The ‘virginity myth’, the myth of the hymen, is repeatedly used to limit the way in which women can envisage and express their private and sexual lives.
The pre-marital virginity of young women continues to be crucial to the honour of patriarchal family structures. Up until today, only few people know that medically, virginity is almost undetectable based on the hymen. However, in an effort to test or prove their daughter’s pre-marital virginity, some families require to see a bloodstained sheet after the wedding night. Due to the great social pressure that is applied, there is an increasing demand for so-called ‘hymen reconstruction surgery’. These operations are not only life threatening and expensive, but they also cannot guarantee bleeding during the first sexual intercourse. Most importantly, they sustain the virginity myth.
In addition the Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology (HU Berlin) has put together a series of films about sex research with the famous sexologist Prof. Dr. Erwin J. Haeberle.
In order to spread information about the medical facts on virginity TERRE DES FEMMES has run a series of awareness raising campaigns, events and press conferences.
We have called on several federal states to include the topic of virginity in their sexual education syllabus and we received the first positive feedback from the federal ministries of education and cultural affairs at the end of last year.
In cooperation with 'pro familia Berlin' and the family planning centre 'Balance' we have put together an information flyer and a brochure about 'virginity' for teenagers. Financed by the Federal Centre for Health Education, this information has been distributed nationwide.