[P]eople may want to analyze exactly why RiRi is doing a video about BDSM (especially when she’s tied up) post-Chris Brown because, they’d argue, doesn’t she want to heal from her abuse? I could understand that explanation when discussing her guest spot with Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” because I thought, by her participating in a song grounded in an abuser’s perspective, she was “victim-empathizing” (“I can see why he was abusive—I must have done something wrong–so it’s OK”) with the man who abused her and from whom she just extricated herself. In fact, I held that opinion until I realized that I was dictating how she “should” heal and whom she “should” forgive as part of it, as if I have a patent on the healing process.
Emphasis mine, because I’m guilty of having at least verged on that thinking as well. I find the Eminem song appallingly apologistic (appallogist?) where even apologetic wouldn’t cut it (“don’t ever fix your lips like collagen…”), and I always think of it as being in poor taste for him to have sought her out to be part of it for the cheap association and faux-credibilty. I do need to give her some credit as a conscious actor, too, though, and the quoted passage above reminds me of that.
Nothing’s going to make me feel like it’s okay that “Love The Way You Lie” exists - it’s a song about how hard & miserable it is to be an abuser and how victims kind of ask for it, and even if we leave Rihanna’s personal history out of it, we the public actually do know that Eminem is an abuser. We all watched him do it for more than a decade, and the records are indelible. I don’t mean to suggest that he has a history of physical violence against his partners, but he undertook a campaign of threats and other vicious acts against his kid’s mother not only in full view of the world, but as part of the art that was the reason the world was even looking in the first place.
To the best of my knowledge, his history is a lot closer to the scenario described in the song than Rihanna’s is. If there is public awareness that she was in some kind of thrall to Chris Brown or held down by him over time, I haven’t tuned into it. All I know about is an assault that pretty much ended their relationship.
But if you take the physical violence out of the story the song tells, you have Marshall versus Kim, just as we know it to have happened (except nicer to him and blaming her). If you leave it in and/or crank it up, you have Marshall versus Kim as appearing on Marshall’s records.
As for Rihanna’s “S&M” video, I agree with every other sex-posi feminist on the Internet that there is no appropriate lens through which to view it that has any smudges on it from her experience of intimate partner violence. Not related. Easy answer. Follow the link to the full Racialicious article if you need more coverage of that perspective.
I really appreciate that! It took me a while to even realize that (by my eventual reckoning) a majority of the angriest and most scathing responses were coming out under masculine noms-de-guerre, and the rear was being brought up by women - survivors or otherwise - who resented the (imaginary??) implication that they, personally, can’t handle reading whatever they want to read.
It seems like such a disaster that I can’t stop responding over and over, but maybe way more people are feeling reasonable about it than weird and are demonstrating that by NOT having a ton to post on the apeshit comment thread.
Internet ass-kicking is probably not the #1 most fruitful use of my feminist energies, I guess, but it does feel good for someone to get something positive out of the thing I spent half the afternoon doing, ha! So thanks very much.