Despite all the education and experience, most grooms in India still seek virgin brides, thus deeming chastity as a quality. In fact, virginity remains a big obsession in our country, where culture conditions us into believing that it is synonymous with purity, integrity and a correct upbringing. Curiously, this mandate isn’t applicable to boys in our country. Sex before marriage among men is fun, but for women it is something which could cost you a lot more than a matrimonial prospect. Because women are born with a “sealed” uterus at birth and men aren’t.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • A Kolkata-based professor is under fire for comparing virgin brides to a sealed bottle of aerated beverages.
  • Virgin brides are still a big obsession among men in our country.
  • Many people pin qualities like purity, values, integrity and obedience on something as fragile as a woman’s hymen.
  • It may or may not bother many men that their brides aren’t virgins. But it matters.

Sex before marriage among men is fun but for women it is something which could cost you a lot more than a matrimonial prospect. Because women are born with a “sealed” uterus at birth and men aren’t.

A Kolkata-based professor is under fire for comparing virgin brides to a sealed bottle of aerated beverages. In his now deleted social media post, he said, “Are you willing to buy a broken seal while purchasing a bottle of aerated beverages or a packet of biscuits?” According to India Today, Kanak Sarkar, who has more than 20 years of teaching experience and a doctorate, also said in his post that boys remain such fools that they are not aware of the benefit of having a virgin girl as a wife. “A girl is born sealed from birth until it is opened… A virgin girl means many things accompanied with values, culture, and sexual hygiene.”

Sarkar’s argument is not only exasperating to read in 2019, it is disturbing. He comes across as a narrow-minded man, for whom women are as human as a packet of biscuits or a bottle of Cola. His comments show us just why many Indian girls have to hide their pre-marital love life from their life-partners, for their entire lives. Why many live in constant fear of being outed as a polluted or immoral, all because Indian men and culture are obsessed with female chastity. A chaste bride is by default pious, nice, adarsh and flag-bearer of culture.

By Sarkar’s impeccable logic, the onus of maintaining sexual hygiene isn’t on men, or on responsibly using protection during intercourse. It is on the practice of abstinence before marriage among women.

Indian men are insecure when it comes to female sexuality. For them women are as good as their bodies. A young woman is desirable, a well-endowed woman is sexy. But when it comes to matrimony, only a chaste woman will do, because it signifies that she has never been touched by another man. Men still see brides as objects, a locked property to which they must have exclusive and first-time access. The fetishization of virginity among Indian men speaks so much about how they asses brides on the basis of their sexual experience or inexperience, and not their qualities. This is one of the reasons why we struggle to find equality in marriage.

How can you expect a partner to treat you as his equal? When he doesn’t even have the same rules for you as he has for his gender, when it comes to basic desires such as sex and love?

The obsession with virgin brides exists even in this day and age, among urban and rural men alike. This question is around the corner for most brides, during the courtship days preceding the big day. But while many men are accepting of a partner with a past today, but do they do it happily? So while it may or may not bother many men that their brides aren’t virgins, it matters. And for the sake of matrimonial harmony, many women choose to lie.

The surge in popularity of hymen reconstruction surgeries tells us why. Men have this fascination with invading women’s bodies. Of marking conquests as if a virgin vagina is some uncharted land which they can proclaim as their own. Which they can label as their property, thus giving them bragging rights.  This obsession with chastity is also the reason why many people see rape survivors as “damaged goods” in our society. Despite having all the values and dignity this world has to offer, many such women fail to find suitable prospects, to no fault of their own. It is people like Sarkar, who make it difficult for rape survivors to live a life of dignity or find grooms. For them, as soon as you rip the packing of virginity, a woman becomes unclean and immoral.

Women’s virtues are not as delicate or disposable as their hymens, if only men could keep their egos and fetishes aside and stop pinning women’s worth on their virginity, to see that.

Picture Credit: Independent Co.UK

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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