Another "Christian" hoax which shows the crazy notions about sex
over in the fundy area. There's absolutely no end to their silly
"religious" creativity. I expect to see Moses descending Mt. St.
Helens at any moment now, with a whole new set of commandments that wipe out the
Born-again virgins claim to rewrite the past
Through spiritual or surgical routes, women give their first
time a do-over
By Brian Alexander
updated 5:45 a.m. PT,Thurs.,
Feb. 28, 2008
Victoria Watts, a 23-year-old single mother of two
small children who lives in Canton, Ohio, lost her virginity at 16 with her high
She was the granddaughter of a Pentecostalist pastor
and the daughter of an assistant pastor, and she believed sex outside marriage
was wrong. “I felt really bad from a religious standpoint,” she recalls of
the experience. “My thoughts were really clouded because I was so emotionally
bonded with my boyfriend. That overshadowed my religious world.”
Though the relationship lasted for seven years and
produced two beautiful children, a part of Watts always felt guilty. She wished
she could step back in time and recapture her lost virginity. Thinking of how
“I could have ruined one of greatest fulfillments of my life,” the first
time having sex with a husband, she wanted to “have that opportunity again. I
know my [future] husband deserves a whole person.”
So Watts engaged in a lot of prayer and thought, and
now declares herself a virgin once again. “The most important thing was to
realize what my values were and what I want in the future and the bigger goals
in my life," she says. "That’s why I can call myself a renewed
Across the country, "revirginization" appears
to be gaining steam. Spiritual efforts to reclaim virginity emerged back in the
early 1990s and now, prompted by abstinence-only school courses taught to
thousands of girls nationwide, and by religious teachers, there are reports of
more and more young women like Watts attempting a sexual do-over. Other women
are opting for a more radical route to reclaim their virginity: surgical
replacement of the hymen, the small membrane that stretches from the walls of
the vagina and that typically breaks when a woman first has intercourse — or
for many other reasons, from tampon use to vigorous exercise.
In the last few years, say doctors who perform the
surgery, a steady stream of patients, many motivated by the conflict between
mores in this country versus their country of birth, or the country of their
parents' birth, are interested. "The rate of inquiries is increasing,"
says Dr. Denise Baker, a Bradenton, Fla., surgeon who performs the procedure on
about 100 women a year.
Re-wrapping the gift But is it really possible to reclaim your virginity? If it is, what
does it mean to be a virgin in the first place? And what does it mean to
“lose” one’s virginity?
Religiously motivated women like Watts believe it's
very possible to become a born-again virgin — if you believe it is so and
pledge abstinence until marriage.
"Have you already unwrapped the priceless gift of
virginity and given it away?" asks the Web site for the Pregnancy Resource
Center of Northeast Ohio, where Watts began working part-time after she
reclaimed her virginity. "Do you now feel like 'second-hand goods' and no
longer worthy to be cherished? Do you ever wish you could re-wrap it and give it
only to your future husband or wife? Guess what...? You can decide today to
commit to abstinence, wrapping a brand-new gift of virginity to present to your
husband or wife on your wedding night."
The fact that some women believe they are able to
recapture a kind of sexually virginal state underlines the idea that virginity
is not nearly the black-and-white issue most of us think, that it has come to be
as much a concept as a fact.
Laura M. Carpenter, author of the 2005 book
"Virginity Lost: An Intimate Portrait of First Sexual Experiences,"
and an assistant professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville,
Tenn., says the meaning of virginity has been a muddle for a long time.
“The first time we are aware of that muddling, the
first explicit mention or discussion of what people called ‘technical
virginity’ that I have found is in 1920s,” she says. “It referred to
people who were doing ‘everything but sex,’ and what was defined as losing
your virginity for most people was having vaginal intercourse.”
No sex after kids But the idea of a recreated virginity is actually much older. During
the early Middle Ages, Christians were taught that while sex in marriage was not
a sin, it was not as holy a state as complete abstinence from sex. (This is
still the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II declared that
believing parents should “devote special attention and care to education in
virginity or celibacy as the supreme form of that self-giving that constitutes
the very meaning of human sexuality.”)
