In addition to exhibiting serious boundary and control issues, rapper T.I. displayed a woeful (though common) misunderstanding of anatomy when he told a couple of podcast hosts that he escorts his daughter to the gynecologist every year to make sure her hymen, and therefore her virginity, are still intact.
“Not only have we had the (sex) conversation,” T.I. told “Ladies Like Us” podcasters Nazanin Mandi and Nadia Moham, “we have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen. Yes, I go with her.”
“I will say, as of her 18th birthday,” he added, “her hymen is still intact.”
That’s … not how the hymen works.
“Even if you do an exam of the hymen,” said Lauren Streicher, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, “that in no way ensures virginity.”
T.I. acknowledged that doctors have told him the hymen can be broken in ways other than sexual intercourse, but he’s not swayed. “ ‘Just check the hymen, please, and give me back my results expeditiously,’ ” he said he replies.
The hymen is a thin membrane that partially covers the opening of the vagina.
“They come in all different shapes and sizes,” Streicher said. “You can have a hymen that’s barely there and it’s totally normal. You can also have a hymen that’s thick and that’s totally normal. If you have a hymen that’s thin and very elastic and pushes to the side it’s not even going to break during intercourse.”
No less than the World Health Organization concurs.
“There is no examination that can prove a girl or woman has had sex,” the global body declares. “And the appearance of a girl’s or woman’s hymen cannot prove whether they have had sexual intercourse, or are sexually active or not.”
Streicher, who serves as medical director for the Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause, also said it would also be highly unusual for a teenage girl to be seen by a gynecologist for a pelvic exam if she’s not sexually active or experience some sort of health complication.
“We don’t do exams routinely on 16 to 18 year old girls,” she said. “Unless a young woman is having a problem beyond what a pediatrician can handle, we would not do a pelvic exam. We don’t do pap tests on teenagers. So this sounds like a girl having a pelvic exam that is medically unnecessary just to make her father happy.”
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends female patients have their first pap test at age 21.
“Everything about this is objectionable,” Streicher said. “It’s medically unnecessary and inappropriate and as far as I’m concerned it’s abusive. Aside from the fact that it’s gross, to make her have a medical exam that’s unnecessary and invasive is abuse.”
Or, as my friend Dawn put it: “He somehow found a way to make purity rings seem less gross.”
Heidi Stevens is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Reach her at email@example.com or on Twitter @heidistevens13.