My Body is MINE

The policing of women's bodies has been a problem since the beginning of time. All women know about it, most women have been through it, but this generation...we're here to change it. Whether it be the government, fathers or boyfriends, everyone feels entitled to the rights of a woman's body — except women. Nowadays, with the fight for reproductive rights happening all over the county, it's more important than ever that women feel empowered and in control of their bodies.

Recently, rapper T.I. appeared on the podcast Ladies Like Us and gave the perfect example of modern body policing. In this interview, T.I. talked about sending his 18-year-old daughter, Deyjah, off to college. During this discussion, one of the interviewers asked T.I. if he had given Deyjah "the talk." T.I. responded by saying he actually accompanies his daughter on yearly trips to the gynecologist, where he insists the doctor provides him with the results of a hymen check. 

Since there are so many things absurdly wrong with this, I'll try to break it down the best I can. First, I would like to say that not only is this insanely manipulative, but also extremely private information for someone so famous to be sharing about his young daughter. There should be no instance where a father feels it's okay to go on public radio and discuss his daughter's confidential medical visits. The empathy I feel for Deyjah is immeasurable; the most private aspect of her life is now a matter of public debate.  

With that aside, I would like to address the significant anatomical issues with T.I.'s statement. To me, it seems more apparent than ever that men know oh-so little about the female body. Whether or not the hymen is intact has never been, and will never be, indicative of whether or not a woman is still a virgin. Not only is there a chance that the hymen doesn't break during sex, but there is also an even larger chance that the hymen will break during everyday activities outside of sex. 

A hymen can break from riding a bike, competing in sports, vigorous running or even horseback riding. T.I. confessed that when the doctor told him about the other ways to break a hymen, he said, "'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.'" This only goes to show not only is he grossly misinformed, but he also doesn't listen to the information provided by a medical professional. Yet he is the one who is in charge of his daughter's body? Make it make sense. 

I would also like to make a note of the immense hypocrisy, misogyny and sexism present in T.I.'s mindset. He treats himself as the personal gatekeeper of his daughter's vagina, but when it comes to his son, sex isn't an object of discussion. T.I. has openly stated that his son, who is younger than Deyjah, has been sexually active since the age of 15 and that he takes no issue with it because the two are "different." In his mind, it seems only his daughter can become "un-pure" through sex. What a shocker…like all women haven't heard that before. 

In his recent Red Table Talk interview, T.I. said that he is less concerned about his son having sex because "if he goes and gets some girl pregnant, my household doesn't change for nine months. If my daughter gets pregnant, my household will change immediately." This is just another example of the massive double standard present in our society regarding sexual health and pregnancy. Even though it takes two people to have sex, T.I. seems to think that the responsibility of pregnancy and parenthood falls solely on women. I can only assume that it's this type of misogynistic thought that leads him to feel the need to body police his daughter rather than educate her about safe sex. 

Even though virginity is a social construct — a discussion for another day­ — virginity testing is still a widespread practice. In fact, it's so common that the World Health Organization released a statement saying virginity testing is "a violation of the human rights of girls and women" and noted that it could be "detrimental to women's and girls' physical, psychological and social well-being."

Often, when a woman's body is being policed, the excuse is that it's for our protection. When in fact, "protection" is just a sham way people like to assert control over the women in their life. Whether fathers insist their daughters stay virgins for "protection" or boyfriends tell their girlfriends to change out of a revealing top for "protection" or the government tells women they're "protecting" us by limiting reproductive rights, it's a manipulation tactic to make women feel they cannot take care of their own bodies.

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