Rihanna is NOT responsible for Chris Brown’s violence

I genuinely don’t get why this is so difficult for people to understand but, apparently, there seems to be a huge swathe of people who are still confused by this issue. This weeks victim-blaming fucknugget is Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Now, I haven’t actually bothered to watch the episode in question but the constant commercials are really starting to piss me off. Yeah, I get that Law & Order: Special Victims Unit are pretending that it isn’t about Chris Brown’s violent assault of Rihanna. Clearly, they are working under the assumption that their audience is, in fact, stupid. But, that’s beside the point. The episode, at least as far as the commercial claims, involves a police officer telling the woman-who-is-not-Rihanna-but-is-a-famous-singer  that she MUST press charges against her famous rapper-boyfriend-who-is-not-Chris-Brown because she is a role model.

Yeah, I struggled not to toss the TV out the window the first time I heard that. Subsequent viewings have not improved my feelings.

This is a bullshit, victim-blaming argument. I don’t see anyone babbling on about Chris Brown not being a good role model because he violently assaulted the woman he is supposed to love.

Nope, it’s Rihanna who is the bad role model for having the temerity to be violently assaulted by the man who supposedly loves her.

Fuck that shit.

The only person who is responsible is Chris Brown.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit needs to get their head out of their arse and actually start making programs about domestic violence which hold the perpetrator responsible. 

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit needs to stop perpetuating damaging myths about domestic violence.

So, Feminists are doing it wrong. Again.


It’s another week so, obviously, we have yet another article in the media explaining how feminists are doing it ALL WRONG. This week’s rather unpleasant and spiteful article is by Sophie Wilkinson in the Guardian. Ostensibly this article is about the return of feminist magazine Spare Rib under the leadership of journalist Charlotte Raven. I say ostensibly because Wilkinson has used Spare Rib to take a swipe at pretty much any feminist who isn’t her.

I cannot emphasise enough my loathing of the “you aren’t doing feminism right” brigade. I’ve got a couple of basic rules for feminism: the most important is that we don’t replicate the hierarchical, hyper-masculinity of the Capitalist-Patriarchy and that we support one another. Basically, this means we shouldn’t act like bucketheads. Now, I get that I’m guilty of the “this isn’t feminism” argument but I only say that when women insist on belittling, denigrating and generally insulting other women. That simply is not feminism. 

Feminism is a political theory to liberate all women from the Capitalist-Patriarchy. We are not all on the same path or at the same point but we share a common goal. The feminism we practise is conditional on the practicalities of our personal lives: childcare, disabilities, family commitments and the basic need to pay the rent impact on the exact nature of our feminist activism. Some feminists are online warriors fighting misogyny and cultural femicide, others have public platforms and even more are involved in grassroots, on the streets feminist activism. The thing is: none of these is more important than the other. We need The Bristol Women’s Literature Festival as much as we need Rape Crisis centres, the welfare state and the Fawcett Society.

Feminism is more than one magazine; it is more than one woman’s voice. Feminism has long been criticised for reflecting only a white, middle, class heterosexual construction of the world. This isn’t necessarily an accurate reflection of the Grassroots activism of feminists, although it is certainly true for feminists with a public platform. The Internet has given more feminists a voice. Blogs, Facebook and Twitter have become sites of a resurgence of feminist activism. And, yes, we don’t all agree with one another. We all have different ideas of what is the most important thing to be campaigning about. The point is that we are sharing our ideas, our thoughts and our campaigns in ways that simply weren’t possible 20 years ago. This may give rise to more areas of conflict but no movement should be without critical engagement.

What we should be doing is debating in constructive manners without resorting to personal insults or joining the MREs to silence women we disagree with. We should be using the opportunities the Internet gives us to share our stories and listen to our sisters. We should be learning from one another to improve grassroots activism. But, Wilkinson isn’t doing that. She’s just taken a new opportunity to belittle other women for not being a good enough feminist. Ironically, she’s done exactly what she’s complaining other feminists do: belittle without cause. 

Here’s the thing: the new Spare Rib could be complete and unrelenting twaddle. It could also be brilliant. How about we wait until it’s at least published something before we hit the barricades making snarky comments and trashing our sisters. 

