Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Why, Rihanna?

We live in a post-Winehouse world, where pop stars no longer hide their character flaws and pretend to be perfect (what’s up, Whitney Houston). They come out with them. They sing about them. Maybe they let the industry exploit them, but it’s not necessarily such a bad thing, this kind of dramatic honesty. If we’ve gone through something similar, it makes us feel less alone. If we haven’t, maybe it makes us think of certain issues in a new, less-judgey way. One of my favorite songs of the past few years is Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie,” with Rihanna singing desperately on that brilliant chorus about being cyclically attracted to someone who’s very bad for her. It’s a beautiful song about sick love, which most of us have experienced on some level.

Rihanna’s new single “Birthday Cake (Remix),” featuring her abusive ex Chris Brown, isn’t the same sort of thing. First of all, it’s a bad song. It’s just some skeletal, grindy track about wanting to get it on. But that isn’t its greatest sin. We all have sex and hand in sub-par work at times, though I hope not as often with someone who has beat us to a bloody pulp and choked us until we couldn't breathe.

Rihanna just turned 24. We know this because we heard all about Brown showing up at her birthday party, tweeting birthday wishes at her and her tweeting back, all apparently part of the buzz build up for last night’s shadowy release of the pair of singles they collaborated on: “Birthday Cake” and Brown’s somewhat catchy “Turn Up the Music.” Still, she’s acting like a teenager whose daddy doesn’t want her to be with the bad boy in school. “They can say whatever, Ima do whatever... No pain is forever,” she tweeted the other day, quoting “Hard” from her album Rated R. She must think she sounds so tough.

I never get like this. I’m not your grandma. I don’t expect pop stars to be models of morality and prudence, especially not when they’re still really young. As my friend Johanna Fateman, of the feminist electro-pop band Le Tigre put it, “None of us is so naive to think that the careers of popular artists cannot survive the exposure of despicable acts, but with Chris Brown, I am shocked by his lack of credible remorse.” It’s true. Jerks make good stuff sometimes (what’s up, Kanye), and Chris Brown has apologized for his assault on Rihanna, but he has also screamed at journalists, broken things in fits of rage and, more recently, gloated about winning a Grammy despite all of it. Rihanna, on the other hand, is forgiving, sexually pleasing and potentially self-destructive. She’s a much bigger star than he is. She could have gone on making epic club tracks with any number of male collaborators. “What’s My Name?” with Drake was great! They dated. He seems like an okay guy. What was wrong with him, RiRi? Better yet, do like Tina Turner and make it all on your own. Tina forgave Ike, and that’s important, but you didn’t see him singing on her stuff.

So why does Chris Brown get a piece of Rihanna’s action after he handed her a beat down? Because he apologized for it? Because he didn’t really mean it? Because the incident was partially her fault? Because he deserves a second chance? Because Rihanna has “moved on” and so should we? If the function of a pop star is to mirror society, at times cartoonishly, outlandishly, disgustingly, then these two win the game. They are playing out the cycle of abusive, effed up relationships that happens all around us, all the time. Unfortunately, this situation sends a destructive message about it. (If you really want to be horrified, look at this.)

It’s not clear yet who made the decision to get this troubled couple working together again, nor do we know for sure if they are hanging out in their free time. If this is Rihanna’s way of giving closure to the situation, then she has failed. We are all talking about it now. And if that was the whole idea, if this is a publicity ploy devised by her reps, then please, please let it fail. Let this pair of singles be an embarrassment to the people who greenlit them. They're not even good songs.

Cristina Black has written about music, fashion, feminism and other cultural issues for Village Voice, Time Out New York, Nylon and Dazed & Confused among other publications. She is currently the entertainment editor for surf style magazine Foam. She is also a pianist and ukulele player who writes and sings uncommon pop songs, performing frequently in New York City and beyond.

Photo by Joe Seer, via Shutterstock

145 Comments / Post A Comment


Guh, there are so many things in the Rihanna and Chris Brown picture that are so hard to wrap my head around, like...

Why isn't it manditory for the victim of physical abuse to get counseling as well? Chris had mandatory counseling, after which a female judge commented that she was stunned by his changed attitude. Rihanna...went on tell us she likes rude boys, which, well, states how she likes it hard?

Since Chris supposedly did so well in his counseling sessions, why isn't he singing healthy, respectful songs the likes of Ne-Yo instead of the same old "I wanna see you strip" crap?

A victim of abuse typically returns to her/his abuser an average of 7 times before finally coming to their senses (or gets killed?). So, that's probably why she's going back to him. I remember her father having a more subdued reaction to the whole incident than I'd have expected. Something in my gut says she follows this pattern of behavior for a reason.

But yes, for eff's sake, both of you: don't be stupid enough to rerun that last episode.

Toby Jug

My head wants so badly to wrap around This but It Can't.

It Can't parse the mess that is our current cultural/political/racial/economic landscape from the decisions of these two young people and the mistakes that I, a 23-year-old, am making now from the scans I do of Ariel in my downtime.

I'm tired.


@sox because the victim of the abuse did not commit any crime and shouldn't have mandatory measures imposed upon him or her? i agree that they SHOULD get counseling, but it rubs me the wrong way to say it should be "mandatory," which implies some sort of punishment for noncompliance...when really, the victim has been through enough already!

i am also saddened by this obvious money grab released by riri/brown.


@dotcommie Thank you. I know this may sound extreme, but I have about had it with people begging for accountability on any level from Rihanna. She didn't do anything. And asking for her to explain herself or act differently IS an attempt to shift some of the blame onto her.


@sox: As an aside to the Ri/Brown stuff...

In music, the way the sausage gets made is very tightly controlled as it makes a lot of middle men a lot of money. There are lots of people in the middle that help shape the kind of music that is put out there; researchers, demographics, etc. It's terrible, and it's why sometimes it seems like an artist is making weird music choices - they, and their handlers, are getting paid.

