Rapper T.I. recently caught lots of flak for bragging on a podcast that he takes his 18-year-old daughter to the doctor every year to get her hymen checked. He makes daughter Deyjah sign a waiver so the doctor can share the information with her dad. Aside from "virgin purity" being a totally made-up and harmful concept, this habit is completely overly controlling and abhorrent.
It's safe to say the entire internet went off on T.I. for this awful annual tradition. The dad / daughter dynamic is a tricky and evolving one that should involve dads trusting their daughters and realizing that their sexuality doesn't "belong" to them.
While everyone was up in arms about T.I.'s horrid comments, podcast and radio show Filmspotting quietly tweeted out what actor Ethan Hawke said on their show about raising daughters. His daughter Maya Hawke (with actress Uma Thurman) is a 21-year-old actress who recently broke out in the role of Robin in the third season of Stranger Things.
And Ethan's comments are the total opposite side of the coin. He's clearly a dad who has thought a lot about the harm that the patriarchy and misogyny have done to women and wants to actively encourage his daughter — whom he views as a real person with real wants and needs and desires — to find herself and discover who she is all on her own.
"First of all, you know, everybody does their own thing, but there's this thing that goes around with men that they're supposed to be scared of their daughter's sexuality... I remember my oldest Maya when she was turning 16... 'Oh, I better keep those guys away, keep a shotgun at the door' or something. I was like, you know what, I'm going to give Maya permission to be her own shotgun. And if you act all scared of her sexuality, then how is she supposed to feel?
"Juliet did fall in love with Romeo, and you know what? It's beautiful. Is she prepared to fall in love? No. Were you? No. Nobody is. You're never going to do it all right, but you can give her confidence, confidence to know that she's in charge. She doesn't need to be scared of him... She doesn't need a dad with a shotgun behind her.
"She can handle herself and she can go and have a good time, and she can make mistakes and she can recover from them. This idea of innocence and this idea that we're not allowed to make mistakes, you know, we are allowed to make mistakes. We're allowed to grow up, and if we don't then we're just going to live in a tiny, tiny glass world. I've given my daughter permission to make a big fool of herself if she wants to break some hearts and to get her heart broken."
Don't these words make you emotional? It is so rare to hear a dad who has actually considered how harmful the prevailing narrative of the dad / daughter relationship is and has made an effort to work against it. This is what responsible fatherhood looks like, not denying your daughter's autonomy and subjecting her to uncomfortable pelvic exams for your own oppressive purposes.
Ethan Hawke isn't the only celebrity dad who is making strides to change the conversation surrounding father-daughter relationships. Dax Shepard has spoken openly and honestly on his podcast Armchair Expert about what he hopes to teach his young daughters about sex when they are old enough.
He's hyper-aware of the norm, of dad's trying to "protect" their daughters and stifling their development in the process, and though his daughters are young, he's already thinking about what he wants to project when they're older. "It's funny because I tell myself I have a narrative I'm spinning about how I'm going to be as a father of two daughters with some awareness that it is a theory," he said in conversation with guest Gwyneth Paltrow. "Currently, I'm of the opinion, I'm super pro-sex."
"I'm anti having sex to get approval," he continued. "I'm anti having sex to get someone to like you or to gain status in a social circle, but if my daughters are horny and they have decided they want to have sex, I am very pro-sex." Shepard's wife Kristen Bell also agrees and echoed her husband's sentiment when she was a guest on WTF with Marc Maron. "Sex is wonderful," she said. "I want my kids to have sex. I want them to have good, healthy, positive, happy, wild sex."
So in conclusion, when it comes to dads and daughters and being supportive of sexuality and desire... T.I. = bad. So bad. So unequivocally bad. Ethan Hawke, Dax Shepard, and Kristen Bell = good. Necessary. The only way forward.