Sure, The Solange Attack Memes Are Funny, But They’re Also Completely Inappropriate

Solange Knowles flipping her head back and forth GIF yellow background blue shirt(via)

I understand why everyone is so amped up about this video of Solange Knowles attacking Jay Z in the elevator at the Met Ball, I really do. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to make light of the situation.

Even if Beyonce weren’t one of the most famous people on the planet, it’s a rare thing to for a celebrity or a sibling of a celebrity to lose control like that, and even rarer for the public to be able to watch it. It’s schadenfreude on a level we don’t often get to experience, and it’s made all the more delicious by the fact that we have absolutely no idea what the altercation was about.

But all that said — it’s not something that we should be making light of on social media. I’ve seen a lot of the memes, and I’ll admit to even chuckling at a few of them, but that was before I realized: would we be reacting this way if it had been a man attacking a woman? No chance. Why is it fair game to make light of a violent act when its perpetrated by a women, when we’d be calling for an arrest if it had been a man throwing those punches?

I think part of it is probably down to the fact that Solange was prevented from actually hurting Jay, but we have video evidence that proves it wasn’t for lack of trying. Her intention was to hurt someone, and it doesn’t really matter if she was successful or not. Bottom line, she lost control and resorted to violence, which is never ever okay. It’s not okay when Chris Brown does it, it’s not okay when Emma Roberts does it, it’s not okay when Sean Penn does it, and it’s not okay when Solange does it.

If we want physical violence to be taken seriously, we can’t make those decisions on an individual basis. We can’t call it ‘assault’ when a man does it and a ‘catfight’ when it’s woman-on-woman, nor can we use the adjective ‘passionate’. That wasn’t an act of passion, that was an act of violence, and we owe it to ourselves to treat it accordingly.

As weird as it sounds, holding Solange accountable for her actions is actually a feminist issue for me, because I want all instances of violence to be treated equally, no matter the gender of the attacker. Or the race, religion, sexual orientation, age, or social standing, for that matter, but I understand that’s a long battle to fight.

Ultimately, what Solange did was not okay, and she needs to be responsible for her actions. But we also need to be responsible for ours.

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    • StarNerd

      Very well written Alexis! I agree with everything you are saying and I love that you brought in feminism. You are 100% right, no violent act whether inflicted by a man or a woman should be thought of as a joke. There is obviously some sort of serious issue going on for her to lash out like that.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Thanks, StarNerd! I really appreciate you reading and commenting. I think we have an opportunity here to take violence seriously, and I personally don’t want to miss it.

    • Lindsey Conklin

      Wow. Seriously well written and I completely agree–violence is violence and ultimately it’s never okay. I hate to admit this but I did giggle at the kanye image

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Thank you, Lindsey! Yeah, like I said it’s tough, because some of the memes are pretty clever, but I can’t help feeling like it’d be a whole different situation if it had been Jay attacking Solange.

      • JenH1986

        it 100% would have been different if Jay-Z had attacked her or done anything else by guard his man bits.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Absolutely.

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    • Mystik Spiral

      “As weird as it sounds, holding Solange accountable for her actions is actually a feminist issue for me, because I want all instances of violence to be treated equally, no matter the gender of the attacker.”

      It doesn’t sound weird at all, Alexis, and it’s perfectly true. If we feminists raise hell about equal pay and bodily autonomy, then we sure as shit shouldn’t make excuses for a violent woman, just because her intended target is a man.

      I don’t have the time to cite statistics, and I’m going to make a broad statement here, but I think we’d all agree it’s true: Men rarely report physical or sexual abuse done to them because of stupid stereotypes – that it’s unmanly to get beat up by a “girl” or that sexual advances are never unwanted because men are just so gotdang horny all the time!

      Great write-up!

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Thanks so much! That’s a great point about the stigma of being a male victim of a female attacker, as well.

    • Olivia Wilson

      I didn’t fully recognize the hypocrisy of my reaction until you pointed it out, so thanks for that. I fully agree with you, now, and I think that this is so well-said.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Not hypocritical! Just ingrained! The fact that people are open to thinking about it in a different way is what I think is important, so thank you for that.

