After almost three weeks of silence, T.I has finally addressed his controversial comments about taking his 18-year-old daughter to the doctor for yearly “hymen checks” to make sure she was still a virgin.
The rapper responded to the backlash — dubbed “Hymengate” by media outlets — by saying he was joking on Monday’s episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Watch show, “Red Table Talk.”
“I think all of [the controversy] surrounds a conversation that I was having in a very joking manner when asked, how do I deal with parenting in this day and age,” T.I. explained. “From a place of truth, I began to embellish and exaggerate. And I think that a lot of people took it extremely literal.”
Among the comments he said people took “extremely literal” from the “Ladies Like Us” podcast three weeks ago include ones like:
“We have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen,” he said. “As of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact.”
His comments sparked outrage for being controlling and abusive — but also scientifically inaccurate. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t actually assess whether or not someone is a virgin based on whether their hymen (the thin, fleshy tissue located at the vaginal opening) is “broken” or not. Everyone’s hymen looks different, and according to Planned Parenthood, some people are born with so little hymenal tissue that it appears they don’t have a hymen at all.
In addition to explaining he was joking, T.I. made a point to apologize to his daughter for talking publicly about a deeply private matter, saying he stayed silent the past few weeks at her request.
“[My daughter] did have a problem with me talking about it,” he said. “I am incredibly apologetic to her for that. To her. To you, sweet baby Deyjah. Not to any of these other strangers and any of these weirdos who just kinda toss lies around for fun.”
On the show, Pinkett Smith shared she wanted to interview him because it was an important “teaching moment.” She understood he was trying to protect and show care for his daughter by taking her in for appointments, but didn’t realize his behavior actually came off as controlling.
“You feel like young boys that age would not be able to care for your daughter emotionally, in the way in which you think she deserves, and that’s what it was about,” Pinkett Smith said.
T.I. agreed with her assessment of his intentions, saying he wanted to protect her from young boys that would “defile” and “destroy” her, should she have sexual contact with them.
Though Pinkett Smith understood T.I.’s intentions were good, it didn’t stop her from asking difficult questions. When she asked what he would have done if he found out his daughter had been sexually active, T.I. responded,
“Your childhood ends when you lose your virginity. Now you ended your childhood, and it’s time to begin adulthood,” he said. “I can’t let you run around enjoying the luxuries of adulthood without any of the responsibilities of adulthood.” T.I. said he might have considered giving his daughter “adult” responsibilities like managing her birth control or being financially independent.
But perhaps most controversial in the discussion was when Pinkett Smith noted how it was interesting to her that men often treasure their daughters’ virginity, but not their sons’, to which he replied:
If my son goes out and gets a girl pregnant, how is the household changed for those nine months? The household does not necessarily change those nine months, whereas if my daughter comes home [pregnant], my household is changed immediately. So the stakes are higher.
Social media users have taken to Twitter to voice their disapproval of his comments:
— kash doll 2020 (@msmarypryor) November 25, 2019
T.I. is really out here saying it's OK if his sons have sex, because if they get someone pregnant, it won't change anything for 9 months, but if his daughter gets pregnant, it changes immediately. Excuse me while I vomit. #RedTableTalk pic.twitter.com/CnjBBvdihs
— Olivia Truffaut-Wong (@iWatchiAm) November 25, 2019
A young woman's body should not be regarded as public property for everyone to have input on. I've been entirely disgusted by this whole situation, both by a father behaving toward his daughter in a way that borders on abuse & everyone having a comment on her body. #redtabletalk
— Bree Newsome Bass (@BreeNewsome) November 25, 2019
— Makho Ndlovu (@makhondlovu) November 25, 2019
What’s your take? Let us know in the comments below.