Rapper T.I. is defending himself after facing incredible backlash for admitting that he accompanies his daughter to the gynecologist every year to hear from her doctor that her hymen is still intact.
The 39-year-old says that, out of respect for his 18-year-old daughter Deyjah, he’s remained quiet since earlier this month, when he bragged on the Ladies Like Us podcast that he accompanied her on her annual pelvic exams to ensure that she is still a virgin.
But now he and his wife Tiny Harris, 44, are speaking publicly for the first time about the scandal he jokingly calls ‘hymengate,’ sitting down with Jada Pinkett Smith and her mother Adrienne Banfield-Jones in a new episode of Red Table Talk.
Sticking to his guns: Rapper T.I. is defending himself after admitting he takes his daughter to the gynecologist every year to ensure she is still a virgin
Sympathetic interviews: He and his wife Tiny Harris, 44, sat down with Jada Pinkett Smith and her mother Adrienne Banfield-Jones in a new episode of Red Table Talk
Sure: The rapper said the initial podcast conversation at the center of the scandal was had in a ‘joking manner’ and he ’embellished and exaggerates’
So now he’s quiet; The 39-year-old, said that he’d kept quiet for weeks about ‘hymengate’ because his daughter Deyjah (pictured) asked him to
Sitting down with sympathetic interviewers who often gave him the benefit of the doubt, T.I. was quick to defend himself against the backlash, arguing that there was little fault in what he said and what he’s done — and blaming others for overreacting.
Referring to the podcast interview, T.I. says that it was done ‘in a very joking matter.’
‘I just began to — from a place of truth — I began to embellish and exaggerate,’ he says. ‘And I think a lot of people kind of took it extremely literal. Because if you put any of my reputation, like who I am as a father, who I’ve been. I honestly thought people knew me better than that.’
Jada pushes him, asking if he understands the sensitivity of the subject he was discussing.
T.I. replies that he didn’t understand it at the time, but he does now — but still, he blames the public for misunderstanding him rather than what he said or claims to have done.
‘My intentions, I think, have been terribly misconstrued,’ he says.
‘Let me set this record straight,’ he goes on. ‘I never said I was in any exam room, that is an assumption.’
Most of the criticism aimed at T.I. actually made no assumption that he was in the exam room, as he’d explained that he just spoke to the doctor after the exam. Critics took issue with the fact the he discussed Deyjah’s hymen with her doctor.
‘I never said that it was being done present day as an 18 year old,’ he goes on, while his wife interjects that Deyjah was 15 or 16 at the time.
‘My intentions, I think, have been terribly misconstrued,’ he said
Missing the point? T.I. went on to ‘set the record straight,’ but addressed several ‘assumptions’ and ‘misconceptions’ that weren’t actually part of the criticism against him
Changing his story: He insisted that the checks weren’t still happening, even though he’d spoken about them in present tense and said Deyjah was still a virgin as of her 18th birthday
In fact, T.I. did speak about the annual gynecologists in the present tense, indicating that they were still happening.
He said that every year, he makes an appointment for Deyjah, and can be heard quite clearly in the audio recording of the podcast saying, ‘As of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact.’
Speaking on Red Table Talk, T.I. also says that Deyjah’s mother Tiny was present as well.
Tiny, meanwhile, says that T.I. never actually made the doctor’s appointments, despite the rapper saying that he did in the podcast interview.
‘All of this false narrative has just been sensationalized,’ he argues.
My intentions have been terribly misconstrued… All of this false narrative has just been sensationalized
T.I. also says that Deyjah never minded that her parents both came to the appointments — but ‘she did have a problem’ with her dad talking about it publicly.
‘And I understand that. And I am incredibly apologetic to her for that. To her. Not to any of these other strangers, any of these weirdos that just kind of toss lies around for fun,’ he says.
Tiny adds: ‘I definitely understood why she would feel like, it was personal to her. Deyjah’s a quiet child. She doesn’t talk a lot.’
T.I. then shifts the conversation, arguing that ‘society’ doesn’t want him to be involved in his daughter’s life.
