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'No Seal, No Deal' Protest: Who Gave You Right To Control Women's Autonomy?

A disturbing video shows a group of men engaging in a 'No Seal, No Deal' protest centring around the notion that a woman's virginity, symbolised by her "seal," is a prerequisite for a successful marriage.

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Oshi Saxena
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In a recent video that surfaced on social media, a group of men is seen protesting with a banner that reads, 'No seal, no deal,' claiming that a woman's virginity is the sole criterion for marriage, implying that only a virgin woman is pure enough to carry forward a man's lineage. Sadly, the justification behind this archaic belief is rooted in the concept of "male micro-chimerism," stating that a woman who has been with multiple partners retains genetic data from each, affecting her future children.  But behind the bold banners and impassioned cries lies a deeply entrenched belief system that speaks volumes about societal attitudes towards women, sexuality, and purity.

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However, a closer examination of this protest reveals not just a misinformed perspective on women's anatomy but a blatant disregard for women's autonomy. The primary question that arises is: Who bestowed upon these men the authority to dictate the purity of a woman based on outdated and scientifically inaccurate beliefs?

The Fallacy Of The 'No Seal, No Deal' Protest

The video surfaced along with an X/post on Twitter showcasing a group of men taking to the streets with a perplexing protest chant: "No seal, no deal." Their message seems rooted in the archaic notion that a woman's virginity, her'seal,' is the sole criteria for a successful marriage.

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As perplexing as it may seem, the protest, as articulated in the accompanying post, attempts to justify this stance through a concept called "male micro-chimerism." According to the post, the sperm acts as a container for genetic information passed from father to child. The claim is that a woman who engages in sexual activity with multiple partners accumulates genetic data from each, leading to what they term "male micro-chimerism." This, they argue, can influence the behaviour of her future children, presenting a convoluted rationale for their protest. The underlying assertion is that marrying a woman with a 'seal' intact is essential to prevent the pollution of the family lineage. 

However, the recent demonstration goes far beyond mere misinformation; it reveals a disturbing lack of understanding of women's anatomy and autonomy. The protesters advocate for a narrative that idealizes the virgin woman while deeming sexually active women as impure and unfit for the institution of marriage. The very essence of their message reeks of misogyny, encapsulated in their caption: "Men should follow the 'No seal, No deal' Formula for a happy Life."

This provocative post and protest have ignited a firestorm of criticism on social media, drawing attention to its inherent flaws.

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Misguided Notions and Biological Inaccuracy

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Scientifically speaking, many researchers have dispelled the age-old belief that the hymen, often associated with virginity, can serve as a reliable physical marker. In simple terms, the hymen is a remnant tissue inside the vaginal opening, a leftover from embryonic development with no inherent physiological function. Its characteristics vary widely among individuals, rendering the rigid belief in its intactness as a measure of virginity scientifically unsound.

Beyond the biological inaccuracies lies a more pressing issue – the perpetuation of derogatory thinking that has seeped through generations. The notion that a woman's body becomes impure without an intact hymen has led to women living constrained lives, devoid of freedom, desires, and independence. The societal myth, deeply entrenched in traditional values, has been the biggest barrier preventing women from making decisions about their own bodies.

Language Matters: "Losing" Virginity

The language surrounding virginity, particularly the concept of "losing" it, contributes to harmful narratives that equate a woman's worth with her sexual history.  Henceforth, the protest highlights a larger societal problem where women are constantly admonished not to 'lose their virginity' for reasons ranging from perceived loss of value to the irreparable damage associated with it. The language used – 'losing' – implies a defeat, a failure to retain something precious. This narrative, ingrained from childhood, perpetuates the policing of women's sexuality and reinforces harmful myths.

Moving beyond surface level, the protest also sheds light on the global issue of virginity testing. The belief that a woman's sexual history is somehow imprinted on her anatomy has led to the continuation of archaic practices condemned by the World Health Organization as human rights violations. Such tests, ranging from physical examinations to the display of bloodied bedsheets on wedding nights, are based on outdated beliefs that have no scientific grounding.

Impact on Women's Health and Autonomy

The societal pressure to conform to outdated notions of virginity has led to harmful practices, including hymenoplasty surgery and even the sale of synthetic blood-containing capsules to simulate virginity. This pressure has severe consequences on women's mental health, hindering their ability to explore their sexual identity and causing anxiety around sex.  In India, the quest for virginity restoration has witnessed a surge of 20-30% annually, raising questions about the societal pressures and expectations surrounding virginity.

Women, often burdened by the weight of societal expectations, find themselves navigating a minefield of shame and stigma, their autonomy and dignity hanging in the balance. 

The Roots of Purity Obsession

The obsession with purity in India finds its origin in ancient epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Sita forced to prove her purity through a fire ordeal, and Draupadi, compelled to walk through fire to reclaim her virginity, have left a lasting mark on societal perceptions of women's worth.

But perhaps most insidious of all is the link between virginity, honour, and control as the patriarchal society sees women's sexuality as a threat to the established order, the preservation of virginity becomes a means of asserting dominance and preserving familial honour. The hymen, in this context, becomes a symbolic tool to ensure that women remain 'unspoiled' when handed over to their husbands.

At a contemporary level, the 'No Seal, No Deal' protest is not merely an isolated incident but rather a manifestation of a more widespread problem – the persistent policing of women's sexuality.  Even in modern times, the belief persists that a woman's honour is linked to her sexuality, while men's honour is tied to the legitimacy of their paternity. The disparity in societal attitudes is evident as a woman engaging in premarital sex often encounters derogatory slurs, whereas men seem to face no equivalent scrutiny for their sexual choices.

In 2019, derogatory comments by a professor from West Bengal’s Jadavpur University further too highlighted the deeply ingrained nature of such beliefs where the professor compared a woman's virginity to a "sealed bottle," perpetuating the idea that a woman's autonomy is contingent on her sexual history.

Challenging the Status Quo:

The dearth of comprehensive sex education in India has exacerbated and intensified harmful misconceptions about virginity. The inaccurate belief that an intact hymen serves as a reliable indicator of virginity persists despite scientific evidence to the contrary. Indian laws, enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution, unequivocally assert that subjecting women to virginity tests violates their right to privacy and dignity. The Supreme Court of India has also deemed such tests as "hypothetical" and "opinionative."

As the digital storm rages on, one question lingers in the collective consciousness: when will we break free from the shackles of outdated beliefs and embrace a more equitable vision of society? The answer lies not in the streets or on social media but in the collective efforts of individuals committed to challenging the status quo and dismantling the barriers that divide us.

The choice to have or not have sex before marriage is a deeply personal decision that should not be subject to societal scrutiny. Virginity, more than a biological concept, is a social construct, and it is only through collective efforts that we can begin to deconstruct it. 

So, to the men who stand behind the 'No Seal, No Deal' protest, I say this: if your deal is contingent on a woman's sealed status, sorry, but that deal is not acceptable in a world striving for progress, equality, and the acknowledgement that a woman's worth extends far beyond outdated notions of virginity.

Views expressed are the author's own. 

#sexism #virginity test #virginity
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