The Lalapop Art Banana

Virginity: A Tale As Old As Time

Imagine this scenario: every year, after your birthday, you go with your dad to the gynecologist where he forces you to get a virginity test. After 18 years of living this atrocity, your dad decides to go on a podcast and reveals your sexual information to a platform with thousands of followers. Your sexuality, privacy, and dignity were exposed and disrespected by the person who is supposed to protect and love you the most.

This is the reality of Dayjah, the daughter of rapper and actor T.I. On the podcast Ladies Like Us With Nazanin and Nadia, T.I proudly admitted to annually taking his eldest daughter to the gynecologist to get her hymen checked. Hear it all for yourself around the 45-minute mark. “Usually, like, the day after the party, she’s enjoying her gifts,” he explained. “I put a sticky note on the door: ‘Gyno. Tomorrow. 9:30.’” As if it wasn't clear enough, T.I proceeded to confirm, “I will say, as of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact.” This situation reveals larger issues that arise from the misogynistic mindsets of many men and women in this day and age. I am not a licensed gynecologist nor do I pretend to police anybody's parenting. However, I will touch on some subjects which I believe are important to fully understand how out of place and age this ordeal is.

The lack of sexual education in America is real. Virginity and its relation to the hymen has been a myth that has haunted the minds of humans for ages. It is an outdated, outright lie, not supported by science nor biology itself. The myth and stigma around "popping the cherry" have been a way that society has policed women's sexuality for centuries. It is clear to me that T.I bases his annual gyno visits with his daughter on these misconceptions since he states: "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." Gross, I know. With this being said, let’s talk about the science.

The hymen is a thin tissue that surrounds the opening of the vagina. With puberty and the rise of estrogen in the body, this tissue gains elasticity and stretches. In regards to sex, it is common for women to not bleed the first time they have intercourse, and most of the time, bleeding is caused by a lack of lubrication not they hymen itself breaking. It is not a covering of the vagina more so a piece of tissue that surrounds it. It comes in all shapes and sizes and the elasticity of the hymen itself will vary from women to women. There is no "cherry to pop" and no flower to "deflower" which indicates the absurdity of the whole T.I. controversy, and even more absurd, the gynecologist who agrees to perform these “virginity” tests.

Virginity tests are based on a very narrow and outdated definition of sex. They can also cause detrimental psychological and physical effects on young women. These types of tests were deemed unethical by the UN who stated, “The appearance of the hymen is not a reliable indication of intercourse and there is no known examination that can prove a history of vaginal intercourse. The practice is a violation of the victim’s human rights and is associated with both immediate and long-term consequences that are detrimental to her physical, psychological and social well-being.” These practices are most common in countries with cultures that see virginity as a prized attribute in women. Women in these countries are regarded and respected depending on the status of their “purity”. Those who fail to meet this standard can face societal repercussions that can even lead to death.

This concept of purity is where I believe lies the problem. If there is no way to dictate when a man loses his virginity then the entire concept is foul and non-existent. Men like T.I. represent this misogynistic societal structure that allows for the degradation and policing of women’s sexuality. As women, we need to begin changing the rhetoric and taking charge of our sexuality. Phrases such as, “I lost my virginity” or “Such and such took my virginity” imply that it was never ours to begin with.  Although I do believe that to some degree, western women have become active agents of their sexuality, the stigma and lack of education around sexuality are still very much alive. When speaking about gender disparities I also believe it is important to highlight that disparities also exists regarding race and sexuality. The realities for white women and women of color in America are completely different. Women of color are often placed in a box where if their sexuality is not being either fetishized or eroticized, it is not accepted. The discrimination, mysogyny and sexisms is real for both races but culture and history make the effects much stronger for one.

 Sexism exists and change lies in the hands of men and women who are willing to open their minds and educate themselves. As with many, countless issues, awareness around sexuality, needs to be upheld. Education regarding sexuality should be widespread so that other young women will have to visit the gynecologist, the day after her birthday to see if her non-existent cherry has been popped.