T.I., the rapper-turned-judge on Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow, became embroiled in controversy this week when he confessed he accompanied his daughter to her annual gynecology appointments to verify that she’s still a virgin. During a podcast interview, he said he insisted that the doctor check Deyjah Harris for a hymen and then share the results with him.
For a while, T.I. became the top trending topic on Twitter. It’s not particularly surprising given that social media users were pretty uniform in disapproving of this brand of overprotective parenting. Plain and simple, it’s troublesome on several levels.
It’s not scientific
Foremost, the idea that a hymen is an indicator of chastity is an overhyped myth. Yes, some women will have their hymen broken during their first sexual experience, but many more will have the tissue torn in any number of manners - physical activity, masturbation, and tampon use to name a few - prior to losing their virginity. According to T.I., the doctor even explained as much to him, however T.I. insisted that he wanted a hymen inspection conducted anyway.
She’s an adult with bodily autonomy
As an eighteen-year-old college student, Deyjah is at a normal, healthy age when many people explore their sexualities. More importantly, she’s legally an adult and completely entitled to make these decisions for herself, whether her father likes it or not.
One of the more disturbing details from the interview is when T.I. says he told the doctor, “Just check the hymen, please, and give me back my results expeditiously.” Sorry, did he say his results? It’s Deyjah’s body and therefore her test results.
It reinforces the faulty idea that purity is an ideal for women
A woman is not less of a person based on her sexual behaviors. The fact that women can so frequently be shamed for participating in a normal, biologically motivated human activity just goes to show why this attitude needs to be attacked for the double standard it is.
He’s being hypocritical
Indeed, it is a sexist double standard when you consider that men aren’t measured by the same purity metrics. It’d be one thing if T.I. were to be the poster child for chastity himself, but he has albums full of songs featuring explicitly sexual lyrics. Where does he get off thinking he can boast about sexual exploits while demanding his daughter remain a virgin?
It’s a terrible way to keep the lines of communication open with your child
If T.I. wants to genuinely build the kind of relationship where Deyjah can speak to him about sex, he’s going about it entirely wrong. Given the distrust T.I. has demonstrated to his daughter by crashing her doctor’s appointment, the odds aren’t good that Deyjah will want to open up to him about it.
There’s no consent
Perhaps worst of all, the incident carries some bad messages about consent. Deyjah does not appear to have any say in whether she involves T.I. in her gynecological examination, so he’s setting a bad example of tolerating another man to have ownership over her body.