It's also why Brown is allowed back into the club. Love of money trumps toxicity, as long as the money keeps coming in.


@dotcommie You're right, mandatory is too strong of a word for first time victims. My opinion's more like it should be mandatory for the victim to have counseling available to the them and the perpetrator should be financially liable for it. For repeated victims with the same abuser, it should at least be highly freaking recommended if not mandatory, and still paid for by the perp.
@ all: Sorry, an immediate family member of mine has been involved in an abusive relationship with the same person on and off for the past 25 years and this weekend she indicated that he's back in the picture to some degree. She's never had any kind of counseling to work on WHY she allows this person to repeatedly harm her, which is truly sad to me. Between that and this morning's discussion of the Rihanna and CB sitch on the radio during my commute has raised all kinds of Thoughts and Feelings for me!


@sox So, so sorry to hear that.


@leastimportantperson Thank you for saying how I feel. I've been having a hard time explaining these thoughts/feelings to other people who just seem to think, "Chris Brown bad! She should stay away!!! THE END."

@sox I understand where you're coming from about the counseling thing. It's hard watching people you care about make the same mistakes without ever being able to confront the reasons why. :(


Wow I love this one, congrats! =)@m


Rihanna needs new management. Someone who will put her first not the money. That's all this is, a way to sell more recods and make more money. It's disgusting.

Did you really compare Kanye to Brown in this article? Kanye has an ego and interrupted Taylor Swift...that makes him just as big of an ass as Chris Brown? Come on.


@Slutface That really bugged me, too. They're both black men. Kanye's most noted act of asshole-ness is taking the mike from Taylor Swift at an awards show. That's an extremely rude comparison.


@leastimportantperson I agree that the scale of the comparison isn't correct, obviously Brown is more than "a jerk." But it does make you think about the different standards of behaviour we hold talented people to. If we can accept a jerk because he's talented, doesn't it make it harder to draw the line defining which behaviours aren't ok anymore? What about someone like Roman Polanski? How is it possible that he still makes films that big stars are willing to be in?


@BlueJean People railed on Kanye for a month or more after it happened. Obviously the incident is still alive and well in the collective memory. His "being a jerk" is part of the conversation now. What Kanye did and what Chris Brown did are not even on the same spectrum of behavior. This whole deal, and the eagerness to police Rihanna's behavior is partially/largely because it's already coded "a black thing". And I don't appreciate seeing subtle things like throwing Kanye in there being used to amplify that effect.

ample pie

@Slutface: Rihanna has been Jay-Z's protegee for a long time, and it's well known that he despises the way Brown treats her. A lot of people theorize that this may be the last straw in her (working) relationship with Jay. So it's not entirely true that everyone she works with has just blindly supported her.

See: http://cdn.mediatakeout.com/54358/roc-nation-disaster-how-rihanna-s-new-chris-brown-duet-may-end-up-destroying-jay-zs-management-company.html


@leastimportantperson: No doubt. Taking a mike and sending out obnoxious tweets - that's being a jerk. Beating the crap out of your girlfriend is not being a jerk, it's committing a felony.


@leastimportantperson Preach! Preach preach preach!

There's been a lot of talk (I've read several blogs) that have pointed out a lot of really creepy not-so-subtle racism in all this, like the fact that Miranda Lambert has her crosshairs focused on Chris Brown so much but in nearly the same breath she did a tribute to Glen Campbell, a (white) country music star who also beat his wife.

Sooooo..... yeah. The undertones of racism can't be ignored here.


@Slutface I thought the comparison there was that while we'll put up with jerks who make good music (Kanye) there are some people who should be beyond the pale (Chris Brown.)


@Slutface I don't think it was comparing the asshole-level of Kanye to Chris Brown, I think it was more of the fact that a ssholes can still be dope at making music.

And Kanye...I mean, a huge amount of his last two albums, especially ...Twisted Fantasy is him singing about how HeHimself is An Assholes. I think, mostly because of how much I completely fucking love Runaway and how many times I have heard it (ugh it is just the best song in years), if you told me to name music's biggest assholes, every one of them that I know - Kanye would be first.


@leon.saintjean Re: Kanye, it's really just his attitude in general. I always just think of Aziz Ansari's bit about going to hang out with Kanye and Kanye was just sitting in his house listening to his own music.

Infinite Jess

@Slutface Thank you for saying this. I am kind of wigging out over seeing Kanye put into the same category as Chris Brown ("jerks"). I have a special affection for Kanye that mostly comes from the racialized "jerk" image that has followed him around, especially since the InterruptingSwift incident (when, let's remember, Swift was chosen as the awards category winner over a Black woman), but even going back to after Katrina, when the public made him basically get on his knees and apologize for suggesting George Bush was racist. It broke my heart.

And the crack about Whitney Houston made me feel sick.

I don't even know how to deal with the treatment of Rihanna. There's a right way to respond, and telling her she needs mandatory therapy to keep her from collaborating on a work project with her abuser who works in the same industry isn't it.


@Infinite Jess Oh my god, THANK YOU. People get so fucking giddy over being like, oh that jerk Kanye, did you see his Twitter??? Oh he's sooo self-absorbed (and that's hilarious because, what, a hugely talented and successful black man thinks highly of himself? wow great joke guys). A lot of what Kanye does and says is pretty radical, and people call it jerkiness/being an asshole. Him talking about being an asshole in his songs? Shows more insight than most of the rest of his industry. Ugh, and people get so excited by being like, "Kayne, youi have to apologize!!!!" Welp, he was right about Katrina, and he was right about Beyonce being robbed by white virgin queen Taylor Swift.

Infinite Jess

@leastimportantperson Okay, good, I'm not crazy. And since I have you here, fellow Kanye person, can we talk about My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy not even getting nominated for best album at the 2012 Grammys??? I mean, ilu Adele, and your album was really good, and I'mma let you finish.

