Feb 28, 2012 @ 3:25 pm | By TheFeministGriote | 4 Comments
The unthinkable in music history happened when Rihanna and Chris Brown recently collaborated. It was not too long ago that we the public were caught up in the discussion and painstaking details that brought this young relationship to an abrupt violent public halt. From the very beginning of the relationship Rihanna and Chris Brown followed their own rules. They were the young beautiful “it” couple. They would be pictured canoodling with each other and vacationing together and not really trying to go out of there way to hide there relationship.
In essence Rihanna and Chris Brown were the antithesis of Jay-Z and Beyonce. The beginnings of Bey and Jay’s relationship was all speculative and was better guarded than the holy grail, but with Rihanna and Chris we had a voyeuristic front view to their budding love affair. In an age when fans think they deserve to know everything about their favorite pop-star’s Rihanna and Chris were considered manna to those who feast on pop-culture musings. Then of course the unthinkable happened in February of 2009, we found out that Chris Brown was a woman beater, and that Rihanna was a victim of intimate partner violence.
According to the CDC 3 out of 10 women experience stalking, rape, and or physical violence from an intimate partner.
Although from a socio-ecomomic stand point most of us could not relate to the level of money and fame these two have collectively, the violent aspect of their relationship, is one most of us can intimately or from a distance understand all to well. Then the unfortunate thing happened the pictures leaked, which gave the conversation a different level of context. We then read reports this was not the first time Rihanna was hit by her ex-boyfriend, then we read there was a brief reconciliation in Miami, and then the story just got a bit too murky to navigate through.
Rihanna and Chris were not your typical victim and victimizers. Rihanna stayed relatively mum on the subject and really did her best to disassociate herself from the incident. Rihanna refused to be the face of the battered women. She refused to live up to our expectations of the “perfect victim.” She did not do any PSA’s against intimate partner violence, she did not start a charity for the cause, or throw lots of money publicly at a cause, nor did she go on Oprah talking about her victimization. The most vocal thing she did was the video depiction of her song, “Man Down” where she artistically broached the rape issue. When she finally gave an interview it was with Dianne Sawyer, but again we the public were not satisfied with the story she choose to tell. In essence Rihanna was not applying to be the patron saint of victim-hood, and for many of us that became the problem, and for that sin she paid dearly in the public sphere for.
Then came Chris Brown who also refused to play the role of sorrowful repentant abuser. His performance at the 2010 BET awards where he had the breakdown heard around the world, was a brief glimmer of hope. I must admit I was suckered into the performance. I believed that this young man who is clearly a victim of patriarchy was finally seeing the light! I thought Brown whose mother experienced intimate partner violence finally saw the error in perpetuating that type of violence in his own life and relationship. Like many others, I wanted to believe his tears were cathartic and change was on the horizon for him, but that change never came. What did come was a series of epic blunders on twitter and anywhere else Brown graced, where he proved time and time again, that he is a troubled young man with serious anger issues with a skewed perception of reality.
Now fast forward to 2012, Rihanna and Breezy are coupling on wax. Many people are outraged. Men and women are weighing in and attempting to add context and make sense of it all. There are those who are saying that Rihanna is “dumb,” and that if Chris Brown beats her up again this will be her fault. Not sure how if Chris Brown were to ever hit Rihanna again how that would be any fault of Rihanna, but victim blaming and policing of women never really makes sense.
I am not going to waste my time hypothesizing why and how they’ve chosen to reconcile musically on a song that is hypersexual and laced with vulgarity.
In my humble opinion their relationship is a poignant teachable moment for those of us who are not caught up in the sensationalism of it. Rihanna is a woman with agency how chooses to use her agency and power in her own way, we should not be policing her agency! It would be better if we would use Rihanna and Chris Brown as a real life case study to educate our young people about intimate partner violence. As I mentioned earlier it is my belief that Brown is a victim of patriarchy and we need to be having discussions with young and older men helping them to learn a more productive and safe way to cope with their aggression and anger. Young girls and women need to learn that in the real world when they’re battered and abused there is no PR team or handlers that will swoop in and pick up the pieces for you and make it go away. Also ambivalence is not a healthy road to healing.
Let us divorce the personalities from the problem the truth is that this is an issue about intimate partner violence and the misuse of power in a relationship. It never stopped being about that!
Categories: Mind Over Chatter