tampons are designed to make insertion convenient and are compressed to make it smaller in size before coming into contact with any period blood.
- As a result, the chances of it disrupting the shape and size of the hymen are very little.
- This should not even be a cause of concern since virginity is a construct, and even then it has nothing to do with the hymen.
Sujata explains, hymen has at least one hole and therefore inserting a tampon doesn’t constitute losing ‘virginity’. Moreover, no one should pass judgement on anyone for using a medical device like a tampon.
Benefits Of Using Tampon
- Many women prefer tampons over pads because it easily allows them to stay active and provides long-lasting comfort.
- Unlike pads, tampons allow women to engage in rough activities like playing sports, physical workouts, and even swimming.
- Tampons are super easy to use, absorb more period blood, and are cost-effective in the long run.
- Additionally, tampons are more environmentally friendly than pads as it creates less waste in landfills.
As most of the fear stems from myths, and women themselves subscribe to these views sometimes, women end up self-policing. It is therefore important we educate women as well as our peer groups. In discussion and in writing, descriptions such as ‘intact hymen' or ‘broken hymen' should be avoided too.
Image credits- freepik