Monday, March 28, 2011

Breaking Up with Chris Brown

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Nomor95 under Creative Commons 3.0

I used to like Chris Brown.  And not just because he was really, really, ridiculously good-looking.

At a time when everyone seemed to be "in love with a stripper," Brown was more respectfully interested in more modest women, like the ones he chased in "Excuse Me, Miss."  And when most music wanted you to "shake that ass" for them, Brown wanted to dance with you; "Forever." 

I even had "Kiss Kiss" as my ringtone for a while.  Because ringtones were  thing. And I used to really like Chris Brown.

When he and Rihanna performed together at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, it seemed like a match made in pop culture heaven. I was even a little jealous. 

But that was almost 4 years ago. A lot has changed since then.

In February of 2009, Brown was arrested for assaulting Rihanna. According to sources for E! news, "she suffered visible bruises on her face during an early morning confrontation."  The couple skipped the Grammys the next day-- even though both were nominated for awards and scheduled to perform.

After spending some time apart, the two reconciled at P.Diddy's Florida mansion. While reports made it clear Rihanna's family was concerned, "her father Ronald Fenty said he would support his daughter whatever decision she made."

Brown was sentenced that August, receiving 5 years of probation.  The hearing revealed the couple had been involved in two other incidents of domestic violence before the very public February ordeal.

By November, they were officially over, and Rihanna was speaking out against domestic violence.  During a particularly painful interview, she admitted going back was a mistake and that she was embarrassed by her decision.

Fast forward to February of this year, when a judge lifted Brown's restraining order-- supposedly to make award shows less awkward.

Both careers continue to flourish.  Brown has even released a new album, F.A.M.E. which he recently promoted on Good Morning America.  But when he was asked about the past, Brown flipped and split. 

Reports explained:
"ABC News said Brown smashed a window in his dressing room after his interview with GMA's co-host Robin Roberts on Tuesday. Roberts had asked Brown about the Grammy eve beating two years ago, for which he is still on probation."
He apologized and "noted that he didn't physically harm anyone." But property damage, instead of assault, isn't exactly a personal victory.

Brown desperately wants to move on. But people aren't going to forget.  And they shouldn't.

In a world where too much domestic violence goes undocumented, Brown needs to be held accountable.  Otherwise, the courage it took Rihanna to come forward was all in vain.   

Usually celebrities wrong the unknown. But in this instance, both parties were already famous, so the victim had agency. Rihanna had access to the same news outlets as her assailant. And her story wasn't overshadowed by Brown's popularity because she was equally popular.

No one assumed Rihanna was doing it for money or fame. She was simply doing it because it was right.  And everyone saw how difficult it was for her to come forward.  Rihanna, like all victims, would gain very little. She had more to lose by telling the truth.

But Brown is still trying to make a comeback.  The first single off his new album (the same song he performed on Good Morning America, before he stormed off) is rather predictable; go to the club, pop bottles, yell things (like "yeah") and hopefully hook up.  Just another day in the life. 

And the music video for "Yeah 3x" showcases Brown's dancing, which increasingly defies gravity. 

But when it comes time to "break it down," Brown says rather something disturbing:

"All the pretty young things in the party-- lemme see your hands up.  And if they mad and they don't wanna party-- tell 'em shut the fuck up."

Normally, these non-rhymes would pass under the radar, almost completely undetected. But it's harder to stomach Brown's aggressive language, given his violent tendencies. 

Offended, my immediate response was; "Don't tell me to shut the fuck up, Chris Brown." 

Typically, musical misogyny is merely a performance. But I stopped giving Brown the benefit of the doubt once he blurred the line between questionable lyrics and unforgivable actions.

Of course it's problematic that hyperbole involving sexual objectification and violence against women sells music-- but real, documented violence is totally unacceptable.    

While Brown has tweeted his thanks to followers for their overwhelming support, this is one former fan who is not impressed.  Or buying it.  And as far as I'm concerned, it's over.


  1. Hey lady, why are you so angry? The world has moved on from the war of the sexes. Ironic how a search for Chris Brown led me to you. Btw, it ain't cool to call yourself a feminist slut. It would be like me calling myself a man-whore. I love women in general. I have 3 of them in my family. These women also love and respect men in general. We have great, loving, and respectful parents. So they are good role models for us siblings to gauge what a good man and woman should be like. If your parents are loving and respectful, I don't see why you would disenfranchise them by setting up an embarrassing blog like this one. It doesn't serve any purpose other than justifying your ideals which may or may not be valid. However, this blog is still embarrassing to say the least. It really doesn't highlight any of your positives, and I am sure you've got plenty of them. Just leave all the anger behind and stop carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Be the happy lady that you want to be, because there is no man in this day and age who will get in your way in achieving just that. I am sure you can't deny this. and let live and be happy. Peace.

  2. Dear Akinyemi,

    Sorry I've been so busy and haven't had a chance to write back. But I'm free now and I'm going to try really hard to answer all of your questions and address all of your concerns.

    Why am I so angry? Lots of reasons. Today, for instance, I became enraged when I found out Burger King no longer serves mac-n-cheese. And yesterday I was pretty pissed when I got my electric bill.

    But mostly, it's just because I'm a feminist. And I'm a feminist because I'm angry. It's kind of the defining paradox behind the ideology.

    Ironic, indeed, that your search for a free download of "Yeah 3X" brought you here. I apologize for the inconvenience and I do hope, for your ipod's sake, that you eventually found what you were looking for.

    Speaking of irony, I was under the impression that it WAS cool to call myself "slutty feminist." But since you said something, I'll be sure to change the name of my blog as soon as I get a chance.

    Your family sounds awesome. I bet you guys have great dinners full of love and respect and Pilsbury crescent rolls. That's some delicious "lovin' from the oven," I tell you what.

    However, I am confused how my interest in the political, economic and social equality of women could deprive my parents of power or the right to vote. As far as I know, my parents are just as powerful as when I started this blog in September. But you've got me concerned, so I'm going to look into it.

    Since the equality I spoke of earlier is a value I'm actively pursuing as a goal, then yes, this blog serves to "justify" that. But it will only be "validated" once women have sucessfully taken over the world.

    I'm sorry "slutty feminist" makes you feel embarrassed. And I'll try harder to incorporate more of my "positives." I really didn't think this was the place to brag about my many accomplishments, but if that's what my readers want...

    You're really intuitive. The weight of the world IS on my shoulders-- and it's ruined my posture. Seriously, I'm under 30 with osteoporosis over here. (I knew I should have drank more milk.)

    Thanks so much for all your wonderful advice. I took some notes, but I'm not sure if that's going to be enough.

    Actually, I was wondering if you'd be available for some life coaching? I so desperately want to be a "happy lady" and you seem to have everything all figured out.

    Patiently awaiting assistance with personal improvement,

    Yours Truly,

    Slutty Feminist