NCBI ROFL: A girl thing: perceptions concerning the word "hymen" among young Swedish women and men.

By ncbi rofl | May 27, 2011 7:00 pm

“Introduction: This study investigated, from a gender perspective, perceptions concerning the word “hymen” among students in a Swedish senior high school. Methods: Students answered an open-ended question: What do you think about when you hear the word hymen? The answers were analyzed by using content analysis. Results: In total, 198 students, aged 17 to 18 years, answered the question. The theme “a fragile biological structure in the female body” described how the vast majority of the girls and 57% of the boys associated the hymen with a thin membrane that breaks during first vaginal intercourse. The theme “a symbol and manifestation of feminine virginity” described the symbolic meanings of having or not having a hymen. The theme “questioning the existence of the hymen” revealed the doubts that some had about its existence. Discussion: Most of the students associated the hymen with a breakable membrane. This is problematic. It may lead to misunderstandings about virginity or about bleeding during sexual intercourse. Changing these views about the hymen is important to correct such misunderstanding but may be a significant challenge. In modern medical discourse, in health care, and in popular speech, there are few discussions about the hymen as a social construct, indicating that more gender research concerning hymen-related issues is needed.”

Photo: flickr/Editor B

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  • Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Poor Victor of 1984, now a symbol of high schools everywhere. =D

    The central point is perhaps “discussions about the hymen as a social construct”. I don’t know how the discussion started. (Btw, the problem raised by modern actual and social influx of sexual organ part amputees or demand on such procedure should be another factor.)

    But as of 2009, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education publicly introduced a new terminology for hymen.

    It can be roughly translated as “vaginal wreath” (or perhaps “sheath wreath” unless that is tacky english), claimed to be combining intimacy with a positively charged word. The purpose is to get away from the idea of a (non-existent) membrane to the actual biology of an annulus of mucous membranes.

  • Krish

    Not related. But have you seen this: ?


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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