Well, except about the whole George Galloway/ Ron Liddle thing. That’s just creepy.

The Dangerous Tales of MREs and Their Allies

This blogpost is cross-posted from Sisterhood is Powerful and is written by Ruby Fruit who is one of the organisers of RadFem2013.

I don’t think it matters what you’re individual stance on radical feminism is, surely all women should be extremely worried that MREs are causing such extreme harassment that they can get a  venue to cancel a feminist event. If the MREs are dictating policy, are any feminist events safe?

And, frankly, if you’re one of the “feminists” who thinks that the MRE harassment of radfems is a “good” thing, you need to reexamine your feminist principles because silencing women is not a feminist  stance.

The Dangerous Tales of MREs and Their Allies


* MRE = Male rights extremists.

This post is intended to shed light on all that has happened, so far, to radfem2013. What has happened should be important to those on the radical left and all feminists everywhere – but thanks to alliances made between trans/queers with MRE‘s, it’s very difficult for us to be heard in the public domain without the distortions flooding our truths and drowning them out.

There is a reason why, whenever I go to refer to anti-RF blog posts, the sticky “L” on my keyboard leads me to write “bog”. That is far more apt. Bogs which are full of misleading lies, distortions, inaccurate interpretations of what radical feminism, as a movement, is, including a continual misapplication of the law in order to attempt to censor our beliefs. Bogs which pull you down more and more into the mud of obfuscation and red herrings so that the political significance and/or consequences of the MRE ‘s (Male Rights Extremists) actions are lost

DISPELLING MYTHS ABOUT RADFEM2013

I want to dispel some myths floating about right now in the social media about radfem2013 and very clearly lay them out as, it seems, that some trans/queer activists and their allies are missing both the facts and the wider implications about what has happened, so far, in relation to radfem2013.

Stavvers, a vocal anti-radical feminist blogger, did a bog post which was re-tweeted (so far) 59 times. I haven’t checked to see how many men that includes but I am sure we can assume that extremist right wing men are among them – despite her rather weak attempts to paint some distance between her political position and MREs. Her jubilant support of yet another venue folding under pressure in relation to a radfem conference booking hinges completely on her mistaken belief that radfem2013 has been rejected by London Irish Centre/the company with whom the booking is with -Off-To-Work – on the grounds of “hate speech”

I can categorically assure her that this is absolutely false. The real reason (detailed below) is due to MRE intimidation of the venue and its staff. I would also encourage her, and anyone else, to look at our conference website and see we are completely transparent with what we’re about. We wish to discuss male violence, and gender, within an international context. We want to provide a creative, supportive space for women. We support the rights of autonomous disadvantaged groups to meet. We claim a right to meet around specific issues relating to biology such as reproductive rights. None of this is unreasonable. It is far from the false accusation of “hate speech”. Our analysis of gender is not rooted in “hate”, it is rooted in the way in which gender has been structured under patriarchy to oppress women.

THE STAVVERS BOG AND ITS SMEARS

Stavvers starts her bog by tweeting “Please read and share why the #radfem2013 venue pulled out. There’s been a lot of myths spread”. The bitter irony of her last sentence not lost on me, I @rubyfruit2 attempted to explain to her that she was wrong. She merely repeated this rumour about hate speech and blocked me. That is how nonsensical the targeting of radical feminists has become. Someone in the know tries to explain rationally, and someone in complete ignorance shuts down any possibility of dialogue. You don’t have to agree with our politics, but the implications of stavvers’ words and behaviour, and that of her allies/friends, is that radical feminists are not allowed to critique gender, and the role it plays in oppressing women, without being targeted with hostility and hatred. In a dangerous reversal, she states: “To some women, the RadFem2013 conference organisers and speakers are a persistent and dangerous threat.” As one of the organisers, perhaps you’d like to tell me exactly how *I* am a threat to any other woman. That is a despicable statement and one straight out of a MRE handbook. I find this bog and its false claims based on a MRE smear campaign unacceptable and so should you, whoever you are.

