In Iran, modernity takes on the cult of the virgin

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Niccolo and Donkey
In Iran, modernity takes on the cult of the virgin

Telegraph UK

Praveen Swami

February 14, 2011


Iran’s men are having trouble dealing with the brave new world that’s imposing itself on their bedrooms: an unnoticed tide of sexual change that could prove far more important in shaping the country’s cultural and political values than the 2009 democratic revolt-that-failed.

“It is still widely accepted,” Negar Farshidi writes , “that a groom can make his marriage conditional on the bride remaining a virgin, and cancel it if it turns out she isn’t. Traditionally, a bloodstained sheet was produced after the wedding night as evidence of an intact hymen, but nowadays many men and their families ask for a ‘virginity certificate’ in advance.”
Similar practices are common throughout large swathes of Asia.

But an official Iranian study, Farshidi records, has determined that more than half of all young people in Iran have had premarital sex – which means those certificates probably aren’t worth a whole lot.

Iran’s powerful clerical establishment embraced the technological products of modernity, like computers and the internet, while railing against its cultural manifestations. But the fact is that modernity imposes its own culture. More and more young Iranians are working independently of their families. More and more Iranians are marrying late. More and more young Iranians are having premarital sex.

Kelly Golnoush Niknejad had, a couple of years ago, written an insightful account of how the internet had made it increasingly difficult for the regime to censor what young people in Iran “see, hear and seek, especially when it comes to dating and sex.”

Iran’s clerics, whatever their other failings might be, aren’t stupid: unlike Xerxes , they see that even three hundred lashes aren’t going to tame the sea. Ziauddin Sardar, in a must-read article , wrote of the clergy’s efforts to battle this epidemic by promoting muta , or temporary marriages. Precisely how these marriages are distinct from hiring a sex worker, I am unclear – but the distinction at least keeps up the pretence that the new sexual culture doesn’t violate religious order.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, has ruled that even if a married woman who claimed to be a virgin was proved to have had non-penetrative premarital sex, her husband could not divorce her unless the couple had agreed in advance that virginity meant no sex at all. Put crudely, it’s OK to play.

Some clerics are putting their faith in technology. Ayatollah Sadeq Rouhani, a conservative cleric, issued a ruling that that hymenoplasties – the surgical reconstruction of virginity – was lawful in Islam. “There is no difference between a real and fake hymen,” he reasoned, wisely putting pragmatism before principle.

The point is the claims to tradition and faith on which clerical authority rest are being eroded. Plastic surgery only allows the fiction of tradition to be sustained: everyone knows it’s dead (interestingly, there are websites in the US offering hymenoplasties to married women who want to give their husbands something “ really special ” – virginity has been packaged as a retro cultural artefact).

Islamic cultures aren’t alone in their attitudes to virginity. Pope Pius XII, in a 1954 address, extolled virginity as “something beautiful and holy.” This attitude, I learn from the venerable Journal of Orthoptera Research , Volume Vol. 17, No. 2, 2008 , is shared by Poecilimon laevissimus: Tettigoniidae , the Greek bush cricket, which values virginity more than body size when it comes to choosing a mate.

There is a large literature on exactly why societies value virginity at particular points in their evolution. I’m not going to recapitulate it here: if you’re interested there’s scholarship out there on the practice and meaning of the state in every conceivable setting, from medieval England to modern America , the Swahili of Mombasa , Spanish gypsies in Madrid, and Echo Island , wherever that is.

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia has an interesting variation of the virginity problem. Its intellectuals have been desperately trying to do away with the idea that Paradise is filled with doe-eyed virgins – a notion that, it is claimed, is driving pimply adolescents to queue up to become suicide bombers.

Last year, the Saudi scholar Anwar bin-Majid argued that God “knows that human minds cannot grasp the nature of the pleasures of Paradise, so He made it closer to their understanding by mentioning dark-eyed beauties, wine, milk, and fruit.” In fact, he went on, “in Paradise there are no sexual impulses. Therefore, people’s sexual organs will disappear in the afterlife.”

The problem is that these kids aren't being married in adolescence. Sexual impulse must and will be addressed, if not sanctioned by ceremony and contract, then in dishonorable and 'liberated' ways. The post-industrialized world has moved the age of consent and marriage up, college has hundreds of millions waiting to take on a spouse into their mid or late twenties. In the meantime they've got to fuck.

