I am a huge Beyoncé fan – and it is for that reason that I’m taking the time out of my day to play Tuesday morning quarterback and weigh in on the now-infamous elevator incident. For those of you who’ve been out of the country for the past two days, here’s the story: Jay Z, Beyoncé and her sister Solange entered an elevator last week and when the doors closed, the elevator surveillance camera captured images of Solange physically attacking Jay Z (linked to here).
I am likely the only person on the planet who isn’t interested in hearing the audio (there is no audio) of the video. The reason why I’m not interested is that it’s irrelevant. It doesn’t matter why Solange did what she did. Her behavior is inexcusable.
Emotionally intelligent adults do not physically assault each other. Now I’m from Jersey, and where I’m from, females fought daily. Back in high school I was in more physical fights than I can possibly count – but enough reminiscing. The reason I point this out is that I understand that in some areas of the world/cultures/families, females are encouraged to express their frustration through violence. I get it. But it’s not acceptable.
Jay Z handled the situation well. He didn’t engage Solange. He backed off as she attacked him. He showed more restraint than many would. My issue is, sadly, with Beyoncé.
Here’s what no one teaches us: When you get married, A) you become the go-between between your family of origin and your spouse (read: Beyoncé runs interference anytime there’s an issue between her family and Jay Z) and B) your spouse comes before your family of origin. Apparently no one told Beyoncé this, which doesn’t surprise me given the number of hours I spend in my office sharing these unwritten rules of society with my clients.
Now I’m not advocating that Beyoncé jump in front of her sister when she’s physically violent, though I can’t imagine not jumping in between my wife and someone who was hitting her. What I have an issue with is Beyoncé’s catatonic response. She looked like she was in a fucking coma – like she had no responsibility to get involved. Perhaps most disturbing, she didn’t look surprised. She looked like she’d seen this before, which may explain her response. But it doesn’t excuse it.
We teach people how to treat us and how to treat those we love. Solange knew she’d get away with her behavior. Beyoncé needs to grab her ovaries and respond in her personal life with the passion, energy and confidence that she exhibits on stage. As a dancer, I’m disappointed. As a therapist, I realize the greater implications: Most people don’t know what to do in that situation. The thing is, that situation was the culmination of a million breached boundaries. I promise you there have been countless scenarios in which Beyoncé missed opportunities to set and maintain boundaries with her sister. That video was the tip of the iceberg.
So here’s the question for those of us who don’t have bouncers to manage family drama: Where in your life are you failing to set and maintain boundaries? Who is treating you badly – and why do you allow them to?