T.I. defends 'hymengate' on 'Red Table Talk': 'I never said I was in the exam room'
T.I. and his wife Tameka "Tiny" Harris appeared on Facebook Watch’s Red Table Talk to discuss "hymengate," as the rapper called it. Earlier this month T.I. sparked outrage when he said he makes "yearly trips to the gynecologist" with daughter Deyjah, 18, "to check her hymen" and ensure she's a virgin. He addressed the controversy on Monday’s episode with Jada Pinkett Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Jones.
"OK, 'hymengate,'" T.I. began. "First of all, I came to clear up any misconception that's been surrounding how we interact and parent and what is appropriate and what is inappropriate."
The rapper said the conversation he was having on the Ladies Like Us podcast was "in a very joking manner."
"From a place of truth, I begin to embellish and exaggerate and I think a lot of people kind of took it extremely liberal," he continued. "I honestly thought people knew me better than that."
T.I. said he "did not" understand the sensitivity around the issue.
"I understand it now, yes I do absolutely," he said, adding his intentions were "terribly misconstrued and misconceived." He said he wants to "set the record straight."
"I never said I was in the exam room, that is an assumption. That is a falsity," T.I. declared. "I never said that it was being done present day as an 18-year-old."
"She was 15 or 16 years old at the time," Tiny interjected.
Deyjah is T.I.'s daughter with Ranniqua, a singer who goes by the stage name Ms. Niko.
"I never said [Deyjah's] mother wasn't present, her mom was present every time," T.I. added. "This narrative, this false narrative has just been sensationalized."
"At the time her mother welcomed your presence and your daughter did too?" Pinkett Smith asked.
"Absolutely. There was never any objection," T.I. replied, but admitted his daughter was upset after his remarks made headlines. While Deyjah hasn't spoken publicly about "hymengate," she reportedly liked comments shading her father.
"She did have a problem with me talking about it however and I understand that," T.I. continued. "And I am incredibly apologetic to her for that — to her."
T.I. looked at the camera and apologized to his "sweet baby Deyjah." But he said he's "not" sorry to "these other strangers and any of these weirdos who, you know, just kind of toss lies around for fun."
"She understands my intentions and she knows who I am and she knows who I've always been," he continued. "The outside, the noise is distracting, is confusing. It's hurtful and embarrassing."
"I definitely understood why she would feel like it's personal to her. Deyjah's a quiet child, you have to nudge things out of her," noted Tiny.
T.I. admitted he was "oblivious" as to why his comments would be such a big issue in the first place. "However I am now sensitive to it for her," he said, adding he initially didn't address the controversy at Deyjah's request.
Throughout the episode Pinkett Smith and her mother tried to educate T.I. on why so many people, particularly women, were upset at his remarks.
"I want to know what is the purpose and place of a father in this society?" T.I. asked. "A father like myself who wants to be involved and as attentive as possible. We could draw the conclusion we just donate sperm and come pay for things, we don't really have a say in how things —"
"I don't think that's the case at all," Banfield-Jones interjected. "I don't think anybody has a problem with you being involved in that, I think it was more — that's so, so very personal."
"I don't think anybody has a problem with you protecting your daughter," added Pinkett Smith. "That's not the issue.
"It's the hymen," said T.I.
"It's the hymen part and having been a young girl myself, having raised several young women and realizing that a women's journey in regards to her sexuality has to be guided, right? Mostly I think by mothers, that's just me personally," Pinkett Smith said. "That's how I worked that out with Will [Smith], there's just certain things about raising a man that I can't know. I would tell him, 'Love your daughter, let me teach her.'"
Pinkett Smith said she understands T.I. wants to protect his daughter, but it's "the idea that people thought you were trying to control your daughter's virginity" that was upsetting.
"But in order to guide or direct you must have a certain level of control of anything," T.I. said.
"So how do you want us to understand your level of control in which you are speaking of?" Pinkett Smith asked.
"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 replied, explaining he wants to protect his daughter from the "grimy" boys who just want to "defile and destroy."
"I don't understand how that is looked at as being so wrong," he maintained. "For there to be malice, there must be ill intent. 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 to be a protective parent..."
"I don't think it's so much about virginity or was it?" Pinkett Smith asked.
"I am here to protect all of the children from themselves until they make it to a point where they have awareness, a sense of self and discernment to be able to make certain decisions on their own that will impact their lives indefinitely," T.I. explained.
"So you felt as though when she's 15, 16 years old that she might not have the understanding of what it means to engage in that way?" Pinkett Smith asked.
"Absolutely. Since she turned 18 I don't have control of anything," T.I. replied. "Now getting her there ... there has to be someone there to clarify what is acceptable, what is unacceptable, I trust and believe that I put moral standards, principles and greatness in all of my children. Until they learn to unlock it and use those powers themselves it has to be harnessed."
"I was never really trying to protect their virginity versus making sure they have a level of understanding and maturity before going into certain things," said Pinkett Smith, "but it was never about the virginity."
"It's not protecting, I'm not there to protect necessarily virginity," T.I. said. "I just know [losing your virginity] is a big move, once you make that move, there are things that happen that follow — you have to be equipped. I don't know if you're equipped, I have to — awareness is my first line of defense."
"That's different!" Pinkett Smith pointed out.
"OK," T.I. said. "I don't know how, but OK."
"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.
"Absolutely, definitely all of the above," T.I. affirmed. "She definitely should be afraid of what could potentially come from [having sex]. The dangers of pregnancy, the dangers of diseases, the dangers of having your heart broken..."
Pinkett Smith wanted to educate T.I. that hymens "can be broken by riding a horse," or "you can be very sexually active and you're hymen be intact."
"These are all things I'm learning," T.I. admitted. "I'm looking to you guys to educate me."
He was asked how he would have reacted if he found out at 15 or 16 years old his daughter "wasn't a virgin."
"Your childhood ends when you lose your virginity, that's it. You ended your childhood and it's time to begin adulthood," T.I. replied. "And I can't let you run around trying to enjoy the luxuries of adulthood... You must heighten the level of responsibilities, that can be birth control, it could be financial or just having a plan. You can't just run around not knowing what you want to do no more... Now, you've made a decision you want to be an adult you've got to have a plan together because if you've figured this out, you have to have all this figured out too."
T.I. concluded by saying this has been a teachable moment.
"It's great for me to have this opportunity," he replied. "All things happen in life for a reason. Every lesson has a purpose and must be dealt with differently but out of care and out of concern, not out of control."
"And out of education," added Pinkett Smith.
"I don't think our community, our culture, our generation can be pushed forward without having comfortable, convenient discussions," T.I. explained. "You have to have tough discussions in order to move forward."
Part 2 of Red Table Talk with T.I. and Tiny will air Wednesday on Facebook Watch.
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