Infinite Jess

@leastimportantperson But I got sidetracked talking about how industry racism affects Kanye.

My larger point is, as a whole culture of writers and commenters talking mostly about popular culture, a popular culture which is itself steeped in white supremacy, I mean, let's recognize--we are not always great at covering racial issues? Or recognizing that the way you talk about something can have a racial component. We pretty much hit the "culture is patriarchal" nail on the head every time but we don't always get this one.


@Slutface These beats are dope

hot dog princess

I'm glad this got posted. I feel weird because I generally do not care about celebrities personal lives, especially because I feel like we do not accurately know a lot about them? But I am very upset/annoyed by the general public's reaction to this whole debacle.

Someone said to me "oh well if she's over we should be too" and they thought it was funny I was upset about this situation...I fail to see how it's funny that our culture is dismissing someone doing something so disgusting. I don't care about what Chris Brown does in his private life, but I do care when it's publicly known that he is an angry abusive person and people's response is to make jokes and reward him with Grammys and BET awards.

Porn Peddler

I've was really disappointed by this. I know Rihanna is in no way obligated to be a role model and to make All Perfect Decisions, and that people often return to abusers, and that abusers can eventually change (not that I think Chris Brown has displayed much emotional maturity), but I do remember in one of the first extensive interviews she gave after the assault, she commented that what motivated her to actually leave him (after initially going back) was the thought of her younger fans absorbing the message that would come with her continuing a relationship with her abuser. This news breaking right after that flurry of press about Chris Brown is...upsetting.


@Third Wave Housewife Yes, and it really makes me want to see her respond to the "disturbing reactions" piece linked above.

Lily Rowan

@Third Wave Housewife Yeah, all of this. Plus the fact that I thought the song was pretty hot, which is just even worse.


@Third Wave Housewife I'm with you. I have really complicated feelings about the situation.

Remember when that guy posted that thing about his supervisor's murder threats? And somebody in the comments section was like, think how you would feel to have this pressure on you that somebody could lose their job, and as much as you want to think "well he's a fucking asshole perpetrator of domestic assault anyways" we're fucking socialized as women to take this bullshit into consideration all our lives.

We've also all talked about the pressure to be "better" after a relationship ends. You know, to do things we're not ready for under the guise that we need to just get over it and deal with those things.

aaaand I know rihanna's under no obligation to be a role model, but I think she has the potential to be a great one, and I can't help but layer that (her disappointing my expectations) over top of everything else.

I pretty much blame the entertainment industry. ughhhhhh rihanna please make more music with drake kthx


@Third Wave Housewife I found this:


and found the same thing disturbing.


@redheaded&crazy just want to be clear that I'm criticizing my own unfair expectations of rihanna, not her in my above comment.

Porn Peddler

@redheaded&crazy Yeah after the way this post went I feel the need to clarify that my comment can be boiled down to "This is something that I wish were not happening, and knowing that Rihanna understands how this sort of press contributes to an oppressive culture is particularly sad-making"

Magpie Shinies

I have never complained about the style or content of posting here, but I have an unpleasant visceral reaction to rotting food, the same some people have with blood, etc. I'm not asking for special treatment, but this condition of mine in 100X worse right now b/c I have radiation sickness. Please think in the future about the stock photos (which most of the time are awesome).

Sorry to be so picky.


@Magpie Shinies i think the site you're looking for is right.. over... here


@Magpie Shinies You're not sorry.

"Please consider me in all your future editorial decisions. Thank you. Also, I have radiation sickness so please ask me about that."


I would like the picture to be changed to a single piano wire dipped in squid ink and bile, for reasons I do not care to explain. I can assure you, however, that they are medically sound and not to be questioned.


Also, looking at cursive writing aggravates my asthma; please adjust the Hairpin logo accordingly (Helvetica is usually okay).


@people Geez she was just saying rotting food pic looked gross. No need to tell her to walk the plank!

fuck fuck fuck

@Magpie Shinies i also am afraid of pictures on the internet (like 95% seriously!). adblock is a good friend of mine.


@Magpie Shinies Sorry about the bullies.


@erica767 Errr really? If the comment had been "That bread is gross, I hate it!" that would be a good comment! And it would get the point across, and everyone would be all "yay! thanks for contributing!" Bullies? Nay. Not a one.

raised amongst catalogs

@Magpie Shinies I hope you feel better!


@erica767 Seriously, we're calling this bullying now? In a post about domestic violence, we're calling people who are calling someone out for wanting the internet to cater to her bullies? Look, the internet is a place where anything goes. Everyone has things that they don't want to see, whether they be spoilers, spiders, dolls, or moldy bread. I find dolls kind of terrifying, and scroll really fast past the doll posts. Do I post a comment telling Edith that I don't like dolls, even though I know there are other people out there like me? No, because the internet is not about me, and it doesn't matter whether I have a condition that makes me particularly afraid of dolls that day. People can be perfectly sympathetic to someone, and still feel like it's out of line to make this kind of demand. That's not bullying, that's showing someone that the world can't revolve around them.

Magpie Shinies

@petejayhawk Wow, unwarranted. Hope you feel better now.


@thebestjasmine Yes, bullying. Mocking someone's radiation sickness isn't showing them the world can't revolve around them, that's JUST being cruel. Yes, the Hairpin is "the internet," but it's also a community, and there are ways to disagree with someone while still treating them like an actual human being.


@Magpie Shinies Is adblock the reason why I have no idea what's going on?


@Megan Patterson@facebook: Must be, because I'm stumped too.


@Megan Patterson@facebook I also have no idea what's going on?


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I think the photo was changed, it was a picture of moldy bread.


@bangs Oh ok, thanks. I was about to to join the chorus of highly confused people.


@nyikin i know this sounds insensitive, but i love that moldy bread is what started this conversation. It's making me lol. Good work all.

