Women as Victims: Rihanna’s ‘Man Down’ Fiasco

Okay, maybe I’m checking in a bit late on this one, but I have two great excuses:

  1. I’ve never heard of Rhianna, other than the whole domestic abuse incident that made the news.
  2. I’m working on my PhD for crissakes!  Cut me some slack! Do I really need to have two excuses?

That said, I find a few things very interesting here.

People are up in arms because she shoots and kills someone in cold blood.

She’s not the first.  Johnny Cash shot a man just to watch him die in Folsom Prison Blues, and he got high and killed his woman in Cocaine Blues.  He probably wasn’t the first either, but I think those are some pretty good examples of mainstream acceptability of violence being encouraged in music.  Especially when you consider the fact that he performed these songs in prisons, in front of inmates who were potentially convicted of real murders who cheered during the songs!

And that brings us to another thing we need to remember: it’s not real.  You know, you’ve probably heard of it before, this thing called “fiction.”  Or, for those who need it broken down a bit more: “make believe.”  She didn’t really kill a man.

Of course, these points are meaningless unless we get down to the root of the problem.

She’s a woman.

There, I’ve said it.

She’s a woman who told a story about a woman who took care of an attacker when the justice system didn’t.

Cash, on the other hand, killed a woman because he was high and she was cheating on him.  He killed a man just for fun.  So why was that okay?

Because – and here I go again, saying things – because

He’s a man.

One argument someone who shall remain nameless made to me was that when Rhianna was a victim, we could feel bad for her.  But when she talked about doing something about being a victim, suddenly she was in the wrong.  Why?  Because women only belong in victim roles?

Before we start talking about how unacceptable it is for a woman to kill a man in fiction, let’s start talking about how anyone killing anyone is wrong in real life.

2 thoughts on “Women as Victims: Rihanna’s ‘Man Down’ Fiasco

  1. I remember when “Goodbye Earl” was released. One interviewer said “so the moral is to not eat dinner when your wife is pissed.” And one of the Dixie Chicks (I can’t remember which one) replied, “No, the moral is don’t beat your wife.”

  2. I think Rihanna is justified in her sentiments – in all fairness, Chris Brown wasn’t really punished for beating her up. If memory serves, he was given a fine, community service, and he avoided a lengthy stretch in prison. His music still continues to sell and be sold. He’s only been blacklisted by a few companies, and his concerts and music continue to do well. And then he goes on television interviews whining about how he isn’t loved and respected in spite of what he’s done. Judging by the public’s response toward Brown, Rihanna might get the impression no one cared about her ordeal. Why shouldn’t she have the opportunity to lash out through her music? I say, more power to her.

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