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Swedish group renames hymen 'vaginal corona'

David Landes · 8 Dec 2009, 12:12

Published: 08 Dec 2009 12:12 GMT+01:00

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“The mythical status of the hymen has caused far too much harm for far too long,” the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) said in a statement.

“The new term in English is vaginal corona.”

The linguistic declaration comes on the heels of what RFSU considers a successful campaign carried out in Sweden aimed at dispelling a number of myths surrounding the hymen and virginity.

“There are lots of questions about the hymen throughout the entire population of young people in Sweden,” RFSU secretary general Åsa Regnér told The Local.

“Both among girls and boys, and among people born in Sweden as well as those born in other countries.”

In an attempt to correct some of the myths surrounding the hymen, RFSU last spring published an informational pamphlet on the female reproductive organs which featured a new Swedish term for the hymen, slidkrans.

Krans is a Swedish word for something shaped like a circle,” Regnér explained.

“Language has power over how we think. The point is to provide information about how the body works.”

The group hoped the new term would displace the traditional Swedish word used for the hymen, mödomshinna, which translates literally as “virginity membrane” and led to misconceptions about female sexuality, according to RFSU.

“The old Swedish term indicated that there is a membrane covering the vaginal opening that needed to be broken,” said Regnér.

“It was portrayed as the boundary between guilt and innocence…girls have been raised to protect their hyman, not to run, jump, or ride horses. But in reality there is no membrane; rather there are folds of mucous membrane which form a crown around the vaginal opening.”

Following publication of the Swedish pamphlet, RSFSU began fielding a number of inquiries to have the document translated into other languages, settling on English, Arabic and Sorani Kurdish.

“Groups who contacted us were interested in finding a new term for hymen that didn’t strengthen these myths,” Regnér explained.

“After talking to these sexual and reproductive health and rights organizations who work with people from non-Swedish ethnic backgrounds, we decided to start with those three languages.”

According to Regnér, the hymen’s mythical status with respect to female sexuality has had a detrimental effect on women’s reproductive knowledge and rights.

“We work with a lot of organizations which provide sanctuary to women and girls who come from an honour culture where this sort of information is vitally important,” she said.

“In extreme cases, the mythology of the hymen becomes a major focus of a girl’s life and ends up giving men the right to control her body.”

Regnér explained that the term hymen is rooted in the Greek word for membrane. Rather than a fragile membrane that breaks, however, the hymen is actually multiple folds of mucous membrane.

“The vaginal corona is a permanent part of a woman's body throughout her life. It doesn't disappear after she first has sexual intercourse, and most women don't bleed the first time,” said Regnér.

According to RFSU board member Alán Ali, who leads projects dealing with honour-related oppression in Malmö in southern Sweden, spreading awareness of the new hymen lexicon is important for women’s sexual freedom.

“The myths surrounding the hymen were created to control women's freedom and sexuality. The only way to counteract this is by disseminating knowledge. Translating this booklet into languages spoken by large communities in Sweden is a step in the right direction,” he said in a statement.

Story continues below…

“We also hope the booklet and the new term will find their way to other countries.”

Regnér added that most of the groups RFSU has been in contact with internationally are in agreement that there is need for a new term for the hymen and that RFSU’s “vaginal corona” is meant as a starting point.

“This is our proposal,” she said.

“We recognize there are limitations when translating between languages, but we hope this is at least leads to more discussion about the issue.”

She added that, finances permitting, RFSU hopes to translate their brochure to other languages, including Spanish and Turkish.

“We’ll see what happens. It all depends on finding the money,” she said.

Related links:

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:54 December 8, 2009 by DAVID T
How much money to these people get paid to waste time on this?
13:24 December 8, 2009 by Lostaussie
What a load of rubbish
13:59 December 8, 2009 by Nemesis
@ DAVID T & Lostaussie

Typical men.

You as usual have no interest in women, then wonder why you are dumped when you don't know what to do with a woman.
14:44 December 8, 2009 by calebian22
Hence forth the penis will be known as a vaginal corona poker..
14:52 December 8, 2009 by livinginsweden
I call it the love gates ... gateway to love ... gateway to heaven ... gates to a woman's soul .... checkpoint charlie .....entrance to a slippery slide .... where fools dare go ....

ha ha
15:07 December 8, 2009 by Lostaussie

Typical woman, jumping to conclusions :)
15:29 December 8, 2009 by Nemesis
@ Lostaussie

15:32 December 8, 2009 by Osokin
This is not an issue that can be manipulated linguistically. The hymen had/has value to certain cultures as the sole means to guarantee a husband to be that the wife he is about to take, doesn't come already with a bun in the oven.

Instead of these topsy turvy feminist concoctions, why not making mandatory DNA paternity tests at birth, then they will be killing 2 birds with 1 shot : 20% of wrongly appointed fathers will stop being, for the benefit of both child and man, and the hymen would lose value as proof of legitimacy of men's children in those cultures that still use it so.

Of course vested interests won't let this happen, but manipulating language won't change biology and instinct.
15:40 December 8, 2009 by SandStorm
This is a very important thing for women and girls coming from a society which ties honor to verginity.

