Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sex, Virginity and the Law...



Reading the news from around the world can be troubling, but it's a necessary part of examining what we believe. I read a story about a case in France that frankly made me want to throw up into my morning coffee. Here's a summary of the latest news from that case taken off the AP wire. The bracketed comments are my own.

A French court overturned an order annulling the marriage of a Muslim woman accused of lying about being a virgin on Thursday, pending a ruling on appeal expected in September. (It shouldn't have made the mistake in the first place)

The decision adds a further twist to a case that has caused legal confusion and controversy in France.

The marriage was originally annulled last month after a court ruled that the woman had lied over what is called in French law an "essential quality", in this case her virginity. It ruled that the marriage contract was therefore invalid. (This is abominable, and to think it happened in 'secular' France scares the crap out of me)

That ruling was greeted with outrage by feminists and human rights activists shocked that virginity could be considered an "essential quality". (You think?) Some politicians said they were worried that conservative Muslim values were creeping into French law. (No kidding)

The public prosecutor, acting under instructions from the justice ministry, appealed against the ruling, despite objections from the woman in the case, who wanted the marriage to be ended. (This is the sad part of the case, as we worry what will happen to the woman. However, they simply can not let this ruling stand. And I'm glad she wants the marriage to end. If I could talk to her, I would say two things: 1. My friend, you can do better than that jerk and... 2. What were you thinking?)

Thursday's ruling means that the marriage is once again in force until the appeal court rules on Sept. 22. The appeals court could decide that the annulment order should not stand and force the couple to seek a divorce.

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Before you start wondering why I'm so upset, I want you to think about what the initial ruling actually implied. Imagine your daughter or sister or your friend. She gets married. The husband thinks she is not a virgin because she doesn't bleed on the bed. (Biology 101. A broken hymen indicates nothing when it comes to sex. The hymen can easily be broken through sports or any other sort of activity. I hesitate to even mention that because even mentioning it feels wrong, as if it matters whether to the value of a woman whether she is a virgin or not. By the way, where's the test for the men? Oh, that's right... there isn't one.)

Now your new brother-in-law "discovers" on the wedding night that your sister, in his dull, ignorant mind, is not a virgin. He storms out of the wedding celebrations and brings your sister/friend home and drops her off like a piece of garbage. He then goes to the courts and THEY AGREE WITH HIM?!

In this scenario, the woman is no better than a slave, a piece of meat. The idea of a 'virginity test' is nothing more than misogynistic hate towards women. Anyone who sees it otherwise, I'm afraid, is the one who would be quite comfortable running their own plantation. Despicable.

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The other aspect to this case is that the court's original decision would have encouraged the already flourishing medical trade in 'hymen reparation'. For those of you who are unaware, there has been a surge of 'hymen reparation' or hymenoplasty from young Islamic women around the world. In this surgery, the doctors essentially sew up the hymen. One surgeon even gives the young women a vial of blood to pour onto the bed, just in case. Gynecologists in Paris report women coming to them for certificates of virginity, and medical tourist packages take women to places such as Tunisia where the surgery is cheaper.

Now I know it sounds absurd for us to even consider that happening in Canada or the U. S., but consider the "abstinence again" campaigns down in the States. A woman 'reclaims' her virginity and dedicates herself to a life of 'purity.' Or how about the creepy Father-Daughter purity balls. Everyone's dressed up like prom goers, the dads in tuxes and the daughters in evening gowns looking all grown up. They dance, they laugh, they giggle. And then father and daughter stand up, holding each others hands, staring into each others' eyes and the girls make these vows as if in a wedding ceremony. (So exactly what are they pledging, you ask?) Here's one example? The girl starts.

"I pledge to remain sexually pure...until the day I give myself as a wedding gift to my husband. ... I know that God requires this of me.. that he loves me. and that he will reward me for my faithfulness. "

And this is what Daddy says in turn:

"I, (daughter's name)'s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come."

This is a fairly common evangelical practice in the U.S. and you can't hear the echoes of 'hymen replacement' from those 'crazy Islamo-Fascists', you should. In both cases we see control clearly in the hands of men, and in the case of the father-daughter purity balls, a little too much incestual contact for my liking. Or as one writer put it:

"To value one’s daughter primarily through proudly talking about the untouched state of her genitals is prurient and invasive. It is demeaning to teach one’s daughter she is a princess only so long as she is obedient and non-sexual. When a girl’s value is tied soley to the presence or absence of her hymen, how can anyone call that a sign of fatherly concern and love?"

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On a much lighter note, the summer is here, and the abundance of women wearing tight shirts and plunging necklines is back up to summer levels. (Which means 1 out of 2 women) I'd like to say that as a firm believer in, err, women's rights, I happily support their decision to wear whatever they like. So long as THEY know what they are wearing and the affect on the rest of the umm, sometimes slower part of the species.

Case in point. I was standing outside Starbucks talking to an acquaintance when this woman, who was in good shape and about 30, wiggled past us in her heels and plunging v-neck. My friend accidentally turned, forgot to prepare himself, and jerked his head downward in a rather, umm, unsubtle nod as a testament to the woman's err, continuing expertise in the area of self-maintenance. (And perhaps a nod towards her fashion sense as well) She noticed the awkward head bob, and scowled at him through her sunglasses for the next five seconds as she strolled past us. For a second I thought she was going to stop and bop him with her glittering Louis Vachon purse. (I'd be bravely defending him of course, by taking the opportunity to tie my shoes.)

Okay, so this is my comment. Ladies, we men do the best we can in the summer. I think it's only fair that if a man slips up and his eyes drop a little when you put on that extra tiny t-shirt that you cut him some slack. Most of us, like my acquaintance, are not Neanderthals. We probably find you attractive and are horrified by our impoliteness. Fair to say I think, that we're not objectifying you, just admiring the way God made you, and as long as the effort is there, please cut us some slack. If you choose to wear that top (God bless you) you have to know we notice, and so I think you lose the right to scowl on the innocent slip-ups. :) (Some guys are pigs. I get that. In which case I say clobber him with the Louis Vachon purse.)

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Louis Vachon is not a designer. I know that. Vachon makes those pastry cakes I love, which would be great if I could carry a purse stuffed with cake...

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Sex is not dirty.

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I don't have a purse.

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I'll have another column up in a couple of days, folks. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Remember to smile and hug someone this weekend. We only go around this planet once.

-Steve