Afterwards Ben said he was surprised that I hadn't bled. I mumbled something about horse riding, tampons and masturbation, then I fell asleep.
Fast forward 18 years to a few days ago when I web surfed my way to a pdf booklet put out by RFSU (the Swedish organisation for sexual enlightenment), which starts like this:
Known by the established term "hymen," the vaginal corona is the subject of many myths and misunderstandings. The most important of these is the notion that a woman’s vaginal opening is covered by a membrane that ruptures on penetration. This is incorrect. There is no such membrane. RFSU wishes to dispel the myths and promote knowledge of the true facts. In this booklet, we aim to give you a more accurate idea of what you will find just inside the vaginal opening of every woman.
Holy popped cherries, batgirl! My entire life I thought I had a hymen, and that somewhere along the line between being born and meeting Ben, this precious proof of purity was disturbed.
Between clitoris and labia in my Cambridge Illustrated Thesaurus of Biology is the listing for hymen:
Thin membrane partially closing the vagina in a virgin woman. It is ruptured when coitus first occurs.
Ha! One more myth of the patriarchy debunked. I wonder if there's a word for the membrane that seals a closed mind.