A generation – or rather culture – of men are growing up with very skewed, chauvinistic, and hegemonic perceptions of masculinity (and this post is not saying the onus is on Chris Brown). The trend of degrading women while exalting them has a paradoxical effect. Is it possible that Rihanna and Chris Brown are both victims? Yes.
Black masculinity must be juxtaposed against white masculinity to fully understand its context and evolution. The tension between white and Black masculinity is attributed to the notion that white masculinity prevails and Black masculinity is powerless. Hypermasculinity, subjectivity, and objectivity prevent the essence of masculinity from progressing. Whether it’s conscious or not, we support and glorify figures that promote contradictory ideals that are detrimental to any hope of a brighter future. We have to demand more from our artists. We can’t do that if we isolate them from their craft. Art imitates life. We deserve better and must not be complacent in mediocrity.
Rihanna is a victim. She is a victim of domestic violence. She is a victim of the subversive ideals threatening notions of gender roles, feminism, masculinity, and identity. She is a victim of the exploitation, the romanticism, the reality, and the desensitization of domestic violence. She is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. She is a victim of her fans.
Chris Brown is a victim. Shocker. He is a victim of the culture that turns a blind eye to domestic violence. He is a victim of the complexity, double standards, and hypocritical critics of manhood. He is a victim of the instability, complexity, and misnomer of manhood. The relationship between Chris Brown and Rihanna is equivalent to the relationship between hip-hop and its fans. The relationship is warm yet hostile, liberating yet binding, underground yet proverbial.
All-in-all, Hip-hop has never been a space to foster healthy male intimacy. It’s often homoerotic, misogynistic, violent, homophobic, xenophobic, etc. Once the fan-base changes, the content changes.