When Radio Netherlands broadcasted an Arabic translation of the Artificial Virginity Hymen kit, when Youm7 newspaper announced that the product will be available on the Egyptian market for LE 83, when conservative parliament members in Egypted wanted the product banned and any exporter exiled or beheaded, and when it caused such an uproar in the Egyptian blogosphere, Mohamed Al Rahhal just had to buy one.
As he went to retrieve his package at the post office:
it had been opened by various puzzled customs and postal employees who, at a loss, defined the product in writing as “containing an unknown red liquid” – and awaited my description.
He told them it was “cinematographic make-up” and took the item home:
Such is the “hymen”: a 5x7cm folded piece of plastic – of albumin, the notice promptly corrects me – covered on one side by dark red ink. Placed in the vagina before sex, the plastic hardens slightly, and rips upon intercourse. A few drops of “blood” will stain the sheets, preserving the woman's, her family's, or society's “honour”.
Whether it does actually work or not I cannot answer. The complete absence of medical information on the product, as well as online accusations that this product can cause infections, made me unwilling to give it to a volunteer to test.
Mona El Tahawy did not like how Egyptians were hot and bothered over fake hymensWith all the troubles Egypt faces these days — spiralling cost of living, a president in power for 28 years whose son looks likely to succeed him, etc. — why all the fuss over hymens, real or fake?
Welcome to the hypocrisy and denial that together drum at the heart of conservative religious views on women and chastity. And in the case of Egypt, that conservatism applies equally to Muslims and Christians.
As a Muslim, I know the Qur’an preaches chastity for men and women, but the conservative obsession with women means only females are expected to abide by the prohibition on extramarital sex. This obsession with virginity is shallow at best and deadly at worst.
Mohamed El Rahhal strongly condemns:
the hypocrisy that allows us to discriminate against 50% of the society while giving a free pass to the other half. I am against forcing women to go such lengths, sometimes endangering their health, to allow us to delay a long-awaited national moratorium on gender relations.
Morality is worst interpreted by anatomy. And if we're waiting upon a small piece of plastic to define morality, then we've already failed – and ought to find a better definition.