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Tuesday How To: Narrow Down A Topic

February 12, 2013

There’s been a lot going on in the news today.

The Pope is resigning. But, having grown up not any kind of Christian, let alone Catholic I don’t really have much to say about that, except for the fact that I always thought he looked like a villain out of a second rate anime so I’ve spent the entire time he’s been pope waiting for his nefarios plan to unfold.

I hope it involves robots.

Remember before when I said the equality was inevitable  because of the behavior of the DoD? The DoD finally extended benefits to same sex couples. Mr. Panetta, that is how you drop the mike with style.

Ted Nugent is attending the State of the Union as the invited guest of a Republican congressman. That’s not horrifying at all.

So, yeah, I could have written about any of those things, except for the doD one because I already did that.

But you know what really interested me today?

The social media reaction to Chris Brown and Rihanna’s latest public appearances.

Shut up, I can be shallow if I want to. Be glad I’m not writing more about Lost Girl,

First there was the editor at Daily Best who called Ri-Ri a “big, fat zero,” for doing the whole “stand by your man,” bit at his court appearance on Thursday.

Then there was the “don’t hate!” backlash against her and the other people who criticized the singer for her behavior.

Now there’s a whole thing over on the pseudo-feminist website Jezebel lamenting how mean everyone is being to a poor, poor, incredibly well off, famous, loved by millions recording artist and sotrry, can’t muster up much sympathy.

Look, the underlying point, aside from the Lena Dunham rant and Gloria Steinem name drop is clear in the title; piling on Rihanna Accomplishes Nothing.

Full disclosure, I’ve never seen Girls and I lost epic boatloads of respect for ms. Steinem (and a lot of my other former feminist idols) during the 2008 election what with all their unapologetic race bating.

Yes, this is yet another myopic, hypocritical piece from Jezebel. I’ll wait if you need to work real hard to muster up some surprise. Because if you accept the assertion that rational, valid criticism of a public figure accomplishes nothing then you must also accept that defense of her accomplishes nothing either.

It’s not like the criticism is inaccurate. Rihanna is being a bad role model for girls. Chris Brown is, at least, suffering from a serious, ongoing anger management problem and, in my opinion exhibits serious signs of clinical narcissism.

And she stays with him. That behavior is objectively problematic and in direct contradiction with Rihanna’s “tough girl” image. She and her publicists spend an awful lot of time and energy making her appear to be a strong, independent, female of the kind that her female fans should want to emulate. All the while she flaunts her relationship with an abuser.


Not at all ambiguous.

Not at all ambiguous.

Further, criticism, even a lot of criticism from multiple sources does not equate to a “pile-on.” She’s making a bad decision. There’s nothing wrong with pointing that out.

That said, I get the point. Putting more pressure on an abused woman who is already suffering the pressure of an abusive relationship, is not OK.

But can we stop pretending that Ri-Ri has no skin in this game. She is making choices; bad choices, rooted in a series of abusive situations, but still. She is an adult human who is making bad choice.

Yes, she is a victim of abuse. Yes, it’s important to be sympathetic and supportive to people in this situation. I think we can all agree on that.

However, we also all need to agree that it’s important to be honest and even more important not to infantilize victims of abuse in the process of sympathy and support. People make choices and they need to be held accountable for those choices.

Rihanna has chosen both to make herself a role model and to fail at that task. It is dishonest to pretend to blame Chris Brown for all of that.

Further, the author’s attempt to make her article relevant by bringing up Dunham’s writing characters who are People of Color into her show is kind pathetic. It comes off as “OMG, Lena Dunham has failed in this area of racial understanding so her opinion about the abusive relationship between two PoC is not relevant.” That looks a lot like #StruggleLogic to me.

The problems that Girls has has in regards to race are well documented and the criticisms of its lack are are valid, as are the criticisms of Rihanna’s choice to return to a relationship with her abuser.

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