US rapper, actor and TV host TI has prompted revulsion after he revealed he accompanies his 18-year-old daughter Deyjah Harris to a gynaecological exam each year, for her hymen (and therefore virginity) to be checked – a practice condemned as “humiliating and traumatic” by the World Health Organisation.
The rapper is a major celebrity in the US, where he has had seven Top Five albums, three of them reaching No 1. He has had roles in films including American Gangster, Entourage and the Marvel movie Ant-Man and its sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp. He is currently appearing alongside Cardi B and Chance the Rapper in Rhythm + Flow, a talent competition on Netflix.
Asked on the Ladies Like Us podcast about sex education for his children, he said: “Not only have we had the conversation, we have yearly trips to the gynaecologist to check her hymen. Yes, I go with her … I will say, as of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact.”
He acknowledged a woman’s hymen can be broken outside of sexual activity, but countered by saying: “So then they come and say, ‘Well, I just want you to know that there are other ways besides sex that the hymen can be broken like bike riding, athletics, horseback riding and just other forms of athletic physical activity’. So I say, ‘Look, Doc, she don’t ride no horses, she don’t ride no bike, she don’t play no sports. Just check the hymen, please, and give me back my results expeditiously.’” The comments have since been edited out of the podcast.
In 2018, virginity tests like these were condemned by three United Nations agencies: the World Health Organisation (WHO), UN Human Rights and UN Women. A statement read: “This medically unnecessary, and often times painful, humiliating and traumatic practice must end … WHO states that there is no evidence that either method can prove whether a woman or girl has had vaginal intercourse or not.”
Among hundreds of disgusted tweets reacting to the rapper’s comments, the sexual health nonprofit organisation Planned Parenthood tweeted: “Idk who needs to hear this but virginity is a made-up social construct, and it has absolutely nothing to do with your hymen … Some people think you can tell if someone’s had sex before if their hymen is stretched open. But that’s not the case.”
TI and Harris have not commented since the podcast was released, though Harris has liked tweets condemning her father, including one that described his behaviour as “disgusting, possessive and controlling”.