My extreme dislike of Rihanna started when I watched the music video for BDSM in my women’s studies class a few years ago. I couldn’t comprehend why a woman who is widely known as a survivor of extreme domestic abuse would make a song about how much she likes being tied up and beaten. I understand that this fetish exists, and maybe she was simply just calling attention to that through this song and video. Maybe I was reading too much into it, or being too sensitive. However, the fact of the matter is that Rihanna is unfathomably famous. She has people all over the world looking up to her, but instead of using what happened to her as a lesson for young women, she embraced it and made it sound like it was completely normal and okay. Ever since that first video, I have been getting progressively more annoyed every time I see her on my TV or in my newsfeed. I never did anything about it though; I would just sigh and move on with my life. No use complaining about something that won’t change anyway, right? Well, now I feel like it’s impossible to keep my silence anymore.
Here’s the story: I woke up one morning, and just like any morning I began scrolling on my phone through my social media sites. It became apparent Rihanna’s new video for her song “Bitch Better Have My Money” was released after weeks of promotion and hype. It was literally in every other post I came across. I became curious, and it was mostly because of the ridiculous name of the song in question. Is she pretending she’s a pimp now? Does she know that pimp’s have been beating, exploiting, and killing vulnerable women throughout history? Whatever I told myself Rihanna is a grown-ass woman. She doesn’t need anyone to tell her who her role models in life should be. Unfortunately, I decided to finally click on the link for this abomination of a video.
For those of you who have yet to see it, let me set the scene for you. The video depicts Rihanna, singing the same insufferable line over and over, while her and two friends kidnap a woman who is the wife of her accountant who apparently owes Rihanna money. They tie her upside down, naked from the ceiling of a barn like she is a cow being slaughtered, they smack her in the head with a bottle so she wouldn’t ask a cop who was passing by for help, they throw her in the trunk of Rihanna’s car naked and bound by rope, and they even almost drown her in a pool. The drowning part was completely overlooked by most people though because even though we see this poor woman unconscious in the water, we also see a gratuitous shot of Rihanna’s ass because why the hell not at this point, right? These demented women even force drugs and alcohol on their abductee in a hotel room which immediately made me think of the thousands of women who are assaulted and raped every year because of these substances, but maybe that’s just me.
After about ninety percent of the video is spent torturing and almost killing this innocent woman, we finally get to see her husband who is the actual target of Rihanna. Out of all of the vile things in this video, the fact that she had no reason whatsoever to abduct this man’s wife is probably the worst. It just shows how Rihanna wanted to have cheap shock factor in this video, so she decided to take some woman and beat her senseless throughout it for literally no reason. What upset me even more, is how people are praising this piece of trash as “feminist”. Some are claiming she is “flipping the script”, and having a role reversal in which she is the “pimp” with power. It made me question if I was watching the same video as the rest of the world. Wasn’t she completely violating and beating a woman in the same horrible way in which she was abused years ago? Why does that suddenly make her powerful?
Truly being powerful and a role model, in my humble opinion, is learning from the past and facing our demons head-on. It is not glamorizing them so that others can look and think that these horrible things should be the norm. Violence is all around us because of the media, and I mean all aspects of the media. Hell, GQ tweeted today right after this video release, something along the lines of “Who wouldn’t want to be kidnapped by Rihanna, am I right?” No, seriously. That really happened. What’s more unfortunate is that these insane images will continue to fill our newsfeeds until the people with influence can put a stop to it. Rihanna could have been one of those people, but instead she decided to make a mockery of violence against women along with everything that happened to her personally.