Why I appreciate my father more after hearing T.I.’s daughter-gyno interview
Blaming black men is not the solution to T.I.’s fatherhood antics
When rapper T.I. felt comfortable enough to get on the “Ladies Like Us” podcast and tell hosts Nazanin Mandi and Nadia Moham that he gets a “Hymen Check” for his 18-year-old daughter Deyjah Harris, I was not surprised.
I enjoy quite a bit of T.I.’s music, am a loyal “Family Hustle” viewer and was elated when he started walking the lines of a conscious rapper on the “Us or Else” EP. I kept hoping that with the evolution of his music and continuous activism, his views on women would change. Yeah, not so much.
T.I.’s problematic views on marriage and sexuality
On T.I.’s own podcast “expediTIously,” I winced when he told his wife Tameka “Tiny” Harris that women get married to “get half his s — t.” Hip-hop artists overall have largely been misogynistic and problematic to their female listeners. Yes, we have the Queen Latifahs, MC Lytes, Eves and Rapsodys of the world, demanding respect in a male-dominated industry. But somehow entirely too many male emcees (and misguided female emcees) are still determined to make sure equality is a pipe dream. And I’ll never understand how so many male rappers seem to enjoy ridiculing women so much, only to always want to be around them.
T.I.’s statement about married women also ignores the major point that Tiny (one of the four members of Xscape) was already famous and well-off when T.I. was an unknown name in the hip-hop industry.
But on the point of alimony, it statistically does largely end up with the female population. However, this comment ignores what Tiny kept trying to point out. There are elite women who have had to pay alimony to their ex-husbands: Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Roseanne Barr, Halle Berry, Sherri Shepherd, Mel B., Jennifer Lopez and Terry McMillan, just to name a few. T.I.’s statement about married women also ignores the major point that Tiny (one of the four members of Xscape) was already famous and well-off when T.I. was an unknown name in the hip-hop industry.
T.I.’s logic on his wife’s vagina is why I expected him to somehow believe that he owns the rights to his daughter’s vagina, too.
But every time Tiny tried to dispute this point, or defend women in any way, T.I. kept insisting that she drink a little more alcohol because her “speech is far too clear and concise.” Still though, I tried to give his podcast a shot. But by the time I got to him telling his wife, “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine’s is yours, so that mean that little thang you got, that little sex box you got is half mine … you pick which side you want and that’s yours, and the rest of it is mine’s.” And that comment was when he lost me altogether. T.I.’s logic on his wife’s vagina is why I expected him to somehow believe that he owns the rights to his daughter’s vagina, too.
One father’s viewpoint does not equate to all fathers’ perspectives
I had a few quiet conversations within my social circle about T.I.’s views on marriage, sexuality, fatherhood and HIPAA. I had no intentions of saying anything publicly. I shook my head at news of Tiny rolling her eyes when someone asked if Deyjah was OK, but that wasn’t a shocker. Between the Floyd Mayweather fiasco and T.I.’s ultimatum that she quit working to follow him around, it’s not like his attitude regarding women is a big shocker.
However, the rise in articles and finger pointing at other black men is making me quite uncomfortable. I’ve read lines like, “The really awful thing about this is its [sic] not like black men are good at protecting black women.” Not some, not a few, but black men — as if all black men should be blamed for one father gone wild. This statement is not only unfair but also untrue.
Every single promiscuous girl I knew from elementary school to college was someone with either no father figure around or an overbearing father. Extremes simply do not work.
Even worse, while women are largely being vocal against the “Hymen Check,” every blue moon, I run into a clueless woman who supports T.I.’s vaginal policing. (Skip to the end of the Hot 97 video below for an example.) Meanwhile there are some men — fathers and not fathers — who are pretty vocal against this level of intrusiveness. This includes my own dad.
Conversations with my father — and other fathers, too
One of the first handful of people who I talked to about this “Hymen Check” was my father. T.I. vocally airing out his daughter’s private health results made me cringe. And the only good thing that came out of it (for me, anyway) was it made me appreciate my father in a way I’d never really paid much attention to before this podcast interview. Although I’ve been on my father’s health insurance up until my first full-time job after college graduation, I have never ever heard my father say a word to me about my gynecology exams.
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Clearly if I’m under his health insurance, he could take a casual scroll through any exam or test I’ve ever taken throughout high school and college. But he never asked. While I won’t go into the exact response my father gave after hearing the “Hymen Check” story, I will state that he was speechless and discussed “human dignity.” And I was not even slightly surprised by his response. I have always been able to talk openly and honestly with my father, my older brother and my godfather (my mother’s best friend since eighth grade) about health and sexuality. I never particularly had a reason to hide anything because these men made me feel secure enough to ask them some tough questions. Did they cringe sometimes? Yes. Did they answer? Always (minus one time — long story).
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Of course my mother was my go-to for the kind of things that pre-teens need to know about their bodies changing. But I even had a few conversations with my comical grandfather whose responses would be the absolute best memes and left my jaw on the ground.
But the reason I felt so comfortable as a growing teenage girl and an adult (who became a walking, talking condom commercial by the time I started volunteering for BEHIV) was because these people did not make me feel the female anatomy was somehow a curse. I was never given an ultimatum to be a virgin or felt like I was at financial risk should I be sexually active. (In turn, I did not lose my virginity until I was 20 years old. But every single promiscuous girl I knew from elementary school to college was someone with either no father figure around or an overbearing father. Extremes simply do not work.)
And this is why I take so much issue with articles waving their fingers at black fathers and mothers. While there are indeed some parents who leave much to be desired during the Birds and the Bees talk, I disagree with making T.I.’s comments nosedive into race.
This is a matter of being an overbearing, intrusive and unsympathetic parent. And that kind of overprotective (and sexist) father can come with or without melanin.