Solange Knowles, Beyonce’s sister, reportedly assaulted Jay Z (her brother-in-law) in an elevator as they were leaving the Met Gala. Surveillance footage released to the media shows Solange hitting and kicking Jay Z, while another man tries to restrain her. According to reports, Beyonce stood by for most of the assault, finally stepping between her sister and her husband at the end of the tape. No one knows why Solange Knowles attacked Jay Z. The footage does not contain audio, and obviously the family is staying mum. The Internet is most definitely not staying mum, and what many people are saying, both with words and with memes, is disturbing.
To a lot of folks, men and women both, this assault by Solange Knowles is funny. Memes have popped up everywhere making fun of the incident, with many websites highlighting the “best” ones. Naturally, Twitter users joined in the fun, creating hashtags and photoshopped images of Solange Knowles. The whole thing is a joke, right? Wrong. What if security footage had shown Jay Z beating the crap out of Solange Knowles? Would the same people making not-funny memes and jokes, still be making not-funny memes and jokes? Or would they be calling for Jay Z’s head on a platter, for a police investigation, for an arrest?
Of course they would. There are no such cries for Solange Knowles arrest, simply because when a woman hits a man it’s not considered assault, or what it might be in this case – domestic violence. And that’s a problem, not only in the U.S., but around the world. Statistically, 1 in 7 U.S. men over the age of 18 have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. Men are raped, by both men and women, men are stalked, men are beaten by a spouse or partner. More than 12 million men and women are the victims of stalking, rape, or violence every year.
According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an estimated 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year. From a PDF on NCADV’s website:
Because men are more likely to be financially independent and less likely to experience fear upon leaving a violent relationship, men are less likely to seek emergency shelter and therefore do not take advantage of other domestic violence services that shelters provide.
I wonder if society’s perception of masculinity has anything to do with male victims of domestic violence not seeking help, especially when their abuser is female. Which would explain why Solange Knowles assaulting Jay Z is a joke to so many people. He’s a big, strong man, she’s a woman, it’s not assault, whatever. Elle Magazine ran a terrific article on the assault, with which I wholeheartedly agree. And in a comment underneath the article, we can see why male victims of domestic violence rarely seek help, either from a counselor or the police:
It’s also not in our place to assume this is an incident of domestic abuse. For all we know this could just be an isolated event in which things got too heated.
That comment was written by a woman. What do you think her reaction would have been if the attacker was Jay Z, and the victim was Solange Knowles?
When Justin Bieber was arrested in Florida, hundreds of prison rape jokes and memes flooded the Internet. A lot of my Facebook friends posted them, including a few gay men, which I found so incredibly disturbing. Rape is not a joke, ever. The same thing is happening with Solange Knowles assaulting Jay Z. Society cannot accept the fact that men are hurt, men are stalked, men are beaten, and men are raped. While what happened in that elevator may not legally qualify as domestic violence, it was assault. Just because it was a celebrity family, or a woman beating a man, doesn’t make it anything else. A man may have been beaten or raped by an intimate partner while I was writing this.
How is that funny?