How Is It 2019 And We Have Dads That Are Still Obsessed With Their Daughter’s Hymens?
Last week rapper T.I. made headlines when he revealed his particularly disturbing brand of parenting. As the rapper detailed on the “Ladies Like Us” podcast, the rapper boasted about keeping his 18-year-old daughter “pure” and said that he does so by accompanying her to her yearly gynecologist appoints. As if the whole interview couldn’t have gotten worse, T.I. proved his ignorance by saying that, despite all of the doctors in the world that says that the absence of a hymen does not provide viable of proof a woman’s sexual activity, he makes the doctor report on its status.
Of course, it didn’t take long for the sane people of the world to express their complete disgust and outrage over the statements. Users on Twitter and sexual assault experts were quick to slam the rapper for perpetuating toxic masculinity and shame amongst young women for their sexuality and bodies. The “Ladies Like Us” hosts even took down the original interview with T.I. in which he asserted that “I will say, as of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact” and health experts were quick to admonish the rapper for feeding into myths that are untrue and have greatly affected the lives of young girls and woman across the globe. After all, last year in October, the UN Human Rights, UN Women, and the World Health Organization stated that virginity testing is a major cause of violence against women.
For a better understanding of the dangerous effects of misunderstanding hymens, we broke down some facts.
The Purpose Of The Hymen
When it comes to our understanding of hymens, it’s not uncommon for our first understandings of it to be linked to virginity and purity. We often are taught that “cherry’s get popped” or more blatantly that hymens are “broken” during first sexual encounters. The truth, however, is that by the time most women have sex for the first time, their hymens have already stretched or torn as a result of different activities including the use of tampons, menstrual cups, physical activity (including gymnastics and horseback riding) or pelvic exams.
According to Healthline, “Most females are born with a hymen. A hymen is a thin membrane that stretches across the vagina. It generally has a ring-like appearance with a small opening.” What’s more, the site explains that “there’s no real medical purpose for the hymen, although some think it may have evolved over time to help protect the vagina from infection.”
What we know about the myth that says the presence of a hymen equals a virgin
So, now that you know that the absence of a hymen does not necessarily mean that someone is a virgin, it’s time to dig into who started the rumor. According to a recent article by Bustle, “It’s not entirely clear how or where the myth started originally…There are loose references describing the hymen as a cherry dating back as far as the 16th century…In more recent jargon the phrase appears to have come about in the 19th century based on the notion that a woman was ‘ripe for the picking’ if she was a virgin. Regardless of how it started, this myth of breaking the hymen or ‘popping the cherry’ persists due to a lack of understanding of the female anatomy and an ongoing lack of education about female sexual health and wellbeing.”
The dangers of virginity obsession
When T.I. told the world about how he violates his daughter’s privacy by inserting himself into her sex life and making her take exams where are virginity is reported back to him, he put her in danger. For once, the idea that he felt he had a right to be privy to what she does with her body gives an impression to others that they have the right to her body as well. What’s more, it feeds into “purity culture” which only generates toxic mindsets and situations for women and sexual assault survivors. In a 2013 interview about her kidnapping, survivor Elizabeth Smart who was kidnapped at 14 years old in 2002, said that she felt worthless after she’d been raped by her kidnapper for the first time. “I think it goes even beyond fear, for so many children, especially in sex trafficking. It’s feelings of self-worth. It’s feeling like, ‘Who would ever want me now? I’m worthless,'” Smart explained in a speech. “That is what it was for me the first time I was raped. I was raised in a very religious household, one that taught that sex was something special that only happened between a husband and a wife who loved each other. And that’s how I’d been raised, that’s what I’d always been determined to follow: that when I got married, then and only then would I engage in sex. After that first rape, I felt crushed. Who could want me now? I felt so dirty and so filthy. I understand so easily all too well why someone wouldn’t run because of that alone.”
Of course, Smart’s case is an extreme example of the effects of purity culture and clinging to hymens proof of virginity but the truth is that we have to stop policing women’s bodies and how they choose, and when they choose to have sex. It’s no one’s business but their own.