When she was 13, Brelyn Bowman made a commitment to her father to remain “pure” until her wedding day. That day arrived on October 10th, and in order to celebrate her wedding and prove to her father that she stayed true to her promise, Brelyn presented him with a certificate from her doctor, one that proves she’s still a virgin with an intact hymen.
NBC 12 reports that Bowman’s dedication to keeping her body “pure” went viral after the new bride and her father posted pictures of themselves with the certificate on Instagram, where users immediately went ballistic over the fact that the young bride felt she needed to prove her virginity to her father. And users didn’t get angry just because they thought the entire thing was tasteless (though it was), but because Bowman’s gift not only caters to old-timey patriarchal thinking, but also reinforces the myth that women can only break their hymen via sexual intercourse. “I love what you promote,” said one Instagram commenter. “Celibacy until marriage. But I wish your message was educational as well. Though not common, your hymen can tear without it being penetrated during sexual intercourse. Just an FYI.”
While some might argue that Bowman’s hymen isn’t the business of the internet at large, her picture, which was posted on social media to great fanfare, is Exhibit A when it comes to the problem of putting female virginity on such a high pedestal. Moreover, it betrays a fundamental lack of understanding how the human body works. Sure, Bowman’s happy she was able to present her father with such a certificate (her sister did the same thing) in order to get his approval, but how bad would things have been if the bride had unknowingly broken her hymen during a nonsexual activity? How would she react if the doctor presented her with the late-breaking news? Would there have been no certificate of “purity?” Would her father have been disappointed?
One more glaring question: Why does a father have any right to know the state of his daughter’s virginity? And het, as long as we’re getting into it here—why only the father? Why aren’t mothers involved in hymen verification celebrations and purity ball photographs? Why is a woman’s responsibility to keep herself driven as the snow only to her dad? And why does it trump anything else the bride might have accomplished? (You already know the answers, and this whole episode will likely appear in a Women’s Studies 101 syllabus, coming soon to a university near you.)
According to Bowman, who appeared on Good Day DC with her new husband—also a virgin at the time of their marriage, although not an officially “certified” as so—to discuss her decision to give her father the certificate, the doctor’s letter was less about her hymen (uh, tell that to the doctor) and more about keeping promises.
From FOX 5:
“He was so excited because it’s not nothing he required. He didn’t ask, ‘I need you to go and present this.’ It was something because I kept my word,” said Brelyn Bowman. “My sister, who was a virgin when she got married, did the same thing. And she was an example for me, so now I can be an example for others.”
Okay, but isn’t there another way to prove to your dad that you’re a trustworthy and honest person? Aren’t there other ways to be an example for others than by proving you’ve never had sex? And why is sex such a bad thing anyway? Why is being a virgin so commendable?