Earlier this month, hip-hop artist and record producer T.I. revealed that every year, he visits the gynecologist with his now 18-year-old daughter to ensure that her hymen is “still intact” and that she has not lost her virginity. By telling his daughter to sign paperwork that will allow him to oversee her patient information, T.I. has crossed the line.
Although he claims to recognize the many other ways a hymen can break –– including horseback riding, cycling, and sports –– T.I. says his daughter does not participate in those activities and concludes that a broken hymen indicates sexual activity. When asked whether or not he was as rigorous with his 15-year-old son’s sexual activity, T.I. said he wasn’t and was okay with the knowledge of his son being sexually active.
These checks often called “virginity tests,” have long been condemned by health organizations for their lack of effectiveness and accuracy. An intact hymen is not a reliable indicator of virginity according to years’-worth of scientific research. These tests are not based on scientific fact and are widely considered unethical among medical professionals. Last year, the World Health Organization publicly proclaimed it an example of violence against women.
Not only are these tests inconclusive, they often tend to humiliate and degrade young women and girls. In several countries around the world, including India, Turkey, and Egypt, an intact hymen is an indicator of virginity and thus a method of measuring a woman’s worth. In some cultures, the test is used to determine the value of a potential wife. In Indonesia, it is reported that women must comply with a hymen check in order to meet the applicable standards of the country’s police force.
Similarly, studies in reproductive health have found that virginity tests can cause psychological, social, and emotional harm to those examined. Women can feel ostracized for their sexual choices by a test which perpetuates the harmful notion that sexual activity alters a woman’s character and value.
Virginity testing, which can be dated back centuries, is inherently rooted in misogynistic ideals. Not only are these tests conducted for immoral reasons, but the very nature of the test and its results also reiterate the antiquated idea that women’s bodies and sexuality must be controlled.