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T.I. Taking His Daughter to Get Her Hymen 'Checked' Yearly Isn’t Just Creepy — It's Abusive

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Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Juliette Virzi, The Mighty’s mental health editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.

Editor's Note

If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

Update: On Thursday, “Ladies Like Us” podcast hosts Nazanin Mandi and Nadia Moham released a statement about the controversy on their personal Instagram accounts, apologizing for laughing when T.I. said he took his doctor to yearly gynecology appointments. 

“We were completely caught off guard/shocked and looking back, we should have reacted much differently in the moment,” they wrote. “The comments that were made and the reaction that followed are not in any way a reflection of our personal views on the topic. We support and love Women and feel that their bodies are theirs to do as they wish.” To read the full statement, head here.

On Tuesday’s episode of the “Ladies Like Us” podcast, rapper T.I. revealed he goes to the gynecologist with his 18-year-old daughter, Deyjah Harris, to make sure her hymen is “still intact” — something many people incorrectly believe indicates virginity.

“We have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen,” T.I. told podcast hosts Nazanin Mandi and Nadia Moham, adding that he began making these appointments for his daughter right after her 16th birthday party.

If this sounds f*cked up to you, it’s because it is.

Not only is T.I.’s behavior inappropriate and humiliating (we can’t forget the fact that he discussed his daughter’s vagina with the entire world!), it reinforces the idea that women only have value if they are virgins. If T.I.’s behavior is meant to show “care and concern” for his daughter, what happens on the day her hymen isn’t “intact” anymore? I shudder to imagine what his response might look like.

Contrary to popular (and archaic) belief, you can’t even asses whether a person is a virgin or not based on their hymen. For those who don’t know, the hymen is thin, fleshy tissue located at the vaginal opening and, like literally every other bodily structure, appears differently for everyone. According to Planned Parenthood, some people are born with so little hymenal tissue that it appears they don’t have a hymen at all.

Hymens can be stretched during intercourse, but can also be stretched during a number of other activities like riding a horse, playing sports or using tampons. In the podcast interview, T.I. mentioned his daughter’s doctor informed him the hymen can be broken during non-sexual activities, to which he replied:

“So I say, ‘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 said.

The whole situation is alarming, but one of the most concerning parts of the interview is the way T.I. coerces his daughter into sharing her exam results. In the interview he said:

We’ll go and sit down and the doctor will come and talk and the doctor’s maintaining a high level of professionalism. 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 wouldn’t want me to know?’ See doc? No problem.’

Yikes. In this moment, T.I. shows us exactly how he exerts his power over his daughter. When put in that situation, how could his daughter (or anyone for that matter!) say how she really felt or even say no to sharing information? His explanation doesn’t even include how she responded to his question, “Is there anything you wouldn’t want me to know?”

Social media users have (understandably) taken to Twitter to express their outrage over the situation:

Hey T.I., your 18-year-old daughter is an adult and she is not your property. You have no right to police her body or her sexuality. “Checking in” on her virginity isn’t good parenting, it’s abuse.

Let’s stop shaming women and creating an atmosphere of fear and anxiety around sex. Instead, let’s have productive and helpful conversations with young people, empowering them to make informed, safe and age-appropriate decisions about their own sex lives.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Alex Crick

Originally published: November 6, 2019
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