time to unwind with the restoration movement

What do vinyl records, slow food, mechanical watches, cloth diapers (and the more primitivistic diaperless movement), as well as what I think is the latest example (linked by Glenn Reynolds yesterday) -- running barefoot -- have in common?

The old way was better? Bring back lost innocence? Things that evoke a return to simpler, more innocent times have enormous appeal, and while the modern glorification of primitive technology is not necessarily Luddism, the sentimental thinking involved reminds me of the noble savage meme. Back in the 1930s, people used to carry on about how silent films were... "better." While the YouTube video I saw at Ann Althouse's blog doesn't make the claim that the early Internet was "better," the popularity of the video is, I think, grounded in a yearning for the lost innocence -- and hopefully the restoration of -- earlier, supposedly better, times.

Hey, where it comes to love of innocence, I'm equally guilty! Not only do I like the anachronistic Grateful Dead, but my favorite music of all is the Doowop music of the early 1960s, just before the British invasion. I might not be fanatic enough to demand hearing it on the original 45 RPM records (much less virgin vinyl), though. Any old MP3 file (or even RA file) will do.

The love-of-the-unspoiled, natural-innocence phenomenon cuts across the political spectrum. Before the meme was debunked, spotted owls were once said to prefer "virgin" forests, as if they knew whether evil mankind had already taken something from the previous generation of trees.

If we carry this into the personal, sexual realm, what about virginity restoration? Not only is there such a movement in the United States, but various clinics offer surgery. But more and more women maintain that there is such a thing as "reclaimed" virginity. Or "secondary renewed" virginity.

Are these people merely fooling themselves? It's not my concern, and I don't see why this or any other sexual matter is the business of anyone other than the people involved. It's really of no concern to me that people might fetishize mechanical watches, even virgin "movements," so why should I care whether someone wants to restore a ruptured hymen? I hope they're not feeling pressured, though, because according to one website with a high Google ranking, the loss of virginity is often caused by "peer pressure." If that is so, it strikes me that substituting one form of peer pressure for another might not lead to true independence. But that's just me, and I have an admitted, probably anachronistic desire for that ever elusive thing called "independence."

I can certainly understand why ceasing to have sex could lead to increased feelings of independence, but it seems to me that calling abstinence or chastity "virginity" does not make it so. Ceasing to ring a bell simply cannot "unring" it.

In Europe, Muslim women are having the restorative surgery and then purchasing virginity certificates:

Wrobel is one of an unknown number of gynecologists in France who are willing to repair hymens, the membrane usually broken by the first act of sexual intercourse. He was one of few doctors willing to talk about it.

Wrobel says women come to him having convinced themselves that the procedure will somehow reverse the irreversible. "They tell me, 'I'll be a virgin again. You will make me a virgin,' which in reality is totally false .... It's a secret we share."

Other doctors issue false virginity certificates or offer such tricks as spilling a vial of blood on the sheets to fool families into believing the bride has passed their purity bar.

Virginity has traditionally been prized across religions and cultures. Doctors note that only a few generations ago, European non-Muslim brides also had to furnish documentary "proof" of chastity.

In France today, with an estimated 5 million Muslims - the largest such population in western Europe - it's part of the larger question of how to deal with cultural clashes ranging from head scarves in schools to sexual segregation in swimming pools.

A 2005 government report addressing culture clashes in hospitals, which was issued a year after Muslim head scarves were banned from classrooms, briefly mentions the virginity issue, asking doctors to refuse to issue false certificates.

Isabelle Levy, author of "Religion in the Hospital," decries both certificates and hymen repair, saying deception "increases the moral suffering."

Well, it might. Surgery followed by "virginity certification" is a form of lying, especially if such a thing matters to a spouse, and it hardly seems like the basis for an honest and open relationship. OTOH, men who regard women as mere chattel are probably more concerned with their value and status (which would seemingly be increased) than honesty or openness.