P.S. can we leave all trolling to melis in the future please

Magpie Shinies

@erica767 Thanks for your kindness on this thread. I vomited immediately after clicking on hairpin, as the photo was right there, so I commented in a moment of weakness right after. The hairpin community has been so supportive of me, and I've drawn so much strength from everyone here after a treatment or a setback - it's pretty much my favorite place on the internet. The spinal surgery last month and all the radiation treatment I will be getting is the only thing standing in the way of me being in a wheelchair. It's taken me 3 years to accept that I will likely never see 40 because of the breast cancer, but I've only had a month to consider that I may lose my ability to walk - so I am admittedly oversensitive.

From now on, I'll leave the editing to the editors.

@redheaded&crazy - not insensitive, it IS really funny.



It may have started with yeast,
But I will not be policed!
(Let's keep the fighting greased!)


@Magpie Shinies so sorry about your health problems :-( thanks for coming back and being really pretty chipper, all things considered.


@Too Much Internet No you don't understand, this is a prime opportunity to snipe at that vaguely defined group of bitches. You know the one.


Yeah, the whole Rihanna/Chris Brown thing really, REALLY bothers me. I got in a fight with a friend/coworker - a woman! - who was like "Well, you can't hold one mistake against him forever! He has talent, it's not fair that his career should end because of a mistake."

Really? First of all, how much genuine talent does he actually have? Can the world really not go on without the "talent" and career continuation of Chris Brown? Sure he can dance, but there are a lot of great guys out there who can dance who DON'T beat their girlfriends. And yes, I can hold it against him, and YES, I think his career should have ended because of that "mistake."

Also, I really like Rihanna and want to keep liking her and I just want to take her out for a nice glass of wine and have a conversation that begins with: "GIRL."

hot dog princess

@emilylouise I know, what is with people going on about his "talent"? He has a couple of okay songs but honestly, he pays a lot of cowriters/contributors/producers to make a lot of his music for him. Not that that's unique in the music industry at all, but come on! He has so many guest rappers in his songs that his actual musical skills (or lack thereof) become kind of not noticeable?

Really, if what you like in that Chris Brown song is Busta Rhymes, that's not saying much about Chris's talent.


@emilylouise I'm pretty sure I can hold it against him forever. Tell you what, I'll try it, and see! For science!


Yeah, it'd be one thing if he actually *seemed* apologetic and was working on his issues, but he clearly is not. But also I have a hard time feeling any sympathy for someone capable of doing such horrible things to another person.


No no no no no fucking no. Can we please not tell victims of assault and abuse what they should and should not do, and what they're doing wrong?
Chris Brown is a horrible person who ought to never get another moment of media coverage in his life (among other things.) Talk all the shit you want about him.
But Rihanna? Her interactions with Brown and the music she's decided to make are her damn decisions. (Well, I hope they are, at least.) You're not her grandma. And even if you were - it was her relationship, she's the one who suffered the abuse. Let her figure out how to best deal with it.


@cherrispryte Are you going after the article or just anyone who dares remark? It is in no way inappropriate to express that if we were people close to Rhianna we would be telling her to excise the fucker from her life once and for all. Victimhood is not actually sacred. And calling down a lifetime media blackout on him for his actions while suggesting that it's not cool to voice an opinion on hers?

No one's going to court to be appointed her guardian. Hairpin commenters can't actually make her do anything.


@pleasenow Yeah, saying that if you were Rihanna's friend you would be telling her to get away from him? This is part of actively ignoring the realities of abuse. I mean, it is super brave and all to say that if you Ri's biffle you'd be opening her eyes to all this. Ri, open your eyes!! Your imaginary friend said to! All she needs is a friend like you! And where was cherrispryte trying to make her do something/anything?

Emily R. Murrow

@leastimportantperson Question: What support can friends give victims of domestic violence (besides calling the police on occasion)? Is it the average-bad-relationship thing where you support your friend while not supporting the relationship and just kind of wait it out or do you eventually disengage from the friendship? How does this work?

Katie Heaney

@cherrispryte YES.


@cherrispryte 10000x yes. this is what I wanted to say originally.

@pleasenow Victimhood isn't sacred, but it is HER trauma to deal with in whatever way SHE sees fit. Pro tip: when a friend is being abused, telling that friend what to do usually doesn't go over too well.

@lil'marmot I think everyone's line is in a different place. I think you can say "I love you as a friend and I think you deserve to be happier than this" in a gentle and supportive way, certainly, and I think if you can tough it out as a supportive friend until your friend comes around to your way of thinking, it's great to be there in the aftermath, or in the middle of it - a safe place to sleep when they're fighting, a safe place to sleep for a bit after the breakup, help with finding resources like DV shelters and dealing with police, etc. That said, you have to be prepared for your friend to make his/her own decisions, even if you don't agree with those decisions. Some people get frustrated and heartsick and tired of watching someone hurt themselves more quickly than others, and if you need to disengage for your own health, then yeah, that's what you need to do. I've had to do that before, but I think it's important to not totally disengage with your friend - disengage with his/her relationship with the abuser instead. More like this: "I know we've talked about how I don't think X is treating you the way you deserve to be treated, because I think you're better than this. It's frustrating for me to watch you in this situation and not be able to help more than I have been, so I need to gain a little more emotional distance. I'm not abandoning you, and if X is out of the picture eventually, I'll be there for whatever you need. In the meantime, your relationship with him can't be a conversational topic for us."


@cherrispryte Ugh it's so true. Think about the pressure she must be under! By a misguided planet, a misguided industry, a misguided society. It makes me terribly sad to think of. She's my fucking age! Holy shit.


@lil'marmot I think in this case it's important to bulid up that person's self-esteem.

