Last week, rapper T.I. made international news when he appeared on the Ladies Like Us podcast and bragged about dragging his daughter, Deyjah, to the gynecologist every year for a hymen check. Yes, that’s right. A hymen check. In case anyone is unclear, the medical community as a whole, in addition to the WHO, unanimously agree that the state of a woman’s hymen has nothing to do with her virginity. In spite of this, T.I. seemingly feels that this is not only an accurate method of determination, but also any of his business.
I’ve sat with this story all week, read the articles, and looked into T.I. a bit as a person, a husband, and a father. He has another daughter. Is she also sexually bullied by her own father? He has a total of six children with three women, did he inspect the hymen of these women before bedding them? And his current wife, she had a child before they married. Why was she allowed to not be a virgin? And most interestingly, T.I has bragged numerous times of his 15-year-old son’s sexual activity, which is strange and off-putting for a host of other reasons.
Let’s talk for a moment about how his daughter must feel now. Not only has she been forced to go to the gynecologist with her father for however many years, as if that’s not embarrassing enough, he’s now publicly speaking about her medical history, the status of her vagina, and his pride at coercing her into signing over rights to her medical records. When I was 18, I thought my father’s bright white sneakers and tucked in shirts were embarrassing. I can’t even fathom how mortified she must be.
Why was no one else in that house a voice to stand next to this girl and shout “this is not okay!” I read that she unfollowed not only her father, but her stepmother and sister on her social media platforms. Have they been supporting him in the wake of all the backlash? Throwing her to the proverbial wolves to cope with the fallout on her own? Does the family come together to sexually bully her like other families have a game night? No one in the family, including Deyjah, has made any statements regarding this whatsoever.
And what is “virginity” anyway? I keep thinking about the scene in Chasing Amy where Holden and Alyssa are on the swings and he keeps insisting Alyssa must still be a virgin if she hasn’t had penetrative sex with a member of the opposite sex because that’s “the norm.” She knocks down every one of his criteria without missing a beat. Why is virginity so important? And, more accurately, why is it so important for WOMEN to be virgins, but not men?
Virginity, whatever that means, is nothing more than an antiquated ideal constructed to shame and control women into being afraid of their own desires. And so, to Deyjah, we stand with you. We are all your voice until you are able to use your own. We are here. You have an army of sisters whenever you need us.