Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vriginity Obessesion

I wrote my last post on the usage of the virginity issue in the Egyptian political scene, I considered it sexualistaion and objectification of women, but these lofty words are not enough to describe the pains and the tragedies associated with virginity issue. The ugly face of the patriarchal society we are living in appeared again , that unfortunately the issue of virginity seems to be dominant on the agenda of the Egyptian politics lately. Recently brutal facts appeared, thanks to the great efforts of El Nadeem center of rehabilitation of the victims of violence. El Nadeem center uncovered the crimes committed by the army against the female detainees of the break into of Tahrir square on the 9th of March. The testimonies showed that the army doctors violated the bodily and sexual rights and integrity of the female detainees by testing their virginity .

To cut it short , let's say that this is beyond disgusting , and it shows the obsession of a whole society by inch of membrane and the rooted tendency to evaluate women according to their sexual activity . I really cannot imagine what parochial mentality can control a society to judge women morality according to her usage of her vagina. I cannot see more humiliation than the virginity test which classify women either into respectable women or whores .

I strongly believe that women have the full and free well to discuss how , when and with whom to have sex, and I think that the obsession of women " honor" is just attempt by the family, partner and the community to impose their control on women and regulate their behavior according to what so called social norms .

The obsession by virginity reminds me with the chastity belts in the medieval times , that when a society categorize women according to the existence of their hymens or not , it is exactly the same like hanging unseen chastity belt in each women genitals and taking the keys from them . The unseen belt might be based on religion or tradition, but whatever reasons behind it this unseen belt , it transforms women into a commodity to be evaluated , sold and enslaved.

I am not pro or anti pre martial sex, however I am a vocal advocate of women autonomy , women should decide whether or not to be engaged in sexual relations and the consequences of their decisions should not stigmatize them .

Finally , I am still traumatized and speechless that the state of women's hymen can be used against her in a legal case in a court in Egypt, I cannot believe that woman can be judged because she decided to exercise my rights over her own body. I know that virginity is a taboo in Egypt and it will still be for very long time, but taboos are not eternal facts , they are moveable yet resisting rocks . I wish that one day our society will come to an understanding that the autonomy of women is not promiscuity and it will not disturb the balance of the universe .

Honor of a woman is beyond blood and felsh


pocc said...

a couple points... chastity belts were mainly used as protection against rape, and the woman always had the key (think about the hygene aspects of a woman being locked in one for a months on end).
I once read an interesting article on virginity tests and such like. It was suggested that at birth, the midwife should break every girl's hymen. This would put woman's virginity on a par with a man's... Untestable, and known only to the person involved. No one else's business. The whole cult of virginity would become obsolete.

I’m not sure how I feel about the this sort of operation on someone unable to give consent to what is happening to their body, but is it worse than routine circumcision of boys? Or is it more akin to circumcision/fgm of girls?

A difficult one. Certainly something on which to ponder.

Fatma Emam said...

you are right, clumsy me , i did not question what i knew from the Arab sources about the chasitaty belts , that it was used in the crosades times by the men who fight in the east, it is true that it make no sense, but i needed your note to rethink it , thanks for that
the idea you said is applicable , but also i do not know to what extent we will be violating the rights of the baby girls and taking decisions on their behave

Anonymous said...

Well said clumsy! Egypt should stop looking at women as a taboo, hiding them from the eyes of the others as if they are something to be ashamed of! Egyptian women should stop hiding under their hejab and in their homes! I am male and sa3edi too! But when I was in the U.S. I was impressed by how women really have rights! They play soccer with us and they walk proud! They have enough self-confidence to succeed in their life and fight against the haters and the rapers! Why it is also fair for the men to choose to be virgin or not! Or to choose to have sex or not! Why they do not have to be virgins to get married like women! Keep it up brownie!

Fatma Emam said...

thanks anonymous for the kind world, although i disagree with you that women in the US are happy or enjoying their right completely, i argue you to read about dosemtic violencxe problem or the unequal pay for the same job.
patrirchy exists everywhere , they suffer from injustices in different ways

Anonymous said...

Fatma, you were right not clumsy. Originally, rape was a crime against fathers and husbands (ie a devaluation of property) rather than women.

“Society has had its lash raised for women everywhere, and some have taken advantage of this to serve their own heds. An orphan girl ignorant of the world’s ways and terribly frightend of thmewas told by her misteress that if she were to leave the roof which sheltered her she would get ‘talked about,’ and lose her good name. So she was able to keep the orphan working for five dollars a month. She used the lash to her own advantage.

Fear of ‘talk’ has kept many a woman quiet. Woman’s virtue has been heavy responsibility not to be forgotten for an instant.

‘Remember, Jidge,’ cried out a woman about to be sentenced for stealing, ‘that I am an honest woman.’ ‘I believe you are,’ replied the judge, ‘and I will be lenient with you.’

The word ‘honest’ as applied to women means ‘virtuous.’ It has overshadowed all other virtues, and in a way appeared to make them of no account.” – Nellie McClung, In Times Like These, p. 62

Suzie said...

Dear brownie
it's my first time to read ur blog, it's impressive. I totally like the post and i think u r very brave to discuss, keep it up.
the egyptian society look at women as a property either a father's, a brother's or a husband's. losing of her virginity as a choice she made not as a result of rape means that she is getting out of their control that she chose to be with someone without their approval and this freaks them out and pisses them off. Fornication or adultery can't be committed alone it takes two to have sex. although God judges the two of them. Our society judges only the woman. have u ever heard of a man who went into a trial for having premarital sex? why is that because he is a man he is free and we're women according to them we're just a property.


The suggestion regarding the destruction of the hymen as a routine operation after birth seems to present a point of great relevance. This might indeed be a natural way of ending a social dilemma. It should be noted, in this context, that the "breaking of the hymen" is not necessarily a consequence of sexual intercourse but may well occur prior to a girl's first sexual activity and be occasioned by completely different factors. To the girl concerned the result of a medical misconception will then prove disastrous.
The answer to the concerns raised lies in the question what is the actual biological purpose of the hymen?
The appendix, for instance, is a relict of a past age, when human consumption included nourishment of such a kind as is eaten today solely by animals.
The opinion of a person like Nawal Al Saadawi, who is a medical expert specialised in the field, as well as a feminist, would be of considerable import with regard to the subject. Why not ask her for an expertise on the matter?

Fatma Emam said...

anonymous : i loved your idea on women virtue and the silence that what caused this historical discrimination against women\
suzie : thanks for the sweet words, i agree with you that women are seen as commodities and the control are in the hand of the male guardian
APIC : i knew that Nawal el Saadawi opinion will be raised :) i do not know, let me tell you that i think it will not be end the materiel proof of virginity but the idea of modesty and chastity will still exist, the obsession with women sexuality, but destruction of the hymen is an option

Maria said...

Another great blog post! I would like to latch on to one of the points brought up in the comments that 'silence has caused historical discrimination'. This is one of the more important points that need to be said... if women speak about what they go through, if taboos are broken about what can and cant be spoken about, they become less problematic for women to stand up for their rights, as they will know that they are not alone, and that they will find help to remedy the problem, not be shunned.
This blog is one step in that direction, well done, as always!

This also goes on to latch onto the point that for equality in society, there must be equal representation of genders in decision making positions in society and all throughout societal levels, and that will happen once it is realised that both men and women are capable of decision making positions and both genders have similar as well as different issues that need to be addressed.