So today I set out to write something completely different, but somehow I found this idea coming to nag me over and over again. The horrors that men inflict on women are bad enough, but there’s an outer shame, the shame ofthe fact that the bigger horrors are usually inflicted by other women.
In honour of the hymen
Let us take a moment of silence for the hymen. If you really live in Africa, you will know that the hymen has become a very confusing part of girls’ lives. If your hymen is still intact, your parents love you for it don’t they? Its like a source of pride for them that this teenaged daughter of theirs fear their wrath more than they ever feared the ridicule that most of their peers would shower on them for their lack of sexual experience.
I know a family that sent their daughter to a hospital for a checkup every time she returned from university for break. Why? Just to make sure her hymen was safe and sound! When I was in my third year of junior secondary school, a teacher (male by the way) actually asked me if I was still a virgin, I was so shocked and intimidated by this authority figure that stood imposingly over my desk and volleyed questions about my sexual life (or lack of) that I actually answered the questions. I won’t lie to you, I ran out of there faster than a bat out of hell the minute the conversation began to get even weirder.
The other side to this coin is the effect of the hymen’s presence on the girl’s peers, teens are ridiculously mean and there really are no shortage of jokes to be made at the expense of the girl who guards her hymen like the entrance to a medieval castle.
Most girls try to get the best of both worlds by doing stuffwith guys, by stuff I mean any and everything but actual intercourse. I am not justifying anything now, but wouldn’t it be easier to leave all that pressure alone? I had a classmate whose parents played it so smart, I couldn’t help but applaud. They told her when she hit puberty that they had nothing against her dating but that they wanted to meet the boy before she started dating him. What did they do here you ask? They effectively removed one of the reasons that young Nigerian girls start dating from her; the thrill of doing something you know that your parents wouldn’t approve of.
In honour of the hymen, one thing that all women at one point in time would have in common with another, I say don’t be pressured into anything. If we stop slut shaming and victim shaming, looking down on people because they do or don’t have a hymen, thats one less problem for victims and even non victims of rape.
Written by: Funmi Makinde