I was hesitant to watch, but I went ahead and hit the play button on the latest episode of Red Table Talk with guest Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr., better known by his rap performance name, T.I
Clifford was summoned to the RTT after he made headlines last week when he decided to publicly announce his yearly practice of escorting his daughter to her gynecologist’s appointment in order to verify the condition of her hymen.
The backlash was swift; the corrections and education came from as high up as medical associations and practitioners all the way down to advocates, mothers and daughters.
Unfortunately, what Clifford’s RTT visit revealed is that most fathers remain clueless when it comes to the ownership of their daughter’s body, and the limitations of their parental duties concerning her virginity.
In fact the disconnect was so obvious, I cringed several times while watching. T.I.’s penchant for using superlatives and ostentatious language admitted he doesn’t know what the word patriarchy means. Go figure. Raising a girl child, you would think this would prompt men to learn the ways society oppresses his daughter. Black mothers surely have had to be well aware of all the structures facing her sons and daughters. But I digress…
What was all the more perplexing was T.I’s adamant stance that he was unapologetic to anyone aside from his daughter. He maintained that people were being nosey and asserting lies. Yet, it was his own choice to discuss such a private matter with the public…a public he didn’t hesitate to share sexist views with when he believed it was the norm to do so. What T.I. was grossly unaware of, or perhaps he merely underestimated, was the fierce protection of women’s rights. That the fight for equity and respect of reproductive issues is a collective fight that we are all committed to. Protecting one girl’s hymen is protecting all hymens…from delusional politicians and even clueless, albeit well- meaning fathers.
Funny, T.I. expressed that he wished Willow was at the table. I’m willing to bet Willow’s absence wasn’t accidental. I doubt her voice is one that a sexist can easily sit with.
Given that, I must say that I believe the time at the RTT would have been a much better service had Willow convened a circle of her peers to discuss their views and feelings surrounding what T.I. jokingly referred to as “hymen-gate.”
Because what we don’t need to hear is fathers explain how much they don’t know, and apologize after the fact for their willful ignorance. What we need is for them to sit and hear what the women in their lives want to say without the threat of withholding financial support (which he stated would have been the case had he learned his daughter was a virgin).
Aside from all the painstaking commentary, one thing I was relieved to hear was that T.I. admitted he needs to learn more and that he genuinely does want to do what is in the best interest of his daughter.
We just need men to understand, a young lady indulging in sex is her choice. A choice you can guide only if you are educated. Only if you have open communication. And only if you approach it with the same open mind that you do discussing sex with your sons.
There is so much more to say on the topic…but whatever else needs to be said, I think it is best coming from the heart talk of our daughters and their advocates.
What did you think of T.I’s Red Table Talk interview?
You can visit any Planned Parenthood without parental consent.
Parents understand the rights your child has. Here is a great tool.