Blog hibernation is officially over. The accumulation of three weeks worth of reading and thinking is finally producing posts. More specifically, I have been spurred into action after finding out that Rihanna and Chris Brown are back together, even after what happened last February 8th, my fingers have once again found the keyboard and probably won’t be stopping anytime soon – at least, not until next winter.
I don’t believe in judging people for what they have done. After all, that’s what we have a judicial system for. One could argue that once we know the entire story, we can pass judgement – but the thing is, no one can ever know the full story. It would include understanding not only the facts and the reasons behind the event, but also the history leading to this event.
However, I do believe that when people make decisions that harm others, especially younger members of our society, then a stand must be taken, to start a conversation about the subject and to help the public understand some of what is going on so that they don’t blindly follow suit.
And Oprah agrees with me.
Even before knowing the details of what happened, it was shocking to find out that, whatever she had done, Chris Brown had hit Rihanna. Because even if Rihanna provoked Chris, even if she deserved to be punished for something she might have done, even if she hit him first – I don’t think anything can excuse a man from hitting a woman, especially when he is bigger and stronger than her. If Rihanna was verbally abusing him, he could have dumped her out of his car and driven off; or, were she to refuse, he could have stopped the car and walked off himself. It’s not like he can’t afford the cab fare. While not the most gentlemanly of moves, both these choices would have been understandable were it to come to light that Rihanna was behaving terribly. Were she hitting him, he could have, without a single blow, simply pinned her down – against the car, against the ground – and held her until she calmed down. That would have been perfectly understandable self-defence. And don’t tell me it’s not possible – have you seen how big he is and how small she is?
Putting aside what ifs and what nots, the truth seems even worse than the relatively tame story lines from the previous paragraph. Here is a small snippet of what ABC news is reporting:
“Their Feb. 8 fight broke out after Rihanna read a three-page text message on Brown’s phone from a woman (…). An argument ensued and Brown tried to force Rihanna out of the car but was unable to because she was wearing her seat belt. Brown then shoved Rihanna’s head against the passenger window of his rented Lamborghini, causing an approximate one-inch raised circular contusion (…). When Rihanna turned to face him, Brown allegedly punched her and then continued punching her while driving. The alleged assault caused her mouth to fill with blood and splattered blood all over her clothing and the interior of the car. (…) Brown then told her, “I’m going to beat the s— out of you when we get home. You wait and see.” Rihanna countered by calling an assistant’s phone and saying, “I am on my way home. Make sure the cops are there when I get there.”
After that, according to the documents, an enraged Brown warned Rihanna, “You just did the stupidest thing ever. I’m going to kill you.” He allegedly continued punching Rihanna, who attempted to text message another personal assistant Melissa Ford. Brown snatched the phone out of her hand and threw it out the window of his car.”
It is all the more alarming when celebrities such as Rihanna are involved in such events in that we live in a world where for some kind of reason, we look up to these celebrities as role models. Somewhere along the line, instead of role models becoming celebrities, we have decided that people who entertain us will also provide us with the moral and behavioural compass we need to navigate the treacherous waters of life. Rihanna, raised to the status of role model, has decided to return to her romantic relationship with Chris Brown; what does that say about the situation, and how will this impact young girls who look up to her?
This is one situation in which I had hoped to hear more from a celebrity rather than less. I would have liked to hear someone from Rihanna’s camp – and, eventually, Rihanna herself – talk about what happened and unabashedly declare that it was unacceptable for Chris to have laid a finger on her. As it stands, the message Rihanna is sending out to her fans as well as to millions of other women exposed to her music is that being beaten up is a normal part of a relationship.
But I refuse to let Rihanna’s bad decision go – and I’d much rather turn it into a good one by making sure to keep the conversation about domestic abuse in the open. Because violence, in whatever shape or form, is unacceptable, whatever Rihanna might say.