Dear Rihanna

Pardon the intrusion in your personal affairs. I expect you are used to it, by now.

Your love life isn’t my business. In truth I didn’t care to know the details of your life at all until I heard about what Chris Brown did to you.

And I don’t know if my words will have any effect on you, but I feel like I have to say it. Not just for you, but for myself and for all the young women out there who are your fans, who enjoy the entertainment you have chosen to share with us.

I talk to young people about it. People who are more into you than I could ever be (not because I’m old, but because pop music is annoying).

The fellars say you beg for that please. They say you feel you too nice. That clearly you needed some perspective. 

This is not an unfamiliar point of view. I am not shocked by their statements. 

Some of the girls agree. They say you must have done something to deserve to get your face buss. I’ve seen pictures of your injuries. I’ve heard about the bite marks. The fact that you were so bruised you couldn’t go to the Grammies. 

And I wonder what you could possibly have done to warrant that kind of violence.

The scary thing is that we are so comfortable with violence that your fans can get over Chris Brown’s behaviour. They say, small ting. Everybody has to get licks some time.

This is a country where we make a lot of excuses for men’s violence against women. This is a country where little girls can be abducted, raped, killed and then you hear people call in to radio stations and condemn them for being too ‘fresh’.

This scares me, Rihanna. Especially since women like you are role models. The epitome of this bizarre construct called modern woman. You, the post feminist self-determined Barbie, who have money, a top career, men the world over who practically worship you and thighs to make the rest of us women die of jealousy. You who are all these things can’t possibly accept such behaviour from a man.

I fear that the news of your return to your abuser sets a bad precedent to all the Caribbean girls becoming women who admire you, your rise to fame, your spectacular claiming of Hollywood. You, a regular Bajan girl that could be any regular other girl from any regular other island.

I fear that this is incident was not the first. And that because of all the shame, scrutiny and publicity that it generated, the next time he punches you in the face, you’ll probably be a lot less willing to report it.

For your sake though, your fans will learn an important point. That it’s not just the women who are economically disadvantaged who get beaten up by the men who allegedly love them.

It’s not just women who are poor or unattractive or hard up for a man that get their faces bashed in for them, so that they can feel grateful that they have a man at all.

I am fortunate to say that I have no idea of the acute embarrassment and hurt you must feel.

I am fortunate to say that no man ever put God out of his thoughts to raise his hand to hit me. My fear is that I am part of a minority of women. That there are more women out there who have experienced some kind of physical abuse at the hands of someone who allegedly loves them.

A sister friend says too she went back to an abusive man. Because she loved him and hoped that love could conquer his anger.

We have this way of thinking that doesn’t always take reason into consideration, because we think we’re in love. We would rather take the occasional licks than lonely nights or trying to find someone else to love us.

And I look around at my other sister friends who are agonizing in relationships with men who either don’t deserve them or are still trying to figure out if they are men for real, and I wonder about love and power and sex and if we will ever figure out how to balance them all. 

If women like you can negotiate around and past the problem of abuse and add your voices and your strength and your ideas to women who don’t have the resources or the confidence in their own voices to break themselves out of cycles of violence.

In love and solidarity

3 thoughts on “Dear Rihanna

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Caribbean: Message for Rihanna

  2. Hey Tillah
    Glad you started putting some hard returns in the copy. It makes it much easier to read. Nice collection.
    Check my entries on Carnival at I’m also on Twitter.
    Nothing there about Rihanna though. I think you’ve spoken for all of us on that score.

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