‘I want to know, what is the purpose and place of a father in this society?’ he says. ‘Because a father like myself, who wants to be as involved and as attentive as possible, we could draw the conclusion of, we just donate sperm and come pay for things and we don’t have no say-so in how things are handled.’
Jada and her mom disagree, telling him that no one has a problem with him being involved with his daughter or ‘protecting’ her.
The issue, Jada says, is the hymen part.
‘All of this false narrative has just been sensationalized,’ he argued, calling people who criticized him ‘weirdos’
Pedestal: He insisted he was trying to protect his daughter from boys who would ‘defile and destroy’ her
Double standard: He said he is trying to protect all of his children, but a surprise pregnancy would impact his house more with a daughter than a son
Jada tells him that, as a man, he can’t understand what it’s like for a young woman finding her sexuality. She even adds that she has had to have conversations with her husband Will Smith about the difference between protecting his daughters and controlling them.
‘So when I heard what happened, I said, I know what he’s trying to say,’ Jada tells him. ‘He’s like, I’m present in a way that anything that she needs… I’m right here. I got her. I totally understood that.’
But, she says, people who heard the interview saw him as trying to control his daughter’s virginity.
T.I. replies: ‘The word control is very… in order to guide or direct, you must have a certain level of control.’
Mom can tell daughter not to cut her hair, not to perm her hair, not to color her hair, not to get piercings or whatever, but she can give her body away to anyone without Pop saying anything
‘I think that in the age or the time where black women are the most unprotected, unattended, disregarded women on the planet, I’m being criticized because I’m willing to go above and beyond to protect mine,’ he says.
‘And I’m talking about all of the little slimy, grimy, chubby-finger little boys who want to come and defile and destroy the sanctity that I have —,’ he goes on, getting interrupted by Jada and her mother’s laughter.
T.I. recovers, saying he doesn’t understand why people think what he is doing is wrong.
‘If I’m going to the doctor with you just for the sake of controlling you, then OK. But if I’m going for the purpose of being a protective parent…’ he says.
‘I am here to protect all of the children from themselves, until they make it to a point where they have awareness or a sense of self or discernment to be able to make certain decisions on their own that will impact their lives indefinitely.
‘Since she turned 18, I don’t have control of anything,’ he adds.
‘I trust and believe that I put moral standards, principles, and greatness in all of my children. But until they learn how to unlock it and use those powers for themselves, it has to be harnessed.
‘Your childhood ends when you lose your virginity,’ he said
Her take: Tiny only chimed in briefly saying that T.I. only just began to understand how ‘serious’ and ‘personal’ the issue of virginity was only after he spoke about it on the podcast
Wow: Jada also had to explain patriarchy to T.I. and when she told him it oppresses women, he asked her, ‘Have females actually tried to explain [this] to men?’
‘I’m not there to protect, necessarily, “virginity.” I just know that is a big move. Once you make that move, there are things that happen that follow. You have to be equipped. And I don’t know if you’re equipped. Awareness is my first line of defense.
‘Your childhood ends when you lose your virginity,’ he says. ‘And I can’t let you run around trying to enjoy the luxuries of adulthood without any of the responsibilities of adulthood.’
‘I kinda made the comparison of a son versus a daughter. 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 come home, my household is changed immediately. The stakes are higher.’
T.I. does not address the way having a baby would affect both a son and a daughter after the birth.
The conversation shifts again, and T.I. complains that parents are allowed to govern things like hairstyles and piercings but not virginity.
‘Mom can tell daughter not to cut her hair, not to perm her hair, not to color her hair, not to get piercings or whatever, but she can give her body away to anyone without Pop saying anything,’ he says.
Jada explains here that this thinking is indicative of a patriarchal society, which is dictated by the thoughts of men and is often oppressive to women and the feminine journey.
‘Have females actually tried to explain [this] to men?’ T.I. asks.
When Jada points out that yes, they have, and references feminists, T.I. replies: ‘I think that feminists sometimes, it can be misconstrued by people who don’t understand it, as women wanting men to stop silencing them, so they can silence men.’
