It can be isolating to have a belief system like mine. And while it's not necessarily at the forefront of my mind 24/7/365, I am angry all the time. It's not something I will ever apologize for, nor will I ever feel as though I should have to. In this particular situation, to apologize is to compromise and when the vast majority of women regularly find themselves in compromising positions, I don't think I could look myself in the mirror if I shrank away from my beliefs. And while I know that I'm entitled to be angry in response to the ways in which women are continuously seen and treated as second-class citizens or reduced to objects of some kind, I've realized that not everyone has had the same privileges I've had in acquiring an education that has allowed for me to lift the veil. Much more unfortunately, though, is that not everyone cares to.
Not everyone cares about women or their well-being. It's a depressing sentence to write, but given recent events and controversies surrounding pop stars Rihanna and Chris Brown, the people have spoken and, I'm sad to say, many of their thoughts and opinions aren't exactly what I would call "heartwarming." Before I go any further, though, the reader should know right now that I think of Chris Brown as a festering pile of putrid scum. I hate him. I make no bones about my repulsion for him. And although my extreme aversion may seem as some sort of skew or bias on my part, I challenge anyone to think otherwise after seeing images of the aftermath (below) and reading through the gruesome police report detailing the 2009 incident.
Again, I implore you to read the entire report so that you may have a crystal clear picture as to how much of a monster this young man is, but I chose to include the following excerpts below:
"Brown was unable to force Robyn F. out of the vehicle because she was wearing a seat belt. When he could not force her to exit, he took his right hand and shoved her head against he passenger window of the vehicle, causing an approximate one-inch raised circular contusion.
Robyn F. turned to face Brown and he punched her in the left eye with his right hand. He then drove away in the vehicle and continued to punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand. The assault caused Robyn F.'s mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle.
Brown looked at Robyn F. and stated, 'I'm going to beat the sh-- out of you when we get home! You wait and see!'"
"Brown resumed punching Robyn F. and she interlocked her fingers behind her head and brought her elbows forward to protect her face. She then bent over at the waist, placing her elbows and face near her lap in [an] attempt to protect her face and head from the barrage of punches being levied upon her by Brown.
Brown continued to punch Robyn F. on her left arm and hand, causing her to suffer a contusion on her left triceps (sic) that was approximately two inches in diameter and numerous contusions on her left hand.
"Brown did not know what she did with the key and began punching her in the face and arms. He then placed her in a head lock positioning the front of her throat between his bicep and forearm. Brown began applying pressure to Robyn F.'s left and right carotid arteries, causing her to be unable to breathe and she began to lose consciousness."
Chris Brown called this horrific event a "mishap." A mishap. An accident. A mistake. In fact, if I had any more trouble trying to suppress my intense urge to vomit, Buzzfeed graciously compiled a list of the following tweets letting Chris know that, if he ever felt the need to beat the shit out of another woman again, he's got options.
Chris Brown is not the boogeyman. He was a 19 year-old kid when he nearly killed his girlfriend 3 years ago. Him and his supporters who (dare I say it) might've engaged in or at least witnessed similar behaviors in their own lives are not some mythical monsters who only come out at night while you're safely sleeping in your bed. They are living, breathing products of a society who told them (either directly or indirectly) somewhere along the way that it's ok to objectify and beat women; that, while you might catch some flack from the public at first, in the end, you couldn't control yourself and it'll all be ok.
The other night, a bombshell dropped in the form of a released remix for Rihanna's single, "Birthday Cake," featuring... Chris Brown. Oh boy. Though his part is rather small, his presence in the song is incredibly pervasive and, quite frankly, makes me nauseous. The lyrics, "Girl, I wanna fuck you / Been a long time, I've been missing your body" are chilling, to say the very least, as it's impossible not to immediately think of the agency he had over Rihanna's body during the incident back in 2009.
It's really hard to say or explain what happened here. While I tend to think of it as falling under the cycle of abuse, I'm really curious as to how this particular collaboration was conceived, how Rihanna approached it, and who ultimately made the final decision to record and release the song. It would make sense to me if Rihanna chose this particular outlet as a way to publicly declare that she's no longer the victim, that she's a survivor, and now wants to take control in re-claiming or reshaping the dialogue that surrounds her. And while she has every right to make that decision for herself, it's undeniable that this song and this partnership will send an incredibly powerful message to impressionable listeners. It is not my place to cast any judgment on Rihanna or her decisions, but I honestly can't help but feel really sad for her. I'm being exceedingly careful here with my words, but it's disheartening to know that the backlash and blame against her will now double in size. I would not be at all surprised if the ones who originally had her back turn theirs against her now for making this particular move in her career. Those who supported and continue to support Chris will undoubtedly engage in an "I told you so!" matter without ever once feeling the need to question their incredibly fucked up allegiance to him.
There's no real way to sugar-coat the fact that this particular choice (whoever it was that made it) sets an incredibly dangerous example to both Rihanna's and Chris' fans. Condemning her for it, though, by largely ignoring Chris' decision to participate in something so inappropriate is even more dangerous and a clear sign that the public has yet to understand the cycle of abuse and the pervading effects it has on its victims. If society stopped supporting these violent criminals, perhaps abuse of this caliber would be taken seriously and real, meaningful change to benefit and protect the lives of women would take root.