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Becoming-Virgin: Re-Virginisation Practices in Turkey


Type

Thesis

Change log

Authors

Abstract

Re-virginisation refers to the regaining of women’s ‘technical’ virginity even though the woman might have had penile-vaginal intercourse before. While virginity takes on many different meanings that are culturally determined and socially constructed, ‘technical’ virginity refers to ‘proving’ virginity through blood and the sense of tightness of the vagina. Even though studies have shown that neither of these two can be markers of virginity, social change around this myth has not followed the research in the field. Hence, to be ‘marriageable’ again, women might either be operated on to have a so-called new hymen via hymenoplasty (sometimes accompanied by vaginal tightening surgery) or buy a product called artificial hymen (accompanied by vaginal tightening cream). Based on 55 in-depth interviews with healthcare staff, artificial hymen retailers, re-virginisers, and women and men who are not directly related to re-virginisation; as well as discourse analysis of online conversations on re-virginisation between women in Turkey and websites advertising relevant goods and services, I argue that re-virginisation is not a moment, but a process. It is not possible to pinpoint a time when a woman feels like a virgin following the operation or the use of the artificial hymen. Instead, women go through a lengthy process involving a variety of physical and emotional changes that might take years, or might never end. This thesis draws a legal and economic framework within which re-virginisation operates in Turkey, as well as arguing that the nation-state actively ignores these practices in line with its neo-conservative policies. Furthermore, it utilises the notion of “becoming” as originated by Gilles Deleuze and developed with Felix Guattari, and its feminist interpretations to discuss how women’s relationship to their body changes, how they perform their emotional and embodied pain, as well as how their perception of time and space changes affectively throughout.

Description

Date

2020-01-01

Advisors

Moreno Figueroa, Monica

Keywords

hymenoplasty, Turkey, virginity, gender, sexuality, re-virginisation

Qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Sponsorship
Cambridge Trust; Orient Institut Istanbul; Cambridge Political Economy Society; Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge