Anticipating Hanne Blank’s new book
Hanne Blank has been working on a book about virginity for a couple of years at least. Her history of virginity in Western culture is due this year and I’ll be badgering my library about it as soon as it has an ISBN. The synopsis on her website looks thorough and entertaining, and this interview at Scarleteen contains the best explanation of what hymens have to do with virginity that I’ve ever read. Awesome.
Years ago, I remember Hanne collecting articles and perspectives from women about virginity, because she emailed me after reading my page about all the virginity-related lies and technicalities I invented in my teen years. Being a virgin was really painful for me. I fucking hated being a latebloomer. I had a lot of “I’m a virgin, but...” excuses. (I think I finally got over it when I fessed up that they were all pretend.)
It seems to be pretty common to get sick of being a virgin and start feeling rejected and embarrassed about it, and to get teased about it. I think it’s really strange that this is not a topic that is usually raised in discussions about virginity, considering the number of movies about the importance of losing it and the losers who don’t. I see a lot more books and articles about the shame and angst of having sex without the blessings of church and state than I see about the shame of not having sex on time or at all.
Books about celibacy usually cover all the angst about virgins and spinsters in the first chapter or even the subtitle, but books about virginity tend to focus on unreasonably strict standards for purity and all the people who have failed to meet them. I find this curious, especially since modern virgin angst looks exactly the same as the historical angst of unmarried women (where unmarried women were officially virgins). People have been embarrassed about perceived sexual rejection forever.
So I’m curious to see whether one of my little pet topics makes an appearance in Virgin: The Untouched History. The synopsis doesn’t give much hope. I suppose I could just email Ms. Blank, but since I’m going to read the book anyway I think I’ll just wait and see.
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