January 26, 2020
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Story tips, concerns, questions?

By Robin Renay Bolton, Co-Opinion Editor

I can’t speak for all women, but the thought of going to my gynecologist’s office fills me with absolute dread. It’s cold, sterile and completely unwelcoming.

There’s a nice nurse who takes your weight and height, asks a million questions about your sex life and then sits you in an empty room and tells you to undress and put on a paper-thin gown.

 Then in comes your doctor, a middle-aged man who is probably unphased about if you shaved down there or not. He’s probably seen a thousand lady parts in his day, so he’s completely used to it. But still, you’re uncomfortable.

You lie in the stirrups, with your legs spread and this strange man poking around in your private parts. You feel strange and embarrassed and can’t understand why because this is a normal part of life. This isn’t a sexual encounter, it’s a yearly checkup. You have to do this to make sure everything is how it’s supposed to be. Still, you want to cry because the experience is unpleasant at best.

Now imagine going through all that, with your father sitting in the room, asking your doctor “Is her hymen still intact? Is she still a virgin?”

Recently, famed rapper T.I., also known as Clifford Harris, was a guest on the “Ladies Like Us” podcast and explained he goes to his 18-year-old daughter’s yearly gynecologist appointments to make sure her hymen is still intact.

When the rapper was asked if he has had the “sex talk” with his daughter he stated “Deyjah’s 18, just graduated high school. Now she’s attending her first year of college, figuring it out for herself. And yes, not only have we had the conversation, we have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen.”

Harris goes on to recall how the doctor explained for him to be in the room, his daughter would have to sign a form permitting him to hear her results. Harris then turns to his daughter and asks, “Is there anything you don’t want me to know?” seemingly pressuring her into allowing him in the room.

Before giving the results, the doctor explained the hymen can be broken in many ways besides having sex. In response, the rapper said “‘Look doc, she don’t ride no horses, she don’t ride no bike, she don’t play no sports, man, just check the hymen please and give me back my results, expeditiously.’”

Give me back MY results. Not his daughter’s results about his daughter’s hymen. He said his results as if he laid in the stirrups and had a speculum inserted into his private parts to check if his hymen was still in place for an out of date, grossly embarrassing and traumatizing “virginity test”.

While many social media users were angry about Harris’ comments, quite of a few saw no issue with his actions. Some found it noble that a father cared so much about his daughter’s reproductive health. Others felt the rapper was protecting his daughter’s virtue. Most felt it was okay because many fathers are not okay with their daughters having sex. All those points are somewhat correct, in theory, but they all miss the point of the issue.

His daughter was pressured into having an unnecessary procedure done to comfort her father’s fears of his daughter having sex. This places shame on women for having sex.

Growing up, young women are taught their virginity is something precious that should be held on to, while that same pressure is typically not placed upon young men. We are taught we need to be virtuous and pure, so we can find a good man. Many boys are not taught the same.

The biggest problem with Harris’ comments is that his daughter’s wellbeing is a complete and utter afterthought. He did not sit in that room to make sure his daughter was healthy, he wanted to make sure she wasn’t having sex. He did not speak about this on a podcast with thousands of listeners because he thought it would help her, he did it to gloat about how his precious daughter is still pure and untouched. He exposed his daughter’s health for some weird and egotistical validation.

He spoke on his daughter’s sexual health without any thought or care of how this would affect her. He did all of this without her permission. After the podcast, Harris’s daughter trended on Twitter for three straight days. That’s three days of strangers discussing her private life which did not concern them. That’s three days of countless news articles being written about her. Three days of going to class and being glared and gawked at by classmates. Three days of being embarrassed because her father took away her body autonomy.

As a woman, we go through enough. We have men placing impossible standards of beauty upon us. We make considerably less at work, despite working just as hard as men. We have men making laws about our bodies when they will never understand how it feels to be a woman. It’s hard enough without having to deal with our very own father’s pressuring us into uncomfortable experiences.

Let Harris’ misguided attempts to prove his daughter’s virtue be a lesson to all men that a woman’s worth is not between her legs but in the very fiber of her being. Being virtuous does not mean being a virgin. It never has and it never will.

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