CreateSpace, $9.75, ISBN 978-1453799758
Do Tampons Take Your Virginity? is a collection of anecdotes from author Marie Simas’s life with her Catholic Portuguese family. This is an occasionally humorous read, as you would know when you open the book and read about the ass towels in the home of Ms Simas’s parents. However, there is a very dark undercurrent to the humor, as her father was an abusive bigot while her mother was a submissive woman who bore the worst of the man’s abuse. Even the happier anecdotes contain snide references to the author’s parents, such as:
I remember having a fun time that day and I felt hopeful that I could be happily married one day, too. Not every marriage was a miserable goat fuck like my parents’ union.
Reading this slim book, therefore, is like getting a peek into the psyche of someone who seems to be sporting some world of hurt, only, she puts on a brave smile to reassure people that she is fine. Sometimes it becomes really painful to read, such as when the author recalls the moments when her father would force himself on her mother and the brutally horrific accounts of her mother’s final days.
Catholics have a love-hate relationship with sex. In most European and Latin American countries, it goes like this: the women are discouraged from having sex until marriage. The men, however, are encouraged to get laid as much as possible. This creates a real conundrum because, if all the women are waiting for marriage, how are the men going to get laid?
The answer is simple! You find a mentally disabled girl, get her drunk, and then gang rape her. Repeat. Problem solved.
However, this book ends on a more upbeat and even inspirational note as the author takes stock of her life and realizes that she has never let her past break her down. This seems clichéd and pedantic, I know, but Ms Simas has an engaging, if blunt and painfully honest, voice that makes the whole thing works. It is easy to get caught up in the heartbreak and the whole layers of hurt in her childhood, only to cheer the author on as she tries to shake off the shackles of her past. She stumbles along the way, of course, but in the end, she gets her happy ending.
Do Tampons Take Your Virginity? therefore seems like a quirky and amusing collection of anecdotes, but be aware that there is nothing humorous about the author’s accounts of her brutal childhood. And yet, despite the painfully raw emotions that scorch the pages, this story also manages to tell the tale of a young lady who manages to rise above the rampant and violent misogyny in her neighborhood to carve her out own life and make peace with the demons in her past.
I’m a coward, I won’t want to read this book again, but it’s been an effective cathartic trip while it lasted.