Friday, March 9, 2012

Rihanna Needs to Do Something About the Men in Her Life

I have a new piece up at Clutch Magazine

Rihanna needs to do something about the men in her life.  First, we have Chris Brown, who I like to call the new-age Ike Turner, and now her father Ronald Fenty, who seems to think that the fat-shaming of his daughter is a key factor in her success.  Fenty’s recent interview with Heat Magazine may shed light on why Rihanna seems so willing to put up with abusive behaviour.

Our first role models are our parents; for those raised in a two-parent heterosexual household, that means mothers and fathers.  There is a constant social emphasis on how boys need their fathers to teach them how to be men, but girls also need their fathers to model what a good man is and how they should demand to be treated by their partners (should they happen to be straight, of course).  Speaking on the role that her absentee father played in her life, Halle Berry once stated, “If I had a good father in my life growing up, then I do not think I would have made the mistakes I made. I would not have been lost in love.”

For many women, our fathers serve as our primary model of masculinity and those of us who choose to partner with men often notice that our spouses share very significant qualities and character traits with our fathers.  From the time that I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted a man to treat me the way that my father treats my mother.  I knew that settling for less would not make me happy.  However, Rihanna’s father doesn’t seem to take the intimate partner violence his daughter endured very seriously.  According to The New York Post, Fenty said, “Chris is a nice guy and everybody’s entitled to make mistakes in their life. God knows how many I’ve made.”

As if those remarks were not vile enough, he went on to discuss her weight.  “I actually thought she was a little fat the last time I saw her,” he said. “When I saw her at this year’s Grammys, I thought she was back to her normal size.  I used to joke with her, ‘Robyn, you’re getting too fat.’  But I think she’s fine.  I think she looked excellent, as everyone saw, at the Grammys.  She’s dieting, she’s working out.”
A mistake is forgetting your girlfriends’ birthday, not beating her until she is covered in bruises. Abusers are charming people; they have to be in order to instill confidence on the part of their victims.  They build confidence, separate the victim from their support group, and systematically attack the victim’s self esteem to prepare them for the idea that they deserve to be beaten and abused.  To the outside world they appear to be charming and sweet, but in private they are violent, controlling and cruel.

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