A few weeks ago, rapper T.I. shared with the world that he takes his 18-year-old daughter to the gynecologist every year to ‘check’ that she still has her hymen. After significant backlash, New York State is considering a ban on “virginity tests” altogether.
T.I., 39, made these comments on a podcast episode of the Red Table Talk, which has since been taken down. Listeners expressed outrage on social media, criticizing T.I. and questioning the practice of ‘hymen checks’ in general.
T.I. has since claimed he’s “incredibly apologetic” to his daughter, and insists the conversation was “very joking.” His daughter deleted all of her social media accounts shortly after the podcast aired.
Many gynecologists have debunked “virginity tests,” noting the hymen has no relation to someone’s sexual activity. That’s in addition to the practice being a violation of a woman’s body, especially when she’s not choosing to be “tested.”
Last year, the United Nations Human Rights for Women and the World Health Organization (WHO) jointly called for the end of “virginity testing” based on its lack of scientific basis and its “violation of the human rights of girls and women.”
“This practice is already happening,” said Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, who introduced the bill, told The New York Times. “T.I. proved this practice is already happening. T.I. basically endorsed the practice by saying very openly and casually that he had this exam performed on his daughter.”
Solages said T.I.’s comments made her “very angry” and “very upset,” and inspired her commitment to the bill. “To use your platform to say that you did this is just misogynistic, and it sets the women’s movement back,” she told NBC News.
According to Solages, the bill would ensure “women and girls across New York state are not traumatized or humiliated in having this medically unnecessary test performed on them.”
If the bill passes, any medical professional who performs these “tests” could face professional misconduct penalties and possible criminal charges. The bill already has three co-sponsors in the Assembly.
But what exactly is a “virginity test?” Stephanie McClellan, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN), told Refinery29 that during the “test,” a doctor would look to see if the hymen is “stretched or lacerated.” The hymen, a thin layer of tissue located near the vaginal opening, varies among bodies.
Some people have thinner layers of tissue than others, while others are born with hymens that are naturally open, or without one at all. Sex can impact the hymen, but so can riding a horse or inserting a tampon, so it’s not truly connected to virginity, Heather Bartos, MD, an OB/GYN, told Refinery29. But in many places, “virginity tests” are still common, and sometimes even required before marriage.
Because the procedure lacks scientific validity, many doctors say they would be in favor of seeing it banned. “I want to state that the idea that a parent would bring their daughter to a doctor to perform such a test is not only archaic — it violates an individual’s right to bodily autonomy,” McClellan said.
Per Bartos, “Virginity checks are archaic and have no place in modern medicine.”