The Online Jury: Megan Thee Stallion on trial instead of Tory Lanez

The Online Jury: Megan Thee Stallion on trial instead of Tory Lanez
Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

After two years of deliberations and predictions, the case against Tory Lanez has closed. On the 23rd of December, Tory was convicted on three felony charges, potentially leading to a sentence of up to 22 years in prison and deportation. Even though the case was between Tory and the state, masses of men and women alike subjected Megan Pete to scrutiny, placing her on trial.

Megan’s character, clothes and intentions have been overanalyzed in the last few months. One Youtuber analyzed an interview with Megan crying and accused her of manipulating her audiences for sympathy. Another posted a video criticizing Megan’s courtroom outfit for “showing too much cleavage” and “not portraying herself as innocent enough.” And the dreaded Shade Borough comments: when they announced the verdict, the comments were unsurprising, with one accusing Megan of not being “innocent.”

The repeated focus on Megan’s innocence or character is misplaced: this is not a case of Megan v Tory. Megan is not on trial, so her ‘innocence,’ whatever that means here, should not be questioned. 

Yet amidst the narratives thrown around on social media, one has been forgotten – Megan, abused by someone she was previously involved with, is a victim of intimate partner violence. The European Institute for Gender Equality has defined intimate partner violence as ‘physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence between current or former spouses.’ So Megan’s violence is not just a matter of drunken rage or momentary short man’s syndrome. It is part of a broader system of violence against women. 

Despite Megan being a victim and survivor of intimate partner violence, people do not recognize her as such. Even her male counterparts within the hip-hop industry were not slow to show their apathy. 50 cent, the notorious troll, posted an image of Megan running away from a car driven by Tory and attempted to turn it into a meme. And Drake’s new album ‘Her Loss’ has been received as a playful ode to women as he declares that he is a feminist in ‘On BS.’ Yet in ‘Circo Loco,’ he refers to Megan saying, “this bitch lie ’bout gettin’ shots.” The case reveals how easily a victim can become the defendant in the eyes of the public. Megan wrote in her New York Times guest article, “even as a victim, I have been met with skepticism and judgment.” 

And it would be naive to act as if race does not play an influential role here. Not seeing Megan as a victim in this situation is an act of misogynoir which involves the dehumanization of black women. This dehumanization is intrinsically connecetd the violence black women experience: national surveys conducted in the US have shown that 45% of black women experienced sexual/physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. But this dehumanization does not just perpetuate violence. It also legitimizes it to the point where black female victims are not taken seriously. When Megan lamented that she does not “feel like [she] wants to be on this earth,” many dismissed this as fictitious or exaggerated, at the least.

Sadly, as Megan wrote, “there is not much room for passionate advocacy if you are a Black woman.” Black women walk a thin line of palatability for fear that they will be demonized, and the case against Tory Lanez has shown this.

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