In response, some Christians adopted a form of
“chaste marriage,” often after having had sex and producing children, by
agreeing between themselves to forsake any future sexual union, thus becoming
Today, according to the Louisiana Governor's Program on
Abstinence, an abstinence-only school sex education program, renewed virginity
is easy: “DECIDE TO CHANGE.”
"Next, you’ve got to stop doing things that turn
each other on. Set limits on physical contact. Talk to your date about
situations that make it difficult to resist sex…”
If the idea of virginity as a state of mind sounds like
the language of actors coming out rehab, it’s no coincidence, says Carpenter.
“In America there is the idea of the remade
person,” she explains. “We are all in an endless state of becoming. You can
remake yourself. That has been deeply ingrained in the culture for a long time.
So why not virginity? Why not sexuality?”
Of course, there is also a double edge to that sword.
“To some people, remakability is precisely what cheapens the thing in first
place," Carpenter says. "Virginity is not special if you can be a
Many of Dr. Red Alinsod’s patients are not looking
for a new state of mind, they want a new hymen. They come to his clinic in
Laguna Beach, Calif., and pay $5,000 because their honor, and sometimes their
lives, depend on it.
“Right now is the start of my busy time,” he says,
“because in spring, or during summer vacation, the women go overseas and get
married and they have to be all repaired by the time of their arranged weddings
in the lands of their birth.”
Alinsod’s typical patient may have been born and
raised in the United States, but with significant family in Malaysia, Indonesia,
Vietnam, Pakistan, India, the Middle East. Without evidence a new bride is a
virgin, she risks being rejected, or, worse, the victim of an “honor
“These women are very scared,” Alinsod says. “The
majority do fear for their lives. So this is a life-saving procedure in the
majority of women I deal with. They are afraid they will be killed by the
youngest member of their family, or the youngest member of the groom’s
family,” because young men are often given light jail sentences for the
There are other, less extreme reasons for the surgery.
Baker, the Florida surgeon, who, like Alinsod, has made uro-genital cosmetic
surgery a specialty, says one patient gave her virginity to her husband in the
Asian country in which they lived and then came to the United States to study
medicine, staying for several years. Though she remained faithful to her
husband, when it came time for her to return to her country, she felt as if
their lives were about to begin again. She wished she could be revirginized,
Once in awhile, Baker says, she’ll get a patient who
just wants to give a present to her husband. “One patient of mine gave it to
her husband as an anniversary gift," says Baker. "She was not a virgin
when they got married so we re-attached her hymen to reproduce that
Like Baker, Alinsod reports seeing about 100 patients
for the procedure each year. The surgery itself is not overly complicated. It
takes about an hour and involves stretching flaps — the remnants of the hymen
— from the vaginal walls and securing them with sutures to form something
resembling a drum head with a hole in the middle.
Like a virgin? But whether this can literally make somebody a virgin depends upon
one’s point of view. When Carpenter did a study about what she called
“secondary virginity,” she found wide disagreement not only about the
plausibility of secondary virginity, but also about whether “virginity loss
should be understood as a physiological or an emotional-experiential
phenomenon.” Interestingly, of the 61 women and men interviewed,
“three-fourths of men adamantly declared secondary virginity to be impossible,
compared to about one-fourth of women,” though men sometimes declare that they
are born-again virgins, too.
While we may not agree on what virginity means, or even
how we lost it and if we can get it back, it does have meaning, Carpenter
insists. “If virginity did not mean anything, we would not have movies like
'American Pie.' It does matter. The content or the definitions may change, but
the need or desire to mark the transition to being a sexual adult persists.”
And we do have at least some baseline definition of
sex. “We are not so flexible that we say self-gratification or sex toys count,”
Carpenter says. Her research has found that almost everybody agrees that sex
involves genitals and another person.
Everything else is just detail.
Brian Alexander is the author of the new book
“America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction."