US Rapper TI recently revealed that he takes his daughter every year to a gynaecologist for a mandatory examination of her hymen. In a podcast that has now been taken down TI also revealed that his daughter has to sign a waiver that allows the doctor to share the virginity test’s result with him, reports The Hindustan Times. The Grammy winner’s statement has earned him ire of social media, who called his behaviour “abusive” and “disgusting.” However, the policing of women’s hymen are not that uncommon. Even in 2019, virginity remains an obsession and women have to endure tests that confirm their piousness at the hands of their partners, or even fathers, as in this case.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • US Rapper TI has admitted that he makes his daughter take virginity test every year.
  • The Grammy winner has been called abusive and oppressive on social media.
  • A lot of patriarchs police their daughters’ sex-lives, thinking that they are safeguarding them.
  • But the decision to have sex or not shouldn’t be made by a father for his daughter, as it obliterates her agency.

The Grammy winner’s statement has earned him ire of social media, who called his behaviour “abusive” and “disgusting.”

There is nothing funny about a father putting his daughter through a test which should earn any doctor conducting it severe professional and legal consequences. Would TI have policed his child’s sex life with same fervour if he had a son instead of a daughter? Why must the burden of piousness fall solely on women, while male sexual desire is normalised? The patriarchal obsession with virginity of women, to ensure that they protect their uterus from being breached by a man who hasn’t been approved to do so by her peers, still lurks freely. Despite all our modernity virginity of women matters to society, this conditions men to pin a woman’s character to her hymen. Although, it is not as if virginity matters only to prospective partners. Patriarchs in a family can be equally obsessed with the virginity of their daughters and sisters, as it becomes a matter of familial pride if they are sexually active without their approval. In India, this approval comes solely with marriage.

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However many orthodox peers in the west are equally wary of their daughters’ sex-life. Dads like TI “forbid” their daughters from dating or having physical relationships before a certain age. In their heads these fathers think they are doing their daughters favour, protecting them from heartbreak at hands of insincere suitors or unwanted pregnancies. However, it is one thing to discuss dangers of having reckless sexual relationships, and another to police your grown-up child’s sex-life. TI cannot be taking away his daughter’s agency, as she is no longer a minor now. Resorting to a deeply patriarchal and demeaning practice like examination of hymen in the name of good parenting is pure policing, nothing else.

If a girl’s father forces her to take a virginity test and police her sexuality, won’t she internalise this oppression? Wouldn’t she be prone to enduring policing at the hands of her partner in the future?

Every parent wants to keep their children from harm’s way. But in an attempt of protecting them they often end up overstepping their boundaries. However crossing a line is an understatement in this case, but parents need to understand that policing your children will only make them resent you. It also subtly puts across the message to them that their agency has no value. If a girl’s father forces her to take a virginity test and police her sexuality, won’t she internalise this oppression? Wouldn’t she be prone to enduring policing at the hands of her partner in the future? By disrespecting their children’s agency in order to protect them, parents inadvertently end up making them susceptible to oppression.

The stigma associated with the virginity of girls and women has been a deterrent to the cause of empowerment. Unless we stop policing women’s bodies, even under the guise of safeguarding them, they will never be truly empowered. The decision to have safe sex, to wait for the right partner, must be that of a woman, and not her father.

Picture Credit: Freepik

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.

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