"You go home and tell that to my dad!" : Conflicting Claims and Understandings on Hymen and Virginity

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"You go home and tell that to my dad!" : Conflicting Claims and Understandings on Hymen and Virginity

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Publication Article, peer reviewed scientific
Title "You go home and tell that to my dad!" : Conflicting Claims and Understandings on Hymen and Virginity
Author Cinthio, Hanna
Date 2015
English abstract
In this article I examine different understandings of and claims concerning virginity. Several young women in Sweden suffer from strong patriarchal chastity ideals, even to the extent that some undergo surgery to restore a lost virginity. Swedish sexual politics, believing strongly in the power of evidence based information, have a clearly stated agenda to prevent this by "eradicating the hymen myth" through informative campaigns in schools and by educating professionals who encounter the problem. At the same time, the targeted teenagers themselves seem to hold a multifaceted and contextual view on the matter. They may be fed scientific information in school, and gain anatomically correct knowledge of the hymen, but they also need to maneuver within a different normative field where the hymen plays a symbolic role rather than a factual one. In the article I explore the charged discourse around the hymen, analyze the narratives of teenage informants who tell me of their thoughts and experiences in the matter, and discuss the possible different purposes served by the upholding of the concept. I argue that intellectual, factual knowledge is not necessarily relevant when dealing with emotionally and culturally charged beliefs, and that the ideologically driven agenda of "the truth shall set you free" is not fully in touch with the complex social reality of those who are subjected to the chastity ideals. Attacking misconceptions around the hymen does not necessarily recognize the principal dilemma of the collective asserting power over the individual in matters concerning relationships and sexuality.
DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-014-9253-2 (link to publisher's fulltext.)
Publisher Springer
Host/Issue Sexuality & Culture;1
Volume 19
ISSN 1095-5143
Language eng (iso)
Subject Hymen
Virginity
Sweden
Sexuality
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/30242 Permalink to this page
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