Does Rihanna Romanticize and Hypersexualize Domestic Violence?

The one thing I will say about this “We Found Love” video is that it’s A REAL VIDEO without the overuse of a greenscreen (finally!).  With that said, Rihanna should stop using Chris Brown to sell CDs.  We’ve seen Rihanna portray domestic violence in “The Way You Lie” and now the question comes up again with her new video “We Found Love.”  Does Rihanna romanticize and hypersexualize domestic violence?  My curiosity from the buzz all over twitter led me to watch this video.  For days now, I see tweets and comments about how great Rihanna’s new video is.  “OMG it’s so artistic” or “Rihanna loves Chris.”  Aside from the artistic aesthetics, domestic violence and drug use is shown as a sexy and romantic part of a “healthy” relationship (whatever that means).

A recent study shows that 70% of black women are not married compared to 45% of white women.  This could be attributed to a number of reasons.  In the golden age of television, domestic abuse was never depicted as a problem in society.  The family was romanticized to appear perfect in the popular imagination.  Now it’s common knowledge: the black family is dysfunctional.   Rihanna is not the cause or effect of domestic violence.  However, it’s becoming her brand.  Rihanna is the survivor exploiting Chris Brown for whatever reason (most likely for a sympathetic fanbase coupled with record sales). She’s inadvertently transforming Chris Brown into the victim. (I’m not picking sides. I hate them both).

One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.  One third of female murder victims are killed by their intimate partner.  More times than not, women stay in these abusive relationships.  Now Rihanna is making these relationships seem like the norm as if she’s saying “beat me #soiknowitsreal”.  In “The Way You Lie,” the domestic violence was so hypersexualized you’re confused whether she liked it rough or underwent so much psychological trauma she blurred the lines between domestic violence and rough sex.  Misery loves company.  She’s making yall feel for her and it’s fueling her career now.

Karl Marx said, “The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”  Domestic violence is an old issue.  Rihanna (amongst every celebrity) has a social responsibility to speak out against injustice rather than reinforce stereotypes and exploit social issues.  She has an opportunity to repress.  Instead, she romanticizes and hypersexualizes abuse.

P.S. Beyonce fans and Rihanna fans are all the same.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Does Rihanna Romanticize and Hypersexualize Domestic Violence?

  1. Thought provoking piece once again, Alex. First, Im not a diehard fan of Rihanna yet I do like and enjoy her music. Although, I do agree with you that she is romanticizing domestic/intimate partner abuse and (in my opinion deliberately using it for her brand and artistry). Back in ’09 I wasn’t happy with how she handled the situation with CB especially in the Barbara Walters interview. On camera she was this demure, soft spoken, woman who was a victim of physical abuse. On stage, video and record she’s G4L, cold hearted, man eating (whips, leather, and chains), hypersexual vixen. Although she switched up her look when she released Good Girl Gone Bad, once the CB incident came about then Rated R came out, she got her street cred (Her romanticizing toxic love starts there I believe). That doesn’t add up in my eyes. What makes you Gangsta 4 life when clearly you called the police and pressed charges against your bf for hitting you. In my experience I know women who have had men put their hands on them and they were just as quick to hit them back and the police were not called. Not Rihanna though yet she’s gangsta for life (*Rated R album). So in that aspect I agree with you. She is using her circumstance to her advantage. On the flip side, and as you stated people were tweeting left and right how she wasn’t over CB. Clearly she isn’t. From Man Down, We Found Love, and Russian Roulette, and other songs its apparent her pain and her experience is her muse. All artists do it in some way eventually. So can we fault her no. Will it get annoying yes (if I could see her turn her experience into something positive or show that there’s other forms of love out there, I’d be happy). However I’m not on Rihanna’s board of advisors and honestly I don’t care as much either, there are other female artists out there that are better than her musically but not as big as her. I can listen to them too.

    However if this is making Rihanna money, I doubt it’ll stop any time soon. At least I can say for myself and people who I closely associate myself with that we don’t look to rihanna for relationship advice, cues or guides. Rihanna is touching on something very close to a lot people but there is a thin line between relating and profiting and she is toeing it very very closely. I say that because eventually people will get tired of her going back to this one theme….I hope. Consumers don’t stay stupid for long.

    Also too, on Chris Brown’s mixtape “In My Zone 2” he has a song called “Talk that Shit” where he’s clearly referencing rihanna and how he loves a “crazy” woman who fights other woman in public for staring at “her man” and even puts her hands on him. So there’s two sides to the coin. Sadly and unfortunately. Both black men and women, especially our generation still have a ways to go on defining what a “real” relationship is and actually DOING that.

  2. “Rihanna is touching on something very close to a lot people but there is a thin line between relating and profiting…” exactly. She has an opportunity to reach out to battered women and help them. Instead she’s complicating the societal effects of domestic violence. It’s obvious in “The Way You Lie” but in “We Found Love” it’s blurred. The end, she walks out but it seems as if she’s going to return implying DV is normal and there’s nothing she can do about it.

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