I also think there are certain scenarios where you can be tougher. If they've had an argument and she's crying while telling you about it? Good opportunity. If she says "I want to know what you think." you know, tread carefully but firmly. "It's hard for me to see you as upset as this. I think you deserve better." I know I'm totally just repeating the comment above, but it bears repeating.

Flies in my eyes

@lil'marmot Speaking from experience of a being "that" friend...You have every right as a friend to voice your opinion, in fact I think in some ways it is an obligation to say "He sucks, you deserve better, I wish you would move on. I would be happy to support you with this if you decide to." BUT, and this is a BIG BUT, don't repeat this constantly or even often. Once you do, you might lose your friend (I did for awhile). When your friend feels you judge her and her decisions, she is not going to want to tell you about ANYTHING. So perhaps @realtalk described what to do the best. But I definitely learned what not to do. My friend told me that she appreciated that I valued her and told her so, but when she knew she was staying with him regardless, she didn't want to tell me, she thought I would be disappointed and didn't want to hear me say what she in many ways already knew. When she moved on she did say that me voicing her worth was really important to her, people who kept their mouth shut entirely only perpetuated feelings of low self worth.


anyone who feels inclined to forgive chris brown, please read the police report and rest assured it wasn't just a "spat". he tried to push her out of a moving car and threatened to kill her, then beat her til she blacked out!! RIHANNA WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO YOURSELF. i know this is her life, but it saddens me to watch nice people make bad decisions and definitely feels like validating brown and his behavior. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/lapd-details-rihanna-beating


This morning on the drive to work they were taking calls about this on 97.1 Amp (Carson Daly's morning show in Los Angeles). One women called in to say that "We don't know what went down in the situation. Rihanna may have irked Chris Brown" which is where Carson thankfully cut her off and said we do know what went down because there is a police report. People being so willingly to throw her under the bus for something HE did really disgusts me. On this new music, I honestly don't even know what to say.


@beanie What's the moral here? I'll tell you - don't listen to morning drive-time radio.


@petejayhawk true. I really need to get my iPod connected to my car.


@beanie Plus - "irked"? IRKED? Irked means, like, I side-eyed you, not I literally TRIED TO END YOUR LIFE.


@miwome she really said irked. You could tell Carson wasn't having it.


@beanie Well, it's nice to know Carson Daly is a decent human being at least.


@Poubelle Yeah, I'm not sure I saw that coming (Sorry, Carson! Nothing personal! I've just learned to expect the worst!)


@Poubelle I read somewhere that Carson Daly does a lot of charity work.

It Girl. Rag Doll.

I already thought Chris Brown was a disgusting smug juicebox and then I actually read the police report:


Saying he "beat her up" doesn't begin to describe how truly horrific it is. Nearly killing your girlfriend should get you jail time not standing ovations at the Grammys.


@It Girl. Rag Doll. I felt the same way after I read it. I don't understand how he didn't crash the car and kill them both.


@OhMarie Reading it helped me stop questioning her. Girl fought hard for herself.

I don't have to like what's going on in the aftermath but that doesn't mean she didn't stand up for herself in the moment.


@It Girl. Rag Doll. I had not read this before now because I knew it would upset me too much. I just... I don't even know...
So let me get this straight; he tried to push her out of a moving vehicle, strangled her, punched her non-stop for an extended period and he BIT her. Multiple times. He BIT her. For trying to defend herself. Whaaaa??? Also, he confessed to it all! How how HOW can he not be in jail? Screw plea bargains and community service, if ever there was a time for the justice system to make an example of abusers, this was it and they threw it away. I am screaming right now at the injustice of it all. That poor girl.

It Girl. Rag Doll.

@laurel She definitely did. In a lot of ways it makes it seem fairly obvious that this is far from the first time she has had to defend herself which breaks my heart.

I won't judge her for any of this. I feel terrible for her and hope that she has some people in her like offering her good advice/support so that hopefully she can wake up and get out when she is ready (I have a very hard time believing that he has changed in the slightest).

I haven't been through what she has but I have been in an extremely destructive relationship and finally walking away and staying away was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I lost a lot of friends over the course of things and without the few good ones I had left(and a whole lot of Fiona Apple) I don't know that I could have done it.

I wish people would stop expecting 24 year old pop stars to be role models and start teaching kids that these people are human and make just as many mistakes as anyone else and more importantly that abuse is completely unacceptable and no one deserves to go through this shit.

It Girl. Rag Doll.


I hadn't read it till last week and can't really get over it. We lock people up over marijuana and this asshole gets off with parole/community service. And people act like it's no big deal and we should all be happy that he is getting a second chance. Not to mention the ridiculous amounts of victim blaming she has received over the last few years... ugh.


@It Girl. Rag Doll. Oh my god. That worse than I ever imagined. Chris Brown is a fucking monster.


@It Girl. Rag Doll. Oh yes. Had she not been wearing a seat belt, he would have murdered her that night. This is such a sad story.


Because the incident was partially her fault?

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO it wasn't. She found texts from some other girl on his phone. If your girlfriend finds texts from another chick and gets upset, you do not try to shove her out of the car then beat her up when you can't. You don't beat her up more because she pretends to call the cops. Maybe you do the adult thing and try to explain it rationally. Hell, you can fucking lie or break up with her because you don't want her looking at your phone but unless your girlfriend was threatening to kill you, it is entirely your fault you beat her up and not her fault AT ALL.


@Poubelle I don't think I said NO enough. Because NO. NO NO NO NO NO.


@Poubelle I (think) the writer was just going through some of the justifications that people were giving, not one that she herself believed. I hope at least.


@beanie I hope so too, but ugh that kind of logic seems to get used all the time. OF COURSE something set off the abuser--there usually is something the other person does that provokes them, it's just something that doesn't warrant such an extreme response.


@beanie I feel very sure the author was not expressing her own views. @Poubelle yes it does get used all the time, and it's terrible!