MRE HARASSMENT OF VENUE

The real reason for the company’s concerns about the booking is confirmed by Off To Work, (the company which took the booking). In a facebook statement, it says the concerns are “about staff safety”. There were numerous incidents of intimidation, within less than a week, which targeted the centre, with the clear aim of putting so much pressure on the venue that it would capitulate and withdraw its commitment to honour the booking. It is no secret that the MREs claim responsibility for these acts. They say so on their website and boasted of their intentions to intimidate the venue until it caved in. In a post dated 15 April, MRA London stated, as a direct threat to the centre: “we will publically manacle you to their hateful ideology”(sic). Police reports made as a result of MRA intimidation are still under investigation. We’re not at liberty to reveal further details about the intimidation tactics which may make someone, who has inadvertently become caught up in this simply because they’re doing the wrong job at the wrong time, vulnerable. I have the utmost sympathy and compassion for the targeted staff and would, in all matters, wish to protect and support them.

Off to Work have put a statement on their Facebook page, which you can see here: https://www.facebook.com/offtowork/posts/10151561719698958 and there will be more to say at a later date either by the company or the organisers of radfem2013, but this statement makes clear that Off To Work confirms our version of events, rather than stavver’s:

“Our cancellation of the booking was a very difficult decision, but one that we have made to protect the safety of our venue staff……We wish Radfem a successful conference.”

MRE HARASSMENT OF RADFEMS

We too are targets for the MREs. Despite being a responsible and considerate organiser who has fought against social injustices all my life, I don’t doubt that I am already a target-in-waiting for the MREs. Threats have turned to us as organisers and to our attendees. There comes a time in our lives when it is right to openly speak truths. For me, that time has come. I will not stay silent when a group of thugs attempt to bully and harass their way into disrupting a peaceful, lawful conference to talk about the rights of women. They are bullying women who are already survivors of multiple abuse and who are living with trauma. That the irony of this is lost on those so blinkered by hatred towards radical feminists (and yet consider themselves champions of “intersectional” social injustices) resonates with me

There are examples all across the net of how feminists and radical feminists are targeted by this male extremist group. They offered a reward of one thousand dollars to find out the real name of a woman and, once they got it, they “doxxed” her. They showed a video of another woman and harassed her with death threats and other nasty tactics so badly that she disappeared. There is story after story on their website about how these thugs consider themselves “victims” of a feminist conspiracy of power and how (radical) feminists are out to destroy the male class through “mass genocide“. The reality and truths of women’s lives is twisted to paint men as victims and feminism as a dominant force in society

MALESTREAM PRESS DISTORTIONS

In her bog post, Stavvers relies on a quote in an article in The Sunday Times to make her argument about why radical feminists are not the innocent victims of an MRE intimidation campaign. We are currently investigating with Off To Work and London Irish centre how such a false and misleading quote came into the public domain because no one is claiming responsibility for it. So far, we’ve drawn a blank as to how it happened and have launched a series of formal press complaints about the article. It should be clear from the Off To Work statement that concerns about “hate speech” did not lead to their decision. The following statement; “We have made this difficult decision based entirely on our available infrastructure and the wellbeing of our staff […] without pressure from any group concerned with the subject matter of the conference”. In other words, accusations of “hate speech”, breaches of equality and diversity policies, or legislation, were not part of the decision-making process. I draw you back to this: The venue has made the decision “to protect the safety of our venue staff“. There is also a failure to protect a vulnerable group who have made a booking transparently and in good faith. The way the Sunday Times article is written with a first paragraph stating that there were complaints that some involved with radfem2013 “advocate violence against men”, when there’s absolutely no evidence of any such thing, suggests that MREs are working behind the scenes somewhere and it was a put up job to shit-stir, using a malestream media, to create problems for the venue and organisers and mask the truth about bully boy tactics.