Don’t care? T.I.’s wife Tiny didn’t seem to think much of the public backlash to his comments about their daughter Deyjah’s virginity
Whatever: When a fan wrote on Instagram, ‘Is Deyjah okay? We care…’ Tiny answered with a string of four eyeroll emojis
‘Well, it’s not that,’ Jada tells him. ‘There’s a lot that happens — the feminine journey is often told or seen … through the eyes of men who know nothing about women and what we’re going through.’
‘Well, I think they should say out of that,’ T.I. replies, seemingly not making the connection that that’s exactly what he is being criticized for not doing.
‘Boom, that’s the point,’ Jada tells him.
Tiny finally chimes in, saying that T.I. only just began to understand how ‘serious’ and ‘personal’ the issue of virginity was only after he spoke about it on the podcast.
‘I understand that I don’t understand,’ T.I. concedes.
The video concludes with Jada and her mom saying sympathetically that they knew there must have just been a ‘misunderstanding,’ and T.I. saying that that’s why he wanted to come on Red Table Talk.
Neither T.I. nor Tiny had spoken out publicly about the uproar prior to the new interview, though Tiny had given a hint on social media that she found the whole thing ridiculous.
On November 12, she posted a picture of T.I. and herself in matching ponchos, captioning it: ‘Mi amor por siempre.’
Soon after, a fan commented: ‘Is Deyjah okay? We care…’
Tiny replied, but not with words. Instead, she answered with a string of four eyeroll emojis.
Her answer seemed to indicate that she finds the backlash that T.I. is facing — and she by extension — to be unworthy of a serious reaction. It also suggested a dismissive attitude over her daughter’s well-being, indicating that she thinks her daughter is just fine and has no reason not to be.
Cold hearted: Though some followers were supportive, critics called her out for the response
At least, that is how some of her followers took it. Though some were supportive, critics have called her out for the response.
‘Wow… so much for caring. That’s cold hearted,’ wrote one.
‘Don’t [eyeroll emoji],’ wrote another. ‘Your husband literally embarrassed her in front of millions.’
While Deyjah herself hasn’t granted any interviews, she certainly doesn’t seem to be ignoring it, and soon after the story made headlines she let her feelings be known by liking several tweets that were critical of her father.
‘This is disgusting, possessive and controlling,’ wrote one, who later also tweeted: ‘I am sick to my stomach… “my results” its her body not yours.’
‘That is just beyond possessive,’ tweeted another who got a ‘like’ from Deyjah.
She also liked a supportive tweet from a woman who wrote: ‘I hope your truly ok. Him telling the world your personal business medically and your choices as a woman to do or not do a personal and special moment in your life is never right.’
She has also unfollowed him on both Twitter and Instagram.
Stars have chimed in on the matter, too. Iggy Azaela, who has been feuding with T.I., said he is a ‘huge misogynist and has never been able to have a conversation with any woman in which he doesn’t speak like a fortune cookie.’
See ya later! Deyjah Harris unfollowed her father T.I. on social media after he revealed that he accompanies her to the gynecologist every year to ensure that she is still a virgin
Silent treatment: Deyjah hasn’t publicly commented, but she’s made her feelings clear on social media, and unfollowed her dad on Instagram and Twitter
In agreement: Since the story broke, Deyjah has liked several tweets criticizing her dad’s behavior as ‘possessive’ and ‘disgusting’
‘Really I wish the women who interviewed him would have said something to him,’ she added. ‘He has serious control issues with women in all aspects of his life & needs therapy.’
In the days after the controversy erupted, Wendy Williams said she would have felt ‘violated’ if either of her parents had done the same, and slammed T.I. for not having the same standards for his teenage son.
‘I think the controlling he has having over her is very sexist, like it’s fine for the young boy but not for her,’ she said. ‘T.I., back off your daughter like that. I don’t know what Tiny says about this, but there’s nobody on social media who’s agreeing with him.’
Wendy also criticized the podcast hosts for laughing at T.I.’s claims, as well as Deyjah’s doctor for allowing the behavior.
Those hosts have also reacted. Nazanin Mandi and Nadia Moham have since deleted the episode, and released a statement on their social media pages apologizing for their reaction to T.I.’s disturbing comments.
