Megan Thee Stallion shooting trial exposes misogynoir

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – Megan Thee Stallion is a three-time Grammy winner and hip-hop superstar, but her success wasn’t enough to shield the 27-year-old artist from the power of widespread misinformation and social media vitriol against her. her after she was shot in 2020.

The Houston-born rapper, whose legal name is Megan Pete, was shot multiple times in both feet after leaving a Hollywood Hills party in 2020 with rapper Tory Lanez and former assistant Kelsey Harris. Megan required surgery to remove the bullet fragments from her feet.

Megan Accused Lanez from wielding the weapon. The ensuing onslaught of criticism reached a fever pitch this month during Lanez’s assault trial. Experts say it stems from misogynoir, a specific type of misogyny experienced by black women.

Tia Tyree, a professor at Howard University, described misogynoir as “disdain, aversion” or mistreatment of black women.

Tyree, whose research focuses on representations of black women in mass media, social media, and hip-hop culture, emphasized that misogynoir has been part of the black female experience in the US for centuries, going back to the beginning of American slavery.

“Many people see the term and are intrigued by it. They think, ‘Wow, what is this new thing happening to black women?’” she said. “And that’s the most disappointing part of the misogynoir narrative. There is nothing new about the mistreatment and disrespect of Black women in the United States.”

Megan named Lanez, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, as the shooter. in an Instagram live video three months after the shooting. She said she didn’t tell LAPD that she was responding to the scene because she feared for her safety.

The shooting took place on July 12, 2020, less than two months after George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Fear of police violence may have played a role in her reluctance to share details with officers, Tyree said, adding that black women are expected to protect black men in society.

A cycle of silence prevents many black women from sharing their experiences, explained Melvin L. Williams, a professor at Pace University who studies hip-hop feminism, black rappers and hip-hop culture.

“They face industry blackball and fewer professional opportunities when they speak out,” Williams said.

Megan alleged that Lanez and his team spread misinformation about the shooting. Social media users claimed that Lanez never shot her and posted about her sexual history to discredit her.

Lanez, accused of three counts, maintained his innocence. In this week’s closing arguments, her lawyers argued that Harris was the shooter and that Megan tried to create a more sympathetic narrative by blaming Lanez.

Harris’ attorney declined to comment on her involvement.

“Tory came out and told so many different lies – about me not being shot, about him not being the shooter and making a sex scandal out of it,” Megan testified last week.

When the jury deliberations began on Thursday, there was a lot of false information claiming that Lanez had already been acquitted. Social media platforms have also been the scene of intense scrutiny for Megan’s story—specifically her credibility.

Rappers Drake and 21 Savage mentioned her on their joint album with specific lyrics that attempted to discredit her claims. 50 Cent posted memes poking fun at his interview with Gayle King as well.

Megan is “infiltrating a very hyper-masculine space,” Tyree said, referring to hip-hop culture. “And just like any other hypermasculine space, there are bro codes that exist, and she’s about to run into them, and you see the answer to that.”

She is part of a chorus of black women — including #MeToo founder Tarana Burke and U.S. Representative Maxine Waters — who have spoken out about violence against women. Burke and Waters signed an open letter supporting Megan.

The social media attacks against Megan have drawn comparisons to television coverage of Anita Hill’s congressional testimony in the 1990s and, more recently, to online racist hatred directed at Meghan Markle. Another recent example was Johnny Depp’s defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard, which drew many social media posts that spread misinformation and cast doubt on Heard’s credibility.

Northwestern University law professor Deborah Tuerkheimer, author of “Credible: Why We Doubt Accusers and Protect Abusers,” noted that these trials came five years after the #MeToo movement sparked a global social reckoning, followed by a backlash. .

“We can see this outpouring of stories as being really meaningful and meaningful, and it is, but until we can figure out how to fairly judge credibility and how to hold perpetrators accountable in a meaningful way, I think there’s just so much work to be done,” Tuerkheimer said. .

Race is a key difference in the treatment of accusers, said Izzi Grasso, a doctoral student at the University of Washington who has studied misinformation about the Depp-Heard trial.

Grasso’s research found that people with marginalized identities are disproportionately targeted by harassment, online disinformation campaigns, and moderation of discriminatory content. The online world reflects the “systems of power and domination that we see in the real world,” Grasso said.

Moya Bailey, a professor at Northwestern University who coined the term misogynoir, found that social media platforms like TikTok and Twitter perpetuate harmful stereotypes about black women because it’s profitable.

Algorithms normalize the dehumanization and objectification of black women for the pleasure or ambivalence of others, said Raven Maragh-Lloyd, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

Lanez claimed that Harris and Megan were fighting over him. People are more likely to see content about Megan’s sexual history as “some kind of justification” for not believing her — or for blaming her for getting shot, Maragh-Lloyd said.

She said it comes down to what it sells — and misogynoir provides the fuel: “To perpetuate misinformation about Black women’s bodies or Black women’s desires, that’s going to attract clicks and eyeballs.”

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Haile reported from New York.

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