    • carrie thompson

      Absolutely. If it had been JayZ attacking Solange, he’d be arrested and his public image would never recover. In fact, if he had physically responded to her attack in any way other than what he did (which was to stand there and hold her leg when she kicked at him), he’d likely be arrested and his public image would never recover.

      Whatever it was that got her so angry (and I have no idea, and perhaps JayZ did something really shady and awful), violence wasn’t an appropriate response.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Totally agreed.

      • JenH1986

        I’ve seen on other sites where people are saying he cheated or he abuses B. Of course we have no working knowledge of that but, swinging and kicking someone isn’t the response to cheating or abuse. Ever. No one should be hitting anyone EVER. I hate Chris Brown with a passion and I don’t think he should have his ass whipped.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Agreed. That’s why we were so upset when Pink’s husband said Chris should get abused in jail. That’s so not the point.

    • happy1ga

      Stipulating, of course, that domestic violence should know no gender, just as (another frustrating example!) adult female educators sleeping with underage male students should be genderless. It should be understood by both sexes that by hitting someone, anyone, you are opening yourself up to violence, and likely criminal charges. However, I do have some thoughts on your post, and what I think you are inferring. You seem to be saying that this is a private matter, not open for public airings, and that it is too serious a subject of which to make light about., fearing the message of equality will be lost. I’d like to come at this issue from a different direction-if this is the case, we should just respectfully and solemnly back away from this private family, when is it ok to eagerly pore over a person’s private actions, words, texts, calls, and it be worthy of delicious schadenfreude? Is it only to include people we don’t like, or when we learn of something we find unacceptable about someone we feel no vested interest in, or do we get to pick and choose? For example: Dog The Bounty Hunter, Mel Gibson, Chris Brown and/or Rihanna, that old Sterling dude, Tiger Woods, Miley Cyrus, Reese “American Citizen” Witherspoon, Demi Lovato, Erin Andrews, Michael Phelps…? Who do we decide is worth defending when they suffer a loss of privacy, and who do we autopsy in the town square of social media opinion? Because I really don’t know, and I fear if everyone is being honest with themselves, they don’t either.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        I’m not saying it’s a private matter at all, I’m not sure where you got that from. I don’t think it’s appropriate for someone from the hotel to have leaked the tape, but now that it’s out there, I think we have to make the most of the opportunity to have this discussion.

      • JenH1986

        I took it as we will never know what the fight was about, but it doesn’t matter what it was about. She never should have attacked him. It ISN’T our business what the fight was about, nor should we speculate. The only commentary we should be making is the one Alexis discussed, which is it is not ok to resort to violence. Even when it’s a woman attacking a man.

    • Anna

      Great article, hadn’t even thought about it that way.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Thanks Anna! I appreciate it.

    • Jana Warnell

      I was discussing something like this the other day with a friend. Memes are created about celebrities all the time, or websites making fun of something they did or wore and we expect them to laugh it off. Yet, when a group of teenage girls does it to another teenage girl its cyber bullying. Its cyber bullying either way and if we are telling celebrities they have to laugh it off–that’s the message being sent to teens. You can make fun of someone on-line and they have to laugh it off. Horrible double standard!

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Great point!

    • Aoki

      I like how you pointed out that some memes are funny. I think it shows that your view isn’t self-righteous and hypocritical. Like, people might chuckle and it’s still understandable to a point. Just inappropriate and wrong.

      Good job.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Thank you, Aoki! I appreciate it!

      • FemelleChevalier

        Awww… ~Someone’s being nice…~

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        :)

    • Penelope

      I think most of the memes are more feminist than we think. People could easily be going the “she’s wild & crazy, unstable, irrational, insane etc … because she’s a woman” route (which is how women usually are written off when they have outbursts at all ever). But it seems the memes are going the “kickass, badass, tough girl” route in terms of Solange’s image. I guess to me it seems the memes are more “empowering”, for lack of a better word, than shaming or ridiculing. Most of the memes I see are shaming and ridiculing JayZ! Solange certainly was all the way out of order for her behavior, but I expected a much less encouraging response than the memes seem to be offering.

