In September of last year, Ethan Hawke dropped by the Filmspotting podcast and shared his philosophy about fatherhood. The thoughtful actor spoke about raising his now-21-year-old daughter with Uma Thurman, the actress and musician Maya Hawke, and what it was like to watch her grow up and start dating. He spoke eloquently about his valuing his daughter’s independence, about stepping back and letting her make her mistakes, about not being an overbearing father with a “shotgun at the door.” He said that he wanted Maya to be her own shotgun.
The Filmspotting Twitter account posted Hawke’s words today, as they unfortunately felt relevant to the current news cycle. This week, the internet has been all over some particularly disturbing quotes from the rapper T.I., who claims that he takes his 18-year-old daughter Deyjah Harris to the gynecologist each year to make sure that her hymen is intact. In a since-deleted interview on the podcast Ladies Like Us, T.I. said “we have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen.”
“Right after the birthday, we celebrate . . . usually the day after the party, she’s enjoying her gifts . . . I put a sticky note on the door, ‘Gyno, tomorrow, 9:30,’ ” he continued. “I will say, as of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact.”
His remarks were met with widespread disgust. So-called “virginity tests” are inaccurate–the hymen can be broken from a wide range of physical activity, and in some cases hymens remain intact even months after one becomes sexually active. It’s an unethical medical practice, and T.I.’s behavior is an abusive violation of his daughter’s privacy at best (it's difficult to fathom how horrifying and mortifying this publicity must be for Harris, who has liked tweets calling her father "possessive" and "controlling").
Which brings us back to Hawke. Men are unduly praised for the sort of solid parenting that’s generally expected of women; when #MeToo first entered the lexicon, male politicians and celebrities kept saying the phrase “as a father of daughters” to the point of parody. A man should not need to have a daughter in order to see women as equals who should not be subject to sexual violence. But alas! Considering Tip’s nightmare news cycle, it was quite refreshing to read Hawke’s thoughts on parenthood.
“There’s this thing that goes around with men that they’re supposed to be scared of their daughter’s sexuality,” said Hawke. “I remember my oldest daughter Maya, when she was turning sixteen… ‘Oh, I better keep these 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, how is she supposed to feel?”
“She doesn’t need a dad with a shotgun behind her,” he added. “She can handle herself and she can go and have a good time, and she can make mistakes and she can recover from them… We’re allowed to grow up, and if we don’t then we’re just going to live in a little tiny, tiny glass world.”
Read or listen to his full remarks, below.