Rapper T.I.’s Comments on His Daughter’s Hymen Check Exposes Dangerous Myths and Misconceptions About Women
|thenorthstar||Nov 8, 2019|
Rapper T.I. faced a wave of backlash after admitting in a podcast interview that he forces his teenage daughter to go to the gynecologist every year with him to “check her hymen” and make sure it is “still intact.”
The practice of checking hymens, or so-called virginity tests, has been condemned by the United Nations (UN) as “degrading” and having “no scientific validity.”
During an interview with Nazanin Mandi and Nadia Moham on Ladies Like Us, T.I. said that he goes to the gynecologist every year with his 18-year-old daughter Deyjah Harris.
“So we’ll go and sit down and the doctor comes and talk, and the doctor’s maintaining a high level of professionalism,” T.I. said, according to BuzzFeed News. “He’s like, ‘You know, sir, I have to, in order to share information’—I’m like, ‘Deyjah, they want you to sign this so we can share information. Is there anything you would not want me to know? See, Doc? Ain’t no problem.’”
He later added that “as of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact.”
People on social media were quick to condemn T.I.’s remarks, noting that his comments reflect the myths surrounding women’s virginity. These myths have allowed society to judge women on their purity, morality, desirability and even their sexuality, and have subjected women to the control of men. They also criticized his apparent disregard for his daughter’s privacy and the fact that, at 18, she is legally an adult.
Dr. Randit Mishori, professor of family medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine and senior medical advisor at Physicians for Human Rights, called T.I.’s comments “beyond outrageous.”
“I think his behavior exposes deeply rooted myths and misconceptions about women, their anatomy, their autonomy, sexuality and role in society,” Mishori told The North Star. “I hope the backlash will help educate him and others who still hold such myths.”
Why Is It Important
Health care providers and international organizations have decried the practice of virginity tests, noting that virginity cannot be proven. In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on governments around the world to ban the practice of virginity testing. The organization proclaimed that the practice “violates several human rights and ethical standards, including the fundamental principle in medicine to do no harm.”
“A ‘virginity exam’ does not exist,” Maura Quinlan, M.D., an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University and legislative chair for the Illinois section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said in a statement provided to The North Star. “It’s a myth that any type of medical exam can prove if a woman is a virgin.”
Courtney Benedict, associate director of medical standards implementation at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, noted in a statement that having an intact hymen does not necessarily mean a woman has not had sex. “[S]ome people just naturally have hymens that are more open, and many other activities besides sex can stretch your hymen, such as riding a bike, doing sports, or putting a tampon or a finger in your vagina,” Benedict told The North Star. And some women are simply born without a hymen.
The idea of virginity itself is one not rooted in medicine, but rather a social construction.
“The hymen’s purported status is linked to antiquated ideas about virginity, and by extension a woman’s character, purity or desirability,” Mishori said. “To subject girls or women to a hymen exam is to endorse and reinforce gender inequality, and to entrench stereotyped notions of female sexuality.”
Who’s At Risk
It is hard to say how common the practice of virginity tests are in the U.S. Mishori said that there is no way to count how often these exams are conducted. “All we have is anecdotal information from women and girls who had to undergo such degrading exams and from physicians, like me, who are asked to perform them,” the doctor told The North Star.
A report by Marie Claire revealed that young girls are often forced by their own parents to undergo these invasive “exams.” Girls and women from “deeply religious societies, or communities that systemically undermine women’s independence, autonomy and equality are at risk,” Mishori added.
Virginity Test Laws Around The World
Afghanistan: The Afghan government has discouraged the practice of virginity tests, issuing a new policy in 2018 that stopped clinics and hospitals from performing the intrusive exams. However, Afghan girls continue to be imprisoned and even killed in so-called honor killings because of these exams. Premarital sex is considered a moral crime in Afghanistan, and virginity tests sometimes lead to police getting involved. In August, reproductive rights activists Farhad Javid told NPR that after freeing 190 women and girls in Balkh province imprisoned for failing the test, he’ll turn his attention to Herat.
Bangladesh: In 2018, Bangladesh’s high court banned the “two-finger test” on rape victims. The court also ordered authorities to follow the health care protocols that the government adopted in 2017 that reflected the WHO’s policies, PTI reported.
Egypt: In 2011, a Cairo courtroom determined that forcing virginity tests on female detainees during the Egyptian revolution was illegal. The court ordered an end to the practice, opening the door to possible financial compensation,The Guardian reported.
India: In 2013: India’s Supreme Court ruled that the “two-finger test” to determine if a victim of rape is sexually active violated the victim’s right to privacy, according to Reuters. The following year, the government announced guidelines that barred the practice, noting it “had no bearing on a case of sexual violence.” However, activists said in 2018 that the intrusive test continues to be performed.
U.S.: There are currently no federal or state laws barring the practice of virginity tests, and the ACOG has not issued an official guideline that references the practice. “As a medical organization, it would not be appropriate for ACOG to have this, because it is not medically indicated or a valid medical procedure,” ACOG said in a statement to The North Star.
Marie Claire A Test With No Answer
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia, Australia and the Americas.