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Vexing virginity testing: T.I. violates daughter's rights

In the past week, rapper T.I. has faced criticism after boasting on a recent podcast that he goes to the gynecologist with his 18-year-old daughter Deyjah Harris yearly to ensure that her hymen is still “intact.” T.I.’s bold statement prompted outrage across various social media sites and newspaper platforms, for a number of reasons. 

The podcast, titled “Ladies Like Us” and hosted by Nazanin Mandi and Nadia Moham, invited T.I. to discuss a range of topics. After receiving low reviews, this episode has been removed from Apple Podcasts.

One of the issues people found with T.I.’s statement is that the logic behind “virginity testing” is faulty, to say the least. Experts say that there really is no “test” for virginity. Virginity testing is a violation of girls’ and women’s rights, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO stated that these tests are often damaging to a girl’s physical and mental well-being, and have absolutely no scientific basis. 

Testing for an “intact” hymen is ridiculous and outdated. The hymen is a thin membrane that can be torn or stretched from a number of activities, such as sports, tampon use or sex. 

Not to mention, every person with a vagina has a different hymen, and some girls aren’t even born with a hymen. These tests do nothing more than reinforce an already harmful view of female sexuality. 

It’s also altogether humiliating to have a parental figure demanding to know such intimate information, especially in front of a doctor. As most people that visit a gynecologist know, the ordeal is pretty intrusive from start to finish. Being in such a vulnerable state with a parent is another experience entirely. 

There should be more conversation about how awkward and uncomfortable these visits can be, especially if a demanding parent is there. These sort of pressured circumstances happen more than you may think. Forced gynecologist visits are a reality for many people, and has a lot more to do with restricting female sexuality than overall health. 

After an individual turns 18 years old, parents no longer have the right to see a child's medical record, and have to seek permission from the individual. Legally, Harris's father has no right to know what occurs in her gynecologist appointments. 

Moreover, Harris is a young adult that is in her first year of college. As long as she understands safe, consensual sex, her sexual life should remain private. Exploring one’s sexuality is a perfectly normal and necessary part of human existence. Why must women be shamed for something entirely natural? 

The “virginity testing” also uncovers a level of hypocrisy of T.I.’s parenting. Recent footage shows T.I. admitting that he holds his younger 15-year-old son to a different standard than Harris. In an episode of their reality TV show, his son admitted to being sexually active

Although not being too pleased, T.I. said, “ ... I will definitely feel different about a boy than I will about a girl. And that's just the God's honest truth. I don't think there's any father out there who'll tell you any different.”

This means T.I. is praising his son for the very thing he is condemning his daughter for. Boys, girls and non-binary individuals must be raised the same way. There should be no stigma around a woman losing her virginity in a safe and healthy way. 

This horrendous display of masculinity represents a deeper problem in our misogynistic society. The fact that T.I. believes he deserves to know the intimate details of his daughter’s sex life is altogether disturbing. More than anything, it implies that he has ownership over his daughter’s body. 

Daughters are reduced to nothing more than their sexuality, and it needs to end. Women have far more to offer than whether they’re virgins. 

Virginity is a social construct. A woman’s value shouldn’t come from whether they’ve slept with anyone before, and women simply cannot be defined by these old notions any longer.

There is something so entirely threatening to people about female sexuality. Women across the world have died due to these harmful tests. Policing women’s bodies only demeans half the population and stifles us from achieving our full potential. 

Even though these topics may be uncomfortable to discuss, it’s essential to discuss the implications behind these sorts of statements. Parents in general, and fathers specifically, need to understand that they hold no claim over their children’s bodies. 

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