A rose by any other name?
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 said. “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.”
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.