COLLABORATION BETWEEN TRANS/QUEER/ALLIES AND MRES

As I watch the tweets and the bog posts mushrooming, both this year, and last, I observe collaboration between those who are uncritical about gender and MREs and similarities in approach between the 2. Here are some of them:

* Presenting the political views of radfems in an inaccurate, unfair and ludicrous light

* Once they have established the false presentation of what radical feminism is, arguing with that false presentation as if it’s fact

* Singling out individual women who call themselves radical feminist and claiming that they represent radical feminism or all radical feminist views (In fact, the movement is diverse and many claim to be radical feminist but, of course, as a movement for social change, we’d wish to discuss those differences internally)

* Shutting down debate, or opposing presentations of radical feminism, by calling an individual names (e.g. “bigot” in the case of queer allies and “man-hater” in the case of MREs)

* Using a range of intimidation tactics to prevent us from meeting such as writing emotive but untrue emails to anyone who‘ll listen, doxxing, claiming they know that what we do is unlawful or contravenes policies etc

In an incredible reversal relating to just who is aligning themselves with MRES, stavvers’ bog states: I hope RadFem2013 giving MRAs the credit for something they didn’t do isn’t the beginning of an alliance forming. Allying with those who seek to intimidate you. Yes, that makes sense.

WIDER POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS 


In my view, cancelling the booking is the wrong way of “protecting venue staff”. There are numerous ways staff could be protected but cancelling a booking for a group of women who’ve done nothing wrong sends out a very dangerous message. It says bully boy tactics get you somewhere. It has long term implications for feminism, radical feminism, and the ability of “neutral” venues to freely provide a platform for events about social injustice without fear for their own safety. Did your mum give you the same advice mine gave me when I was at risk of attack from school bullies? She said “Fight back, if you shrink away, they will do it all the more until they get what they want”. And so I did and they backed off. Businesses have a responsibility to cater for, and protect, vulnerable groups and, despite the unacceptable pressure brought to bear, that is a reasonable expectation, particularly, as everything was thoroughly discussed beforehand.

That a venue is being bullied out of offering a booking, that radfems are in fear their real life details will be revealed and “doxxed” leading to death threats, should be of grave concern for those for whom radical change matters. Instead, stavvers and friends/allies focus on myths, lies, and distortions about radical feminism, even equating radical feminism, (concerned with the well-being of females), with MREs themselves. It would be hard to find two sets of agendas more opposed – but stavver’s attempt to align the politics is an example of how queers/allies have colluded with the MREs to mask the real threat in this story. And the real threat is that women coming together to politically organise, and anyone who supports them, have, and are, bombarded with terrorist tactics until something caves.

I know it’s such a cliché but I can’t get out of my head “First they came for the radical feminists but I was not a radical feminist…” Then they came for the socialist feminists and so on across the different strands of feminism until “And then they came for the non-political non-gender conforming people and there was no one left to speak for me”. You don’t have to like all radical feminists or the politics of radical feminism but what has happened, so far, with radfem2013 sets a dangerous precedent for all women, all feminists and all those involved in the struggle for radical social change. There’s a lot of myths flying about. Stavvers, do the radical left a favour and withdraw yours.

Andrea Dworkin’s Pornography: Men Possessing Women

Everyone’s got an opinion on Andrea Dworkin and it’s frequently one based in myth. I love Dworkin’s writing. I don’t always agree with her (and she’s sometime historically inaccurate) but she was an utterly brilliant polemicist. Her gift was amazing. She was a truly brilliant woman.

I’ve collated some quotes from the text here and here but the full text is available on the online Andrea Dworkin library.

Karen Boyle’s Everyday Pornography

Karen Boyle’s Everyday Pornography is an inter-disciplinary collection of 13 essays which are situated within the anti-pornography movement. Its focus is on the pornification of mainstream culture but also on the mainstream of pornography; that is to say the heterosexual male audience and the materials created specifically that audience. This is the praxis of the “everyday” of pornography and this is what makes Boyle’s book so powerful: it destroys the myth that porn is an isolated part of our culture that we can refrain from being exposed to. Karen Boyle’s personal contribution to the book “Porn Consumers’ public faces: Mainstream media, address and representation” demonstrates the ubiquity of porn within popular culture through films like American Pie, Showtime’s Porn: A Family Business and the extremely tedious program Friends. Sarah Neely examines how pornography and other parts of the commercial sex industry are reflected and constructed within the virtual online reality game Second Life. Meagan Tyler’s research focuses on how the porn industry defines itself. Tyler’s findings demonstrate that degradation, abuse, and violence are not only common in pornography but that the industry actively promotes it. Lisa Jean Moore and Juliana Weissbein’s is a fascinating study of the fetishisation of semen. 

