Friday, February 02, 2007
Becoming a Virgin: Part Two
Al Arabeya reports, that for $ 2800, an Arab woman in Dubai about to get married can get her hymen reconstructed and she becomes a brand new virgin who will please her husband on their wedding night. The procedure takes only 90 minutes (a longish lunch break). There are two kinds: one is temporary, which a woman does a couple of days before the wedding, and one is more permanent (maybe they use leather patches or something more durable).
Predictably, the laws in the United Arab Emirates outlaw such procedures for unmarried women unless a guardian is present. They are legal for married women, some of whom, as I posted earlier, are submitting to them to please the husbands and as part of their sex play acting. It's criminalized in the first case, and considered a private affair and "plastic surgery" in the second. I call this patriarchal consistency.
In both cases, the woman is doing it to please the man and to protect herself. If the unmarried woman is found not to be a virgin (i.e. doesn't bleed on the wedding night), she will be rejected, disgraced, and even physically hurt. As to the married woman, pleasing her husband sexually by becoming a virgin again protects her from the threat of divorce, a younger second wife, or just good old- fashioned humiliation.
Obviously, the laws are there to protect the man's interest: they assume that the woman is the man's property and they assume the man wants a virgin. He's buying a thing (a car, a TV, a pair of socks) and he wants to make sure his object is brand new, not used. If he's married, it's assumed that it's his right to ask his wife to make her body attractive for his own consumption.
What freaks out men is that they can never be sure if a woman is a virgin. Even freakier is that a woman can have extensive sexual experience--and I really mean extensive-- and still remain a virgin. Oh, please don't act shocked!
Poor men! (i.e. serves them right!) This is one reason some of them prefer younger girls--the younger the better-- when it comes to marriage. There are fewer risk factors marrying a 14 year old. But you can never be sure. So maybe a 10-year-old is more guaranteed?
The short of it, men will continue to keep coming up with laws to control women's bodies, and women will continue to find ways to get around these laws. This will stop only when men stop regarding women's bodies as their own to exchange (between father and husband) and to possess. For men to do that, they need to start looking at women as humans and not vaginas.
Speaking of virginal girls, Arab pop culture is doing its share perpetuating this fetish. Some women performers, like Haifa Wahbi and Maria, combine the sex pot image with a "girlie" image thus offering a whore/virgin combo for male consumption. So in Haifa's case, you have the exaggerated sexy features on the one hand (the puffed up boobs, butt, lips) but you also have her trade-mark girlish voice and giggle. Making her appear in videos with kids in them (as in her infamous "bous el wawa" and having her sing kids' songs (as in her new song "Naughty") is another attempt at "virginizing her by association" sort of thing (people rightly criticized the video for its use of kids, but nothing is said about it's infantalizing of women). Maria is even less subtle about it as you can see from the pictures below. At the risk of noting the obvious, oral fixation seems to be a prominent theme in all these images of sexy "girls."