@Poubelle Um, yes. The author was not actually saying that it was "partially Rihanna's fault". No one's arguing with you on that point. I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone on the Hairpin who thinks that (though yes, there are idiots running rampant on the internet. Just not here, thankfully).

a horde of great crab things

@Poubelle That was my second thought on reading that, after my first thought, which was obviously 'WTF? NO'. My third thought was that if I'd been editing this piece I would have used scare quotes around that bit.


One of my friends posted this on facebook today. http://www.howtobeatupanything.com/home/2012/02/thousand-dollar-bounty-offered-on-chris-brown.html

I generally do not find calls to violence against people who are violent (or anyone, really) to be humorous at all. But I found this argument to be strangely compelling.


@Craftastrophies yeah...I share your pacifist tendencies, but I find them quite absent when it comes to a reasoned argument about why Chris Brown deserves to get his ass kicked. (that post is really well-written.)


I completely agree with this piece. I don't usually give a rat's ass about celeb couples and their private, domestic drama (because who really knows what's real? And who cares, usually?) but when I saw some headline this morning about both collaborating on each others's songs, my stomach felt ill. It's sick.
Either One - he really did kick her ass: then, it's just plain fucked up and she doesn't care that she was - in essence - abused in front of millions of people.
Or, two - she somewhat egged him on and got beat up hard - then, what's the difference?
Because of all the attention from the media, this ploy obviously would have caught a stir.
And what's the ultimate message from all of it? Rihanna gets her ass beat and then sings a ditty over one of the perpetrator's tunes. Fucked up

Tuna Surprise

You can't ever "egg" someone on to violence. The person who escalates an argument from verbal to physical is always wrong. 100% of the time.


@Judith yeah, what that fuck?


@Judith I'm not exactly a long-time party stalwart, but sometimes, you read a comment and you KNOW that it's not a regular reader, and that this is going to be their first post. This is one of those instances.

Nonetheless, welcome! I would just say that we should be careful to put the onus on Chris Brown, not Rihanna.


@Judith You can read the police report and see what happened, and see very clearly that she did not "egg him on". As said by Tuna Surprise, the person who escalates the argument from verbal to physical is always wrong.
What do you think she could have done or said that could possibly deserve Chris Brown attempting to murder her?


Um, I found this piece really misguided. Should we really be interrogating Rihanna about this situation? Sure, we can speculate about her relationship with Chris Brown, her reasons for collaborating with him once more; we can talk about how bad the singles are; we can shake our heads over her "self-destructive" behavior. But honestly it just looks like she's another woman who has found herself caught up in the cycle of abuse, and right now heaping further criticism on her is not going to do ANYTHING.


@discocammata All we can do is let them work out their issues in private. Don't buy their recordings, pay them no mind and give them no attention. The pressure of the public only exacerbates their problems. Let them get jobs where they are not subject to unrealistic expectations.


@discocammata This is probably the most sensible approach on this thread.


OT, but: *fangirl flail* are you really friends with Johanna Fateman? AAHHHHH!


@Apocalypstick so glad I'm not the only one thinking that....


@Apocalypstick I know! I was all excited! LE TIGRE!


Can white women stop telling Black women what to do now please?


@Kira-Lynn@twitter Is this a joke?


@Kira-Lynn@twitter What do you mean by this? How does skin color make a difference when you are advising someone on risky behavior like continuing to see and work with your abuser by choice (key words)? My mama's first husband abused her. I internalized the message of Don't Put Up with That Shit real quick and I preach it when I can. So, ladies of the Hairpin, et. al, Don't Put Up with That Shit. It hurts when your abuser hits you but it's nothing compared to the pain of seeing them hit your kid. Ain't no reason to go back, so don't.


@Kira-Lynn@twitter Preach.


@hotdog No, not a joke.
(I am making my assumption that the writer is white based on a picture)


You are totally right to go forward in your life making your decisions based on what you have seen, experienced, and how you feel.
(And I wish none of that had happened to your or your mom.)

But the 'advising' going on here is problematic.
This writer is free to speak about what she knows, but she should consider race when talking about what SHE thinks Rihanna should do.

As far as "how is skin color relevant"? Well, we live in a racist and racially charged environment. And the issue of violence against women intersects with race in a lot of relevant ways.


@Kira-Lynn@twitter (just want to fully disclose: i'm a white woman) yeah, the speed with which i have seen people, esp. white people, denounce rihanna's supposed lack of "self-respect" and/or assume that she is being forced into this and as no say in this decision smacks not only of "abused women are silly and helpless and don't know what's best for themselves" but of "black women aren't as enlightened as white women and don't know what's best for themselves." like, i'm not really expressing myself well, but there's been a lot of condescension going on, and it's got everything to do with rihanna's race.


@Kira-Lynn@twitter Thanks for the follow-up. Disclosure: I'm a white woman and I know very little about this whole situation. I didn't read any condescension in this article nor in the majority of the comments. I would hope most people would be coming from a place of concern. My first thoughts were about how young she is and I think some of the bad decisions have a lot more to do with age/experience than race. Ageism is still condescending but it explains it better to me. And, the mama in me wants to take her aside and give her a big hug.

Flies in my eyes

@Kira-Lynn@twitter I do believe you make a VERY valid point about race intersecting with violence against women!! BUT I think strong visceral reactions elicited by women (regardless of race) against another woman (regardless of her race) going back to an abuser transcends race. Also in full disclosure I am white, but regardless of culture, race, religion, whatever you can think of, I will always have the same response to the thought of someone going back to an abuser, I wish they wouldn't!
So perhaps my point to you would be to open the dialogue of how race intersects with domestic violence, rather than telling "white women" not to have an opinion on domestic violence when it is a "black woman". I think all women should support each other and this does not foster support. I would have appreciated bringing up the race issues ignored in this article, rather than further dividing women with a blanket statement of white vs black!