The academic language of the text can make it easier to disassociate from the violence within. In many ways, Everyday Pornography is the perfect companion to Melinda Tankard Reist and Abigail Bray’s Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry. Big Porn Inc. written by a collection of activists and radical feminists. I had a more immediate visceral reactions to the violence committed during the making of pornography in the text Big Porn Inc. Everyday Pornography was easier to process despite the fact that it is equally distressing. 

Everyday Pornography is a necessary read. It is hard but we can not destroy the capitalist-patriarchy unless we understand just how just how it functions: Jennifer Johnson’s analysis of porn’s use social networking is essential to this understanding.

Ceri Fuller: Just Another Family Annihilator

Ceri Fuller is just another family annihilator

Ceri Fuller murdered his children.

Ceri Fuller murder Samuel, Rebecca and Charlotte. 

Ceri Fuller murdered his children because he was a violent, abusive man. 

This is the only reason Ceri Fuller murdered his children.

Contrary to the Guardian’s foray into misogynistic victim-blaming, Ruth Fuller is not responsible for the murder of her children.

Samuel, Rebecca and Charlotte were murdered by their father because a violent, abusive man.

Samuel was killed by one knife wound to his neck. Rebecca and Charlotte were stabbed repeatedly.

Samuel, Rebecca and Charlotte were murdered by the one man who was supposed to love and protect them.

Samuel, Rebecca and Charlotte died violently and afraid.

They died because their father wanted to punish their mother.

Samuel, Rebecca and Charlotte were murdered by a violent, abusive man.

There is no excuse for his crimes. 

Children are not possessions and we endanger millions of children everyday by perpetuating this lie. It excuses male violence. 

We need to stop making excuses for violent men.

We need to start protecting our children from violent men.

Samuel, Rebecca and Charlotte deserve better than this.

Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industy


Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry, edited by Melinda Tankard Reist and Abigail Bray, is a collection of articles from radical feminists, activists, and academics who all believe that pornography is not about “pleasure, self-empowerment and freedom of choice”; rather that  pornography represents the systemic subjugation of women as a sex class.  Therefore pornography is not about sex, it is a form of violence against women. I am an anti-porn, anti-sex industry feminist so it’s fairly clear that I agree with the basic premise of this book.

I wasn’t prepared for what I read. I had already read Gail Dines’ Pornland and Robert Jensen’s Getting Off. I even attended the Challenging Porn Conference in London in 2011. I already knew the links between pornography and the pharmaceutical/ medical business. I knew how the pornography industry uses “free sites” to suck people into payed-for porn. I knew the violence perpetrated on women’s bodies. I knew how porn was predicated on racist constructions of the human body. I thought I understood just how mainstream violent and child pornography actually is. I had seen images I never wanted to see in the first place. I still wasn’t prepared for this book.

I wasn’t prepared for the soul-destroying mundanity of it all; of realising just well pornography is integrated into the capitalist economy; how horrifically common-place extreme violence is. I wasn’t prepared for just how normal porn involving children and teenagers is. I wasn’t prepared to read what men do to the bodies of women and children. I wasn’t prepared to realise just how many men hate women.

I have  storified some of the quotes I tweeted out over the weekend whilst I was reading hereAllecto from Liberation Collective has written an excellent review here. It includes a graphic description of child rape so please take care before opening this link.

Big Porn Inc is an incredibly powerful book and I’m going to recommend it to every single person who tries to convince that porn is just a laugh and women like being brutally assaulted.

