So, this is cool: Scientists are growing vaginas in a lab made from patients' vulvar tissue. This is a big deal for women with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, a rare genetic condition in which the vagina and uterus either underdevelop or fail to develop at all. It's so far been tested on four teenagers, ages 13 to 18 at the time of their surgery, and all are now reporting full function and good sexual sensation. Although the article doesn't mention it, I wonder how this could work for trans women, who would presumably need to get donated starter cells. Cory Silverberg explains some of the fascinating science here.
I was particularly interested in this because of a really great V-Card Diaries submission we received a while back from Erinn, who has MRKH, and wrote about rethinking her definition of virginity loss if she had no vagina.
Rape Culture grows right out of Virginity Culture, which gives women no sexual autonomy, sees their bodies as the property of men, but also tells them they are responsible for any sexual activity directed at them, including sexual assault.
The latest Rape Culture scandal erupted at American University with the release of emails between member of psuedo-frat Epsilon Iota. Click through for some of the 70 conversations reported by Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel, but please consider it completely covered with trigger warnings. The unrelenting tidal wave of casual talk about raping 'bitches' at our colleges is sickening and overwhelming. What the f**k is wrong with these guys????
It's hard to be a dedicated rape-culture denier when shit like this pops up on such a regular basis. And yet they're out full force telling The Fratergate AU that they're picking on poor innocent frat boys. The curators of this blog are trying to force AU to deal with the situation and take disciplinary action against the frat. They're doing a good job remaining calm in the face of all the frat-boys-will-be-frat-boys commentary.
In other depressing news (with more trigger warnings), Cambodia's 'Virginity' trade is what happens when extreme poverty, male power and myths about virgins collide. Marie Claire wrote about the deeply disturbing reality of parents selling their young daughters to brothels due to economic hardship, something happening all over Asia.
"The virgin trade thrives partly due to a cultural myth. "Many older Asian men believe sex with virgins gives them magical powers to stay young and prevent illness," she explains. "There is an endless number of destitute families for the trade to prey on, and the rule of law is very weak." Human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and the buying and selling of sex are illegal in Cambodia. However, because of official corruption and substandard police resources, no one has ever been convicted of purchasing virgins in Cambodia's courts."
The Atlantic wrote a story about later-life virginity loss. I'm glad 'older virginity' is being discussed, but it still focused too much on one P-in-V moment instead of a pretty long and diverse process of becoming sexual. Not counting anything before intercourse is really narrow, especially because it's not the way lots of people have sex. But it's so hard to change deeply-ingrained ideas about what 'counts.' Also most of the subjects were religious, furthering that older-virgin myth as well.
In our film, Shelby Knox talks about her pastor's abstinence classes and being told having sex before marriage makes you a dirty toothbrush (prospective husbands supposedly wanting their toothbrushes, and vaginas, sealed in their orginial packaging.) Amanda Hess writes about the flawed internal logic of this handy Abstinence Parlor Trick of comparing a girl's sexuality to all sorts of chewed-up things:
Passing around a piece of chocolate is an evocative image, but it doesn’t ultimately make much sense as a sexual metaphor. Sure, nobody wants to eat a dirty piece of candy, but why is anyone passing around an unwrapped chocolate anyway? You just eat it, and then it’s gone, so I’m not sure what the problem is.
And clean toothbrushes are great, but do you really want to use that same toothbrush for the rest of your life? Doctors recommend replacing it every three to four months. And about that pristine stick of gum we keep hearing about: If having sex with a woman leaves her like a chewed-up gob of polymer, why would you ever want to have sex with a woman more than one time, ever? Much less marry her? Marriage sounds disgusting!
Sexist, unscientific and scare-mongering curriculums of this kind have been adopted by 60% of Mississippi schools.
For some much-needed comic relief and palate-cleansing, watch this really funny monologue by Julia Sweeney about talking to her young daughter about sex.