Monday, October 12, 2009

Artificial Virginity Sold to Egypt

This is a story that we were asked to write up in a news exercise. I particularly chose this story as it raises many debates and issues about Egypt and the double standards that live in our society.

Thursday 8th of October:

"Virginity Faking Device Stirs Controversy in Egypt

A Chinese-made device enabling women to fake their virginity could be banned if Conservative Egyptian politicians succeed in their campaign.

Sheikh Sayed Askar, a member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood who is on the parliamentary committee on religious affairs, told the Daily News Egypt that the government must take responsibility for fighting the product to uphold Egyptian and Arab values.

The Artificial Virginity Hymen kit distributed by the Chinese company Gigimo and advertised for export to the Middle East costs around $30 (£19). The product simulates virginity by leaking a blood-like substance when inserted and broken.

Reports say the device is intended to help newly-married women fool their husbands into believing they are virgins, an essential marriage requirement for women in much of the Middle East.

The kit is also seen as a cheap and easier alternative to hymen repair surgery which is secretly carried out by some clinics in the Middle East.

The anger over the device raises many questions about Egyptian society that condemns pre-martial sex despite it happening commonly.

Lina Samaan, an accountant quoted by the Los Angeles Times, said this debate raises many questions about the double standards that often apply to women in Egypt.

"Sex is a right for every woman but unfortunately we started turning to products like these because men - even non-religious ones who have sex before marriage - wouldn't marry a girl if she's not virgin."


Clearly, there is a problem. The issue here at hand is not whether the product should be banned but rather questioning its existence. Did people lose their mind and became so shallow on lack principles that women need a product like this? What does it say about our culture? We are so wrapped with double standards that a Chinese company is selling us this product to make our lives easier. I wonder how they knew this product would appeal to so many women because if it was not that appealing then no controversy would have surrounded the virginity kit. I am just so surprised by the lack of principles this product creates. I have many opinions about this or I should say many points.

First of all, as romantic as this could sound but Virginity is not something that can be faked, people did you forget the whole meaning of it? This post should also be called "the controversial piece of fabric" (i.e my previous post a month ago). What happened to our mind us women, you men, that a simple piece of skin makes you lose your principles. How can a woman vows to marry a man basing her fist intimate symbolic moment on a lie that she is a virgin. I cannot imagine myself spending the rest of my life with a person and hiding one of the most important aspect of my life (yes it is important we should not be afraid to accept that sexuality is important).

Women who resort to this have issues but sadly it is not their fault, the society is at fault men are at fault. Because women cannot be accepted as sexual being outside and inside of their marriage. Still just because men and I confidently say most Egyptians men think that a girl who is not a virgin is not worth marrying does not justify lying and drowning yourself in those dark ages ideas because by faking the virginity those women are promoting those stupid thoughts. We women say that our submissive situation is like this because men are in power, because a man can do whatever he wants but a woman can't, the society sets the rules etc... but do you think that by doing this you are protecting yourself?

By letting products like this invade our minds and brain wash our thoughts we are just letting the society win, the society that dictates how we should behave, think, and live, this society that causes for so many of us women to fall into depression and live miserable life.

Virginity is an important issue in our societies and I agree it is important as it is important to any woman in the world. But judging a woman by a piece of skin is just becoming so sad. It is such a big debate because we should not forget to mention that it deals with religion and the Arab world lives under the principles of Islam. But I will not go into that as my points of view about religion only concern me and God. If someone really has faith and truly believes in God and wants to follow religion then let him follow it right. Whatever it means for this person to follow it right, as long as there are no Chinese products to hide the true nature and needs of this person.


nomoore said...

Randa, it's such a warp reading this article. You really shook me up with this one and my mind has been spinning since. Guess that means you're doing your job then, yes? Good job, journalist extraordinaire! I had to put in my two cents... couldn't help myself...

Although I can see the religious context here, I'm drowning in the blatant hypocrisy. Look, I don't pretend to be an expert on Egyptian and Arab values but this is the same story all over the world. Sitting on my side of the gender divide, the debate over the virginity "value" is absurd. I’ve never heard any vehement reactions about the spoiling of men's virginity so tell me how much stock can a woman place in this value given that it's not rational, not fair, not equally applied, and inherently discriminatory?