I have a friend from the Mashriq who wasn't married until he was 26, much like his friends. They got their nuts off on anything they could until then. They should've had brides at 15-18, and they wouldn't have the shame of having resorted to prostitutes, pornography, addictive masturbation, homosexuality, incest, and casual encounters with similarly pent up young women at the university library.
2nd and 3rd generation Muslims in non-Muslim societies, like myself, have to rely on kaffir girls who have no qualms about racking up multiple sexual partners before they settle on one later. But of course, what we really want is an untouched, wholesome wife material of a woman. I find myself drooling for this Pashtun girl, just because I know she's a reclusive, virginal, vestige of her parent's society.

Metropolitan, modern, liberal. These terms and what they mean sicken me. I'd like to arrange mass hangings of every ignorant psuedo-muslim who embraces them out of some footloose-ish rejection of tradition. These fuckfaces with their piercings, jeans, and hair dye, their fucking insurrectionist professors, their naive parents, and the clergy that accomodates them.


showing the sheet is a good volkist tradition.


I've slept with a virgin once. Its greatly overestimated. The main reason the access to a virgin body has been so treasured in the past is probably due to the fact, apart from the usual poppycock about purity, is that an unprotected sex with a virgin is an almost certain pregnancy, and there's no difficulty in establishing fatherhood in absence of DNA analysis.

I also remember, the idiotic attempts at 'relatations' we had as teens. An absolutely immature, childish drivel - just because one has the ability to produce sperm as last, doesn't mean he's a father/husband material. Christ, If it were up to me, I'd raise the age of marriage to at least 25 for men. 99% of guys have not the slightest idea, what they are doing with their lives, let alone with women, who'd be tied to them, before that age.

Personally, I'd prefer an experienced woman in her middle/late 20s as a wife material to some virgin, who has no idea how to treat a man right and why she even needs him at all, and I'm not talking about sex here.


you're being realistic. neither realism nor idealism pays off.

The importance of legitimate inheritance is the basic reasoning behind banning/discouraging extramarital sex. But there are psychological reasons also. I for one like breaking the ground and having a monopoly on a woman's vagina. The thought that she's had another guy's dick is a minus, and it's a sad fact that it's so normal.
A virgin is more likely to get pregnant than a non-virgin? I've never heard that and I don't see why it would be true.

It's true that in our society teenagers and early twenties are not prepared for committed relationships and parentage, but they should be. That they're not is a result of their own parents not putting emphasis on the correct principles and development of the right skills and mindsets. In a real civilization a 16 year old woman is ready to take care of her first infant, and a 20 year old man is ready to take care of his wife. In our civilization 30 year olds are incapable of this same fundamental function.

It's incorrect to translate age and promiscuity into experience. I see it as damage, like an old car that wasn't taken care of. The ideal is a virgin who's been instilled with the things you value; being able to take care of and appreciate her husband for example. The problem is that you can't find them in the West, not in sufficient numbers. A true dearth of quality women, once again, thanks to decades of undue Jewish influence.
Its not sad. Its normal, because its normal. All guys are eager to find a sexual outlet for your dear selves, but you decline the same courtesy to females. I don't see any logics in this. Or intellectual honesty. Only blatant egocentrism, which is actually what's killing Western civilization.

Just 'marrying' them off is silliness, unless you view it as part of a bigger, extremely patriarchal society, which simply exists nowhere, except for Saudi Arabia. Its a dream, and I'm not even sure, how that kind of society would work.

You are describing a primitive, nomadic tribe vis-a-vis a technological age of today.
Sorry, it can't be reversed.

You can't instill it, it needs to be experienced. In fact, the usual resort to corporal punishment in patriarchal families of men against women, is exactly due to lack of experience in communicating with men with regards to women of 'traditional upbringing' or whatsoever. The simply scare them into submission.

Excuse me, but I simply don't see women as breeding sows and do not believe, such treatment is fair.
I'm not advocating an end to extra-marital sex for women, but for men and women.
The sexual outlet should be a spouse.

I don't think you paid attention to my post.

What we have today in on the level of the bonobo. Promiscuity isn't the result of texhnology, but of an erosion in principles caused by statr education, media, and commercialism (most of what's wrong with sex in the West is that it's regarded as a consumer activity, a shopping like hobby, and alao works as social currency).
It can be reversed. Plenty of debauched societies have.

No need for scaring, simply not encouraging extra-marital sex and stigmitizing it will work fine. Make a taboo of it rather than celebrating.

Was never my argument. I'm simply against the culture of casual sex, versus the more honor bound.