@Texian @ Mel okay, but . . . you can't ignore that we live in a v. racist society that privileges white people (assuming you live in america, i guess), and so, as white people, we have to recognize that we have inherent privilege over black people and that factors majorly into our lives . . . like you can't just section that away from the situation, rihanna and chris brown are black, that has informed many (if not most) aspects of their lives, and thinking you can just set that aside is incredibly erasing.

also, like, re: Mel's second paragraph, Kira-Lynn@twitter doesn't have to explain jack shit if she doesn't want to. this isn't a casual conversation in the grocery store about brands of crackers, this is a conversation about very painful, very real realities for a lot of people. she's totally allowed to be angry and express yourself as such, and she doesn't need to "support" a bunch of people who aren't doing the same for her. you don't get to erase her anger or suggest that she bring up her issues in a way that you would find more palatable to your delicate (read: white) sensibilities. i'm calling you out as one white person to another: you're being erasing and demeaning, and you need to check your privilege.


@two-cute But what does the fact that Rihanna and Chris Brown are black have to do with the fact that people have strong feelings about seeing a woman allegedly go back to her abuser? Are white folks only allowed to have an opinion about abuse when it's between Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva since they are both white?

I am really having a hard time understanding why I need to "check my privilege" if I am white and also of the opinion that Rihanna should not go back to Chris Brown. This thread has opened my eyes to why it's not appropriate for me to comment on any abused woman's behavior and why people are calling out the article's author, but is it really realistic for to expect me - or anyone - to not have an opinion about a public figure's actions? Granted, we have no right to "tell Rihanna what to do", but I think it's silly to think that we won't have opinions about the issue. I mean, differences of opinion on other issues aside, do any of us here think that it would be a good idea for Rihanna and Chris to start dating again? And again, how am I pulling privilege by being white and having an opinion about an abusive relationship involving black people, especially when, in this case, Rihanna would be returning to an objectively dangerous relationship?

I'm asking these questions in all seriousness. I understand the position of not wanting to explain racial issues to people; I often feel something similar as a woman commenting on forums that aren't the Hairpin. However, I also don't think that @Mel has "delicate (read: white) sensibilities" for responding to @Kira-Lynn's obviously cutting/sarcastic remark with her opinion and wanting to discuss Kira-Lynn's point.


@wee_ramekin and @kira-lynn This is what I was trying to say. Being white didn't keep my mom's husband from hurting her and it worked against her when it came to custody of my half-brothers. My cousin is white and so is her abusive scumbag Ex. White privilege didn't protect/assist these women. Further, the institutions that were supposed to help (court and church) actually failed them but I blame the men in charge for most of that. It took them both years to leave and lots of time to get back to a good place. I would tell anyone of any race or gender that staying with or going back to an abuser is a really bad idea. And, yes I am judging the decision and finding ithe logic that said this was a good idea as faulty.


@Mel I didn't do the dividing of people into races. That already happened. You have white privilege. Other people do not. I know you would 'prefer' I not talk like the groups have different experiences, but they do. Ignoring it won't make it go away. That would be like asking us not to talk about gender in this article.

Flies in my eyes

@Kira-Lynn@twitter I absolutely did not suggest you should not talk about race. In fact I think I ASKED you to. What I did suggest was making a blanket statement of white vs black DOES NOT make this go away, I think it perpetuates it.
@two-cute I do not have "delicate sensibilities" because I am white. I did not even have to state that and I think it is interesting that this actually, seemed to result in you seeing hostility in my comment.
@wee_ramekin thanks, that is exactly what I tried to do.
My POINT was raise the issues. Don't perpetuate them by not allowing opinions because of a persons race. I asked for the issues to be addressed. I suggested you give more information. There are a multitude of factors that interplay with domestic violence, I suggested that raising these issues without further segregating would have been more helpful. Education is power. If it irritates you people are misinformed or ignoring important information, then I am suggesting raising a dialogue rather than hostility would be of more benefit.


I'm surprised by how uncivil this thread became. Jesus.


@itmakesmewonder me too :(


@itmakesmewonder This topic puts me really on edge, and I think it's the same for other people as well :/

Feminist Killjoy

how does the hairpin always manage to poigntantly and articulately resolve the debates i have had with someone three days prior in a bar...


@Rosemary McClure and it always comes out 3 days after the bar fight goes down! I need these articles to come out in advance of such occurrences in my life, so I can have them as primers.


Rihanna is neither the poster girl for domestic abuse nor someone who owes you an explanation about anything in her private life. This is her situation to deal with as she wishes and it doesn't have to follow your script or look like you want it to. I find the whole pile-on judgement about her decisions lately to be really infantilizing and victim-blaming.


I agree whole-heartedly that Rihanna, as a person, should not have to explain anything. She was the victim to a horrible crime, and Chris Brown is vile, to say the least. However, as a public figure, I wish she would have considered the impact of this decision. The only reason I say this is because I work with teenage girls in a very high-risk community, and many of these girls look up to her as a role model. Many of the girls I work with are or have been involved in abusive relationships. They look to their celebrity role models as they would any other adult in their life that they admire. I've heard concern from them over this issue, and it scares me how they relate it back to their own situations. I just wish at the very least that Rihanna would have released some sort of statement to her young fans with the release of these singles. The whole thing makes me sick; we shouldn't ever place blame on Rihanna, but she is in the spotlight and her actions will be carefully observed by the youth who admire her.


@laurnadoone I get where you're coming from, I really do. It would be ideal for her safety and everything if she got away from Chris Brown and renounced him or whatever. But I guess part of what gets me so worked up about this, is I want to be like, don't you SEE? It's not that simple! These are real abuse dynamics happening in real time. Talk honestly about those. Talk honestly about why it isn't rare or unthinkable that things are playing out this way, that it's not her fault. Rihanna doesn't have to be a role model in this situation precisely BECAUSE this is a real life, very common dynamic. And if these girls you're working with have experienced abuse, I can't imagine it's more helpful to give it to them black and white--i.e. leave or stay, look at Rihanna, she left! This is how this stuff really happens. This is how it really works. It's so much more difficult and confusing than people want to believe.