      • Aoki

        Being empowered through sheer violence is still wrong.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        But why should someone be shamed for being attacked? Even if it didn’t do any physical damage, why does Solange’s attack on Jay Z reflect on him instead of on her?

      • Penelope

        Because we live in a society that shames people who don’t adhere to heteronormative gender standards. Let’s not be deliberately obtuse.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        If you don’t want me to be deliberately obtuse, you’re gonna have to make your argument a little more accessible, please. I know all those words and how they usually link up, but I’m not sure what you’re trying to say in this case.

      • Penelope

        And therein lies the disconnect. I am not making an argument. I said “Most of the memes I see are shaming and ridiculing JayZ!” and you responded “Why should someone be shamed for being attacked?” I never said he SHOULD be shamed. I made an observation, not an argument. You made an argument.
        The heteronormative reference may offer some insight as to why he IS being shamed.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        You said that many of the memes were more feminist than we think, and pointed as an example to those shaming Jay Z. Could you explain that more?

        That’s the element that confused me, and it certainly read as an argument moreso than an observation, at least to me.

      • Penelope

        I did not point to the Jay Z memes “as an example” but rather in contrast to what I would expect from Solange memes, which is ridicule of his character. Jay Z memes have nothing to do with my perceived feminist slant of Solanges memes.

        I used the phrases “I guess”, “to me”, “it seems”. What I wrote was not an argument. I would hope no one would ever lace an argument with those phrases. Pretty much the exact opposite of an argument. This is a comment section. I posted a comment. But I mean, I guess.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        On the contrary, I think all those phrases are welcome and even necessary in a argument, because it’s an opportunity to show your opinion. I’m not sure what you’re so irritated with me about — I truly am trying to understand your point of view.

      • Penelope

        I am not arguing a point. I simply stated my opinion. It is irritating that you insist I am arguing. I’m glad you realize that. So, this can end here.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        I don’t have a negative connotation for the word ‘argument’, could that be part of the confusion here?

      • Penelope

        I am not confused. You may be confused. I have applied no connotation to the word “argument”. I think my comment was very clear. Women are usually written off as unstable, emotional, irrational and the such, whenever they display any reaction whatsoever. To anything. Especially toward a man. So, I am surprised that the memes about Solange aren’t more suggestive that she is “unstable, emotional, irrational, and the such”. And even more surprised that memes are actually trending toward ridiculing Jay Z. Of course it’s not “feminist” that these memes encourage or make light of Solange’s behavior, but I do see a feminist angle to the idea that meme makers are putting a kickass-esque spin on what she did, instead of boxing her into a “hysterical woman” bubble.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Okay cool, thanks for explaining yourself more clearly. I now know that I disagree with you, because I don’t think violence is ever ‘kickass’.

      • Penelope

        I explained myself clearly to begin with. It seems you have tunnel vision for a certain theme and are being selective with my words. If you think I’m saying violence is “kickass”, then I just cannot. I cannot. Girl, bye.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Girl, hi:

        “I do see a feminist angle to the idea that meme makers are putting a kickass-esque spin on what she did, instead of boxing her into a “hysterical woman” bubble.”

      • M_G

        True, you didn’t technically say you personally think violence is kick-ass. However, you ARE saying that the undertones of the memes have a “feminist angle” simply because they don’t place her in that “hysterical woman bubble” you’ve defined. So either you don’t understand the meaning of the word “feminism,” or you’re arguing that Jay-Z would have been treated the same way if the roles were reversed.

      • Penelope

        Whatever you say. Thanks!

      • M_G

        More feminist than we think? Isn’t feminism about equality? If Jay Z had attacked Solange, there would be zero memes praising him for being a bad-ass. There is nothing encouraging or empowering about the fact that the memes are basically a double standard. “Solange attacked Jay Z??? HAHAHA!! That’s funny! He’s a man and she’s a woman! HILARIOUS! He was probably asking for it anyway…” What the hell kind of message is THAT?

      • Penelope

        Okay.

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