T.I. got into a fight with boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Now, my interest is piqued.
T.I. got into a fight with boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. supposedly because Tiny, T.I.’s wife, posted pictures to Instagram after attending Mayweather’s most recent fight. In one photo, Tiny is posing with a group of women behind Mayweather, and in another she’s standing with his daughter. T.I. found the pictures disrespectful — and told Mayweather so. Mayweather’s response to T.I.: “Control your bitch.” Now I’m upset.
The idea of two adult men fighting one another in a Fatburger restaurant over Instagram pictures is itself a cause for ridicule. But I won’t lie to you, I find the entire scenario to be a wildly entertaining thought. I’m only human. It becomes less entertaining when realizing the genesis of this fight is seeking control over a woman’s body and her actions. She, in their estimation, is a piece of property. T.I. didn’t like the idea of his property being seen with or possibly belonging to another man. And Mayweather’s response — “control your bitch” — suggests the same understanding of what a woman is.
Given his history of domestic violence, one might wonder what type of “control” Mayweather had in mind (to be fair, I suppose, he did apologize for making this remark about Tiny, though I’m not clear on whether it was for calling her a “bitch” or the control part).
And look, even as I write this, I’m saying to myself “Mychal, stop engaging the celebrity drama. It’s not that deep.” But that’s a cop out. There’s more in this exchange than two sets of overcharged testosterone dressed in new money getting into a punching each other in the face. There’s a question of what drove them there. It may have just been a dick measuring contest, but it was a dick measuring contest with a woman at the center whose existence was reduced to an ornament. In light of this past weekend’s news, it’s more pertinent than ever to discuss these ideas.
Calling it an “idea” is lending it too much credibility. But from our political leaders on down to 22 year-old college students with access to guns, men go about their lives believing they have control over women’s bodies, and then they attempt to exercise that control. Some pass laws restricting access to abortion. Some drag their wives out of casino elevators and punch them into unconsciousness. Some heinously gun down the women they believe owe them more. And some get into fights with other men at Fatburger. They’re symptoms of the same disease.
“The T.I. and Floyd Mayweather fight for patriarchy at Fatburger” doesn’t have the same poetic ring to it as “Rumble in the Jungle” or “Thrilla in Manila,” but that’s exactly what happened. These two got into a fight over who has the right to determine what a woman can and can not do with her own life. One of them offered at advice on how to avoid that situation. But it wasn’t “She’s a human being with autonomy and has the ability to make choices about where and with whom to spend her time. If you have a problem with that, you should maybe examine why you feel entitled to make those decisions for her.” No, it wasn’t that. It was “control your bitch.”
Every few months, we have another conversation about whether or not we still “need” feminism. I don’t know how anyone can look at the statistics on violence against women alone and not see how ridiculous that question is, but it’s even simpler and more depressing. We still need feminism just to remind people that women are human. Amazing how we still don’t get that.
Mychal Denzel Smith is a Knobler Fellow at The Nation Institute.