"A journalist's credibility is the same as a woman's virginity." If this statement has your head spinning in different directions with a giant WHAT written above it, you're in good company.
According to reports, this comparison was made by Dr Niranjana Vanalli, a reputed journalist and professor, and has led to much outraging.
The reason a journalist's credibility and a woman's virginity are the same, Dr Vanalli allegedly said, is because once lost, it's impossible to 'retrieve' either. So funny! Not.
A virgin is any person who has not had sex. Why human beings need to classify people according to whether they've had sex or not is a discussion for another day. For now, the comparison begs the question: Is there a time machine that allows only men to go back in time and retrieve their virginity?
Since the answer is no, the emphasis here is clearly on the hymen. A vestigial structure. One is not sure if Dr Vanalli and many others like him are as obsessed with other vestigial organs of the body. Can a journalist's lost integrity be the same, as say, an appendix which has been surgically removed? How about extracted wisdom teeth?
If we go with the logic that a woman's virginity is intact only if her hymen is, then plenty of women have lost their virginity to a tampon. Possibly a far more pleasurable experience than having sex with a hymen-obsessed man.
There is certainly a lot of importance placed on the hymen in patriarchal cultural practices. In some communities, for example, the newly married couple is required to display the blood-stained bedspread on which they had sexual intercourse to show everyone that the bride was a virgin and that the marriage has been consummated.
The condition of the hymen has even been used by rape accused to argue that the victim is lying about the incident. However, courts have, in the past, rubbished such claims. Because not all women have the same kind of hymen and some are even born without one (they lost their virginity even before they were born, tut tut). Perhaps we should create a #NotAllHymen hashtag.
Is Dr Vanalli unaware of all this? Or is he actually an ardent supporter of such regressive ideas?
Further, comparing the loss of credibility to virginity (women's only), implies that both must be accompanied by the same emotions of shame, and that both are a fall from the original state of "purity". The sentiment reeks of a patriarchal understanding of women and their sexuality. If women indeed feel lousy after having sex with men, perhaps the concerned men should introspect what they're doing wrong instead of drawing up a laboratory to check the "purity" levels of their partners.
The fact that Dr Vanalli, who really ought to have known better, thought that this is a great joke, is testimony to how casual sexism is often passed off as "humour". It's high time this particular funny bone becomes vestigial.