In the relationships subreddit, a 24-hour internet advice column that often focuses on navigating relationships with terrible people, one recurring incantation is A Narcissist’s Prayer, which begins, “That didn’t happen/and if it did, it wasn’t that bad.” Those lines seem to have guided T.I.’s playbook for defending himself against comments he made on a podcast about pressuring his teenage daughter’s physician to perform a scientifically debunked “hymen check” in order to use irrelevant information about his daughter’s vaginal tissue to micromanage her body.
Today, T.I. and his wife Tameka “Tiny” Harris appeared on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Live show Red Table Talk, to insist that T.I. was mostly just joking about the hymen check, except for the fact that both parents did take their daughter to a physician and demand updates on the status of their daughter’s hymen.
“I think all this surrounds a conversation that I was having in a very joking manner when asked how do I deal with parenting in this day and age,” T.I. told Pinkett Smith. “From a place of truth, I began to embellish and exaggerate, and I think a lot of people kind of took it extremely literal. I honestly thought people knew me better than that.”
But he insisted that the outrage over his comments was “misconstrued” because he never said he was in the exam room and the appointment happened when his now eighteen-year-old daughter Deyjah was “fifteen and sixteen years old at the time.” But the interview did confirm that the gynecologist’s visit happened at least once and both parents were present to pressure Deyjah to give her father access to her medical information.
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As far as apologies go, T.I. is sorry to his daughter, but not to those who pointed out both the dangers and utter uselessness of virginity testing:
“All of this false narrative has just been sensationalized,” he said. “I am incredibly apologetic for that, to her...Not to any of these other strangers or any of these weirdos who just kind of toss lies around for fun.”
Pinkett Smith then gave T.I. an out, saying that she understood he was simply trying to say he was present for his daughter but that his comments perhaps came off as controlling. T.I. interjected to explain that was exactly how he meant the comments to sound:
“In order to guide or direct, you must have a certain level of control,” he said. “Well I think in the age or the time, our women, black women are the most unprotected, unattended, disregarded on the planet. I’m being criticized because I’m willing to go above and beyond to protect mine.”
The narcissist’s defining characteristic is an inflated sense of their own role in any story. T.I.’s daughter barely has a name in his protracted self-defense, just “mine.” Her virginity, as he said in the original podcast and as he clearly still believes, is also “his” to be examined and discussed in the name of protection. T.I. seems to believe that his daughter will be less valuable as a person if she has consensual sex, which indicates that she would, in fact, be less valuable to him.