The Controversy Regarding Rapper T.I. and a Critique of Misogyny in America


Joanna Zhao

Yijing (Annie) Wang ’20 is among those who believe that rapper T.I.’s actions promote a misogynic mindset.

In November, rapper T.I. told the hosts of the “Ladies Like Us” podcast that he accompanied his 18-year-old daughter to the gynecologist to “check if her hymen” was still intact. These statements were met with swift condemnation across the country, and especially from students at Bronx Science. “The way he speaks of his daughter’s body is as if he should have more power over her body than her,” Yijing (Annie) Wang ’20 said. 

Even with the outcry against his statements, some people jumped to his defense. For example, the New Jersey rapper Rah Digga asked in a tweet, “So on top of it being criminal for parents to discipline their children [they’re] trying to make it criminal to monitor their sex lives?” Yes, it should be criminal to monitor your child’s sex life. 

The fact that T.I. is employing such a controlling, demeaning way to keep his daughter “in check,” and that people are so quick to defend him, shows a collective acceptance of gross misogyny. Such parental intrusion on young women’s bodies is not as uncommon as one might hope, but it needs an emphatic response if we are to build a society where women are treated as people, not property. 

T.I. defended his statements during an appearance on the Facebook Watch show “Red Table Talk.” The rapper said that he now understands the sensitivity of the topic and apologized to his daughter for talking about it publicly. But he also said he does not understand why his decision to require the tests was criticized. “I’m being criticized because I’m willing to go above and beyond to protect [my daughter],” T.I. said. The rapper further explained that, it wasn’t just about sex, but also about the responsibilities that he believes come along with it. He said his daughter “definitely should be afraid for what could potentially come from” having sex, and listed pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases as some of the potential outcomes. 

The rapper is shaping his daughter’s views of sex with the social construct of virginity representing sexual pureness; but the concept of virginity is nothing more than a mirage that reduces women to bodies kept chaste for a man to claim. It also promotes double standards throughout American society: a man losing his virginity would be perceived as a positive thing for him, but a woman losing hers would cause people to possibly degrade her. His statements show his lack of trust and confidence in her decisions concerning her own life.Women should be able to take charge and responsibility to make their own decisions in life. 

In a culture that readily accepts male domination over women’s bodies, actions demonstrating “fatherly over-protectiveness” regularly appear and affect arguments on gender rights. For example, the debate over abortion is commonly just seen as a simple argument instead of a fight for the right for people to control their own bodies. If it weren’t for abortion, women would not be able to even fight for their own life in some extreme cases where giving birth would endanger both the mother and the baby. The simplification of abortion as “killing an unborn life” also relates to the simplification of many arguments concerning women empowerment and fighting for women’s rights, including this argument about the testing of virginity. 

Following the backlash over these statements, New York state lawmakers have also introduced two bills that would prevent doctors from performing virginity exams. According to the justification section for the bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, “these examinations are not only a violation of women’s and girls’ human rights, but…can cause additional pain and mimic the original act of sexual violence, leading to re-experience, re-traumatization and re-victimization.” 

T.I.’s statements might seem like ones from an overprotective dad, but they promote the standard male-dominated American culture. They’re a form of abuse. Euphemisms and inability to discuss the spectrum of abuse keeps victims in the dark about what they are experiencing. The experiences of women teach them that they often should not question what happens, because society tends to frame abuse as the woman’s fault (for example, framing a rape as the woman’s fault because of her revealing clothes). Many also tend to argue that if misogynic treatment were a major problem, then it wouldn’t be so commonplace. Young women learn from others’ actions that their value as human beings is tied to outdated ideas of sex and the charade of virginity. We must acknowledge the fact that T.I. checking his daughter’s virginity is not normal, and call it out so we can protect young women in the future.

In a culture that readily accepts male domination over women’s bodies, actions demonstrating “fatherly over-protectiveness” regularly appear and affect arguments on gender rights.