Brown & Rhianna Relationship Highlights Social Conflicts

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Author: Chelsea Kellogg and Aidan Lewis

What If Just One Woman Goes Back

By Chelsea Kellogg, Staff Writer

Immediately following the news that Chris Brown had allegedly beaten Rihanna, I checked the gossip blogs to sate my appetite for a new scandal. It didn’t even take a cursory glance at the blogosphere for me to predict that Rihanna would go back to Chris Brown.

I suspected this based on the knowledge that battered women progress through three phases in the cycle of abuse, of which Rihanna seems to be an example. The first phase is the buildup for the eventual attack. It is characterized by tension-building fights that end but never seem to be resolved. Reports of these sort of fights between RiRi and Chris Brown have surfaced in news outlets for quite a few months now.Usually the buildup of tension from the first phase leads to an outbreak of physical violence, marking the beginning of the second phase of domestic violence. Bruises on Rihanna’s body have been evident for a few months and news outlets have speculated they were bruises from her boyfriend and hip-hop star Chris Brown.

After the widely publicized February 8th attack on Rihanna, many commented that Chris Brown would never be forgiven by the public, that his career was over, and that he wouldn’t live to see 2010. Jay-Z is reported to have said, “He’s a walking dead man.” All of these vituperative comments have subsided now that Rihanna has decided to take her abuser back. This action constitutes the third phase of abuse is reconciliation with one’s abuser. About 80-90 percent of abused women go back to their attacker. This sad fact is how I knew Rihanna would throw herself back into a dangerous situation. Although many disagree with her decision privately, almost no one is talking about it publicly.

Many people have opined that Rihanna’s situation is nobody’s business. As the public, many feel that we should stay out of Rihanna and Chris Brown’s conflict and let them resolve the situation. That, however, is never the way to deal with domestic violence. Most women need help or intervention to make them feel secure enough to leave their partner.

In our society, not talking about domestic violence could be the most dangerous thing we have done to our daughters, sisters, and friends. Ponder this statistic: around 33 percent of murdered women are killed by their intimate partners. Parents teach their daughters to look both ways when crossing the street, to lock their doors, never talk to strangers, but how often do parents teach their daughters about the dangers of abusive relationships? If every woman knew the cycle of abuse, if every woman had access to lifelines and intervention support, if every woman knew it was acceptable to publicly talk about abuse maybe we could reduce a third of female murders in the U.S.

Furthermore, how are we helping Rihanna herself by silencing our dissent and feigning respect for privacy? Her own father refuses to speak out against her choice. Just because she did what was statistically probable doesn’t make her rational any more intelligent. If Rihanna ever makes a statement about her reconciliation with Brown, she will probably explain that she did it because she loves him. Are we really going to accept that answer when it means the likelihood of her murder by an intimate partner has just skyrocketed? Do we really want to live in a world without hits like “Disturbia,” “Live Your Life,” and “Don’t Stop the Music?”

So I will be the first to say something to Rihanna. Rihanna, if you love him consider this: Love means never having to see your beaten and swollen face splashed across tabloids for the world to see.

Chelsea Kellogg is a first-year ECLS major. She can be reached at kellogg@oxy.edu

The Things We Won’t Say Outloud, But Will Think

By Aidan Lewis, Contributing Opinions Editor

Celebrity gossip has never been my thing. I try-with little success-to distance myself from the endless pages devoted to documenting every single rumor in Hollywood. Recently, however, I heard two people discussing how R&B artist Chris Brown had brutally beaten his girlfriend Rihanna in a car. Somebody later informed me of the shockingly racist comments directed towards Chris Brown online. Usually I would have avoided any news of an abusive celebrity relationship, but this time I found a good opportunity to reflect on racism, violence, and the tendencies within all of us.

Everyone has racist inclinations; I believe that the defining trait of a racist person is their unwillingness to analyze and change how they categorize people. Slurs and disparaging labels often surface in my mind when I come into conflict with someone of a different ethnicity. I’m not proud of that fact, and I hate my capacity to think in that way. That is why I was especially disturbed by some of the comments I found on YouTube, attached to news videos about the Chris Brown-Rihanna incident.

Events like this bring out the worst in spectators-sadly, the worst is often telling. Comments frequently attributed Chris Brown’s violence to his blackness, and some even stated explicitly that subordination was the optimal state for black people. I was shocked, but not surprised; this kind of racism happens every day. If we are honest, this probably isn’t the first time any of us has seen it.

Here is a true test of racism-wait for a conflict to build and see who mentions race where it is completely irrelevant. People who are ostensibly “tolerant” under ordinary circumstances lose all sense of tolerance when they witness terrible behavior from someone of a different ethnicity. We’ve all heard remarks, whether joking or perfectly serious, about why the latest occurrence of crime or oppression warrants the deportation, imprisonment, or even extermination of an entire people group. To the racist, individual actions reflect the will of the entire demographic.

Even people who claim to advocate racial equality demonstrate this trait. Indignation is often launched at the majority; in defending the oppressed, the oppressors are commonly identified as “white people.” It probably goes without saying that this undermines the entire argument. Nonetheless, it is far worse to read remarks evocative of slavery regarding an isolated event with a black R&B artist. I’m amazed, once again, at the power of a single, violent incident to expose a throng of racists.

I pose this question to Oxy, myself, and anyone else who cares to contemplate it: when will we recognize that oppression, abuse, violence, and crime exist at the level of the individual? When will we stop singling out certain populations, and realize that these problems are ubiquitous, and pervade every possible stratum and category of society? When we condemn an entire race for the actions of some of its members, we might as well condemn ourselves for the crimes of our contemporaries and our ancestors. The poet John Donne said, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” We can only attack others’ races to the extent that we are willing to bear the evils of our own. I, for one, am unwilling.

Aidan Lewis is a first-year ECLS major. He can be reached at alewis@oxy.edu.

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