Rapper T.I.'s recent disclosure that he takes his daughter to the gynecologist to ensure that her hymen is still intact has prompted some New York lawmakers to introduce legislation to ban so-called virginity testing.
T.I.'s remarks on a podcast that aired last month sparked widespread backlash, including from medical experts who noted that the hymen is not a virginity indicator. The World Health Organization has called for the elimination of "virginity testing" — also referred to as a hymen or two-finger examination — that can supposedly show whether a female has had vaginal intercourse.
"T.I. used his platform, whether he was serious or sarcastic, to state all in all that women are property and you have to maintain your property is in good standing," said New York Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, a Democrat from Long Island, who introduced a bill last week to prohibit medical practitioners from conducting or supervising virginity tests.
Solages, a member of the Assembly Health Committee, said that while no procedure exists that can actually prove virginity, such unscientific tests still occur.
"This practice is already happening. T.I. proved this practice is already happening," the legislator said. "T.I. basically endorsed the practice by saying very openly and casually that he had this exam performed on his daughter."
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The assemblywoman said her goal is to ensure that "women and girls across New York state are not traumatized or humiliated in having this medically unnecessary test performed on them."
The bill stipulates that a medical professional who disregards the ban would be subject to professional misconduct penalties as well as possible criminal charges. As of Tuesday, it had three co-sponsors in the Assembly and companion legislation in the state Senate, Solages said.
T.I. said in an interview on the "Ladies Like Us" podcast that he made “yearly trips” to the gynecologist with his daughter, Deyjah, who is 18, to have the doctor check her hymen, which is a small lining of tissue partially covering the vaginal opening.
The rapper said that during one of those visits, a doctor informed him that the hymen can be broken by means other than sexual intercourse, such as "bike riding, athletics, horseback riding" and other "athletic physical activity."
T.I. said he told the gynecologist: "'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.'"
In a subsequent interview that aired last week on Jada Pinkett Smith's show, "Red Table Talk," T.I. said his intentions "have been terribly misconstrued" and his comments sensationalized.
He also said he is "incredibly apologetic" to his daughter about the negative publicity and attempted to clarify his initial remarks, saying that Deyjah's mother was present during the doctor visits and that he had never been in the exam room.
T.I. said his daughter had requested he not comment about the matter publicly after the backlash, but that he was doing so now with her permission.
"I didn’t get it. I was oblivious to it. However, I am now sensitive to it for her," he said.