Pop over to the Wonders and Marvels blog for a short introduction to the art of faking virginity in early modern Europe.
Here’s what Elizabeth Goldsmith writes:
On what basis, I thought, do we continue to assume that Marie remained a virgin until her wedding night? Was it possible that young women of her time knew how to convincingly fake it? A little more research led me to Ambroise Paré, whose 1573 treatise on “monsters and marvels” includes the description of popular techniques, known since the time of Galen, for creating false evidence of virginity by inserting a fish bladder filled with blood into the vagina , so that the sheets on the wedding bed would be stained with the necessary proof. Paré further argues that the very existence of the hymen in the female anatomy is at best questionable, and possibly simply a myth.
Seems simpler than today’s vaginal rejuvenation surgeries (which, when done in micro-form post-childbirth, were just referred to as the “husband stitch”).
Simpler still would be just doing away with the virginity crap altogether.
Who needs fish bladders or hymens, anyway?