Cultural Femicide on a Sunday Morning

Sunday’s TV guide: 66 males and 18 females are named.
Reblogged from Tricialo

On Sunday after a morning lie-in I wandered downstairs, grabbed a cuppa and idly flicked through the channels on my TV. On every screen I flicked through, out of around 20 ‘favourites, there were only male faces, not one single woman or girl’s face showed up. It was all men talking to men, men talking about men, male actors acting out male dominated drama; there was Eddie, Nick, James, Jeremy, Simon, Frasier, Tony and on and on, on every channel. I went through them all again just to make sure; even the children’s channels were boy dominated. Some women showed up as I watched a little longer, but they weren’t onscreen when I’d first flicked through and in general women were either minor characters or absent. It wasn’t until around 10.30 that a woman fronted show turned up; something about food, with Lynda Bellingham.
People can come up with as many reasons as they like for explaining this, but I’d bet my life that no-one has ever yet flicked through all the channels on offer and seen only women’s faces. The words cultural femicide came into my head. Cultural Femicide is a term which was originally coined, (as far as I know), by Bidisha, to mean ‘the erasure of women in public life’.  This absence of women in mainstream culture, on our TV screens and radio, in theatres, movies, libraries and art galleries is hard to credit. It amazes me how little some people even seem to notice it, never mind care. The Women’s Room is one website set up to challenge this gendered cultural hegemony and provide a voice for women in media, yet even those few female voices we do hear tend to be the type that seeks male approval.

Back to Sunday; my five year old daughter was in the room with me and I considered the effect it might be having on her to repeatedly see men showing up as experts and authorities. I don’t let her have a lot of screen time, but as she grows older and wiser it’s increasingly difficult to monitor her intake and I’m not sure that it’s desirable to keep her in a protected bubble anyway. She asked me if she could have some screen time, but was bored by the boy dominated shows on offer. She seen the words Angelina Ballerina on the screen; a show we’d just missed, she’d recently seen an Angelina Ballerina book at a friend’s house and was curious about it so asked me to make sure that she could watch it when it was next on. We watched an episode together, on my laptop. As the theme tune began, my daughter commented, ‘It’s so pink. Why is everything always so pink?” The episode we watched concerned four mice, two ‘girl’ mice, (wearing pretty dresses), and two boy mice. It’s the only episode I’ve ever watched, (and ever hope to), and it actually centred on a ‘boy’ mouse called AJ. It was AJ’s birthday and the other mice were planning a surprise party for him. So, in what I imagined would be a show that was, if not ideal, at least girl centred, I watched as the two girls planned how to make a boy happy. As it ended I asked my daughter if she’d liked it. She answered that she would have liked it better if it had been about Angelina.

Later on I let my daughter watch a film; part of the Studio Ghibli series currently showing on Film Four. Studio Ghibli is a Japanese company, generally seen as being much more girl friendly than US studios such as Disney, and it’s played an important part in my daughter’s movie intake to date. There are some great Ghibli films, but as a canon it’s far from perfect, and yesterday, yet again, we watched as the girl in the story became a princess, a prospective bride and had to be rescued by male characters. The film was ‘The Cat Returns,’ in which a girl, Haru, rescues a cat from a near death collision with a lorry. Unfortunately the cat is a prince and Haru is now expected to become his cat princess. She is rescued by a team of male helpers; the heroic Baron, another male cat and a male raven. There is one female cat who tries to help her; Haru’s first comment upon meeting her is about how beautiful she is; a white cat with long eyelashes and a pink bow, not stereotyped at all then. The few other females in the movie are unsympathetic characters, such as the two cat maidservants who help Haru to dress and tell her how lucky she is because all the girl cats have crushes on the prince. Early on in the film, a delegation from the Land of Cats marches past Haru’s window and stops to talk with her. At this point my daughter piped up; “Are all of those cats boys?” Well spotted little one, best get used to it.

Online Misogyny, and An Inability to Understand The Practise of Feminism

I don’t know Helen Lewis. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve tweeted her. Yet, for the second time in as many weeks, I find myself once again defending Helen online. I don’t agree with everything Helen says, but frankly,  I don’t agree with myself 100% of the time. It would be utterly bizarre to agree with a complete stranger that well.

For all I know Helen could be a secret fan of Justin Beiber: worthy of ridicule most definitely. Nothing any woman does, including being Margaret Thatcher, is worth the misogynistic bullying which Helen receives online. I’ve said this before, but if you think its okay to call another woman “fucking scum”, you aren’t a feminist.

