Hymen, I hardly knew ya

The hymen has now been renamed the “vaginal corona.”

I am refraining from making jokes about both yeast and Dos Equis.

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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Body image, Health, Sex and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Hymen, I hardly knew ya

  1. Roving Thundercloud says:

    Well, bless the RFSU. I looked around their website (www.rfsu.se, there are different language options way up at the top center) and found that they have several interesting publications, including:

    Dicktionary – What every guy needs to know about his knob
    The booklet provides knowledge about the male body, focusing on the dick and its sexual functions. The text discusses anatomy, andrology, and sexual desire. It is intended för non-scientific readers wishing to learn more about male sexuality.
    Pussypedia – What every woman needs to know about her genitals
    The booklet provides knowledge about the female body, focusing on the pussy and its sexual functions. The text discusses anatomy, gynecology and sexual desire. It is intended för non-scientific readers wishing to learn more about female sexuality.

    And my personal favorite, “A Guide to Clitoral Sex.”

    What isn’t available as a PDF, you can request by email. Sweet!

  2. Niki says:

    I certainly like the idea of reframing the terminology, but I wonder how easily this will be misinterpreted. Before I read the article, I didn’t realize that “corona” was a medical term that in this case means “folds of mucous membrane;” I thought it was a refernce to the Spanish word for “crown,” and, in other words, was a suggestion that the hymen is some sort of royal blessing that makes your vagina more important. If I’m not the only one who interprets it that way initially, this could run into some bigger problems than the negative associations that are already attached to the word “hymen.”

    (Note: I know it was translated from Swedish, and that the term might not have mixed messages in the original language. However, it surely does in English, or at least in English speakers who know what the word “corona” means in Spanish.)

  3. JetGirl says:

    Why am I not surprised my fellow Swedes came up with this?
    BTW, the Swedish word, slidkrans, is both icky and kind of romantic. Slida, the Swedish term for vagina, also means sheath, which I always felt was an undignified term. But krans means wreath, which conjures up images of beautiful flowers.

  4. JetGirl, vagina means sheath as well – it’s from the Latin.

  5. And “corona” is also Latin for crown (whence the Spanish).

  6. EH says:

    I thought of corona in the astronomical way, so clearly there’s a number of connotations that may come to peoples’ minds.

  7. Carmen says:

    Removing the sexual purity context it has in Swedish seems like a good idea. Is “hymen” a problematic term in English? If it really is from the Greek for “membrane,” (which doesn’t sound particularly objectionable) is it necessary to change the term? Or am I missing something?

  8. Sara says:

    I have a hard time seeing this catch on: think about the way people flipped out over de-plantizing Pluto, and how many people think it is IMPORTANT to control female sexuality. But their pdf is pretty cool.

  9. Natalia says:

    I am refraining from making jokes about both yeast and Dos Equis.

    You really shouldn’t.

  10. ACG says:

    I kind of like the idea that I have a crown in my ladybits. “I dub thee Sir Thundersword von Stevedore. Now take off your clothes and service me, peon.”

    Carmen – For me, calling it a “membrane” calls to mind the traditional concept of the hymen as some delicate piece of tissue that’s broken when a woman loses her flower, never to be repaired again. It’s the “barrier” that romance-novel pirates always run up against when they bed the unsullied virgin that makes her wince and cry a single crystalline tear. A “vaginal corona” seems like what it is – folds of tissue that are always there, even after we’re ravished by the pirate, that surround the vagina.

  11. Angiportus says:

    I really don’t much care what they call it, just so folks quit thinking it’s okay to damage it just to make it fit someone else’s anatomy. I almost dare to hope that this change will help in the struggle for the right to physical integrity, and the right not to be hurt, of all humans. That’s more basic, more important, than what name, or how many names, any specific part has. Still it is good to examine our feelings/connotations about the words we hear, and might not have ever thought to question.
    I too, when hearing the term”corona”, think first of astronomy. And I’m glad that the medical industry hasn’t succeede in hogging all the highfalutin Classically-derived words.

  12. rj says:

    Ask the guy who coined the term “freedom fries” about how hard it is to change the language by proclamation or campaign. What you call it is secondary to what connotations the word has – ignore this simple maxim and you’ll find yourself completely unintelligible (and thus irrelevant) to the average person.

  13. AJD says:


    Weird. I always thought the word hymen came from the name of the Greek god of marriage—which is Hymen. But apparently it comes from the Greek word for ‘membrane’, as Carmen says.

  14. Tlönista says:

    @Sara: Now I want a T-shirt with the slogan “When I was your age, Pluto was a planet, and the vaginal corona was the hymen.”

  15. Jennifer says:

    I think I’m going to need a lime with that.

  16. Alison says:

    Tlönista, Love it!

  17. norbizness says:

    Does this mean that the theme song for purity balls will be The Knack’s “My Corona”?

  18. hbsweet says:

    I thought of the astronomical corona, too: the purity balls’ theme could be “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Twat.”

  19. Kallisti says:

    Carmen – It doesn’t come from the Greek for “membrane”, it comes from Hymen, the Greek goddess of marriage and virginity. “Hymen” is slang for virginity in Ancient Greek, making its use as a medical term both unprofessional AND sexist.

    /working on Classics degree focussing on attitudes towards women.

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