Blogging for HONS 201: Feminism, New Media, and Health at Hunter College.
It would seem that partner violence as exemplified by Chris Brown and Rihanna is becoming a recurring theme on my blog (posts 1 & 2). I just wanted to write up a quick response to a piece from Jezebel sent to me by Professor Richardson.
It reports on Oprah’s interview with Rihanna, in which Rihanna tearfully recounts her relationship with Brown as well as her enduring love for him. Celebrity tabloids have reported that Brown and Rihanna have reunited, and Oprah responded, saying,
I think that if she is prepared to deal with that and is prepared to help him help himself then so be it. I have no judgment about it. That’s why I can sit there and have such a great time with her because I do all my interviews with no judgment whatsoever. If that’s how you choose to lead your life, that’s really okay.
Talking about domestic violence in general is tricky. Talking about victims of domestic violence is also tricky. Talking about it is even trickier when you’re a complete outsider, commenting on someone else’s life and decisions.
To be honest, I’m not sure how to feel about Rihanna taking back Chris Brown – but then again, does it matter how I feel about it? Rihanna is her own person, with the capability to make her own decisions – by judging her decisions, am I bringing under question her own personal agency? Am I positing that her life is public property on which I can project my own opinions?
Like I said, it’s tricky. The reason I do comment on Rihanna and Brown’s relationship is that the reactions that it’s spawned has done a lot to bring discussions of domestic violence, race, and celebrity to mainstream discourse.
While I do take issue with Oprah’s statement that she approaches all interviews judgement-free, I can’t really disagree with her main point: Rihanna, just like everyone else, is free to make her own personal choices. She can do what she thinks is best for her, and people should not judge her for it. And that’s something I can get on board with, I suppose, but with one catch: we should forgive, of course, but not forget. If Rihanna wants to take Brown back into her life and forgive him, she’s free to do so; but I hope she does it without forgetting or dismissing what happened in their past.