The standing joke is that Jay-Z has 100 problems and Solange Knowles is definitely one.

If you don’t know the story, the first family of music ended up in a southern-style brawl in an elevator at a prestigious event. Jay-Z caught a kicking and punching from his sister-in-law, Knowles the sister of queen bee, aka Beyonce.

Firstly, let me clarify something while I dust off my soapbox. I cannot lie, I found the whole incident mildly amusing. Then I watched the video and realised that Jay really did get hit.

Quite badly.

But the question is why has this been turned into a joke? Is it because it happened to a man? Granted Jay-Z did have a bodyguard to keep Solange’s punches and kicks (and there were kicks) at bay but what of the many men who experience physical abuse at the hands of women and nothing is said.

Are we OK with men being physically abused?

The whole world witnesses this case of abuse (whereas most instances occur behind closed doors) so why is there no uproar when clearly there is documented physical abuse of one person to another? Twitter was ablaze with jokes (some made, I ashamedly admit, by myself) including the hashtag #WhatJayZSaidToSolange, which joked about her career and not having any “hits” in a while.

What we forget is that violence is at the core of this incident. There are men (in this country) who experience domestic violence at the hands of a woman.

The world’s reaction to the way Solange beat Jay-Z (it was not a fight, a fight implies participation of both parties) shows why men stay silent. If you speak up or it gets out you will be the subject of ridicule, disinterest and/or a general debate about whether “how you had it coming”.

Very few people have raised the alarm on the fact that this man really was physically abused by his wife’s sister, while his wife seemingly looked on. If the roles were reversed and a woman was hit while her husband looked on, there would be a few choice words hurled his way.

According to Lifeline “the prevalence of violence against men by their female intimate partner is not known due to under-reporting by male victims”. A survey done in the UK in 2010 showed that 2 in 5 of all domestic abuse victims were men and these men were often ignored by the police.

It happens in South Africa, here’s a study of men’s experiences of domestic violence in Gauteng. It states a good argument: “The patriarchal society that we live in and the hegemonic masculinity makes it hard for men to open up about their suffering.” A 2008 article on IOL mentioned how a man held his daughter while a woman “struck him”. He says he could not tell his own friends about it, let alone the police.

The argument that the reason why we ignore this is because men and women are not evenly matched is nonsense. The physical difference may be there but we do not know what may stop a man fighting from protecting himself. The abuse could be coupled with emotional abuse or the man could be fully aware of the repercussions of hitting a woman back, namely jail time, and thus not speak out.

As Lebo Mashile said on twitter: “There are men who get abused: smart, powerful, strong, accomplished men. They know if they hit back, they’ll go to jail, so they don’t.”

Violence is never legitimate, no matter which way it flows. Being a woman beating on a man who does not fight you back does not make you a strong woman, it makes you an abuser. Violence is not only violence when it comes from a man, gender-based violence is gender-based violence.


  • Tiffany Kagure Mugo is the host of the Basically Life podcast and author of Touch: Sex, Sexuality and Sensuality and Quirky Quick Guide to Having Great Sex


Tiffany Kagure Mugo

Tiffany Kagure Mugo is the host of the Basically Life podcast and author of Touch: Sex, Sexuality and Sensuality and Quirky Quick Guide to Having Great Sex

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