Friday, December 16, 2005

Not a Feminist

As I've said in my 'Feminist of the Day' posts, I believe that feminism is a broad church. If someone identifies as feminist I probably won't argue with them. Unless they're actively working to restrict women's rights, or they're in some position of power.

Well it may not be as broad as I thought, because I've just found a hard limit, and I don't even know how to describe it. Amanda at Pandagon linked to an incredibly creepy article*:

For her 17th wedding anniversay Jeanette Yarborough wanted to do something special for her husband. In addition to planning a hotel getaway for the weekend, Ms. Yarborough paid a surgeon $5,000 to reattach her hymen, making her appear to be a virgin again.

"It's the ultimate gift for the man who has everything," says Ms. Yarborough...
Then they talk to the woman who performs the surgery:
Ridgewood's Ms. Vanegas concedes her business is based on deception. But she says hymen repair is no different than other cosmetic procedures -- from waxing to Botox injections -- that women use to impress men.

"I'm a feminist," Ms. Vanegas says, "but there's a need for this and someone has to provide it."
OK, no. She's not a feminist. Her job is to perform surgery on women's vagina. The effect of this surger is to make sex more painful and unpleasant for the woman, and it is justified because the woman's partner will like it more that way (which is a whole nother category of ewwwwwwww). It's not unreasonable to assume Ms Vanegas has got choices. If she was a feminist she wouldn't be choosing to do this to other women's bodies for money.

Plus that's obviously a new definition of the word 'need' that I wasn't previously aware of.

Even though, as far as I know, we don't have any dedicated hymen reattachers in New Zealand - we've got nothing to be smug about. One of the women in my friend's prenatal class was being stiched up after giving birth and as the doctor did the last stich he turned to her partner and said 'this one's for you.'

My brain has still refused to process that story - I metaphorically cover my ears and go "I'm not listening" every time I think about it.

* This follows a trend I've noticed a lot of blaming women for 'tricking' men with cosmetic products. There have been a couple of articles that took that line in the Sunday Star Times supplement, example. I think I'll write a longer post about how yet again it shows that women can't win next time I see one.


  1. Up until the last few years Hyemn reattachement was the most common cosmetic surgery in Korea. It's still very popular, but has been over taken by people wanting the double eyelid surgery (which is a common gift for girls when the graduate high school).

  2. Anonymous11:34 pm

    this may be a bit off the radar but it has sort of been on this site before; is the narnia white witch a feminist?

    this is a serious question, she was such a killer character.

    (the one in the film, not the one in the book).
    Biggy for me this, first time ever a charater in a movie has topped my mind pictures that came with reading.

  3. Anonymous10:33 am

    This surgery is also very popular in Japan. In fact, you can buy fake hymen that you can, um, attach, yourself. Fucking ew. Eyelid surgery and breast enhancements are also very popular. Fucking scary.

  4. i have to say, as a woman who often reads women's mags and thus finds herself involuntarily thinking from time to time about certain cosmetic procedures, this one had never crossed my mind.

    suse said it
    "fucking ew"

    how does this compare to female genital mutilation?

  5. It doesn't compare to genital mutilation. While decidedly squicky, it is presumably consensual, and shouldn't cause significant lasting damage. It becomes a problem when a woman is being pressured in to getting it done, but that applies to any cosmetic surgery, and I don't think this is objectively worse than any other surgery.

  6. Do you mean any form of surgery, or any form of cosmetic surgery? Because I think there are many differences between a hymen replacement and a hip replacement.

    I do think it's worse, even than other forms of cosmetic surgery, because it reveals a particularly fucked up attitude towards women's bodies. In particular the idea that your sexuality belongs to someone else. There are a lot of things under capitalism that people do consensually, but the choices are constrained and created by the world we live in.