How T.I. Helps Us Recognize That Virginity Is a Social Construct

The rapper revealed that he tags along on his daughter's gynecological visits to make sure she's a virgin. It's time to let go of old school mentalities that tie a woman’s worth to her body.

Over a week ago, rapper T.I. announced he joins his daughter on her annual gynecologist appointments. He confirmed this fact to Nazanin Mandi and Nadia Moham as a guest on their “Ladies Like Us” podcast.

Although the episode was deleted by these ladies shortly after, the opening to the conversation can still be found online.

“I think that most kids in hindsight, looking back, they always thank their parents for not allowing them to damage themselves as much as they could have,” says the 39-year-old rapper, leading into the conversation on the “sex talk.”

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Known as a strict and responsible father, this seems like the beginning to a regular conversation on family life. Fathers are usually seen as the backbone of their households. Culturally, black fathers are seen as those who instill respect and strength into their children — of course, that’s not to say black mothers do not and aren’t capable of doing the exact same.

Personally, having spent some time with my strict Black father, I wasn’t shocked to hear T.I. is overprotective. Not say it’s right or necessary, but given his alleged history of infidelity, T.I.’s watchful behavior toward his now 18-year-old daughter, Deyjah Harris, is predictable. He’s allowed fear to control his parenting. Even though her moving out of the house would ostensibly grant her more freedom, the leeway most receive after leaving the nest wasn’t just given.

Then he dropped some unexpected news that made everyone pause, then think, “Wait a minute … did I hear that?”

After hearing the news that T.I. regularly asked the OBGYN to basically perform a virginity test on his daughter, I said, “No. Just… no.” I Googled the news to know if it was true or hysteria. There it was, multiple search results claiming that T.I. does in fact ask the doctor to check his daughter’s hymen. Shortly afterward, the internet was in flames calling him out on his intrusive behavior.

T.I. even admitted to sitting in the room and telling his daughter to sign away her confidentiality rights. Telling, not asking her. Because he wants to hear everything and remain present while the doctor shares her medical information.

There are so many things wrong with this. I’m not going to speak about the rapper solely. Why? He only shed light on a demeaning thought process and action that many women have experienced. I’m very open to different views and beliefs, but if you’re a man or woman who sees this as right, it’s time to get with the times. Join us in understanding that the old-school argument isn’t an excuse.

Being an old-school parent who demands respect is completely different from being a parent that acts out of complete apprehension and paranoia. Especially if controlling your daughter’s body and expecting to know the intimate details of her sexuality is seen as appropriate. Or, if you find it smart to pressure her into signing away her medical rights as a now legal adult.

Sure, what happens in everyone’s household is technically private. But people respond when you’re airing out the details of your personal life in the open. Which means T.I. probably doesn’t feel he has anything to hide and couldn’t care less about public opinion.

Just because people in your household don’t object doesn’t mean it’s not wrong. Whether it’s public or kept private. This screams sexism and misogyny on a number of levels.

The amount of discomfort this so-called test can cause women is sad and traumatic as f–k. Women are constantly told to be ashamed of their bodies. Simply because of many fathers’ anxieties over her being “tainted” by another man. The same apprehensions men feel toward their actions are projected onto the women in their lives. Be it their daughters, wives or anyone else.

That’s why women carry an inherited guilt. The obsolete mentality of a woman’s value being measured by her purity doesn’t even make sense. Because as many doctors and Planned Parenthood shortly made note of after T.I.’s interview was released, virginity is a social construct. It isn’t real everyone. It doesn’t exist. Believe it or not. It’s just a made-up concept created centuries ago.

Let that resonate — it was created centuries ago.

If this explanation isn’t enough, even parties such as the United Nations and World Health Organization dispelled the ludicrous idea behind virginity tests. As mentioned by the Washington Post, both organizations called the examination “medically unnecessary, and oftentimes painful, humiliating and traumatic.”

As the World Health Organization has previously said, “The term ‘virginity’ is not a medical or scientific term. Rather, the concept of ‘virginity’ is a social, cultural and religious construct — one that reflects gender discrimination against women and girls. Performing this medically unnecessary and harmful [virginity] test violates several human rights and ethical standards including the fundamental principle in medicine to ‘do no harm.’ WHO recommends that this test should not be performed under any circumstances.”

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Hopefully, it doesn’t seem like it’s just me or Planned Parenthood standing up for one young girl now. It really means people are standing up for many young girls who might be too afraid to voice their disdain toward annual virginity checkups.

The membrane located at the bridge of the vulva can either wear away due to physical activities like gymnastics or even just riding a bike. Or, just thin away with age — a physical factor doesn’t necessarily have to contribute to anything. Up to 50% of teens who are sexually active might even have their hymen intact because of how flexible the tissue is.

Women who grew up in religious families are often taught to believe their sexual organs and habits are tied to their self-worth and value in society. Passing down the message that for a man to love them they must remain “pure” and act like “good girls” is detrimental to their self-worth. We’re in 2019, okay; sex is everywhere now and engaging in sexual activity shouldn’t be shunned for women. Women don’t have to behave to be worthy of love and acceptance.

Just because a celebrity sparked the conversation doesn’t mean other women cannot relate. Even as children, women begin feeling the stigma over their sexuality.

A woman should be allowed to act in whatever way she pleases. If modesty is her decision, then so be it. There’s an emphasis on decision in that sentence because, in the same way men get to choose to act in a certain way, women shouldn’t be boxed into separate categories and labeled. Let’s give women a choice instead of leading her to think she can’t trust her judgment.

Women can coexist somewhere between the dichotomy of being a “slut” for having sex or a “prude” for deciding not to. This concept of purity shouldn’t be a marker of who she is as a human being. That mentality is formulated at home with our fathers, and if he’s constantly making his daughter feel powerless or like she can’t make decisions then it can emerge negatively in her adult life. Especially with other men, who can easily take advantage of these traits.

Of course, not everyone will agree with this. But it’s a fact that women take this burden more often than men during their youth, just because their bodies will one day be sexualized. All over an act they may not even experience until they leave the house, over fear their family won’t love or respect them anymore. That’s an unhealthy and toxic mentality to instill in anyone just for the sake of “keeping her safe.”

Yes, women have more to lose in terms of sex. Pregnancy being the biggest one. But, like Marie Claire and The Fuller Project’s ongoing investigative journalism on the subject shows: a virginity test isn’t just hurting a girl’s feelings; it’s controversial and can result in very evident traumas. There’s a very large grey area, and the report published shortly before T.I.’s commentary does an amazing job of showing how women’s lives are dramatically altered by families who view a daughter’s virginity as a price tag of her worth.

Honestly, conversations about empowering our daughters, instead of making them scared, need to be more popular. Fear works but, in this day, and age, only temporarily. Fathers like T.I. need to realize that intelligent men embolden the women in their lives. Those are the men that help make women smarter, and unafraid of the world. They don’t ignorantly regulate them and encourage submission out of trepidation.

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