This week T.I. came under fire after publicly admitting that he wouldn’t vote for a woman for president and accusing women of being too “emotional” and “rash” for the job. His remarks were way out of line, and judging from the backlash he has received, it’s clear that most people are in agreement there.
While T.I.’s foot remains stuck in his mouth, his wife, Tameka ‘Tiny’ Cottle has come to her husband’s defense. In a video interview with TMZ, she was asked if she personally felt disrespected by his comments and responded “no,” but when asked if T.I. is sexist at home, she responded “sometimes.” Her defense was that he is old-fashioned and believes men just want to be “the man” and want their women to “just be a woman and treated like a princess.” Although Tiny admitted that she does understand and support her husband’s way of thinking at times, she still planned to go home and let him know she does not agree with his most recent comments.
I imagine some women will watch this interview and immediately attack Tiny for speaking out in support of her man after his reckless remarks, and if you’re one of them, I hear you. But the truth is, men often casually say sexist things about women—sometimes in passing, other times while standing at a podium. This is nothing new. And, sometimes that man is someone’s boyfriend or husband. I’d be lying if I said my husband hasn’t been guilty of saying something sexist from time-to-time. Are their remarks sexist and insensitive? Totally. Are they completely inaccurate? Absolutely. But should we condemn them for it? I say, no, we should stop and school them instead. That’s our responsibility as the women in their lives that they love and respect, and dare I say, listen to, on a regular basis.
Tiny isn’t the only woman married to a man who would rather see his wife in the kitchen than the boardroom. Many men would like to be the sole provider for their families, but that doesn’t mean these men believe their wives aren’t capable of being just as successful, if not more successful, than they are. Sure, T.I’s views might be old, old-fashioned or wildly inappropriate, but this isn’t proof that he can’t or won’t come around at some point. I believe that as women we have a responsibility to set these fellas straight on the spot, not ban them from the island altogether.
On a scale of 1 to “Are You Serious?!,” T.I.’s comments are certainly off the charts this time, but they do spark an interesting and more meaningful conversation worth having among us: Does your husband ever cross the line and say something way too sexist for your taste? And, if he does, how do you handle the situation?
Charli Penn is the Relationships and Weddings Editor for ESSENCE.com. You can follow her on Twitter.