By Lauren Cutler
Assuming that she would be believed, Megan The Stallion came forward and showed the world her vulnerability by voicing the truth about her once fellow-friend, Tory Lanez, who shot her after a Los Angeles party in July 2020. She was right about one thing, her story was published across the news and media. However, these publications sought to completely dismantle her story and make her an object of negligent gossip ranging from online trollers to strangers in gossip blogs to her peers.
Her assailant’s guilty verdict on three felony counts was secured, and Megan came forward in discussion with Evette Dionne from Elle Magazine. In the article, she talks about trauma, and gender-based violence, addressing her truth and managing how she is moving past what happened.
Megan’s story highlights the ingrained and systemic gender issues that prevail in society. Her story, in its entirety, demonstrates how society and how individuals seek to justify and excuse the actions of men who are violent and cause psychological and physical trauma to women.
This trauma cannot be likened to the faint scar on your knee which reminds you of how you scratched yourself while climbing that oak tree at your local park; these traumas grow in a place that doesn’t embrace women’s growth. It is a place that tries to erase both the feminine side that prays for the violence to stop while attempting to dehumanise your experience as a woman of colour.
This violence that women endure is often life-threatening and life-changing. We know that sexual violence remains omnipresent once experienced, yet society still does what it can to reduce this violence to gossip-extended to be a matter of debate and subjectivity.
Megan’s story should be a catalyst for the need for social change because although Megan’s emotional, mental, and physical trauma was publicised, she became a woman who was criticised, blamed, and abused for her story of violence. Megan highlights that as she reflects on the past three years, she views herself as a survivor, and this is a lesson all survivors should feel empowered by.
“You are a survivor because you truly made it through the unimaginable.”
Not only did Megan survive being shot by someone she trusted and considered a close friend, but she overcame the public humiliation of having her name and reputation vilified by that same individual for the entire world to see.
The media joined in with this disparage. We can see Megan’s story replicated in many stories relayed by sexual violence survivors. Our stories are not believed and instead are reviled by people when all we seek is support.
“Instead of condemning any form of violence against a woman, individuals tried to justify the attacker's actions.”
There is a notion that survivors of sexual violence and gender-based violence demand help. But this can carry connotations of an inability and a lack of faith in the individual to cope with their own existence, when what survivors deserve is support and to be heard, believed and recognised. It took Megan three years for the indisputable facts to be trialed and for Megan’s truth to be believed, when it should have taken three words, “I believe you”.
When the guilty verdict finalised December 23, 2022, Megan stated that “it was more than just vindication for [her], it was a victory for every woman who has ever been shamed, dismissed, and blamed for a violent crime committed against them.” Megan’s story highlights that gender-based violence holds stigmatization, yet it serves as a potential movement forward in society.
Will our stories of sexual violence and gender-based violence ever not be branded as savage accusations which could ruin a man’s career when our psychological and emotional well-being has been attacked?
Megan’s story further highlights the systemic biases that undermine women of colour by painting them as aggressive. Or, women of colour are assumed that they do not need support because they are strong, powerful women. Women of colour are perceived as unsavable because they visually do not fit the stereotype of perfect victims according to bigoted and ignorant patriarchal ideals.
Megan burns “for all the women around the world who are suffering in silence, especially if you’re a Black woman who doesn’t appear as if she needs help.”
She notes her experience as a black woman who was categorised to stereotypes that earnt her position as a survivor not needing support, she describes these categories as “looking strong”, “being outspoken”, “being tall” and someone equating to “not looking like somebody who needs to be saved.”
When these harmful descriptions are matched to essentialise all women of colour and it must be further considered that women of colour may become hyper-independent in order to be self-sustaining as it's not necessarily a choice. Because when society, men, and potentially other women let women of colour down by choosing to reject the stories and experiences, this forces women of colour to either “survive” alone or not at all.
We must question if the vulnerable vocalisation of an experience of sexual violence and gender-based violence, spoken by a woman of colour’s point of view is refrained from in order to avoid having to explain why or why not they deserve justice and support. These racial preconceived stigmas emphasise the racial profiles fitted with survivors of gender-based violence - which is similar and sometimes more prevalent for survivors of sexual violence.
We see the dominance of the cultural power of mainstream white feminism in Megan’s story and the backlash and criticism which drowned out any support that was directed towards her. This extreme backlash depends on the dehumanisation of people of colour, who are constructed as incapable of complex feeling. Women of colour do not fit the “perfect” victim ideology and thus Megan’s story gives rise to the weaponisation of bourgeois white women’s tears in response to violence and white men’s rage, both at the expense of women of colour.
All women’s experience of sexual violence must be supported and believed equally, yet academics, scholars and women of colour experiences, like what we see in Megans story, demonstrate the power of race. Was Megan bound to face more criticism because she does not conform to the ultimate symbol of femininity, evoking the white damsel in distress?
In order for women of colour voices to be heard, listened to and believed, women and society must work together to remove the racialised and classist power which relies on the illegibility of women of colour, and Black women especially, as survivors. All women are survivors and all women deserve support that is not judged by preconceived stereotypes that race determines women’s truth and their eligibility to emotional support.
Please reach out for support.
Megan states at the end of her interview with Elle that: “we can’t control what others think, especially when the lies are juicier than the truth. But as a society, we must create safer environments for women to come forward about violent behaviour without fear of retaliation. We must provide stronger resources for women to recover from these tragedies physically and emotionally, without fear of judgement.” Here, at Say It Loud our support mentors volunteer and work as a "bridge" for other services; often being the initial contact for a survivor and we aim to support you to make informed decisions, whether this be on your next steps, how you would like to start the recovery process or just a listening ear for you.
Megan ends her interview with a truly empowering and beautiful message which, Say It Loud resonates with. Our prime goal is to empower survivors to speak their truths without shame or guilt, and Megan reinforces this empowerment message.
“For anyone who has survived violence, please know your feelings are valid. You matter. You are not at fault. You are important. You are loved. You are not defined by your trauma. You can continue to write beautiful, new chapters to your life story.”
Megan The Stallian’s interview with Elle Magazine: https://www.elle.com/culture/celebrities/a43567508/megan-thee-stallion-tory-lanez-case-interview-2023/