On Monday morning, TMZ released a video alledgedly showing Solange Knowles attacking brother-in-law Jay Z in an elevator of New York's Standard Hotel after the Met Ball. Jay does not retaliate, and another man, who appears to be a bodyguard, is quick to hold Solange back. Jay's wife Beyoncé is also present, though she does not get physically involved in the altercation.
The footage is shocking, but the Internet's flippant reaction is even worse: The widespread mockery of the video, the leaking of which is being investigated by the hotel, is promoting the age-old double standard that women committing violence against men is simply hilarious. It's not.
We are including the video here for context. Be warned that it (obviously) contains violence.
The video immediately went viral, spawning a veritable "Twitter comedy hour" as #WhatJayZSaidToSolange soared to the top of the worldwide trending chart. Users took it upon themselves to speculate as to the cause of Solange's outburst, with most making fun of her lack of success relative to that of her superstar older sister and brother-in-law. Plenty of predictable Chris Brown jokes have been tossed in for good measure as well.
"oh hey an elevator! We might hear some of your music on here" #WhatJayZSaidToSolange— Southside Vic (@SouthsideVic) May 12, 2014
#WhatJayZSaidToSolange "Blue Ivy been higher on the charts than you"— Cornelius Matthews (@tryna_be_famous) May 12, 2014
This is disturbing. Whatever the joke, the premise is the same: When a woman attacks a man, it's funny. It's entertainment. (One writer went so far as to call the video both "fantastic" and "epic," and to compare Solange to a "drunk Real Housewife.")
Jay Z is obviously a very powerful guy (and one who has drawn his own criticism for lyrics that suggest a glorification of domestic violence), but that's not an excuse to treat this like a joke. Think about if the situation were reversed: Would we be making memes if Jay Z had attacked Solange? No. We would be outraged — and rightly so.
When we make light of violence against men, we set a terrible precedent. Media narratives matter, and this reaction is hugely insulting to the whopping 835,000 men who are victims of partner violence each year. Men are less likely to report their abuse due to the perceived stigma that surrounds being a male victim, and it's no wonder that many feel uncomfortable coming forward when their ordeals are routinely trivialized by pop culture. As the Daily Beast points out, "Male victims find themselves in the same position women were 30 years ago. Their problem is viewed as of little consequence, or they are to blame, and their [sic] are few available resources for male victims."
Whatever Jay Z said or did — if he said or did anything — we shouldn't be laughing. Violence isn't funny, regardless of the genders involved or the celebrity of the participants.
At least some seem to be taking this seriously:
Hey @digiornopizza, I think brands monetizing violent conflict within families is actually pretty horrible.— Anil Dash (@anildash) May 12, 2014