I don't know whether it's the Kaelian principle, but I don't know anyone into virginity restoration. But I think I can understand the appeal, and it ought not surprise anyone that entrepreneurs in Asia have come up with the closest thing possible to a virginity restoration kit:

No more worry about losing your virginity. With this product, you can have your first night back anytime. Insert this artificial hymen into your vagina carefully. It will expand a little and make you feel tight. When your lover penetrate, it will ooze out a liquid that look like blood not too much but just the right amount. Add in a few moans and groans, you will pass through undetectable. Its easy to use, clinically proven non-toxic to human and has no side effects, no pain to use and no allergic reaction.
I can't help notice that while it is being marketed as a sex toy, it is causing a great deal of consternation in the Mideast.
Conservative Egyptian lawmakers have called for a ban on imports of a Chinese-made kit meant to help women fake their virginity and one scholar has even called for the "exile" of anyone who imports or uses it.

The Artificial Virginity Hymen kit, distributed by the Chinese company Gigimo, costs about $30. It is intended to help newly married women fool their husbands into believing they are virgins -- culturally important in a conservative Middle East where sex before marriage is considered by many to be illicit. The product leaks a blood-like substance when inserted and broken.

Gigimo advertises shipping to every Arab country. But the company did not answer e-mails and phone calls seeking comment on whether it had orders from Egypt or other parts of the Middle East.

Um, I can see why. A number of men in Asia are turned on by virginity, but because it's a sexual fetish with them, it's not so much real virginity they want as the appearance of it. Like men who pay prostitutes to dress as school girls, or gay men who fetishize having sex with "police officers."

Which leads to the inevitable but unpleasant question.

Is there a difference between real fake and fake fake?

Women in the Mideast are looking for the "real" variety of fake virginity, because they genuinely want to pass themselves off as virgins. That is clearly not the idea behind the product, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Chinese manufacturers find the Mideast attitude confusing. From a purely business standpoint, it certainly wouldn't be their target market, because if you think about it, the goal is always repeat business, and women who seek "real" virginity restoration would in most cases only need the product for their wedding night, but not again. The real money is in the girls seeking repetitive fakery. The fake fakes.

Hmmm.... Am I reversing things? Maybe the fake fakes are more real than the real fakes.

This hall of mirrors thinking is all too much for me, as I only learned about this last night.

Anyway, the Egyptian Brotherhood is pissed, and it all started because of Radio Netherlands:

The fracas started when a reporter from Radio Netherlands broadcast an Arabic translation of the Chinese advertisement of the product. That set off fears of conservative parliament members that Egyptian women might start ordering the kits.

Sheik Sayed Askar, a member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood who is on the parliamentary committee on religious affairs, said the kit will make it easier for Egyptian women to give in to temptation. He demanded the government take responsibility for fighting the product to uphold Egyptian and Arab values.

I'm assuming the latter are incompatible with Netherlands values.

I do not mean to be facetious. In the Mideast, people are quite willing to kill each other over this stuff.

Prominent Egyptian religious scholar Abdel Moati Bayoumi said anyone who imports the artificial hymen should be punished.

"This product encourages illicit sexual relations. Islamic culture forbids these relations except within the confines of marriage," Bayoumi said. "I think this should absolutely not be allowed to be exported because it brings more harm than benefits. Whoever does it (imports it) should be punished."

In a country and a region where pre-marital sex is so taboo it can even lead to a woman's murder, the debate over the virginity-faking kit has revived Egypt's constant struggle to reconcile modern mores with more traditional beliefs -- namely, that a woman is not a virgin unless she bleeds after the first time.

Thanks to the Internet, the product's very existence is publicly known, and said to be threatening the country's existence.
The product is also causing a buzz on Egyptian blogs and news sites.

"If this thing enters Egypt, the country is going to go to waste. God protect us," commented a reader on the Web site of Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm Al-Sabie.

Marwa Rakha, an author and blogger who writes about dating issues, sees the product as a tool of empowerment for women in a macho Arab culture that restricts women's sexual urges but turns a blind eye to men galavanting.

"It sticks it in the face of every male hypocrite," she said.

But sticking it in the face of male hypocrites was not the idea behind the product!

The idea was to offer a product that would turn men on.

Or is there something wrong with that? (Some say yes, some say no, so I have to ask.)

