Y’all really mad at Rhi Rhi for ridin’ with Chris Brown again? You think this sets a bad example for our girls, don’t you?
*sighs* Please, I beg of you, miss me with the opportunistic outrage on this one.
Why? I’ll tell you why.
Because Chris Brown is no different from any other dude who can’t handle life without fisticuffs. And because Rihanna is no different from any other grown ass woman entitled to make her own grown ass decisions – without regard to the fickle feelings of the public-at-large.
Instead of lambasting Rihanna about the choices she made for her own life, perhaps we could examine what would make a woman, in general, wanna cozy back up to a dude who mistakes her for a punching bag. This Chris Brown/Rihanna situation is indeed much bigger, much deeper, and much sadder than the two of them.
Last week on Twitter, the hashtag, #itsbiggerthantooshort, accompanied nearly every article, and every blog post responding to Too Short’s XXL column, where he offers to middle-school boys “fatherly advice” on “how to turn girls out.” Such counsels from Professor Pimp include: ”You push her up against the wall…you take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens.” Too Short is a 45-year-old man offering this advice to children who probably only met puberty, like, 20 minutes ago. They’re barely in high school. But this kind of thing starts early. And therein lies my point.
Nature versus nurture is always a relevant debate. In this case, in nature, we exist as men and women – undoubtedly different, but inherently equal. In nurture, through socialization, we learn our roles, and adjust our psychology to fit the narrative. In other words, we know that women are born with boundless potential, just like men. But at some point (usually early in the game), women are supposed to step aside and give way to the supremacy of maleness. And we’re supposed to do so benevolently, as our duty to mankind. Pardon me, or don’t. But fuck that, nonetheless.
Toure’s book, Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness, includes an excerpt from Cornel West which asserts that ”When you really get at the Black normative gaze, what you find is that oftentimes the white supremacy inside of Black minds is so deep that the white normative gaze and the Black normative gaze are not that different.” Substitute “Black” for female, substitute “white” for male, and substitute “white supremacy” for sexism and/or chauvinism. What you get is what I discussed in my Tyranny of the Majority post earlier this month – a flawed perspective that’s rooted in a narrative which privileges the people who’ve historically controlled it. You get a room full of men testifying before Congress about women’s reproductive rights; you get an old man telling little boys how to sexually assault little girls; you get Jane Smith cross-examining Jane Doe about what she did to John Doe to make him go upside her head.
I remember listening to the Russ Parr Morning Show shortly after the photos of Rihanna’s badly bruised face were released. It was both disturbing and disheartening to hear just how many women defended Chris Brown’s actions that night. ”I mean, you don’t know what happened; you don’t know what she said to him; I mean, real talk, women can bring that outta you…” were some of the responses. After Brown won the Grammy for Best R&B Album (what in the entire fuck was that about?!?!?!), it was equally disconcerting to see the number of tweets from women would gladly stand in line to be bitch-slapped by Chris Brown if it meant he’d show them some attention. The Huffington Post compiled some these tweets for our viewing displeasure: See ‘Chris Brown Can Beat Me’ tweets.
Howbout instead of outsourcing the dignity of our baby girls to celebrities, we take on that responsibility personally - as parents, family members, friends, mentors, community leaders, etc. There’s no reason that Rihanna’s decision to be with Chris Brown (either romantically or platonically) should matter so much to anyone who happens not to have a personal, vested interest in either Rihanna or Chris Brown.
But more importantly, why don’t we, as women, cease viewing ourselves through someone else’s normative gaze. Our perspectives, our power, and our interests are just as important and just as productive as our male counterparts’. We should be drilling this into our girls’ heads from day one that they, alone, are valuable; they don’t need men to validate them. And they damn sure don’t need men who express their emotions in jabs and uppercuts within infinity feet of their lives. Love, attention, and affection aren’t measured in testosterone-induced aggression; love, attention, and affection don’t produce bruises, black eyes, and busted lips.
I’m happy to say that after a sit down with the crazy-dope writer, Dream Hampton, Too Short apologized for his rant. And he cautions us against judging him incorrectly, insisting that though his music may continue to be filled with misogyny, “I still have morals.” I’m not so sure he really gets it, but whatever.
I urge women to take ownership of their power. Run for office; write books; speak up and speak out. Don’t let your story be written from a flawed perspective, by some guy (and, for sure, not all guys. But enough guys.) who sees you as a thing to be conquered. Tamed. Subdued. Or who views your femininity, generally, as a weakness.
Be responsible for your own happiness. Harness your power and live out the full bounty of your potential. Write your own story and don’t ever negotiate your self-respect or your intelligence, or your well-being for his (or anyone’s) attention.
**”For Girls.” was the first post I ever wrote; it goes about the same subject from a slightly different perspective. Check me out – it’s like you’re getting a two for one. :-)