I was lucky enough to be granted an ARC of Virgin Envy: The (In)Significance of the Hymen through Netgalley. All opinions are my own!
Virgin Envy sets out to reconceive the ways we relate to virginity as a cultural construct. Who is a virgin? How do we lose our virginities? What if we regret our “first time”? Contributors to Virgin Envy examine everything from medieval romance to Bollywood films to True Blood and Twilight, to destabilize the many “certainties” about sexual purity. In particular, the hymen is called into question. How is virginity determined for those without a hymen? How do we account for the ways in which the “geography of the hymen” has changed over the course of history? And what about male and queer virginity? Issues of commodification, postcoloniality, and religious diversity are also addressed.
I really enjoyed this collection of essays about virginity. A lot of the essays are based on TV shows, movies and books, so that made some of the theories a lot more accessible to those who may not be versed in academic theories. They also talk a lot about, as the blurb says, male virginity and male queer virginity, which is a topic that isn’t nearly as discussed.
One thing that wasn’t mentioned in Virgin Envy is female queer virginity, which I thought was a pretty big oversight. I know this is an area that isn’t talked about very much in academia or real life, so I think including a little something about it would have gone a long way. I know that for bisexual people, at least, a common question is when they ‘really’ lost their virginity (because F/F sex doesn’t ‘count’, apparently.)
Overall, I found Virgin Envy an interesting and accessible collection – it could have been expanded further, but it was a good start in bringing academic discourse about virginity into the mainstream.
There are TWs for graphic descriptions of sex and virginity ‘checks’.