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March 6th, 2009
12:28 PM ET

Rihanna: Role model?

Amy Holmes | Bio
AC360° Contributor

The story of the talented, young singer getting beaten up by her boyfriend may not seem to have a political angle, but bear with me. It's not just tabloid fodder. It creates a real public dilemma.

I'll confess that I've been riveted by this story. One couldn't help be shocked by the news. A beautiful girl, on top of the world, getting beaten up by her equally charmed boyfriend. We know, intellectually, that material success, public adoration, and physical beauty don't have magic, innoculative powers. And yet, this story shattered the fairy tale dream that maybe they can.

On a news level, I also felt sympathy for this young woman's PR predicament. A personal catastrophe has become a public spectacle. She will now have to wear the badge of "Battered Woman" and all that implies: forever being asked about that night; being unwillingly thrust into the role of spokesperson for victims of domestic violence - all because her boyfriend is a vicious thug.

But today, we learn that Rihanna's lawyer told Chris Brown in court that she wants to wrap this up as quickly as he does.

Let's review the incident. Chris Brown allegedly slammed Rihanna's head against the car window, punched and bit her. Her blood is splattered all over the interior of the car. And she's taking him back. She may be in denial about the depth of anger in this young man. "He's not really like this. He loves me. He promises he'll change." Who knows.

It's understandable. Who wants to think that the person they love is a twisted abuser?

But here's where I get hung up. While it may be unfair that she has to bear the burden of being a role model for young girls in her personal conduct - jeesh - I can't help but think that she's setting a terrible example, and is setting back the decades long campaign against domestic violence. I hope moms around the country are telling their daughters that the talented young singer is making a very dangerous choice. Listen to her music if you wish, follow her example not at all.

Then again, is it really our business? She didn't choose for this to happen to her. And the personal isn't political. She's a performer, not a crusader.

Should Rihanna feel the burden of millions of young girls (and boys!) potentially taking relationship cues from this whole ugly mess? Will they? Or is the example of people much closer, moms and dads, what really counts - not these two teen idols. I'm genuinely ambivalent.

AC360 moms and dads: your thoughts?

soundoff (304 Responses)
  1. Alma

    An example of the emotional hold he has on her; she's exhibiting typical abuse syndrome behavior b/c he's probably exhibiting typical abuser nehavior – apologizing profusely and declaring his undying love. It's sad. Bastard should serve jail time for the assualt and her family and friends should get her into therapy so that she can assert herself and move on. I agree that she'll be the next Tina Turner or Whitney Houston if someone doesn't step in. She obviously is not seeing the assualt for what it is.

    March 6, 2009 at 8:25 pm |
  2. Jodee Bacon

    Please–put the issue with all of it's negativity back where it belongs-on Chris Brown, not the victim here. Instead of asking why she returns to the violent situation (and judging her for doing so) why not instead ask the more appropriate question....why does Chris Brown feel the need to viciously attack the woman he loves? Where does his distorted view of women emanate from?

    And finally, what do we do about preventing future generations from those same violent actions?

    March 6, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  3. Jenna

    i have stayed in an abusive relationship before. love is the most important thing to a female, even beyond her own needs. she has no idea what is at stake because love is blinding. i feel for her stupidity but its one of those things she has to learn on her own. its sad that we are getting so involved. she has already lost her self worth... with nothing left, with all those feelings unwraveling... she has lost sight of herself. which means only one thing... all she knows is being his girlfriend and loving him... she has lost sight of loving herself. abuse does that, this is definitely not the first time he's hit her.. and will not be the last. HAVE YOU ever wander maybe that she is already passed the hope we are giving her? she has been living a lot longer with this lie then we realize and this time its just been publicized... she doesnt know yet how to let go... i dont blame her for being young and lost.

    March 6, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  4. Antonia Ellis

    I agree that this young girl should not be held up to other young girls as an example. As an adolescent in the 70's I remember seeing teens get involved w/boyfriends who disrespected them. I told myself @ 14 that didn't want to know what that felt like. I dated someone @ 15 who was way too old for me, he grabbed my arm when I refused to walk into a pool hall (something respectable young ladies did not go into-I was raised). I never spoke to him again. At 17 I again dated someone too old for me at the time. He called me a B–ch because I didn't feel like jogging with him. Nip it in the bud before these guys become stalkers, or liabilities you'd find hard to get rid of, and you will not have to worry about developing bonds that make it hard to let go. Disrepect is a deal breaker, period! What in the world thinks things will get better??!!

    March 6, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
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