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T.I. Red Table Talk

Source: Michael Becker / Michael Becker

“…Whew chile, the narcissism…” Ms. Niko posted to her Instagram story on Monday afternoon. Ms. Niko is Deyjah Harris’ mother. Deyjah’s virginity recently became the topic of conversation among Black Twitter after her father, T.I., revealed in an interview that he’s somehow found a way to turn a simple trip to the gynecologist into a public display of toxic masculinity. Ms. Niko’s cryptic Instagram post is seemingly in response to the headlines surrounding her child’s father and his take on their daughter’s virginity.

During an appearance on the “Ladies Like Us” podcast, T.I. revealed he accompanied his 18-year-old daughter Deyjah to the gynecologist every year to ensure her hymen is still intact as proof of her virginity. It didn’t go over well with the public and the Atlanta rapper has been under major fire ever since. T.I. monitoring his daughter’s virginity a form of control tied back to patriarchal standards for women and blatant violation of Deyjah’s rights to doctor–patient confidentiality. His obsessive behavior is not only controlling, it abusive.

After the original interview was released, T.I. dipped under radar until emerging last week to break his silence and set the record straight (by Deyjah’s request) on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk. 

Part one of sit-down/intervention features the rapper and his wife, Tameka “Tiny” Harris, alongside the show’s hosts, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Adrienne “Gammy” Banfield Norris. While the discussion was meant to give T.I. an opportunity to clear up “hymen-gate” (his words, not mine), the celebrity father seemed to dig himself into an even deeper hole, revealing clear double standards between his son and exposed his belief that guidance and protection is rooted in control. He also reiterated age-old sentiments that place value on a woman’s virginity as her primary source of worth.

T.I. appeared to come to the table with an open mind, jumping into discussion by saying, “I came to clear up any misconceptions that have been surrounding how we (T.I. and Tiny) interact and parent, and what is appropriate and inappropriate,” he explained. “I think all of this is surrounding a conversation that I had in a very joking manner when asked how do I deal with parenting in this day and age. And so, from a place of truth, I began to embellish and exaggerate. And I think a lot of people took it extremely literal.”

The rapper continued to explain how he believes his words were misunderstood, saying “I never said I was in any exam room. That is an assumption. That is a falsity. I never said that it was being done present day as an 18-year-old.” He also publicly apologized to his daughter for ever discussing her virginity, in the first place. That was a start.

Jada, being the gem that she is, gave T.I. an opportunity to explain himself while speaking on behalf of women everywhere and offering important points as to why his comments were viewed as controversial and controlling. “A woman’s journey in regards to her sexuality has to be guided mostly, I think, by mothers,” she explained. “But mother, in truly understanding what woman is, a mother takes her hand and walks her though. I would tell him love your daughter. Let me teach her. Because there’s certain sensitivities because your relationship in the world is different than your daughter.”

Although Jada and Gammy seemed to be getting through to T.I. at first, the conversation took a sharp turn when T.I. began to question what “the purpose and place of a father in this society.”

“In order to guide and direct, you have to have a certain level of control,” he said. “In the age when Black women are the most unprotected, unattended, disregarded women on the planet. I’m being criticized because I’m going above and beyond because I’m willing to protect mine. The slimy, grimy, chubby little fingered little boys who want to come in and defile the sanctity… Anything that is the most important thing in my life, I’m going to handle that with extreme care.”

T.I. then explained that while it’s not necessarily his intention to protect virginity, he knows that once it is lost, you have to be prepared. “Awareness is my first line of defense,” he told the ladies at the table.

Jada explained to the father of six that awareness means education, not control, as there’s only so much control you can have over your growing teenage daughter. She then posed the question that has been on everybody’s mind: “if you found out she wasn’t a virgin, what would you do?” to which T.I. replied, “Your childhood is [over] when you lose your virginity. That’s it, now you’ve ended your childhood and it’s time to begin adulthood,” he said. “And I can’t let you run around trying to enjoy the luxuries of adulthood without any of the responsibilities of adulthood.”

Excuse me? In a nutshell, I’m cutting you off financially if you’re not a virgin.

Enter Gammy, who said what we were all thinking in that moment, “I still feel like it would have been different if it were your son instead of your daughter.”

And T.I’s response? “If my son goes out and gets a girl pregnant, how does my household change for those nine months? The household does not necessarily change, whereas if my daughter come home, my household changes immediately.”

There’s no doubt that T.I.’s views are patriarchal at their core but even worse, they allude to the fact that a woman’s purity and value is found in her virginity and the moment she loses that, she must suffer the consequences of trash men, diseases, pregnancy and the loss of innocence, when that’s obviously not the case. Not to mention his belief that if his one of his daughters got pregnant, their household would immediately change, whereas if his sons got someone else’s daughter pregnant, their lives would remain the same, is just… unfair. And so 1950.

In spite of this lop-sided argument, part one ended on a high note, with T.I. understanding that in order to move forward, these uncomfortable conversations need to be had. If only he truly understood how the controlling nature of his actions and his misconstrued views on sexuality can negatively impact his relationship with his daughters and, based on his pregnancy comments, even his sons. In the words of my therapist, let’s unpack this further…

While I applaud T.I. for willing to have an open and honest conversation about his comments, I don’t think he truly understands the issue with exerting control over his daughter’s sexuality and her choices in life. His intentions are pure: to be an involved father. But being present in his daughter’s life doesn’t equate to dominance, over protection and assertion over her every life decision. And just so we’re clear: subjecting your daughter to a hymen/virginity check is not the only way to be an involved and protective father.

Part 2 of T.I. and Tiny’s sit down drops this Wednesday. Should be interesting….

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