Blogging for HONS 201: Feminism, New Media, and Health at Hunter College.
Chris Brown has a hard time staying out of the headlines. In 2005, he burst onto the music scene with his immensely successful debut album, Chris Brown. In 2007, his second album was released, and in 2008 was named Billboard’s Artist of the Year. At about 12:30am on February 8, 2009, he beat his girlfriend Rihanna so badly that her visual facial injuries required hospitalization.
Chris Brown’s assault of Rihanna is nothing new. I’m sure everyone’s exhausted of hearing about it; I know that I am. I’m tired of having to explain to people why Brown is despicable for his domestic violence. I’m tired of the idiocy of #teambreezy, Brown’s mostly teenage girl fans who refuse to think critically about his actions. I’m tired of watching him get award after award after assaulting his significant other. I’m extremely tired of having to look at Brown’s new neck tattoo of what appears to be a woman with a black eye (he claims it’s a Dia de Los Muertos sugar skull – but a) I don’t buy it, and b) hello, cultural appropriation!). But most of all, I think I may be most tired with the growing conversation about the growth and prevalence of domestic violence in hip-hop (read: Black) culture.
Chris Brown is not the first man to physically assault his significant other. He’s not even the first celebrity to physically assault his significant other. Sean Penn was married to Madonna for four years, and during that time, on separate occasions: tied her to a chair and beat her, hit her over the head with a baseball bat, threatened to hold her down and shave her head, and chased her out of their hotel room. He was charged with felony domestic assault, and pleaded misdemeanor. Penn has since been awarded two Academy Awards, and is viewed as a social activist and humanitarian.
A more recent example would be Charlie Sheen. In 1990, he “accidentally” shot his fiancée Kelly Preston. In 1997, Sheen’s girlfriend Brittany Ashland filed a lawsuit against him, stating that he slammed her by the hair on a marble floor, rendering her unconscious and in need of stitches. He also forced her to remove her bloody clothes and dispose of them – and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. He was charged with misdemeanor battery with serious injury. In 2006, one year after filing for divorce from Sheen, Denise Richards stated that during an argument Sheen had shoved her while she was holding their infant daughter. And in 2009, he was arrested on domestic violence charges for beating his third wife, Brooke Mueller; he plead guilty to the charges. And yet it was for none of those reasons he was fired from the (completely gross) TV show Two and a Half Men – he was fired for being publicly rude to his boss. And when people aren’t laughingly or ironically shouting “Winning!” or “Tiger Blood!” (because idiocy and being a dick are highly marketable these days) they’re shaking their heads at his drug use, not his extensive history of domestic violence.
And yet, domestic violence is a problem in the Black community? What we need to realize is that domestic violence is an issue that certainly transcends race – 1 in every 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. What we as a society and culture need to focus on is the domestic violence problem, period, and not the “black” domestic violence problem.