In a new episode of Red Table Talk, the rapper addressed the backlash over comments about his daughter’s hymen – Jada Pinkett Smith had the best response.
Just weeks after revealing his so-called “parenting practice”, aka accompanying his 18-year-old daughter to annual gynaecologist appointments to check if her hymen is intact, confirming she is still a virgin, TI has spoken out again. This time to set the record straight.
Following his controversial comments earlier this month – and the subsequent backlash – the rapper and his wife, Tameka “Tiny” Harris, appeared on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk to “clear up any misconceptions” that had arisen about his parenting, revealing his comments had caused a rift with his daughter, Deyjah Harris, who has since deleted her social media accounts after his comments.
While the rapper admitted to being ignorant of the topic’s “sensitivity” at the time, he said his comments had been “sensationalised” and “terribly misconstrued and misconceived”, thus taking on a “false narrative”.
“I think all of this 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?’” he said. “From a place of truth, I began to embellish and exaggerate. And I think that a lot people took it extremely literal.”
“Let me go set this record straight: 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, and I never said that her mother wasn’t present. Her mom was present every time,” he explained.
While Deyjah had “no objection” at the time to his accompanying her to her gynaecology appointments, the rapper said she “had a problem” after he went public with the matter. “I understand it, and I am incredibly apologetic to her,” he said. “She understands my intentions and she knows who I am, who I’ve always been.”
TI said his comments had not come from a place of trying to control his daughter, but rather, “trying to protect” his children from making “certain decisions on their own that will impact their lives indefinitely”. He added: “I’m not there to protect necessarily virginity, I know that is a big move.”
This is when Pinkett Smith interjected, noting: “That’s different – that’s education.”
Pinkett Smith also questioned whether he understood why his comments were particularly harmful to young women.
“I don’t think anyone has an issue with you protecting your daughter… it’s the hymen part,” she said. “When I think about the girls I’ve raised, I was never really trying to protect their virginity versus making sure they had a level of understanding and maturity before going into certain things. But it was never about virginity.”
The table then went onto discuss “patriarchal structure”. When TI suggested that feminists wanted to silence men, Pinkett Smith responded: “The feminine journey is seen through the eyes of men who know nothing about what we’re going through”. Seeming to (finally) register, TI responded: Well, I think [men] should stay out of it.”
Pinkett Smith’s response? “Boom. That’s the point.”
While TI seems to have come some way in understanding why his comments were wrong, his initial remarks have revealed a bigger, darker subtext that needs to be addressed.
As Stylist writer Hannah-Rose Yee pointed out in her op-ed about this situation, TI’s comments are a reminder “that many people around the world – including successful, super-famous rap-stars – believe that a woman’s value can be found in the sum total of her parts. They are a shocking wake-up call that the hymen is still a feminist issue”.
Watch the full episode here.