I’m going to make this short and quick. And angry.
Every time you tell someone Rihanna deserves what she gets because [insert misogynistic and ignorant reason here], you are wrong.
Every time you tell someone, Rihanna is “publicly accepting her abuser–nothing more, nothing less” or “it’s so black and white,” you are wrong.
Every time you tell someone Rihanna should or should not have done whatever, whenever, wherever, and how dare she and (my favorite) how COULD she–Congratulations.
You’ve just silenced someone around you who is being abused.
And I’m not talking about Rihanna. This post isn’t about Rihanna.
This post is about the woman in the office next to you who says grace over her food. This post is about your personal trainer and his fantastic thighs. This post is about your best friend from college who you are meeting for drinks later. This post is about your professor. Or your student. Or the kid you babysit for.
This post is about your play cousin and your godchild and your niece.
This post is about your sister and your mother and the pastor’s wife.
Every time you do ANYTHING LESS THAN WALK WITH EMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING WITH HER, you’ve just let someone in your life know that everything that happens to them–abuse, rape, psychological warfare–it is all their fault. If they go back, they are to blame. If s/he hits them next time, they are to blame. If s/he kills them when they leave, they are to blame.
You’ve let them know that there is no reason for them to come to YOU for help, should they decide that this time is too much and it is time to go. Worse, you’ve let them know that even if they are leaving, they can’t come to you because you are no longer–if you ever were–a safe space. A space where they don’t have to deal with the recriminations, the guilt, the pressure and fear and anger that is swimming around them because the society we live in is COMPLETELY UNFORGIVING of survivors of abuse and is especially unforgiving of “sassy,” “spicy,” “ratchet” women of color (I mean, don’t we all deserve what we get?).
Because you’ve let your judgement, your agenda, your own internalized misogyny erase safety from the picture, you’ve let someone you love know that they will not be able to rely on you in THEIR time of need.
Everytime you decide that it is fun or funny or provocative to recirculate pictures of Rihanna’s beaten face, you’ve just closed yourself off as a resource to someone who needs you. Not because you aren’t willing to help. I’m sure you are. But your actions have now shown someone around you, SOMEONE YOU LOVE, that asking you for help is also asking for ridicule. And in a situation that is already frightening and dangerous, you’ve confirmed what they already feared was true–that no one will believe them, that they are crazy, that it is all their fault and their problem, and that there is no support out there for someone like them.
Every time you decide to judge Rihanna in the Saturday Morning sitcom binary of leave/success or stay/fail, you are LETTING SOMEONE IN YOUR LIFE KNOW THAT YOUR LOVE HAS CONDITIONS, THAT YOUR AID COMES WITH STIPULATIONS AND CRITERIA THEY NEED TO MEET BEFORE THEY CAN BE DEEMED WORTHY
If not Rihanna, who is worthy? Sad faced white women? Puppies? Chris Brown who “apologized?”
The funniest part of this? Three years ago, half of y’all couldn’t even be bothered. She deserved it then too, so I guess I should be surprised that she deserves it now.
But I am.
Because, again, this isn’t about Rihanna.
But someone in your life who thought they could rely on you is hearing you. And they just unpacked their bags. Because you just closed the door in their face.
Shame on you.
(This post is dedicated to my boo, @dopegirlfresh)