‘To everyone confused, angry and hurt by the recent episode of Ladies Like Us, we want to apologize for our knee jerk reaction to the uncomfortable topic. We were completely caught off guard/shocked and looking back, we should have reacted much differently in the moment,’ they wrote in their joint statement.
‘The comments that were made and the reaction that followed are not in any way a reflection of our personal views on the topic. We support and love Women and feel that their bodies are theirs to do as they wish.
Chiming in: Iggy Azaela, who has been feuding with T.I., said he is a ‘huge misogynist’
Hot take: Wendy Williams said she would have felt ‘violated’ if either of her parents had done the same, and slammed T.I. for not having the same standards for his teenage son
Gone: Ladies Like Us Podcast hosts Nazanin Mandi and Nadia Moham have deleted the episode in which they laughed at T.I. saying he takes his teen daughter Deyjah Harris for virginity tests
‘There was absolutely no ill intent towards any party involved & feel deeply awful about the entire incident,’ they continued. ‘We are not perfect, take full accountability of our lack of action & are continuously learning along the way. We know an apology doesn’t make this go away but we welcome the discussion- that’s what our podcast is about.’
The move came after negative reactions flooded Twitter.
‘T.I. is an abusive misogynist,’ tweeted writer Jill Filipovic. ‘He demands his daughter’s gynecologist disclose the results of an annual “hymen check” to him so he can ensure she’s still a virgin. When it comes to his wife, “that little sex box you got is half mine.” This isn’t over-protective. It’s abusive.’
‘He loses major cool points with this,’ wrote another Twitter user. ‘I’m the father of two young women and what he is doing sounds like treating them as property more than being a dad. Smh.’
‘Toxic parenting 101. Not only is he violating her privacy. He is instilling a sense of fear, not responsibility that will play out terribly as an adult,’ said one more.
And another: ‘So instead of celebrating the fact that his child lived another year, TI spends his time hyper-fixating on whether or not her hymen is intact? This is so overwhelmingly weird and toxic and he needs to be stopped.’
‘T.I. makes me kinda glad I grew up in a fatherless home lol,’ quipped writer Ashely C. Ford.
Slammed: There’s been huge backlash on Twitter from critics who have called the rapper ‘abusive,’ ‘disgusting,’ and ‘toxic’
Even Planned Parenthood tweeted: ‘A virgin is someone who’s never had sex. But “sex” means different things to different people, so “virginity” does too. Many don’t care what it means or think it matters. Whatever you believe, the fact is you can’t tell if someone’s had sex by checking their hymen.’
Some have also slammed the doctor for going along with the scheme.
‘Scientific stuffs about hymens aside, What Gynecologist checks for that and will agree to go along with that? Unless he’s up in the room with her with some binoculars?’ wrote one.
The controversy first arose after T.I. was asked about his daughter in an interview on the Ladies Like Us podcast.
‘Deyjah’s 18, just graduated high school now and she’s attending her first year of college, figuring it out for herself,’ said the star, who also has a three-year-old named Heiress.
‘And yes, not only have we had the conversation [about sex], we have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen.’
Lest the podcast hosts Nazanin and Nadia think he was joking or exaggerating, T.I. then went into more detail about their doctor visits.
Do no harm? Others have taken issue with T.I.’s lack of understanding of female anatomy, and some have criticized Deyjah’s doctor
‘So it’s this one time we go, I think this might have been after her 16th birthday. This is what we do. Right after the birthday we celebrate,’ he said.
‘Usually like the day after the party, she’s enjoying her gifts. I put a sticky note on the door: “Gyno. Tomorrow. 9:30.”
Of course, doctors can’t share patient information without the patient’s consent, so T.I. cajoles his daughter into giving it.
‘So we’ll go and sit down and the doctor will come and talk and the doctor’s maintaining a high level of professionalism,’ T.I. explained.
