The other day, I saw this – “Ms. Magazine Criticized For Rihanna Birthday Tweet

Apparently Ms. magazine – yes, THE Ms. magazine – tweeted this “birthday wish” to Rihanna on February 20, 2013:

ms tweet

(pictured: tweet from Ms. captured here)

Twitter subsequently exploded, with people calling Ms. out for everything ranging from insensitivity regarding domestic violence to being backhanded birthday wisholes. Ms. hemmed and hawed and eventually removed the tweet (second round of EXPLOSION!!), then finally issued an apology. To my knowledge, Rihanna said nothing of any of this – hell, Ms. didn’t even tag her in the tweet… she may not have even seen it.

le sigh…

Here’s the thing: I love Rihanna. I think she’s a very interesting performer, and I think she handles her life under the global celebrity microscope in a very calculated “give no fkkks!!/how many fkkks do I give?” sort of way. She’s very unique.

So when this happened to her…


(pictured: Rihanna, 2009)

[fyi: Rihanna’s scheduled performance at the 2009 Grammys was cancelled. You see, the night before the awards, she got in an “altercation” with her boyfriend Chris Brown, who did the above to her face. Chris eventually pled guilty to the felony assault and got some probation time. As of this year’s Grammys, Rihanna and Chris are (apparently) back together]

…I, like many people in our modern new-media-saturated world, felt overwhelming worry and concern and sadness. My girl Rihanna was in danger and should really break up with that piece of shit Chris because he’s just so awful and disgusting and inexcusable and why the fkkk isn’t he behind barszldkgamvfwtkjhfd?!!

But I said nothing.

I wrote nothing, and I tweeted nothing. I had some private discussions about the incident; but publicly, I said nothing.

Because it felt strange.

I don’t know Rihanna. I don’t know her mind or her private life or her relationship. And for as much as I like her songs and think she’s graceful and pretty and interesting… and for as much as I know/”know” about cyclic patterns of domestic violence and abuse (and for as much as actual experts in this area observe these patterns in the Rihanna/Chris relationship from afar), I don’t know her. And I’m betting you don’t either.

None of us know what’s going on with Rihanna. Though I personally feel Rihanna should never be in the same room as Chris again and though I extra think the world should stop fawning over that piece of shit in any way, shape, or form, it still feels uncomfortable and judgey to weigh in on her (their? yikes!!) private life. It’s a nasty conundrum.

I think that’s why, until now, I never have – I’m too far on the outer limits of Rihanna’s circle (duh) for my thoughts and feelings to be of any use. Instead, I’m just another idiot weighing in on a stranger’s life – yes, a stranger’s very public public life that appears to be stuck in a vicious cycle, but a stranger’s life about which I technically know nothing all the same.

Which brings us to why I’m writing about this now – because that little tweet from Ms. really pissed me off!! Not only was Ms. passing judgement on another person, Ms. was passing judgement on a person who the vast majority of the feminist, activist, and general woman-awareness world is concerned for. From a place of (alleged) concern, Ms. chose to throw some judgey public shade.

What good does that do?

I guess the wider point I’m trying to make here is that just because you “see” a person/celebrity/etc (maybe a porn performer even, to tie it in to my sociological work) on TMZ et al, you don’t know what’s going on. Further, though I have no scientific or sociological basis for this observation, I feel that all this weighing in from afar may actually help to further dehumanize and extract autonomy from women who may be struggling with domestic violence – and who knows how they may then react in kind? Perhaps by singing catchy duets with their abuser..?

Regardless though of that not-technically-knowing thing, you can still be concerned. We can all still be concerned for Rihanna. But if you’re going to be concerned, you shouldn’t also be judgmental. Because then you just look like a Ms. asshole, which helps no one.

– fin –


(pictured: Rihanna, 2013 Grammy Awards)

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oh, and though I didn’t watch it, apparently there was a “joke” about domestic violence at this year’s Academy Awards –> here – keepin’ it classy, Hollywood!!

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Visit Chauntelle on Twitter at @DrChauntelle.

You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, Ph.D.”

One thought on “Ms. Rihanna – on celebrity and domestic violence

  • March 6, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Once again kudos to you on your very observant and accurate take on this latest incident. Domestic violence is all too prevalent in our society and making jokes or making light of her decisions as someone who had to deal with violence is insensitive, demeaning and out right slimy. I do hope that for her sake, things have changed.

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