Hymen. You probably didn’t think that as this decade is coming to a close that ‘hymen” would be a word that would go viral and have the whole world buzzing. You probably didn’t think that if you did a Google search for the rapper T.I. that “checks his daughter’s hymen” would come up on a search review or be in your search history. Yet here we are in 2019 talking about a young woman’s hymen, her privacy, her embarrassment, misogyny, and her father Clifford “T.I.” Harris as the ringleader of it all. Yes, here we all are.
It’s been nearly two weeks since the self proclaimed “King of Da South” rapper exclaimed on the the ‘Ladies Like Us’ podcast that every year he routinely has daughter’s, Deyjah Harris, hymen checked by her gynecologist to verify that she is still a virgin. T.I. even went as far to tell podcast hosts Nazanin Mandi and Nadia Moham “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.’” And that comment right there had Black Twitter and basically all Black social media dragging T.I. and taking him to task. Expeditiously.
If anyone had any questions on how Deyjah felt about her father’s comments you would have saw her liking posts coming to her rescue and sending her words of encouragement. Deyjah, who is now 18 years old and a freshmen in college, responded on Twitter with the comment, “I loveeeeeee yallllll???” Deyjah also liked supporters comments on Instagram but it appears that her response to the her father’s backlash may have caused a family rift because she unfollowed her father, stepmother Tiny, and stepsister Zonnique Pullins on Instagram days after. She also deleted her likes and response on Twitter. And as of November 17th Deyjah deleted her Instagram account. While the world may not know exactly what is going on and what Deyjah might be feeling or thinking one can only assume that its not good. And indeed must be very humiliating.
Since T.I.’s patriarchal comments everyone has had something to say about it. From Chrissy Tiegen, Iggy Azalea, to author and social media star Luvvie Ajayi have spoken out on T.I.’s outdated and humiliating approach to parenting and lack of respect for a woman’s body. Even the World Health Organization(also know as The WHO) issued a statement regarding T.I.’s comments saying his comments and views are “painful, humiliating, and traumatic.” The WHO also stated “there is no place for virginity (or two- finger) testing because it has no scientific validity. The practice is a violation of the human rights of girls and women and can be detrimental to women’s and girl’s physical, psychological, and social well-being.” Many outlets were also quick to point out that since Deyjah is 18 years old she would have had to sign a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (also known as a HIPPA) in order for the gynecologists to grant
T.I. access to the results of Deyjah’s gynecological exam. T.I. admitted on the ‘Ladies Like Us’ podcast that he in fact has gone through such measures and convinced Deyjah to sign a HIPPA by saying, “I’m like, ‘Deyjah, they want you to sign this so we can share information. Is there anything you would not want me to know? See,Doc? Ain’t no problem.’” For a father to go this far there are a myriad of thoughts and questions that come to mind including “Why is knowing your 18 year old daughter’s virginity status of importance to you?”
Just as quick as Black Twitter and the rest of the world came for T.I. the power of the internet proved strong again by resurfacing a June 2019 episode of their reality show, “Family Hustle”, where his 15 year old son King proudly admitted to being sexually active for a year. Meaning he was 14 years old when he first had sex, which is younger than his 18 year old big sister. During the episode T.I. didn’t appear to be enthusiastic upon hearing his son’s news but eventually laughed it off and has even stated, “I don’t want any of my children to have sex before it’s time for them, but who’s to say when it’s time. However, I will definitely feel different about a boy than I will about a girl.” This statement definitely shows a distinct level of hypocrisy and sexism and many in the world are not having it and have been taking T.I. to task because of it.
Another question many have posed is “why did two female podcast hosts allow this to continue and why didn’t they do or say something in defense of this young woman?” Hosts Mandi and Moham received harsh backlash for their laughter following T.I.’s admission and non-existent defense of Deyjah. Since being in this firestorm Mandi, and Moham have deleted that episode of the podcast and issued an apology statement on all their social media platforms stating “To everyone confused, angry, and hurt by the recent episode of ‘Ladies Like Us’, we want to start off by saying that we sincerely apologize for our knee jerk reaction to the uncomfortable topic. We were completely caught off guard/shocked and looking back, we should have reacted much differently in the moment.” Mandi and Moham continue to say in their statement that T.I.’s comments don’t directly reflect their personal views on the topic and that they value and respect women and their bodies. But in the age of the #METOO movement and standing up for women’s rights is their statement too little too late?
Needles to say T.I. has created a layer cake of disaster and has not commented on any of it. And it’s debatable if that is either wise or headstrong arrogance. Come Monday, Nov.25th the world will finally get T.I.’s take on it and to see if he has any regrets or remorse following the backlash as he and his wife Tiny will be appearing on the Facebook Watch show “Red Table Talk.” On November 19th Jada Pinkett Smith confirmed at AFI Fest in Los Angeles that T.I. and Tiny will in-fact appear on her show to discuss his controversial comments and will also be discussing their marriage.
As one decade is drawing to a close and another begins it is sad to think that what a woman does with and to her body is questioned while a man is not. T.I. claimed that he believes in old fashioned parenting and is doing his due diligence as a father and is trying to protect his daughter. But can national humiliation be really seen as protection? Are all old fashioned parenting tactics really healthy both mentally and emotionally?
When as parent is it time to let go and allow your children to have privacy concerning their sexual health and activity? Why is a young woman’s virginity more important than a young man’s? So many questions and it’s evident that while the world may have progressed in the areas of technology the world is still falling behind on the equal treatment of women and men and our bodies. We have to do better.