On Rihanna

Rihanna-and-Chris-BrownI’ll go on record right now and predict that Rihanna will be dead in ten years, and Chris Brown will be holding the smoking gun. I think she knows this, and I think it is part of the thrill of dating a man who so obviously loves her to death.

Relationships that involve violence are fascinating to watch; living inside them must be a breathless thrill ride, an adrenaline-pumping free-for-all in which you never know if he’s going to hit you or kiss you. People who survive on that kind of drama seem sad to me, but Rihanna would probably say it was the most passionate, exciting, intense relationship of her life. Craving for that kind of excitement isn’t going to be satisfied with placid tv-watching, eight minutes of missionary, and twelve minutes of reading before drifting off to peaceful sleep. Oh no, the woman who loves Chris Brown, or in fact any woman-beater, wants those huge, dramatic fights with the shivering possibility of real danger and that glimpse of true darkness which she mistakes for a place they can both go together. The vases crashing overhead are all the soundtrack she needs to get her nerves humming. When he gets in her face she is uncertain whether he is going to smash her face in or kiss her with a searing tenderness that will send her to the moon. It has to be a massive rush.

She doesn’t leave because she likes that intoxicating push-and-pull, and if the price of that thrill is to get punched in the face, she’s happy to pay it. There are individuals out there who will attempt to claim “Battered Woman Syndrome” is all the excuse any woman will ever need for staying in a dysfunctional relationship, but those people are willfully ignoring the most obvious factor of any abusive relationship: she likes it.

Nicole Brown Simpson, the poster girl for battered women, had left OJ Simpson numerous times, and always went back. Yet…once when they were broken up, Nicole went back to OJ though, and begged him to come back. He rejected her; he said he was happy with Paula Barbieri. Nicole then wrote aching letters, attempting to entice him back to her. She reminded him of their home, of their shared children.

This is not a woman who was happy to be free. She missed the heart-racing thrill of being smacked in the face and shoved against walls. She missed the one man who gave her that. I’m not saying that’s a healthy or good thing to want, but she evidently got something out of it that could not be obtained in any other way.

Rihanna is apparently of the same mindset. In Sylvia Plath’s epic poem “Daddy” she declares that “every woman adores a Fascist / the boot in the face.” Sounds apt vis a vis Rihanna. Incidentally, she has a song titled S&M. It’s a great song; I work out to it all the time. The lyrics are telling:

Feels so good being bad
There’s no way I’m turning back
Now the pain is my pleasure cause nothing could measure

Love is great, love is fine (Oh oh oh oh oh)
Outta box, outta line (Oh oh oh oh oh)
The affliction of the feeling leaves me wanting more

Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But chains and whips excite me

Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But chains and whips excite me

Well there you go. I think there is something very honest about this song, when you consider her willingness to return to Chris Brown.

She is inexorably tied to him. She knows that what happens between them isn’t readily understood and I think she even likes that secretive aspect of it. It certainly creates an “us-against-the-world” dynamic which only serves to strengthen their bond. (I guess all those copies of Fifty Shades of Grey are fine for fiction, but introducing it to the mainstream – for real – is just too much.) Those times when Chris Brown blows up and smacks her are part of the reason she loves him. They aren’t a reason to leave him. They’re a reason to stay.

I predict several more incidents of her being beaten, maybe even badly. She will bear a few of his kids, show up at some glitzy party grinning with him on her arm, then the next day land in the hospital with a broken arm. Then one day, she will be dead. It’s comforting in its predictability.

I am reminded of Nicole Simpson again on a 911 call in which she tells the dispatcher “He’s going to kill me.” She has almost no inflection in her voice. She’s not even scared. It’s a statement of fact. It was part of what drew her to him, I suppose.

Rihanna has to know that the same fate awaits her. For someone so talented, so beautiful, who has so many opportunities to choose better, it is depressing to watch. I guess that makes her time here on earth, producing music and being amazing, even more precious. I’m determined to enjoy her career, knowing it is destined to be short-lived.

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  1. 100% cosign. It’s depressing (and yet fascinating) to watch. Her interview with Oprah was a real low point. She seemed illiterate, too – and by that I mean, emotionally illiterate – there was a self-satisfied “I love being spontaneous” thing (she kept saying the same thing over and over … she does not know how to express herself). She loves the game, keeping people guessing about her and Chris Brown … So I agree with you and it’s very disheartening to witness. He’s so terrible.

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