In a podcast posted by Ladies Like Us on November 5th, rapper and actor T.I. disturbingly admitted to making yearly trips to the gynaecologist with his daughter, 18-year-old Deyjah Harris to put her through “virginity tests.” A “virginity test” includes an invasive intrusion of the female body to examine the condition of the hymen. The hymen is a thin layer of flesh that lines the vagina, however, it has been proven that whether the hymen is intact or not, it is not a reliable indicator on the status of a woman’s “virginity”.
As was revealed to T.I. by Harris’ gynaecologist, the hymen can break by other means other than sex. For example, performing strenuous activities like bike riding, horseback riding, and exercising can affect it. T.I. has commented that that cannot be possible because “she doesn’t ride no horses, she doesn’t ride no bike, she doesn’t play no sports. Just check the hymen, please, and give me back my results expeditiously.’ In regards to his other children, he does not apply that standard to his 15-year-old-son. T.I. admittedly praises his sexual activity in the podcast.
At the reveal of this personal information, people from all over flocked to Twitter, expressing their shock and disgust over the situation. Twitter user @sweetseducingdy said, “This hymen talk is very strange and at the core of it teaches your daughters their bodies aren’t theirs. Don’t do that.” Many people agree with this take, others seem more apologetic to T.I.’s cause. @RookieBowHunts said, “While T.I is being weird about it, People are mad at him because he doesn’t support immorality and wants to raise his daughter to a certain standard.”
While I’m far from believing the latter take, I am shocked to find out that in this modern age of 2019 people still believe the hymen are any indication of “virginity,” a concept that holds no truth but constructed to socially oppress women. If I were to retweet something related to this news, I’d fall more in line with Planned Parenthoods take, “Idk who needs to hear this but virginity is a made-up social construct, and it has absolutely nothing to do with your hymen.”
Coincidentally a year prior to T.I.’s comment, “Virginity testing” has been condemned by the U.N., U.N. Human Rights’ and, World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2018 saying it “violates several human rights and ethical standards including the fundamental principle in medicine to do no harm,” which has been reported by Marie Claire and the Fuller Project. This procedure is a global issue not just contained in this recent incident. “Virginity testing” has been utilised by various cultures around the world to determine marriage eligibility and work eligibility. Failure to prove and intact hymen can result in torture, punish, imprison, and even murder depending on the country and cultural practice.
The media has not heard any commentary from Deyjah Harris, but it has been noted that she has been engaging with tweets that are contrarian to her father’s behavior. His recent actions don’t come to the public as a surprise either. In a previous podcast, he expressed similar alarming ownership over his wife’s body, “[T]hat little sex box you got is half mine. So you pick which side you want, and that’s yours. The rest of it is mine.”