2022 - ongoing

a historical and contemporary exploration of the question:
how does society perceive virginity and what impact do such perceptions have on girls

By exploring issues related to revirginization surgery, known as hymenoplasty, this project will interrogate progress society has made on gender equality. Hymenoplasty is now controversial within the medical field, as doctors who perform the surgery often want to remain anonymous when discussing the procedure and ethics of the surgery. By the end of 2022, the UK will introduce bans on virginity testing and hymenoplasty. However, this puts forth the question as to whether the practice will stop or will only be driven underground. 

What does hymen surgery tell us about female sexual liberation when the procedure is accessible in all major cities worldwide? The surgery remains secretive, as it should be, in the attempt to keep confidentiality and anonymity of women who could risk their lives if their surgery was known within their immediate environment.  

I began this project in Sydney and in the Gold Coast, Australia by reviewing common myths I learned as a girl growing up in Peru. For example, if I used a tampon, I would no longer be a virgin. I found other young women had heard these stories before, including in Australia. 

I researched ideas of purity and chastity and photographed alternative methods to achieve virginity as through artificial hymens and fake blood sold online, as well as homemade natural methods to fake vaginal tightness. I also interviewed Lara, a young 21 year old Iranian/Australian woman who gave a pseudonym while her wedding day approached in March 2022. Lara found her surgeon online and took the risk, with the constant question of whether it worked.

This segmented long-term project documents my own and other women's experiences and evolving beliefs about virginity and sexuality as well as the experiences of women who decided to undergo this surgery.

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