Singer Rihanna became a famous victim of domestic abuse in early 2009 when then-boyfriend Chris Brown beat her badly enough to send her to the hospital. The resulting outcry shed a national spotlight on violent "love."
According to reports, there was serious swelling and bruising to her face, her lip was split, and her nose bloody. She even had bite marks on her arms and fingers.
Publicly the singer has denounced domestic abuse, but some of her actions have made people think otherwise. She appeared on the Eminem single, "Love the Way You Lie," which many claim glamorizes domestic violence.
Even more strangely, two years later, she is singing a song about violence. In "S&M," Rihanna says, "Sticks and stone may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me."
Do they really?
In the song Rihanna also makes the claim that "pain" is her "pleasure." It's hard to understand how anyone could think that these words, given the context, would send a good message to the 22-year-old singer's young and impressionable fans.
One thing that is true for many is that violence begets violence. Maybe Rihanna was taught that domestic abuse was OK by someone in her life and somehow the signals between what is love and what is abuse got crossed.
For many who are into S&M, pain and violence are a turn-on and Rihanna might be one of those people. Maybe things just got out of hand. But it's hard to imagine how Chris Brown might feel hearing those words. Had he kicked and punched her before and she liked it? And if so, how do we know that their big fight wasn't some kind of sexual thing gone awry?
For some, S&M is hot. Fine. To each their own. If you want to be whipped, deprived of oxygen, paddled, and scratched, good for you. But please do not decry violence on a national stage, proclaim yourself a victim, and then talk about how violence is a turn-on. If violence gets you going, keep it private, especially when you're such a public victim.
Somewhere in Rihanna's head, signals are clearly crossed.
For many of us, there is a fine line between love and hate and sex and violence, and violent(ish) sex can be a turn-on for many people. There is something animalistic and primal about being tossed around and manhandled, but what Rihanna is singing seems dangerously close to crossing the line.
If someone hurts you without consent, they don't love you. But what about if you had consented to being hurt before? Then what is it? The line becomes blurry. Consider this: If she sang a song saying, "When I say no, I actually mean yes," we would all be horrified, no?
So, how is this any different?
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