‘He’s like, “Well, you know sir, I have to, in order to share information” — I’m like, “Deyjah, they want you to sign this … so we can share information. Is there anything you would not want me to know?” “See doc? No problem.”‘
The doctor has even explained that there are many other ways for a hymen to break besides sex, and in fact, many virgins no longer have hymens intact — but T.I. doesn’t care.
‘So then they come and say, “Well, I just want you to know that there are other ways besides sex that the hymen can be broken, like bike riding, athletics, horseback riding, and just other forms of athletic physical activity.”
‘So I say, “Look doc, she don’t ride no horses, she don’t ride no bike, she don’t play no sports. Just check the hymen please and give me back my results expeditiously.”
Priorities: Deyjah, pictured with her family, just started college, but T.I. says he still makes her annual gynecologist appointment and meets with the doctor
Possessive: The doctor has explained that a hymen can break from non-sexual activities, but T.I. is satisfied to learn that hers is still intact
Daughters: Deyjah also has a little sister named Heiress (pictured)
‘I will say as of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact,’ the rapper, whose own hits are filled with lyrics about sex, said.
T.I. defended his actions, explaining that he thinks a lot of people wish their parents had been more protective of them, suggesting that his daughter will look back on her father’s behavior and be grateful that he was so involved.
‘I think that most kids in hindsight, looking back, they always thank their parents for not allowing them to damage themselves as much as they could have,’ he said.
But he went further, admitting he doesn’t want guys to take the time to woo his daughter even though she’s now an adult.
T.I. is not nearly as worried about the sexual activities of his 15-year-old son, King — who is already sexually active.
The teenager admitted in June 2019 episode of the family’s VH1 reality show that he is already doing the deed — and T.I., while clearly not totally thrilled, laughed it off.
‘I don’t want any of my children to have sex before it’s time for them, but who’s to say when it’s time?’ he said.
‘However, I will definitely feel different about a boy than I will about a girl. And that’s just the God’s honest truth. I don’t think there’s any father out there who’ll tell you any different.’
His possessiveness over the sexual activity of the women in his life does, however, extend to his wife Tiny, 44.
According to MadameNoir, in a recent episode of T.I.’s ExpediTIously podcast, he told Tiny that he was owed sex in their marriage contract.
But this is OK: T.I.’s son King, who is just 15, has been sexually active since he was 14
‘I don’t want any of my children to have sex before it’s time for them, but who’s to say when it’s time?’ he said, adding he [feels] different about a boy than I will about a girl’
Ownership: T.I. seems to be equally possessive of his wife Tiny, 44, telling her that her ‘little sex box’ is half his
‘What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours. That means that little thing you got, that little sex box you got is half mine,’ he said.
‘So you pick which side you want, and that’s yours. The rest of it is mine. We can split it right down the middle of the… What do they call it? The, the, the, is it the, “Uvula”?’
He seems to have been referring to the vulva.
‘What I’m saying is, it’s half mine. And my half is on the inside.’
Meanwhile, Deyjah — who has 1.4 million Instagram followers and appears on the family reality show, T.I. & Tiny: Friends & Family Hustle — isn’t a stranger to male attention, even if her father has confirmed that she’s limiting her engagement with the opposite sex.
Just before she celebrated her 18th birthday in June, she warned older guys to back off.
‘I just want to quickly say that just because I’m turning 18 in June…that doesn’t mean 1. that ya’ll will even get the chance to lmaooooooo 2. more importantly, that still doesn’t make it right for you grown a** men to try and get at me…’ she wrote on social media.
‘I will still be A TEENAGER!!! if you’re not ok with someone your age tryna get with your daughter, sister, niece, etc. then don’t think it’s ok with me.’
Ironically, although T.I. has implemented strict rules regarding his daughter’s sex life, he has no problem promoting a much looser lifestyle in his music.
Many of the rapper’s hits, including his 2008 number one hit Whatever You Like, and 2013 number one song Blurred Lines, which also featured Robin Thicke and Pharrell, feature lyrics that glamorize sex.
In Whatever You Like, T.I. raps about ‘late night sex, so wet and so tight’, while Blurred Lines caused global outrage when it was first released because the lyrics described a man trying to coerce an uninterested woman into having sex with him.