New York Bill Could End Virginity Testing Thanks to Rapper T.I.

The rapper's claims that he forces his daughter to undergo virginity tests has sparked a bill banning the practice

T.I. virginity testing
Rapper T.I. made headlines last month after claiming he forces his daughter to undergo virginity testing.
Paras Griffin/Getty Images
By Kayla Kibbe / December 5, 2019 11:37 am

Remember last month when the rapper T.I. — who is now much better known for his horrific beliefs about women and female sexuality than he ever was for whatever music he made — unleashed a social media firestorm after he gleefully admitted to accompanying his teen daughter to her gynecologist appointments and insisting she undergo “virginity testing?”

Well, it turns out some good may come of the whole situation after all: T.I.’s insane display of sexism and medical ignorance has prompted a New York bill that could bar doctors from performing such tests, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. 

Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages filed the bill last month in response to the troubling remarks T.I. made on a November episode of the Ladies Like Us podcast. “It’s medically unnecessary,” Solages said. “It’s often painful, humiliating, traumatic. All in all, it’s a form of violence against women.”

According to AP, the bill has attracted the support of three Democratic lawmakers, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration officials called the practice “disturbing.”

While it’s unclear how common the practice is in the United States, the World Health Organization, U.N. Women and the U.N. Human Rights office called for the end of virginity testing worldwide last year. In addition to banning medical professionals from performing or supervising the tests, the New York bill would also consider virginity testing, which typically involves the insertion of fingers into the vagina, a form of sexual assault.

The practice, which Solages called “barbaric,” has its origins in two false beliefs. The first is the medical fallacy that the presence or state of a woman’s hymen can indicate whether or not sexual intercourse has taken place. Medical professionals have long sought to dispel this misconception, as the hymen can tear for many reasons, and some women lack a hymen altogether.

“The misconceptions that these tests have anything to do with virginity are unfortunately widespread, and our society continues to spread these myths as if they were based on scientific facts,” Brittany McBride, the senior program manager of Sexuality Education at Advocates for Youth, told the Cut last month.

Moreover, the practice also hinges on the sexist, archaic, yet shockingly prevailing belief that “virginity” is somehow indicative of a woman’s value — or really anything about her whatsoever.

Ranit Mishori, professor of family medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine and senior medical adviser for Physicians for Human Rights, said the practice is reflective of “very sexist ideas about women and sexuality.”

Solages said that the sexist practice is based on the notion that women are men’s property, and added that even one instance of virginity testing — i.e. T.I.’s — is enough to justify a ban. 

“Whether he was being serious or he was being sarcastic, he brought to the limelight that this is happening in the U.S.,” she said.

Welcome to your new legacy, T.I.

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