Recently, I observed that my Rehymenator comic has had the most positive response of any comic I’ve done thus far. The comic was created specifically in light of this post on secondary virginity. The comic pokes fun at something that is actually a very serious issue around the world and one about which Dr. Martin Rundkvist wrote an excellent post on his blog in 2008. his post is mostly about how Swedish healthcare should cover the procedure, but he mentions some other important issues that are related and are global concerns. I highly encourage you to go read it and then come back to finish reading what I have to say about it.
Dr. Rundkvist ties the issue of hymen reconstruction to another important issue, circumcision:
This recalls the issue whether public health care should offer male circumcision. As I have argued before, all genital mutilation of minors should of course be illegal — but as long as male infant circumcision remains legal, it should be part of public healthcare to avoid a proliferation of amateur circumcisionists.
I completely agree that unless there’s some sort of medical problem that requires it, all forms of non-consensual genital mutilation should be completely discouraged. It is horrible that, in this day, we try to uphold old cultural norms just on the basis that it is considered ‘normal,’ especially when those norms result in physically altering someone’s body, causing them pain and putting them at risk for things like infection. I don’t agree with one thing, though. I disagree with the approach, at this point in time, of making it illegal. I think it is too early. Circumcision is very popular in many developed and undeveloped countries and making it illegal right away is likely to push the procedure into an underground market and that would put infants and children at risk when unskilled and untrained individuals begin putting knives to their genitals.
I think that a better approach is to educate people about circumcision, the history and how unethical it is. With education, cultures tend to change and I think that making this a bigger issue can make them change rapidly, so that we can get to a point where the procedure is so rare that making it illegal is not going to be so risky and can be considered an overall benefit, at least in the United States. I think that’s probably true in Sweden, as well, but I don’t live there so I have to make room for the possibility of missing some contextual information.
Another thing I thought I should comment on is the very last part of Dr. Rundkvist’s post:
So, should public health care offer hymen reconstruction? In my opinion, yes, because hymen obsessives pay taxes too. But the procedure should only be available to people over the age of 18, who have the right to vote and must be assumed to make their own decisions about their fannies. The latter assumption is of course highly debatable in situations where a young woman runs the risk of being murdered by her uncles and cousins.
The only part of this that I disagree with are the age and voting restrictions. Sadly, many of the countries that have cultures that value in-tact hymens also have very young ages at which they try to marry their children off. Furthermore, because of the control that the male populace has over the women, sexual abuse is likely very common (though, obtaining statistical information on this is difficult and complicated). This sexual abuse puts the young girl at risk and if the only way to protect her from her family, even as a young girl, is to get her a new hymen, then I don’t think she should be restricted by an age law. I think that protecting her life should be a priority above all else. Until we can get her culture to progress beyond such a horrific state, if her life depends on that little bit of flesh, then any country which offers the procedure should avoid restricting it.
I should repeat, though, that Dr. Rundkvist’s post does contain some great points so I highly encourage you to go and read it.