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forgiveness from the designated poster child?
a struggle to understand rihanna
by alex b (@Lexistential)
pop culture

At any given moment, I remember.

Though it's been three years since Chris Brown assaulted Rihanna to the horrific extent no one saw coming, the story remains alive. Details of the police report stay available on the Internet, where Brown's recent Grammy appearance and subsequent win continue to provoke both impassioned anti-domestic violence stances and vehement defense well past the disturbing line.

Since 2009, I've made no secret of disliking Chris Brown. Choosing my stance is as easy now as it was then: I boycott the little bastard. Then and now, I retain a belief that nobody is allowed to beat their partner to a point where he or she resembles a butcher product. No #TeamBreezy tweets are about to convince me otherwise.

Thus, I rolled my eyes at Brown's subsequent- and totally predictable- post-Grammy Twitter tantrum. But, his award wasn't the only recent unpleasant surprise; according to several blogs, Brown is reputed to be participating in a remix of Rihanna's "Birthday Cake" single.

At this, I am dumbfounded.

Though this musical reconciliation hasn't been definitively confirmed or denied, the prospect of it astonishes me. I don't understand how Rihanna is able to extend any professional boost to Brown; I don't know how a victim of the beating she endured can turn around to forgive her assailant. My lack of ability to understand how she can absolve Brown may be due to never having experienced a severe physical trauma myself. And, as I've had a life where boyfriends don't hit me and apologize where it counts, I hope I never have share Rihanna's pain in order to understand it.

Additionally, I don't feel Brown has done enough to atone for his actions. But, even though that's my opinion, what's important to note is that Rihanna hasn't insisted he do so. Though I (and numerous Twitter users) clamor for Brown to be a better and totally less obnoxious person, Rihanna has made no public demand of him to act like one. How are we as a society to demand better of Chris Brown if the victim doesn't?

Over the years, I haven't criticized Rihanna. Nor have I thought to. The last thing I want to do is say anything cruel about someone who suffered the extent she did. And, if anyone deserves to move on from a horrific experience, it's her. But, if she designates Brown as an okay guy after the fact, it's dismaying and poor taste on her part.

However, my disappointment with Rihanna doesn't stop there, but extends to her general silence about domestic abuse. Though she's lent her star power to benefit children and terminal illness, Rihanna has yet to take a public stance for domestic violence victims. I don't believe Rihanna can eradicate the issue, for physical violence existed long before she or Brown were born. But, in a time and place that encourages guys to act out "dominantly" and women not to rock the boat, Rihanna is someone who can speak for positive change. Especially if her young female fans are afraid the same thing may happen to them.

Ultimately, Rihanna has the right to be silent and implicitly forgiving in her choices. And, I reluctantly admit that Rihanna doesn't have to be the designated poster child that society and I would like her to be. Good manners dictate that we can't ask her to undertake that role. And, much I'd like to see her step forward as the assertive avengitrix she posits herself to be in her videos, I doubt she will.

At the end of the day, I only wish the best for Rihanna, and for her to live a life that doesn't repeat her experience with Brown. And, musically speaking, I may continue downloading her songs. But, if Brown does participate in her "Birthday Cake" remix, I'll be skipping it.


An expert in coloring outside the lines while reading between them, Alex B has a head for business, bod for sin, and weakness for ice cream during all seasons. Apart from watching Bravo marathons and enjoying haute bites here and there, she writes about TV, pop culture, and coloring outside even more lines. She sneaks Tweets via @lexistential.

more about alex b


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george ohagan
2.20.12 @ 10:42a

When I was a Social Worker, and before that a Military Police Officer, so many women would "take him back", or not press charges. It's a huge social problem that can't be fixed on these postings. But one thing I DO know for sure about Chris Brown...you can have all the money you wan't, but you can never buy class. In his vernacular, he's just a "punk ass bitch".


reem al-omari
2.20.12 @ 1:52p

I've long thought "Rihanna doesn't seem too concerned. I guess she wants privacy." But that was before I saw the effects of her silence on young women.

Not once have I heard her speak out against abuse, which she has the right not to, but she also has the right to not collaborate with her abuser, and yet she has relinquished that right. That makes Rihanna just as much a threat to women as CB is. Given her persona, she's saying: "I'm tough and bad, but you can beat me up. I'm just tough to be sexy."

I can't help but think that she's either, A) a hypocrite, B) a show, or C) A child who doesn't understand the gravity of abuse, and is probably just as given to say something as disconnected as "He is so fine, he can hit me anytime," as the women she's jeopardized the safety of w/ inaction.

alex b
2.20.12 @ 5:41p

Exactly. I thought Rihanna never said anything about Brown or domestic violence due to choosing privacy. I never questioned her because she was the victim, and I thought it was rude to.

Silence is such a horrible way to set an example because it's ultimately permissive. By not saying no, she appears to have condoned being abused, and others pick up on that. Speaking out will enable a young girl to say being hit is wrong; staying quiet may cause a fan to not press charges from a hospital bed because she saw "Rihanna didn't do it."

And, as far as the edgy persona goes, she's clearly not who she posits to be. In light of her domestic experience, she may simply be one of those girls "who takes him back."

alex b
2.21.12 @ 3:26p

As it turns out, the rumors are true. Brown is indeed on Rihanna's "Birthday Cake" remix, while she is on his "Turn Up the Music" remix.

His verse: "Girl I wanna f**k you right now. Been a long time, I've been missing your body."

Her verse: "I love you baby."

Absofuckinlutely appalling.

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