Gender and Language, Vol 12, No 3 (2018)

‘Something that stretches during sex’: replacing the word hymen with vaginal corona to challenge patriarchal views on virginity

Karin Milles, Jessica Holmdahl, Ida Melander, Kerstin Fugl-Meyer
Issued Date: 22 Oct 2018


Although there is no scientific proof of a breakable membrane in the vagina, virginity controls are causing great suffering to women worldwide, and hymen (re) constructions are carried out in many countries. The hymen is called mödomshinna 'virginity membrane' in Swedish, which can reinforce the idea of a breakable membrane. In their work against female sexual oppression the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education launched a new term, vaginal corona. The aim of our study is to evaluate this initiative. By conducting a survey directed at youths and health professionals at youth clinics in Stockholm, we were able to show that knowledge of the new word had spread and that changes in the oppressive cultural beliefs connected to virginity and female sexuality in part can be connected to the word. The study thus supports the claim that initiatives aimed at changing vocabulary can be effective in changing cultural concepts. Feminist language activism initiatives are thus usable as part of feminist political work to promote women’s sexual rights and gender equality.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.31894


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