I wish people would stop telling Rihanna what to do

I pay very little attention to showbiz gossip. I stopped reading Heat years ago because I got fed up of the misogyny and I’ve never bought any of the other showbiz gossip mags. I don’t use the gossip sites and I rarely read a newspaper, so usually something has to have made the BBC news (tv, radio or website) or be all over the internet before I notice it.

So yes, I know rapper Chris Brown beat singer Rihanna. From what I’ve read, he beat her very badly. And from what I’ve read, the internet is outraged that she took him back. The internet feels he hasn’t shown any/enough remorse and the internet is furious that they’re back together and apparently happy.

I shouldn’t have to say it, but I will, to make it clear – I abhor that he beat her. I abhor violence, including gender-based violence. He should not have done it and she is not to blame for it.

What I don’t understand is why the internet is so absolutely certain that he hasn’t shown remorse. I have no idea how remorseful he has been in private (or in public for that matter, I pay him so little attention). I have no idea how many times and in how many ways he has apologised to Rihanna. I have no idea whether or not he has attended anger management classes or any of the programmes that exist to help abusers stop abusing. I have no idea whether he is truly sorry and trying his very best to make sure it never happens again. And neither does the rest of the internet.

So stop telling Rihanna what to do. Stop telling her she’s an idiot. Stop criticising her for her choices (especially the people who criticise her for taking him back but never bother to criticise him for beating her). Stop thinking you know how to live her life better than she does. If she’s still being abused, she needs to know that she can tell people she trusts and get help without being judged and shamed for it, if and when she’s ready to do that, and thousands of media articles/blog posts/tweets/facebook pages telling her she’s a fool are not going to help her do that. She should not have to justify her choices. So those of you who like to sit behind your computers and call her names for going back to a violent man, get off your arse and do something that will actually help abused women. Go volunteer at a shelter. Post links to agencies that help women. Post links to agencies that help men to stop abusing. Lay off Rihanna.

As for Brown, if he has had or is still getting help to stop his violent behaviour, he has no obligation to tell the world. But it would be good if he did. If he stood up, said my behaviour was unacceptable and I have had help to change it, this is something all men who abuse women should do – well, wouldn’t that be wonderful?

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