Megan Thee Stallion's victory: A rare win in 50 years of hip-hop, violence and misogynoir

#ProtectBlackWomen: The Houston rapper receives justice for the 2020 shooting that polarized the hip-hop community

By Nardos Haile

Staff Writer

Published August 11, 2023 3:00PM (EDT)

Megan Thee Stallion performs onstage at LA Pride in the Park held at Los Angeles State Historic Park on June 9, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty Images)
Megan Thee Stallion performs onstage at LA Pride in the Park held at Los Angeles State Historic Park on June 9, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty Images)

Hip-hop turns 50 this year. Since its creation and growth to one of the leading genres of music with cultural and social influence, hip-hop has remained hyper-masculine and exclusionary. In this cauldron, women in hip-hop have nevertheless pushed the genre into a female-dominated space, often while being victims of the violence perpetrated on them by their male counterparts. 

Rapper Megan Thee Stallion has helped spearhead this modern surge of female voices, transcending into a household name since her accession to superstardom in the last several years. Yet her success hasn't shielded her from the same inescapable pattern of violent misogynoir rampant in hip-hop. In 2020, Megan, whose real name is Megan Pete, was shot multiple times in both of her feet by rapper Tory Lanez as she left a pool party at the home of reality star Kylie Jenner. Megan eventually accused Lanez of being her shooter. Lanez, whose real name is Daystar Peterson, was arrested and charged with three felonies including assault with a semiautomatic firearm. He was found guilty in Dec. 2022 and was sentenced to 10 years in jail on Wednesday.

During the three years between the shooting, the trial and this week's sentencing — Megan's believability as a victim has been questioned. Misinformation campaigns from Lanez's camp fueled defenses of his innocence and attempted to lay doubt to Megan's credibility. High-profile hip-hop stars like Drake and 50 Cent cruelly poked fun at Megan's very public trauma.

More theatrics ensued during sentencing which stretched over two days. The judge read aloud statements from both Lanez and Megan. Lanez's attorney gathered 70 plus letters of support from his friends and family members, including Iggy Azalea, a female rapper from Australia. Azelea's letter was publicly released this week and drew major backlash. Critics online questioned her female rapper solidarity. In a now-deleted tweet, Azalea said she had no idea the statement would be made public: "I am not in support of throwing away ANY one's life if we can give reasonable punishments that are rehabilitative instead. I support prison reform. Period."

It stings that for Black women the aftermath of justice and victory will still leave an indelible scar of trauma.

In Megan's victim statement, she said that Lanez's "tried to position himself as a victim and set out to destroy my character and my soul. He lied to anyone that would listen and paid bloggers to disseminate false information about the case on social media. He released music videos and songs to damage my character and continue his crusade."

After Lanez's sentencing, he posted to Instagram maintaining his innocence despite the guilty conviction: "Regardless of how they spin my words, I have always maintained my innocence." Lanez's post was liked by fellow Canadian rapper Drake. 

Ultimately, Lanez was facing up to 22 years in jail but the prosecution was asking for 13. The judge sentenced Lanez to 10 years. So, Justice was served, right? Megan's perpetrator is headed back behind bars for the foreseeable decade. Some say the sentence was too light and others are reveling in the fact that an abuser has finally been put in jail for his crimes especially since there seems to be a regression with the #MeToo movement with the rehabilitation of outed abusers.

I wish justice was as simple as someone doing the crime and the time but it's not — especially when the victims of the abuse are Black women.

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Megan's statement says it all. Even though she has received justice — the justice I'm certain she needs to bury and put this chapter of her life to rest — it seems like even justice doesn't rectify the damage that has been done. "I have been tormented and terrorized," she said. "Slowly but surely, I'm healing. But I'll never be the same."

Trauma perpetrated onto Black women by Black men is compounding and layered because of the gendered intra-community violence. It isn't just Megan who has faced violence at the hands of someone in the Black and hip-hop community. Hip-hop artists like Dr. Dre and Chris Brown have all been accused by Black women of abuse. In Dr. Dre's instance, he was accused by multiple Black women, hip-hop journalist Dee Barnes, a singer and Dre's former girlfriend Michel'le and rapper Tairrie B. 

In 2015, Dr. Dre apologized for his abusive behavior in the '90s after he was called out by critics for ignoring his abusive past. Following the apology, Barnes said she accepted it but noted that regardless of his apology she became a punchline over the years "including being ripped on in an Eminem song that Dr. Dre released and produced."

Black women who usually go public with their abuse are typically met with the same vitriolic response from the public. They are never met with an outpour of support and empathy. The first instinct from the public is to pounce, attack and defame — rinse and repeat. This is exactly what happened to Megan and to another legend, Lil' Kim in her relationship with the late The Notorious B.I.G. Other high-profile Black women have been through the same ridicule but haven't received justice to balance out the unequal scales.

Justice will never look like a balanced scale for Black women — there will always be a bittersweet tinge to it. Megan and other victims of violence will always have to reckon with the misogynoir that is dedicated to silencing and gagging Black women for their experiences with intra-community violence. It stings that for Black women the aftermath of justice and victory will still leave an indelible scar of trauma. 50 years later, with women consistently atop the hip-hop charts and a Black woman receiving some semblance of protection on a public stage, it's time to start counting down the days of a poison like misogynoir. 

By Nardos Haile

Nardos Haile is a staff writer at Salon covering culture. She’s previously covered all things entertainment, music, fashion and celebrity culture at The Associated Press. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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Commentary Hip-hop Megan Thee Stallion Misogynoir #protectblackwomen Tory Lanez Violence Against Women