Poor Rachael Ray. She probably went online Monday and was like “What the what?!” The talk show host’s name was unexpectedly caught up in the drama du jour earlier this week, and all because some people can’t spell.
But in case you have zero idea what I’m talking about right now, let me back up a second.
Here’s a Cliff’s Notes version of how Ray got unnecessarily cyber-bullied over the weekend: On Saturday, Beyonce’s latest “visual album,” Lemonade, premiered exclusively on HBO. Of particular note were the lyrics to the track “Sorry,” which included a line about a cheating husband who “better call Becky with the good hair.” (Presumably, his mistress had some enviable tresses.)
Shortly thereafter, the often rumored former-fling of Jay Z — Rachel Roy — posted a rather cryptic Instagram pic, along with the caption: “Good hair don’t care, but we will take good lighting, for selfies, or self truths, always.” (It has since been deleted, but you can see it right here.)
The Internet’s immediate deduction? Rachel Roy must have had an affair with Jay Z.
Beyonce’s Beyhive (a.k.a. her fiercely devoted fanbase), Went.In.Hard. So hard, that Roy had to briefly privatize her Instagram account. Angry fans then started posting vicious messages all over social media about Roy’s daughters. And also, Rachael Ray, cuz ya know, “a” and “o” are really very close.
The words left for these women — and for all the world to see — were, in a word, nasty.
“You are pure and unadulterated trash,” wrote one Twitter user, as another labeled Roy “the most hated woman in the world.” At Roy’s daughter, another Beyonce fan tweeted, “I hope someone hurts you and your mother y’all better hire some security.” And then there was Rachael Ray, who got a whole bevy of tweets herself, including this gem: “I can’t believe @RachaelRay helped Jay Z do that to the Queen. Never makin’ those 30 minute meals again.”
By Tuesday, Roy issued a statement officially denying that she was ever a home wrecker. Though the Beyhive still seems to remain skeptical, they did momentarily switch their wrath to another woman: singer Rita Ora, who also took to Twitter to deny any rumors that she is “Becky.”
But it’s hard to scroll through Twitter and not take note of the glaringly obvious double standard playing out: While the alleged woman involved (and even the ones not involved) are being ripped apart with the nastiest words you can say to a woman, Jay Z is quietly sliding under the radar.
Well, save a few rather humorous memes that have been floating around:
Current number of Jay Z problems: 100. pic.twitter.com/iZlI0wJTWc
— Funny Or Die (@funnyordie) April 25, 2016
Since the Destiny’s Child days, Bey has preached — PREACHED — girl power. (Ahem, see also: “Survivor,” “Single Ladies,” “Run the World,” and the majority of her songs.) So why are her most loyal fans releasing their vitriol on another woman and leaving the man alone? Is it because Beyonce has seemingly forgiven him, so her fans should too? Even so, why is bullying Roy the chosen reaction?
I wouldn’t be surprised if someone is printing Team Bey and Team Becky shirts at this very moment.
Of course, this isn’t the first or last time a male public figure has cheated and came out on top. Bill Clinton immediately comes to mind. Results for the women in that story? Monica’s career and reputation were basically scarred for life, and Hillary still can’t escape questions and judgements over why she stayed.
But that’s not our only example. Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie. LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian. Ben Affleck and the nanny. Tiger Woods and … well, everyone.
Time after time, we’ve watched a celebrity scandal play out, and the man’s reputation emerge relatively unscathed. We find ourselves fixated on her motives, rather than his.
But why is it that women have a harder time forgiving other women? Maybe we expect better from ladies. But if that’s true, then why do we expect so little of men? Why aren’t we shifting more blame to a cheating husband instead of piling it all on the mistress?
There’s a reason we hear the term “mean girls” thrown around so much. According to Psychology Today, one of the main reasons women are nastier to each other is because whenever we feel threatened or inadequate, we get insecure, defensive, and … well, mean. I guess we can assume there are a lot of women out there feeling insecure about their own relationships and taking it out on the potential Beckys of the world. Though in this case, I venture to guess that our collective love of Beyonce has also fueled this one in unexpected ways.
Over the next week, we’ll undoubtedly see more potential Beckys get accused. But hopefully everyone —Beyhive-ers and beyond — will think twice before posting overly aggressive comments that slut-shame other women who may or may not have even been involved.
And let’s also not forget this fact: It takes two to tango, people.