on my way to work this morning, i heard about five (yes, FIVE!) different rihanna songs, all on different stations. and while it's no surprise to me, it's time to confess: i have a love/hate relationship with rihanna.
i love her music. not all of it, but definitely more than i care to admit. when one of her songs comes on, i find myself singing along, tapping my foot, and bopping my head--until i realize it's a rihanna song. then i quickly change the station, because i HATE what she represents.
there is no doubt that rihanna is a powerhouse. her voice is incredible, her beats are sick, and her songs are undeniably catchy. she has indeed earned her superstar status. she is a ROLE MODEL for young women everywhere, but the question is, should she be? is she really someone i, as a young woman, want to emulate? is she someone that we want pre-teens and teenagers to emulate? time and time again, i find my answer to be a resounding NO.
here's a list of reasons why i think we should question and even challenge rihanna--and anyone for that matter--in her position as a role model:
1. rihanna perpetuates the objectification of women as sexual objects. she's posed nude and nearly nude for magazines and other media. (i don't pretend that she is the only woman to do this. on the contrary, she is just one example of too many women who allow this to continue.) in one music video, she is practically masturbating on-screen. it's essentially soft porn! i get that women want to be empowered to feel sexy, and i fully support that, but attractiveness does not have to be a result of bearing it all for the world to see. case in point: MICHELLE OBAMA.
2. rihanna's romantic relationships are questionable. no, she didn't deserve to be abused by chris brown (no woman does), but she certainly provoked him. again, that does not excuse his behavior in any way--let me be very clear about that--but her behavior wasn't exactly innocent either. then they broke up and years later got back together. some may see this as a sign of forgiveness, but that's not necessarily true. i've forgiven people who have hurt me, but i don't necessarily allow them to saunter back into my life. sometimes it's necessary to keep people out of your life so they don't destroy it any further. that's a sign that you're taking care of yourself. considering the behavior she exhibits in her music videos, photos, and real life, i'm not sure rihanna is taking care of herself--physically, mentally, or spiritually. and that's the real concern.
3. rihanna employs adult themes that are in some instances provocative, but not necessarily in a good way. she, like many other "artists," sings about sex, drugs, and violence. often in photos and videos, she can be seen smoking (both cigarettes and illegal substances) or drinking. in one video, she insinuates that she murders a man who has sexually abused her. (evidence that perhaps she hasn't entirely forgiven chris brown, at least not at that point.) i can't and i won't apologize for failing to see why these are behaviors that empower women, because they aren't.
rihanna may be beautiful on the outside and have a talent that many of us desire, but her behavior and her image are downright despicable, which makes her ugly in my eyes. as i mentioned earlier, i realize that she is not the only celebrity who is a bad representation of what we should expect from women and girls. for me, however, she is one that stands out (and NOT in a good way). i have made a conscious decision to not support rihanna's career. this is why i turn the station when one of her songs comes on. this is why i will not buy her music or her merchandise. this is why i once warned a choreographer that i would fire him if he put a rihanna song in the music for my cheerleaders (they were middle schoolers). i feel strongly that rihanna is not someone i want myself or the young women in my life to emulate.
in one of her newer songs entitled "pour it up," rihanna sings: "who cares how you haters feel, i still got my money"
let me ask you this, rih-rih: how does it make you feel? it seems that your money isn't buying you the happiness you wanted, because you wouldn't have brought up the issue otherwise. so, honey, you can keep your money. because you'll never get mine.