Rapper T.I. came under fire today for disclosing on an episode of the podcast, Ladies Like Us, that he takes his eldest daughter to the gynecologist every year to “check her hymen” to ensure it is still intact. T.I. went on the show to talk about many things including his parenting style. The hosts asked T.I. whether or not he had given the “sex talk” to his children and that is where the interview begin to take a turn for the worst. T.I. replies smugly with, “Not only have we had the conversation — we have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen,” and followed with “Yes, I go with her.” T.I. weird obsession with his daughter’s virginity started when she was only 16 years old. He tells the interviewers that he put a sticky note on his daughter’s door the day after her 16th birthday which stated he scheduled her a gynecologist visit for the next day. Imagine waking up and seeing that on your door.
Virginity testing is an “inspection of female genitalia designed to determine whether a woman or girl has had vaginal intercourse”. The World Health Organization has called for the elimination of such tests for three reasons: they are not based in scientific reason, the violate the human rights of girls and women, and they put people at risk. The idea of an intact hymen equaling one being a virgin came to be nearly 500 years ago, after anatomist Andreas Vesalius incorrectly made the connection. These “tests” involve the utilization of fingers or the insertion of a speculum into the vagina to locate the hymen or determine the elasticity of the vaginal walls, neither of which can determine whether or not a woman has had intercourse or not. In the interview, T.I. admitted he understood the hymen could be broken from activities other than sex, his response when the doctor informed him of such was, “Look, Doc, she don’t ride no horses, she don’t ride no bike, she don’t play no sports. Just check the hymen, please, and give me back my results expeditiously.” He concluded that section of the interview by proudly stating, “as of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact.”
The response to his statements on the podcast has been overwhelming negative, which indicates many are against a father blatantly invading a very personal part of his daughter’s life. T.I.’s tradition of taking his daughter for annual hymen checks is problematic because these tests are not based in scientific reason, violate women’s human rights, and they put people at risk, as stated by the World Health Organization. There have been no tests rooted in scientific fact that can determine one’s sexual activity. Hymen checks simply check for the existence of a hymen and that is it, whether or not the hymen is there or intact has no relation to one’s sexual activity. Doctors know that many women are born without hymens and that they can be torn from a number of non-sexual activities including riding a bike, horseback riding, and using tampons. Yet many continue to practice such tests to please the men that come in for them, such as T.I. This leads to the next reason, the woman who is receiving the test is usually not the one that comes in seeking it, it either her father or potential husband. For some, virginity is something very important to their culture, however, that does not minimize the fact that many women receiving these tests have been pressured into getting them from their family and their community. A woman not willing to take a hymen test can be ostracized from her community which can damage her mental health significantly. The element of coercion makes this something most women would not normally consent to under different circumstances and therefore is a violation of their human right to personal autonomy. Finally, these tests cause harm. What happens to a woman if these inaccurate tests find that her hymen is not intact? She could face violence or be ostracized from her community. Another thing that is not talked about when discussing hymen checks is the trauma they can cause to sexual assault survivors. The invasiveness of the test combined with the violation of one’s personal autonomy due to it not being something actively decided by the woman can often retraumatize sexual assault survivors. There are many things wrong with hymen checks, the first being they are not rooted in science and the most important, they are a violation of one’s personal autonomy.
This is important to report because of how recent this interview took place. Buzzfeed first reported the story on the 6th of November… in 2019. People might think that this was something that occurred ages ago but this story highlights that this practice is continuing to this day. The practice is antiquated due to it being rooted in accuracies, yet that has not stopped people, even celebrities from using them. Sharing this story is also important because it brings to light many myths about virginity and how male virginity is not treated the same. There are people who believe that an intact hymen and blood during one’s first intercourse encounter equals virgin, and they could not be more wrong. Concepts like virginity were created as a way to police the actions of women. These tests were created to enforce the policing of women’s bodies, while men were free to have sex as much as they liked. Society has never cared much about preserving the virginal image of men, in fact, society has shamed men for the very thing they expect from women. T.I. himself said he knows his son is sexually active and that he views that different from his daughters. What kind of mental gymnastics does it take for something to be acceptable for one child and not the other? This interview showcases the differences that exist in society’s perception of male and female virginity and that hymen checking is still a thing in 2019.
Cillis, Hazel. “T.I.’s Comments On Daughter’s Hymen Are Creepy.” Jezebel, 6 Nov. 2019, jezebel.com/t-i-is-yet-another-overbearing-dad-doing-a-hymen-check-1839670812.
Forster, Lauren. “Why Virginity is a Social Construct.” Her Campus, 11 Oct. 2016, www.hercampus.com/school/western/why-virginity-social-construct.
“Interagency Statement Calls for the Elimination of ‘virginity-testing’.” World Health Organization, www.who.int/reproductivehealth/virginity-testing-elimination/en/.
Jones, Sophia. “Why Are American Doctors Performing Virginity Tests?” Marie Claire, 30 Oct. 2019, www.marieclaire.com/health-fitness/a29488743/virginity-testing-america-doctors/.
Lim, Clarissa-Jan. “T.I. Said He Goes To The Gynecologist With His Daughter Every Year To “Check Her Hymen”.” BuzzFeed News, 6 Nov. 2019, www.buzzfeednews.com/article/clarissajanlim/ti-daughter-hymen-check-doctor.
Twigger, Will. “Rapper T.I. says he goes to daughter’s gynaecologist appointments ‘to check she’s still a virgin’.” Mirror, 6 Nov. 2019, www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/rapper-ti-admits-goes-daughter-20827485.