Back to the joys of mechanical watches:

These timepieces give back to us that visual splendour of a beautiful work of art. Its very beating heart laid bear by the window into its soul, allows us to gaze upon it in wonderment at the intricacies of its moving micro-organs. The graceful sweep of the seconds hand enthrals the best of us. The rapid beat of the tick-a-tick-a quickens our own pulse. And aahh, the quiet whirr of the rotor as we swing our arms What do you call this, but pleasure of the highest order, from its existence on your wrist? What better feedback can we ask for? This and the comforting feeling that they will be by our sides faithful companions sharing our lives and experiences being there with us for a long time to come. Something that we cannot say for sure with the quartz. Once their life is up, they will fall by the wayside.

It is the same with a winding watch our careful, gentle, loving ministrations in our ritual winding coaxes it to life. It is our own special time that we spend with it every day. And oooh that feel of a Patek winding experience deliciously smooth and creamy, coming together with that fine pitched ratcheted sound tactile ECSTASY!

And you wonder why you can't explain your love!

No, I've long since ceased wondering.

Come to think of it, I ceased wondering about the same time I ceased winding.

posted by Eric on 10.06.09 at 10:36 AM


I've been looking for a wind-up watch, I miss mine.

I have two that take batteries, they're both in my nightstand because the batteries died and I haven't replaced them.
With a wind-up watch, I'll never have that problem.

In other words, I want a wind-up watch because I'm lazy.

Veeshir   ·  October 6, 2009 11:59 AM

Even owning a watch is a useless affectation unworthy of modern thinkers. My mobile phone keeps atomic time, dude.

It makes me laugh to hear a Tourneau advert descibing how some explorer asshole used his timepiece( even more expensive than a watch is a timepiece) to discover the fucking Titanic! Because it was water-resistant to 1000 feet!

But I suppose that works here in the anti-intelligent, ignorant USSA. Pathetic.

dr kill   ·  October 6, 2009 2:28 PM

Now that's a good anti-watch rant.

I wish I could be with you, but I like watches, I always have.
I still remember my first Timex. I won it for selling the most candy bars or Xmas ornaments or something. It had a rubber band that made my wrist smell terrible when I left in on for a long time.
I can still smell that smell. I kind of liked it.

Veeshir   ·  October 6, 2009 4:42 PM

uhhhh.... there's a lot of useless crap passing as "progress".

Ya gotta have a gimmick. Ya gotta create a new need - so you can sell a new product.

Yet American capitalism long ago satisfied most basic human needs.

A lot of change/redesign is not really motivated by anything but maintaining the illusion of progress. The old way really was just fine.

Our food processor broke after 15 years of occasional service. When we went to the store, it was a whole new world.

My wife latched on to a larger model with 3 bowls and wide mouth.

"You can slice whole onions and potatoes" she said. The promotional photo showed a whole eggplant in the chute.

"How often have you needed to do that? And how often did the amounts justify hauling out the processor, and then cleaning all the pieces?"

It really is easier and quicker to do 90 percent of the day-to-day work with a good knife. Or a 50-dollar mandoline slicer that stores in a drawer.

- Are today's running shoes really that much better than shoes 20 years ago? Or is it just flashy pseudo-science?

- Do most people need all the functions on the typical digital watch? Or know how to use them?

et cetera.

Sure some of it is romanticism. But a lot of it is pushing back and throwing out the garbage that didn't really add to life.

Ben-David   ·  October 6, 2009 7:20 PM

If these Chinese-made faux hymens are going to destroy the Middle East as we know it, can we carpet bomb the Taliban regions of Aghanistan, Sadr City, Iraq, and the entire Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with these devices, ASAP?

Rhodium Heart   ·  October 6, 2009 7:37 PM

As long as the State of Arkansas can continue to ban sex toys, I think we might want to be modest in laughing about other cultures' hang-ups on sex.

John Burgess   ·  October 6, 2009 9:23 PM

As long as the State of Alabama can continue to ban sex toys, I think we might want to be modest in laughing about other cultures' hang-ups on sex.

John Burgess   ·  October 6, 2009 9:24 PM

Sorry about the double post. Arkansas was cited by mistake.

John Burgess   ·  October 6, 2009 9:25 PM

Wind up watches have their problems. Mainsprings break. Dirt changes the time and sometimes stops them all together.

I miss the old LED watches. They were such battery hogs that you never knew the time unless you pushed the button. Where is my old National Semiconductor watch?

M. Simon   ·  October 7, 2009 12:18 AM

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