Cherry Bomb

As part of another skirmish in the war on women, some Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) have formed a movement dedicated to trying to bully women into remaining virgins lest they never, ever marry. These MRAs are on various forms of social media demanding that all men band together and declare that if a woman cannot prove she is a virgin then she should be cast aside forthwith as unworthy of being some man’s lucky bride. The rallying cry of these MRAs is “No hymen? No Diamond!” and #poppedcherrydon’tmarry.

In the world of the MRA, a woman without a hymen is unfit for male consumption. Divorced women, rape victims, women who have used tampons, women who learned to walk or ride horseback or have dance, and the significant percentage of the female population born without hymens should be doomed to spinsterhood, left in weeping heaps outside bridal shops, yearning for the magic of a wedding to validate their existence. It doesn’t matter that men cannot prove that they are unpopped cherries because men, of course, don’t have to be virgins to be worthy of marriage … which kinda sad, since I suspect rampant involuntary virginity on the part of MRAs is part of what’s causing their anxiety about women’s sexuality.

In my book The Jezebel Effect I discuss the disturbing phenomenon of the MRAs, whose hatred of women stems from fear.

MRAs have many things to say about the sexual agency of women … and none of it is rational.

A man who is involved with the MRAs deeply resents what he perceives as a woman’s “pussy power”. (You have something I want and thus I feel as though you have power over me. You slut!) Anonymously and online, MRAs complain that feminism has taught “women to have unbridled sex through lowered moral standards and birth control, [which] has reduced the vagina to a commodity product” and now “it is impossible to tell “the sluts” apart from any other woman” because all women are would-be courtesans who will “open their legs for dinner these days” (Thomas, 2010). Simultaneously and with a complete lack of awareness for the irony, MRAs also complain that women make men “dance for the pussy” but then don’t give them any of it as a ploy to control men’s behavior (Marcotte, 2011). According to the sophisticated logic of the MRAs, all women are total whores who don’t put out enough.

There are so many issues with the MRA screed to marry virgins that it is hard to know where to start.

First, marrying a man obsessed with women’s “purity”, one who is that afraid of a woman’s sexuality, isn’t exactly a reward. A profound preoccupation with female sexual purity is usually a sign that a man is mentally unstable and a threat to his partner’s life. Most people are familiar with the “honour killings” of female family members by South Asian or Middle Easterner men. Well, plenty of  honour killings also happen in Europe and the USA as well; they are just called “domestic violence” instead of honour killings.

The motivations for domestic violence murders are exactly the same as honor killings – a woman (95% of the time it is a woman) has done something a relative or her husband does not like. Usually that something is seeking autonomy; the most common reason for this type of murder is that the woman dared to leave her abuser. Jealousy and rage that a woman’s sexuality is her own is the primary reason men kill their intimate partners (Adams, 2007). Nor do Western nations necessarily punish the crime as it would the murder of a stranger. In 2012 England’s most senior judge ruled that “juries should be allowed to consider whether a victim’s infidelity was a possible provocation for murder” (Doughty, 2012). One can only infer that in the judge’s opinion killing a slut is not quite the same as killing a good girl.

In short, men who are fixated on virginity are dangerous and should be avoided.

Secondly, the MRAs clearly have no idea how a hymen WORKS. The hymen is not a freshness seal that can be “popped” like a can of ready-to-bake biscuits. The hymen does not ‘pop’. Do they think a woman’s first time is accompanied by the sound of a cork leaving a champagne bottle? Women are not sitting on some sort of pussy pinata. You don’t wack it with a penis and then candy or small toys come flying out when it ruptures.

Nor is a hymen like those little foil seals on over the counter medicine bottles designed to tell you if the ‘product’ has been ‘tampered’ with. A lot of women are born without any hymen. Even when a woman is born with a hymen, its probably gone by the time she is in her early teens because “as the years pass, most hymenal tissue thins and the opening widens. During childhood most hymenal tissue wears away as a result of washing, walking, athletics, self-exploration, and masturbation”.  Even if a little girl never, ever touches herself just because it feels good, the hymen still disappears because she learned to walk. Yes, walking “deflowers” more women than penises ever will.

Golly, walking down the aisle just became hella problematic.

Even if the hymen remains “intact” — most likely due to the fact a girl was born with an unusually thick or tough vaginal corona — it “almost never covers the entire vagina. If it did, virgin girls could not menstruate. However, the opening may not look like a doughnut hole. In some women, it has a ladder-like appearance with bands of tissue extending from one side to the other. In others, it resembles a honeycomb with multiple small openings. And in rare cases, an estimated one in 200, the hymen’s single opening is so small that fingers, tampons, and erections may not be able to enter comfortably or at all (imperforate hymen). For women with imperforate hymens, a simple surgical procedure snips away the excess tissue. But in most women, by adolescence, any remaining hymenal tissue offers no significant impediment to using tampons or enjoying pain-free intercourse.”

Moreover, the rare “intact” hymen doesn’t prove virginity, because “if a woman is relaxed during intercourse and has good lubrication and she or her partner has tried to stretch the hymen with fingers, then it likely won’t break.”  That’s why a hymen is not absolute proof that a little girl has not been sexually assaulted in child molestation cases. A child could have been vaginally raped yet the normal opening in the hymen would have given way and then retracted back.

All that the MRA “no hymen, no diamond” campaign does is demonstrate that MRAs know almost nothing about normal female physiology and are afraid that a sexually experienced woman could mock them as inadequate partners. What the MRAs don’t seem to understand is that even virgins can tell when sex is lousy. Virginity doesn’t mean she won’t notice a lack of pleasure or an absent orgasm. Frankly, if a man is so uneducated about women’s genitals that he thinks the hymen is magic and goes pop, what are the odds he knows where the clitoris is located?

A desire for a virginal partner is more likely to be an indictment of a man’s fears about his masculinity and sexual inadequacy than anything else.

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