Dear Dads: You Can Draw The Line For Your Daughters - Just Don't Cross It

Rapper T.I. posing with daughters Deyjah Harris and Heiress Harris

Dear Dads: You Can Draw The Line For Your Daughters - Just Don't Cross It

It's a thin line between parenting and patriarchy, and I'm glad my dad treaded lightly.

Published November 9, 2019

Written by Soraya "Sojo" Joseph

Repeat after me:

Parents do not have the right to police their adult child's body.

You may advise on their decisions, but you may not impose on them.

Is that clear?

Now that we've got that out the way, let's proceed to the bigger conversation at hand.

Rapper T.I. recently made headlines for his latest controversial statement. No stranger to being outspoken,he revealed that when it comes to his 18-year-old daughter, Deyjah Harris, not only does he accompany her to an annual gyno appointment, he has her undergo a hymen check, too.

During a sit-down on the women-led podcast, Ladies Like Us, the hosts asked Tip whether or not he's had the “talk” with his eldest daughter Deyjah, who recently kicked off her first year in college. 

"Not only have we had the conversation [about sex], we have yearly trips to the gynecologist, to check her hymen," Tip revealed.

The 39-year-old father detailed how the annual father-daughter ritual goes down.

"So this is what we do. Right after the birthday, we celebrate, and usually like a day after the party, she's enjoying her gifts, and I put a sticky note on her door [that reads]: 'Gyno. Tomorrow. 9:30.'"

T.I. also admitted that, per doctor-patient confidentiality, that Deyjah's physician(s)  request permission to release her results to him, which the rapper says Deyjah signs off on. He also stated that when doctors advised him that a torn hymen is not necessarily an indication of sexual activity, but can include other athletic and physical activity as well, Tip remarked:

"Look doc! She don't ride no horses, she don't ride no bikes. She don't play no sports. Just check the hymen please, and give me back my results, expeditiously!"

The proud dad then boasted, "I will say, as of [Deyjah's] 18th birthday, her hymen is still in check.”

PSA to all parents:

There is a thin line between parenting, and policing one's privacy
(and in this case, privates too).

Any parent who uses a hymen as a measurement of their adult daughter's virtue or overall worth as a woman, should reevaluate their own values.

You're not concerned about your daughter being sexually active in the manner which it pertains to her, you're concerned about her sexual activity in the manner in which it pertains to you and your comfort levels, and the social construct you've been subjected to that surrounds sexuality and virginity.

Also, parents, you do know when it comes to sex, both adolescents and adults alike do think "outside of the box," right?

There is no exam to see if one has engaged in oral activity, be it as a recipient or a giver. Also, there is no test for heavy fondling or foreplay. Not to mention, annuals don't include digital rectal exams (DRE). Therefore, sex and intimacy are not limited to vaginal penetration. 

When I heard T.I.'s interview, I immediately read the comment sections where the story was posted online. Needless to say, I was shocked at the amount of women defending T.I.

One comment read:

"If more women had fathers like him (T.I.) they would've turned out better. He not doing nothing wrong. Half of y'all can't even say ya'll fathers was in ya'll life, let alone have to take ya'll to get a checkup."

As a bonafide daddy's girl for three decades, I strongly disagree.

My dad has been a trucker most of my life, and was the owner-operator of his own truck. From the ages of 8 to 12 years old, I spent a lot of time on the open road, and those are some of my best memories with him. We had open dialogue while listening to everything from James Brown to Bill Withers. I did homework in that big rig, and when we went to the rest stops, I would play arcade games, while my dad checked my assignments.

Off the road, my father and I enjoyed weekly trips to Barnes and Nobles, where I'd buy a new book each week. I insisted on reading the first few pages right away, at the bookstore's cafe. While my father had coffee (black, six sugars), I indulged in a mini chocolate bundt cake and hot cocoa, all the while trying not to smudge brown frosting on the pages of my new novel. Honestly, I can still smell the pages of a fresh book in my memory.