It might sound rediculous to those who live in open-minded societies, but try to see the impact on Arab and Kurdish women and girls, only to name a couple.
17:18 December 8, 2009 by vladd777
Oh how annoyed i get when they bandy 'my' genitals about so!

And my gender!

If men could learn to practice self control and be decent and stick to one woman..at a time, at least..we wouldn't be having these continuous and very depressing discussions!

And all in the name of 'honour'?? Honour to whom??

Gaaa..Get a life!!
17:54 December 8, 2009 by livinginsweden
Sometimes i call it 'that thing'

ha ha
19:09 December 8, 2009 by Neuhier
Dear RFSU,

I applaud this bold advance into a territory that was up to now held by science. Male science, of course, or who else but male chauvinists would dare use a purely descriptive term for a part of the human body without thinking about the gruesome consequences.

Suggest you sponsor a professorship in linguistically correct anatomy, or better still, drain some swedish state funds for it, the Riksdag will shiver with joy to advance the issue.
19:16 December 8, 2009 by Random Guy
Ah, I remember sliding into a few krans in my day. Good times.
19:54 December 8, 2009 by conboy
I think the RFSU "experts" should be retitled and from now on be called the Cliterrati!
20:08 December 8, 2009 by Kooritze
20:31 December 8, 2009 by Deema
@Osokin, Paternity proof is not the only concern for men of most of those cultures that still hangs on to this matter. it's more of a proof that the girl has no sexual experience that might make the man feel insecure! Trust me, taking care of other people's children is something they do voluntarily all the time!

It's sick, and should be eradicated. I believe that language is a powerful tool. Most people underestimate the power of linguistics. For instance, girls will always feel sadness and guilt the first time they have sex, you wonder why? because they keep referring to the experience as "losing verginity". and Loss will always propagate grief. and when you know it's your choice, there comes guilt.

I hope i was able to clear my point.. :)
21:41 December 8, 2009 by zircon
Sweden's 'wild strawberries' generation totally lost in translation. And dishonour.
21:47 December 8, 2009 by voidplay

It would put lot of people into depression if "losing virginity" is rephrased as "gaining nirvana".
23:40 December 8, 2009 by Dr. Dillner
03:29 December 9, 2009 by Davey-jo
Hell, they ain't even trying. There's dozens of words for that thing; and I don't mean to be a prude but what is their point?
05:26 December 9, 2009 by wenddiver
Liberal science doesn't invent things, it renames them! Useless.
05:50 December 9, 2009 by krigeren
New Ibiza ad......

Celebrate your Vaginal Corona being crowned by a Corona Light.
07:11 December 9, 2009 by Marc the Texan
"It was portrayed as the boundary between guilt and innocence…girls have been raised to protect their hyman, not to run, jump, or ride horses. But in reality there is no membrane; rather there are folds of mucous membrane which form a crown around the vaginal opening."

Why is this group still entangled in 19th century debates? Seems like the issue was resolved long ago without a name change.
08:07 December 9, 2009 by izbz

I think I like *where fools dare go* better

'The whole problem is the Hole problem´

All of us come from the hole, yearn for the hole,

When we all die, we still end up in the hole,

That's the HOLE problem
09:21 December 9, 2009 by crunchy2k
All this talk about skin that has bound forth into urban legend, just makes me think of smoking a Corona............cigar that is.
10:27 December 9, 2009 by Oxartes
And you wonder why Sweden has gone to hell.
03:32 December 10, 2009 by Davey-jo
Have they a new word for balls?
05:16 December 10, 2009 by norling
I bet former president Bill Clinton would be interested in this thread.
10:53 December 10, 2009 by DAVID T
Stench trench
21:35 December 10, 2009 by elleno
What a ridiculous article to cover up the fact that Swedish woman screw like rabbits so have a perforated hymen by the time they marry - a vaginal corona - I ask you.

You can't make this stuff up.
17:01 December 11, 2009 by Audrian
As long the culture and the taboo surounding virginity remains the same, virginity by what ever name you call it is virginity.

I think virginity got importance in the dawn of history when humans began to accumulate property and wanated to be sure that it went down to their offsprings. Marrying a virgin woman was believed it did.

In today's DNA period, this primitive idea is loosing importance. How many men care to marry a virgin woman? As a matter of record, about 30% of married women fathered one of their children with their high school sweet-heart intentionally. Virginity has lost vlaue.

Just to be sure, undertake campaign to deminish the the traditional value attached to it and you might achieve what you are looking for.
14:47 December 12, 2009 by skylarkpilot
This article is one of the reasons I love Sweden.

The most important thing the medical authorities can think to do is rename a part of the human body !!!

Personally I've never really cared for the word Anus. Perhaps they could rename that to make it sound more friendly and attractive. And Testicle is such an ugly word. There must be something better.

I know......why don't we just manufacture a whole new language...I dunno we could call it Esperanto or something else so idiotic no-one would ever learn it.

Or perhaps the swedish could just give up the language they hate and speak English like everyone else.......OOOOOOhhhh controversy.
05:05 December 14, 2009 by wenddiver
Liberal societys invent nothing, they just rename things invented by more productive soceitys.
15:42 December 31, 2009 by Mr. Puppy
Most of the comments to this article make no sense...
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