Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, December 5, 2016

What if he had smacked her one?

She’s going after him with fists and feet. What if he had defended himself in kind? Or what if he had been the one who attacked her without physical provocation?

Would it still be funny?

As we all know from a leaked elevator surveillance video that has been replayed countless times on television and online, that’s not how it happened. Instead, rapper and businessman Jay-Z deflected the blows and at one point caught a kicking foot in midair, but otherwise made no aggressive moves as his sister-in-law, singer Solange Knowles, whaled on him. Beyoncé — his wife, her sister — watched without interfering, and an overmatched bodyguard tried to keep the peace.

Video of the one-sided brawl at a New York hotel first surfaced last week on TMZ. It has since been widely remarked upon and scrutinized. People have speculated on what made Solange go off like that. People have cracked jokes. But there has been little if any denunciation of the violence, nor are police known to be investigating.

Indeed, the world seemed ready to move on to the next oddity in the human carnival by the time the family released an opaque statement on Friday (they’re both sorry) and Saturday Night Live lampooned the fight in a sketch.

But what if he had hit her, whether in self-defense or aggression? Wouldn’t we be having a markedly different discussion right now? Wouldn’t police be involved? Wouldn’t his reputation be in the toilet?

Yes. So, what’s the difference?

We know the answer intuitively, even if it is not politically correct to say: Real men don’t hit women. Not even in self-defense, unless maybe she holds a black belt or a baseball bat. Men are taught from boyhood to be mindful of their superior size and strength: Don’t hit girls.

So Jay-Z  took his sister-in-law’s abuse because there was, in a real sense, nothing else he could do.

And don’t you think she knew that? Don’t you think she was counting on it when she waded in there?