Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Solange Knowles, Jay-Z, abuse and the problem with masculinity

The world of celebrity gossip and TMZ can easily reveal the most problematic issues in our society. Celebrities are fat-shamed, slut-shamed, objectified...and the patriarchal narratives behind these stories are simply disturbing.

The video of Solange Knowles hitting Jay-Z in an elevator is the perfect example of the problem with entertainment news. I’m feeling many ways about the video leaked and the response, especially in terms of what it means to have defined gender roles and what this says about transphobia, homophobia and hate towards women. An article on Policy Mic describes how this video is actually violent although it is being laughed at all over the internet.

The author writes:

"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."

This is true: we shouldn't laugh at violence EVER, because this is violence.

Nonetheless, I'd also like to add and clarify that our inability to view this as violence is not a reflection of misandry (*snort*) but misogyny. It exposes our inability to take women seriously whenever they claim any sort of power, especially if that power is performed in a way that is considered hyper-masculine. The narrative of the weak female and strong male hurts all genders.

This also connects to transphobia, homophobia and people's perceived idea that they have permission to commit violence against black queer people (actually, it seems that they do). Black queer women are seen as a threat because they transcend these gender lines and refuse to be objectified. Black trans*women are too often victims of violence at the hands of cis*men who refuse to accept their gender performance. As Laverne Cox told Katie Couric:
"The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people. And then we don’t get to really deal with the real lived experiences. The reality of trans people’s lives is that so often we are targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community. Our unemployment rate is twice the national average; if you are a trans person of color, that rate is four times the national average. The homicide rate is highest among trans women. If we focus on transition, we don’t actually get to talk about those things."
People are too worried with genitals to acknowledge the life of trans* people. Therefore trans people's lives are devalued.

This also reminds me of Chris Brown revealing that he "lost his virginity" at 8 years old--social views of masculinity deprive men from realizing those moments when they are actually stripped of any agency and abused; while the female abuser is turned into a caricature and, in sexual relations, they are turned into objects that only exist to assist boys in becoming men: (i.e. Stacy's Mom).

So, with this, I invite you to be critical when looking at the video of Solange Knowles and Jay-Z: why exactly do you think it's funny? 

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