Now, here’s the issue that’s cementing wrinkles on my forehead. While it appears from this article that in Egypt (putting hypocrisy aside for a second), losing your virginity before marriage is the floor (standard, one-shot, no questions asked), on my turf women should aim to strike the right point between virginity and promiscuity on the experience scale. I "learned" yesterday that it’s common knowledge that if some guy asks you how many sexual partners you've had (or maybe it was, how many times you'd had sex) and you respond "three," the guy will immediately think you're lying, regardless of whether it's true or not. Seriously?! Who comes up with this stuff? One thing has proven consistent in any US community I’ve inhabited: virginity raises more questions than promiscuity. Some may even consider it closer to frowned upon than celebrated. Can’t say that I’m sure about that one. I don’t know that it’s poo-poo-ed as much as it is just unfathomable for many people my age to imagine that virginity exists beyond undergrad ed because every time we turn on the news, reports abound that the average age of sexually active girls is tanking (boys too but no one’s concerned about that, obviously). Soon enough, infants will be hooking up in the sandbox.

With the varying requirements out there (chains from any angle), it’s not surprising that women go crazy over this sexuality standard that’s been forced upon them (us, I guess… must admit it’s hard to lump myself into a bucket under a “standard” I don’t subscribe to). Internally, it has them fighting against human nature and then externally facing another human judge (a man) to whom the same standard doesn’t apply. It’s even less surprising that they try to live up to the immense pressure by ANY means necessary including this product. Sad, really Randa, but nothing bites like reality and reality says that where there’s demand, there’s supply; and where that model exists, some genius (twisted genius in this case) will exploit it. This Chinese company will make bank in Egypt. The same is true in the US for a million authors, mathematicians, actuarial scientists, psychiatrists and whoever else can come up with the appropriate formula for the right number of times and partners one should have had sex with in order to snag the boyfriend and the groom-to-be.

In an ideal world, we'd set our own standards and morality - assuming that morality's compass is more personal than universal - would be our guide. Unfortunately societal pressures do exist and they affect some greater than others. Oh that word, "values"... when I read that word in the article, I felt bad for the concept. It's on its last legs and I fear that its use is wearing thin as espoused "values" (as shown in this case) are being suffocated by pervasive hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Really controversial issue. But I completly follow you,and I am wondering about this question: Do a woman should be able to feel herself free when she is speaking about sexuality? Of course, will be my answer!

I don't think that this new "product" will clearly help women. If it's helping that just for a short moment, but in long term time it's just making the thing worse.
To accept to sale this "new hymen" means, in my point of view,to accept to feel ashamed about previous relionship and avoid all possibilities to start a new relationship based on Trust ( as you noticed).
Beside it, the religious pressures exist and belong to social morality, what is not unchangeable. So many examples in History already proved that with making contests and refusing to accept our comtemporary reality we can manage to create a new way of thinking. Even if I am born in a country where female rights are now respected, I still know that it is thanks to the women years ago struggling to obtain it.
That a passionating topic that you are writing about, and so difficult to deal with when you have to live under this kind of pressure.
Anyway, I think, it's sometimes important to have her own ideology, and your thoughts push us to find our own position face to this issue.

Asmaa said...

yasmine k said...

Way to go baby! je suis impressionee big time!
I guess the issue has been debated since ever, I think the real issue at hand here is the position of women vis a vis their "virginity" and sexuality in general. If a woman reffuses to be defined as a "sexual being" (although we are all sexual beings at the end of the day) and wishes to be attributed such words as "untouched", "pure" and "innocent"; words she has been internalizing ever since she was born as a "female", words she is seeking to attain (even if subconsciously)and make her own, the status of women is not amenable to change. Since when does "virginity" signify innocence or good manners? People really need to start demystiying their fallacious and naive type of thinking.
As human beings we often tend to disreguard what we do in order to fuel such stereotypes. As women, we need to take a firmer stand regarding this sensitive yet crucial issue; not only for our generation but for the ones which will follow.
Many things are at hand when talking about virginity. Religion, future partners, intimacy, pregnancy, diseases, culture.... you name it. One needs to start looking at each one of these components in an objective manner. Sex is something we will all experience (Hopefully) and it is the source of mankind; when is the right timing is different from one person to another, it is something personal that is not open to discussion, criticism or judgement.

Tu me manque doudou xx