“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Friday, May 27, 2011

Margie Ferguson on the Hymen: UCD Lecture 2

(Given that five hundred years later, almost everyone is affected by the actions of those in the Renaissance, to study it is highly important.)

Hymens remain off the radar. Medical practices that are performed for money today found their origin in the Renaissance. Hymenoplasty at e.g. 247surgery.com. “The tearing of the hymen makes a virgin turn into a woman.” Whoah. (And there are many other terrible lines, wow.) “Sometimes the hymen ruptures through excessive physical activities, like sports ... the use of tampons ... Whatever the reason a girl may want her hymen restored.”

Hymenorrhaphy: to sew of stitch together the hymen, to cause bleeding on wedding night and give evidence of the girl's virginity. Some surgeons put in a gelatin capsule of fake blood (!). It can cost anything from $29 (in China) to $4500.

Or hymen operations often involve infibulation: to clasp with a brooch ... “female circumcision,” FGM. Names matter in conceptualizing and valuing these procedures.

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