Megan Thee Stallion deserves peace. But like many Black women online, she isn’t getting it.
Between misinformation and rampant speculation, the Grammy-winning rapper has been under intense scrutiny
Rapper Tory Lanez was found guilty in the 2020 shooting of Megan Thee Stallion. After two days of deliberation, a jury in Los Angeles convicted him of assault with a semiautomatic handgun, carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle and discharging a firearm with gross negligence. He faces up to 22 years and eight months in prison. He was taken into custody following the reading of the verdict.
Los Angeles County district attorney George Gascón thanked Megan Thee Stallion for her bravery, adding, “Women, especially Black women, are afraid to report crimes like assault and sexual violence because they are too often not believed. This trial, for the second time this month, highlighted the numerous ways that our society must do better for women.”
While the trial, much like the entire incident, has divided the Black community, it’s been frustrating to watch Megan Thee Stallion plead for both privacy and her humanity.
On Dec. 13, Megan Thee Stallion, born Megan Pete, spent four hours on the witness stand to testify during the assault trial against Lanez (born Daystar Peterson).
“I wish he would’ve just shot and killed me if I knew I was going to have to go through this torture,” Megan Thee Stallion testified, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The charges stemmed from a July 2020 incident when Megan Thee Stallion was shot in both feet after leaving a pool party at social media personality Kylie Jenner’s house. Megan Thee Stallion didn’t immediately name Lanez as the shooter in an attempt to protect him, but Los Angeles prosecutors filed the charges against the Canadian rapper anyway.
Almost as soon as the incident happened, people on social media moved the goalposts, first accusing her of lying about even being shot, and now, claiming she’s lying about who shot her. They’ve also tried to use her sexual history to question her credibility.
“This whole story has not been about the shooting,” Megan Thee Stallion said during her testimony. “It’s only been about who I been having sex with. When people talk about Megan Thee Stallion getting shot, all the headlines are Megan Thee Stallion is on trial and I’m not on trial!”
Sex and violence are incredibly intertwined for Black women. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports more than 40% of Black women have experienced intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes. And more than half of Black female homicide victims are related to intimate partner violence.
The way Megan Thee Stallion has been demonized for her supposed sexual history, coupled with the rampant misinformation from hip-hop gossip bloggers, is peak misogynoir.
Lanez was the one on trial, but you would never know it from the way both Black men and women, people who should be in community to uplift Megan Thee Stallion, have flocked to rip the 27-year-old apart. The Internet is overwhelmingly harmful for women — having private information exposed in social media or being harassed is almost to be expected — but it’s much worse for Black women. And the vitriol Megan Thee Stallion has experienced after testifying in Lanez’s case is a prime example.
“Megan Thee Stallion is one of the most accomplished new artists out, she has collected accolades like infinity stones,” said Raven Baker, a social strategist who focuses on building spaces for Black women online.
“So how can one of rap’s biggest stars with affiliation to some of the biggest names in music be treated like this by the media and her counterparts? Think about how Black women are treated when the perpetrator knows there will be zero consequences,” Baker said. “If that behavior is not to remind Black women that our acceptance into many of these spaces is conditional and contingent on how we allow abuse to continue, then what is it?”
In a 2020 op-ed for The New York Times, Megan Thee Stallion wrote, “After a lot of self-reflection on that incident, I’ve realized that violence against women is not always connected to being in a relationship. Instead, it happens because too many men treat all women as objects, which helps them to justify inflicting abuse against us when we choose to exercise our own free will.”
Exercising our free will is the issue. As Baker pointed out, our acceptance into a patriarchal society is contingent on Black women prioritizing everyone else’s needs first.
It’s not lost on me that this year saw so many Black women asserting their presence in various social media trends: soft life, quiet luxury, stay-at-home girlfriend, even quietly quitting work and social media, all of this is based on the way Black women are treated at home, at work, and in the wider world.
Who can blame Black women for trying to create a world for themselves online where they are able to experience peace? The world already demands the most of us, but now in Megan Thee Stallion’s time of vulnerability, she must be a perfect victim, too?
“This is why Black femme-centric spaces are crucial on the internet,” Baker said. “When the timeline is calling Meg everything except a child of God, it’s our spaces that I hope remind her she’s supported and believed.”