If you call another woman “a vicious rancid bitch”, you need to revue the basic tenets of feminism.

It is not feminism to use misogynistic language against other women.

It is not feminism to use threats of violence against other women.

It is not feminism to use abusive and bullying tactics against other women.

We may never all agree on what a real feminist looks like but they aren’t ever going to be women who treat other women the same way abusive and violent men treat women.

It is not feminist activism to stalk, harass, bully or intimidate other women online. If you can not speak to other women without resorting to abusive language, then you need to do a little bit of self-reflection. Or, take up yoga. Or, eat some donuts. Just something to deal with your anger issues because this isn’t normal behaviour for adults; never mind feminists.

The tweets below are from Helen Lewis’ tumbler account

image
2 HOURS AGO

 

Could We Please Leave Rihanna Alone? Or, at least, try to pretend we know something about Domestic Violenc

Yet another day. Yet another unpleasant, inaccurate, victim-blaming piece of twaddle written about singer Rihanna and her relationship with rapper Chris Brown who, in 2009, was convicted of assaulting Rihanna.

This time, it’s Sarah Tetteh in The Huffington Post not only minimising Chris Brown’s responsibility for his own violent actions but suggesting that Rihanna, and women like her, are partly responsible because they are attracted to “bad boys”. Frankly, Tetteh’s suggestion that “everybody likes a bit of a bad boy” speaks to her own experiences and socialisation within the Capitalist-Patriarchy rather than a truism for all women; no matter how much she would like to believe it. And, I’m sorry but since when is a man who doesn’t commit domestic violence a “drip”? Our culture may glorify male violence but that doesn’t mean we have to buy into the discourse that “real men” are violent men. Having tattoos and carrying guns does not mean women deserve to be assaulted by their intimate partners. Being a “real man” shouldn’t involve violence.

Tetteh needs to consult some actual research on domestic violence. Women’s Aid has conveniently written a list of basic FAQs about domestic violence that are short and easy to read. Nia have an equally well-written piece on the gendered nature of domestic violence. I’m sure Tetteh was aware that domestic violence costs the city of London £2.5 million a day or that the Center for Disease Control in the US estimates that the costs of domestic violence, intimate partner rape and stalking exceed more than $5.8 billion dollars a year. I’m sure Tetteh is also aware than approximately 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime and that 1 in 8 will experience it annually. 2 women a week are murdered by their current or former partners in the UK. If Tetteh is not aware of these facts, she could also try reading Lundy Bancroft’s Why Does he do that? Inside the Minds of Violent and Controlling Men or Dee Graham’s Loving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men’s Violence and Women’s Lives. Or, any piece of actual research into domestic violence as opposed to defining domestic violence based on an episode of Hollyoaks or Friends.

Interestingly, Tetteh only refers to 3 African-American couples when referencing “volatile couples” in the entertainment industry. What about Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson? Or, Sean Penn and Madonna? Or, Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller? Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards? Charlie Sheen and Brittany Ashland? In terms of violence against women, Charlie Sheen’s twenty year history of multiple convictions against numerous partners including the “accidental” shooting of Kelly Preston rarely gets a  mention. Edward Furlong has an equally long history of domestic violence against multiple partners and his name is never mentioned either. MVAW (male violence against women) is endemic in the entertainment industry and it isn’t just limited to African-American men; no matter how many people try to minimise the behaviour of white male celebrities.

No feminist ever would suggest that Rihanna “is being weak and a victim for going back to Brown”. Feminists are more than aware of what domestic violence actually is since they are the ones who campaigned and fought for refuges, criminalising rape in marriage and forcing police and prosecution services to take domestic violence seriously. Feminists understand trauma bonding; something Tetteh is clearly unaware of. Honestly, anyone who can make claim that feminists think victims of domestic violence are “weak” either knows nothing of feminism or is deliberately lying.

Rihanna is just a young woman trying to survive in the Capitalist-Patriarchy the best way she can. How about we save our ire for men and the political and cultural structures they created which glorify male violence?

How about we just stop blaming Rihanna for Chris Brown’s violence?