A REAL Modern-Woman on T.I., Ladies Like Us, & the Price of Silence
If you’ve been remotely near any social media platform or pop news website in the last 24 hours, you’ve already heard about the fiasco that was the Ladies Like Us podcast episode released yesterday, in which ATL rapper Clifford “T.I.” Harris had the audacity to tell very personal information about his daughter’s sexual history (specifically the assumed lack thereof).
In the interview, T.I. shared that he has accompanied his oldest daughter Deyjah to the gynecologist since she was 16 (what minor who’s not sexually active goes to the gynecologist anyway) to check that her hymen was intact, thus deeming her a virgin. Obviously, this is not a reliable way to verify such information, which T.I. himself admitted to as he explained that the doctor informed him the hymen can be broken from a number of activities, such as bike riding, horseback riding, athletics and other physical activities.
However, T.I. proclaimed that his daughter doesn’t participate in any of those things, or play sports, so “just check the hymen, please, and give me back my results expeditiously.”
If you’re wondering why Deyjah’s medical information would be shared with her father in the first place–there’s HIPPA laws for goodness’ sake–T.I. has that covered to. He admitted to having his daughter “sign a paper” so the doctor could share her medical information with him, which most likely referred to a patient agreeing to share this with a designated individual. It’s also important to remember that minors do not have full HIPPA rights except if
- A parent agrees that the minor and health care provider may have a confidential relationship.
- Parental consent for care is not required under law.
- A court provides direction for care or appoints an individual to care for the minor.
This behavior would be illegal now that Deyjah is over the age of 18. Apparently, T.I. felt it was his responsibility to personally see to it and “prove” that his daughter was not having sex, at least before she became a legal adult –which is MUCH LESS than he had to say upon finding out that his 14-year-old son was sexually active.
As if that weren’t already enough to make your blood boil, it got worse. In a MadameNoire article it’s noted:
She’s still a virgin, which works for the rapper because that way, it sounds like he thinks she will have a hard time getting guys to stick around. “They’re no fun. Who wants a virgin?” he asked. “Like really? All that work.”
There are a million things wrong with this picture of parenting. Among them:
- Continuing the patriarchy by holding men to different sexual standards
- Accepting the widespread fact that men do not desire to and don’t have to wait but women must wait
- Publicly degrading virgins
- Policing bodies that aren’t yours & invading privacy
I could continue, but that’s just a start. It’s quite ridiculous that we even have to have this conversation, but here we are, on the cusp of 2020 living under archaic belief systems.
On the flip side, Nazanin Mandi (Miguel’s wife) and Nadia Moham (Nazanin’s makeup artist) are the hosts of Ladies Like Us, a show meant to “provide a modern-day women’s perspective on the universal issues we face each and every day.”
While T.I. was going on this toxic tangent the two laughed. And then they laughed a few more times. And then they made some jokes and rode along with him. If you want to hear it for yourself listen to the clip on YouTube here (DO NOT go to podcast channels because it will boost their ratings). It’s clear that T.I. is not joking as he talks and the women failed to call him out on any of it.
On a show meant to represent the modern woman–someone who is independent-minded and claiming agency to her own life–they chose to let him run wild with this harmful rhetoric and laughed along like it was a big joke. They never once appeared to stop and think about what this might mean for his daughter, and the disrespectful, lewd comments that have poured into her IG page since.
Across social media, men and women alike weren’t having it: not only with T.I., but Nazanin and Nadia as well.
One Twitter user, Lord Farid, brought up a good point as to why the hosts most likely laughed along as if nothing were wrong with his comments.
This is true. Virginity tests are a worldwide problem and attack against women. In the wake of T.I’s comments, Rolling Stone released facts that virginity testing in the US is a much bigger issue than you’d imagine–and it’s incredibly worse and violent abroad.
Virginity testing usually takes the form of a two-finger test, which involves a physician inserting two fingers into a woman’s vagina to check whether her hymen is intact. Although an intact hymen is by no means a reliable indicator of virginity, as T.I. himself pointed out, it is viewed as such in various cultures around the world, such as in India, Turkey, Egypt, and South Africa. Although the test is most frequently associated with determining a woman’s eligibility for marriage, it has been used for other purposes as well; in Indonesia, for instance, the test is used to determine female applicants’ suitability for the police force.
A third of US physicians have performed the test and 10% admitted to being explicitly asked to do so by a patient’s parents (many admitted to lying about the results if necessary to avoid causing the patient danger or distress at home). Two Iranian parents faced trial in the UK for forcing their 18-year-old daughter to take a virginity test in 2018.
While Nazanin and Nadia’s culture may have led them to grow accustomed to the type of behavior going on in the Harris household, all women should be informed: there are no excuses. Just a year ago, the UN (United Nations) and WHO (World Health Organization) co-authored a statement calling to end virginity testing, writing that the practice was “a violation of the human rights of girls and women, and can be detrimental to women’s and girls’ physical, psychological and social well-being.”
Planned Parenthood stepped into the conversation with an in-depth thread on virginity and all things hymens.
If any good has come from this unfortunate event, it’s that many people have entered dialogue about rights to privacy, parenting, sexual health and the implications of silence and laughter in difficult situations. Just think how different our world would be if we weren’t silent about harmful things. Just think how differently this entire situation would if the hosts had actually said something and challenged T.I’s thoughts. Where would we be instead?
While many have taken their outrage to social media and the comments section of everyone involved, the real “victim” here (this is not to victimize Deyjah at all, she’s a strong young woman in her own right), Deyjah, has received so much support. To put your own daughter’s business out into the world–regardless of what you family might have agreed to–without her permission is incredibly offensive.
Regardless of how ignorantly well-intentioned his actions were, T.I. had no right to tell this story to the public. Deyjah, who is a first-year in college now has to walk around campus and in the public eye with her personal business and intimate family dynamics in the street. And while she’s grown up with her parents on reality TV, I doubt this is a run-of-the-mill day for her.
No one has posted or made a statement since this fiasco–except a few IG story posts on the podcast pages about how they were “making headlines” (at an 18 year old’s expense), but a look into Deyjah’s Liked tweets as of this morning give you pretty good insight into how she feels:
So what do we learn from all of this? To respect privacy. To grant women–your children included–agency and opportunity to make good decisions. To treat your sons and daughters equally. To not spill someone else’s personal business in the streets. To educate yourself so you can say something when you see a problem. And to STOP LAUGHING WHEN YOU HEAR SOMETHING HARMFUL.
Deyjah, sending you all the love, light and prayers that you need to get through this moment. You are beautiful and you deserve to be happy, healthy, whole and confident in who you are. Nobody owns you and no one can take you value away.