As a tomboy-ish teen, I was more uncomfortable and awkward about getting my period, than my actual father was. My dad, taking heed to my discomfort, took note of this and when shopping for my feminine products, would ask if I needed "snacks" from the grocery store, in place of  the word "pads."

As I got older, time with my father matured into fun dinner dates and the occasional drink, with the context of our conversation being more mature, but of course, on a need-to-know or care-to-know basis.

To this day, I'll never forget what my dad told me when I was being dropped off at my college dorm at 18 years old. 

"Do you know what 18 is? The world will tell you that 18 means you are an adult, and that you know everything, and that you can do whatever you want. But in reality, 18 is nothing but the number after 17, and the one before 19. You're still learning. You are not grown, but you are still growing. Always be Soraya, because being you is enough. You'll get older, but don't change who you are at your core."

I've carried that advice all of my life.

I say all this to say that my father lives in some of my most fondest memories both as a child and as an adult. I could go on and on, but I think I've made my point on my papa's presence pretty clear.

Through all of this, I also grew up in a very conservative household, with both my parents, and my brother. However, along with age, the more our actions warranted their respect, the more our parents gave it to us. In my house, the rules were pretty strict, but they were reasonable, and my parents always led with placing faith in us that we would follow them.

We didn't have to work hard to earn our parent's trust, we had to work hard to keep it. Because of this, I prided myself in meeting them halfway.

The most my father has ever addressed gender roles, as it relates to the differences between men and women, is that men and women are equal, but separate. 

Read that back:

Men and women are equal but separate. Not superior. 

S E P A R A T E.

Uniquely opposites but equally of importance.

Fast forward to present day, during dinner with my father this week, I told him about T.I. accompanying his 18-year-old daughter for a hymen check, and asked his take. His immediate reaction was a frown, and a look of confusion.

"I'm not saying not to give the young girl guidelines, but for me, I don't think you have to take her to the doctor for that," my father, Larry Joseph, stated.

He continued, "The way we treat you at eight is not the way we treated you at 18. Parents have to understand that they are not there all of  their kids' lives. What if one of them dies, what happens then? You have to teach kids how real life is, because that child will be outside in the world without you. You can only hope that your child will follow your instructions, but that's about it. You will not be able to be next to that child all the time.”

He continued, "When she goes to school, she will be alone. So yes, you can continue to guide them in life, but not control them, and explain to her, or him, the consequences they'll have if they engage in certain activities in their life. And tell them to not take certain decisions lightly, no matter their age, because you might think you're ready to do certain stuff, but later on, you may regret it. This is the bottom line."

When I ask my father if he thinks certain restrictions warrant negative consequences in the end, in true dad-fashion, he hits me with a hypothetical.

"How many kids, when their parents give them good advice, still go out and do what they want? Then later on in life, some of them end up trying to blame their parents. Usually those kids that are tied up with a chain inside the house, once they leave the house, they go wild. That's why I always say, 'When someone thinks they know everything in life, they will pay for it in the end.'" 

A-men, dad.

After our chat, I got to thinking about the woman in the above comment, and whether or not she, or the many others that shared her same sentiment, were raised with fathers of their own. If so, I wondered what those relationships looked like, if their fathers were absent, or if they grew up over-romanticizing what it would be like to actually have one.

Many women who are impacted by their own father's absence, end up looking for a father-type in their future relationships, even if unbeknownst to themselves. The problem with that is, you end up dating a man that you feel fills the void of having no father in your life. The lines tend to get blurred as it pertains to the roles of a dad, versus that of your man.

So yes dads:

You are your daughter's first love. But Lord willing, you will not be her only one.

I would never say that Tip is not a loving dad; it's clear in the way he loves all of his children that he is a very present father. However, I definitely expected more women to check Tip for his daddy-daughter check-ups.

At the end of the day:

There are levels to this 'ship. A relationship and kinship are not one and the same.

Ladies, with your permission and your permission only, your proximity to your partner will warrant some type of access to your privates. But that particular access is restricted to your parents. Period.

(Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage)


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