Alice Prin

This is the first time I've seen people get shitty with each other here. GIRLS, CALM DOWN AND THINK ABOUT CONNIE BRITTON PLEASE.


What do you mean about "Love the Way You Lie"? I find that video really perplexing -- it tells the story of domestic abuse through characters that have superheroes powers, which is part, I think, of the persona Rihanna is forging through this mess.


I find it amazing that Jay Z (who says he hates Brown) or someone from her management team/record label didn't sit her down and be like "Um, this collab isn't going to work for us. We don't recommend it, and if you do it anyway - consequences." It's her professional life, she doesn't get to do whatever she wants.
I think I just had the sad realization that they probably care more about the publicity/money than her actual wellbeing, as I was typing that out.
CM Punk called out Chris Brown on Twitter & challenged him to a fight with someone who can actually defend themselves. Instead of being the mature, changed person he claims to be, Chris responded by calling Punk a steroid user who doesn't know how to please a woman. Maturity. (I don't think wrestlers are role models either, but that's a whole other argument. I only know about this because I get paid to watch wrestling... ugh)


Other people have articulated my arguments more clearly above me but this is the first time I've really been mad at a hairpin piece. I know that this is a complicated issue that inspires crazy amounts of emotions on all sides and as a white dude I probably have no business even speaking up about it because of the privileges inherent therein. THAT BEING SAID - every piece that ive seen in the last week that is 'disappointed' in Rihanna or questions ER decisions or her agency w/r/t her management stinks of so much victim blaming that is still so present in our culture. Chris Brown is a horrible human being and I hate the music industry for letting him have even a semblance of a career after he nearly killed his girlfriend and then acted smug and triumphant about each and every success after that point. But no one writing these pieces is close to Rihanna, no one is inside her head, and no one gets to dictate how she "should" deal with her abuse except Rihanna herself.

uff da

@feelings_unicorn aaargh. Not sure if I can articulate why both sides annoy me, but here's my shot. I think that everyone involved thinks Chris Brown is a lost cause. No one is going to be disappointed in him, because we've all pretty much come to the conclusion that he's a terrible person.

1. That said, there is a lot of victim-blaming language in the way people are trying to write about this. I think it's a difficult subject to write about without victim-blaming, but I'm guessing Rihanna's and Chris Brown's choice produced a visceral reaction in just about everyone, so I think it's worth discussing.

2. Rihanna has her own agency. Saying that criticizing Rihanna or being disappointed in her choice is automatically victim blaming takes power away from her. This was half of her choice to make. I think she made the wrong decision.

OK, let see if I can wrap this up in a stupid example. Let say you have a friend who is nearly killed by her boyfriend. He is never punished for it and shows no remorse. It really affected you and your friends and you all hate the guy. They then get back together. (I know this is not a perfect example but whatever, it's not my fault you're not friends with Rihanna.) It's ok for you to discuss your friend's decision with your other friends and express disappointment. You should never transfer the blame onto her, but it's ok for you not to be ok with her decision. No, you aren't in her head, but you can form your own opinion on it.


Maybe they both just like money, and notoriety which indirectly leads to money. Come on, it's not like either of them makes music for reasons of artistic integrity. Rihanna keeps making the same album over and over again, she has to do something to keep herself in the public eye.

Also, it is really weird to me how people can read and watch so much about celebrities, to the point of thinking they actually know these celebs. You don't know them, you don't know how they think, you don't know what happens behind closed doors, you don't know what is the best decision for them. You can't offer them advice, and they aren't listening anyway because they don't know who you are.

hairdresser on fire

I think a lot of people have said it above, but I am super disappointed about the victim-blaming going down in this, as well as in the comments. Everyone is allowed to hope someone who's abused stays out of danger, but--and this goes for a celeb you don't know or your bestie--no one gets to dictate how they live their life after the abuse. Not to mention, let the woman have some agency of her own that allows her to exist outside of being either a victim or an idiot. Fuck. This is actually making me really mad?

julie lauren

http://lilaengel.tumblr.com/post/18092240569/the-whole-rihanna-thing this post brought out Feelings


I am so, so, so disappointed and upset that the Hairpin would post this piece of victim-blaming horseshit. I am so disappointed and upset that the comments reflect a similar sense of entitlement to Rihanna's choices about how to deal with her experiences of violence. It is absolutely not Rihanna's job to make anyone feel comfortable about how she deals with her abuse. It is of no consequence how gross anyone feels about Rihanna's choices about who to collaborate with EXCEPT RIHANNA. That the Hairpin would add to the chorus of voices painting Rihanna as childish, immature, stupid, naive, passive, or otherwise unaware of the consequences and implications of her actions is sickening to me. Rihanna is not the morally reprehensible individual in this situation. Chris Brown is. No one gets to ask "Why, Rihanna?" except Rihanna. I don't explicitly deploy shame lightly, but, fuck: this author ought to be ashamed of this piece.


@pussy-strut i think i have to take a break from this site for a while, i'm smh at so many people right now, this is really gross and disappointing


@two-cute i couldn't even deal with most of the comments. absolutely unbelievable.

alex hart

@pussy-strut thank you P-S. This is exactly how I'm feeling.


@pussy-strut Thank you. I expect more from The Hairpin. This site is usually one of the few places on the internet I can count on not reading shit like this. This piece is disgusting, victim-blaming bullshit. Rihanna is not stupid. Rihanna owes nothing to anyone, certainly nothing to the readership of this site. She did not sign up to be a spokesperson for dating violence. She's a real woman trapped in a cycle of abuse trying to figure it out the best she can. Edith should be ashamed for publishing it.

Zeki Yol@facebook

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