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To the dismay of many of her fans and the general public, singer Rihanna released a remix of her song “Birthday Cake” with ex-boyfriend and former abuser, Chris Brown. The release of her song stirred outrage from the media and the public, especially those on social networking websites. These new developments put into question whether or not Rihanna’s public actions in dealing with this situation are respectable.

Though none of us have any authority to decide what is right or wrong for their personal lives, the people’s opinion changed when Rihanna and Chris chose to make this a very public matter. It is one thing to apologize and forgive in the closure of your own home life; it’s another to release a song with lyrics sung by Chris Brown stating that he wants to “f***” her,” on Rihanna’s track. Nothing says I’m sorry for beating you like a the words “Want to give it to her in the worst way.”

Of course, Rihanna is entitled to accepting his apology and moving on with her life, in fact, I’m sure that’s the healthiest thing for her to do; however, her method was completely tasteless. Being caught by the paparazzi talking over dinner, an interview with the press, or a statement released by Rihanna are just a few ways that this situation could have been dealt with in a more appropriate manner.

Unfortunately, Rihanna chose to go about revealing her renewed friendship with Brown by collaborating with him on several music tracks. I understand that as performing artists, it is respectable for them to use their craft as a way to express their emotions; however, I don’t believe these remixes show any form of reflection or remorse for what happened three years ago.

Though the fact that the former couple was able to overcome their past and work together, maybe they should have made it clear that neither one of them condone domestic abuse before going straight into talking about rough sex in a song. Yes, they do reserve the right to say what they want to say on each of their songs, but these circumstances change everything.

When the public goes as far as calling in radio stations asking for the song to be taken off the radio, it puts into question whether or not it is okay to give the impression that assault is to be dealt with lightly.  According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by an intimate partner each year. I’m not sure that Rihanna or Chris know this statistic, but evidently they are okay with those women listening to their remixes on the radio. Rihanna was beat senseless by Chris in 2009; fast-forward three years and now they are singing about sex together. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe that it is okay show victims of domestic abuse, or anyone for that matter, that forgiving and forgetting is as easy as writing a few lines about sex saying “come and get it…kill it, tip it.” Although I’m sure Rihanna did a great deal of grieving and Chris spent some time lamenting what he did, they sure have a peculiar way of showing it.

In short, their public display of forgiveness was completely uncalled for. Although the pair are people just like the rest of us, and have issues just the same, the fact of the matter is that they are in the public eye, and their open decisions do make an impression on people. Once you’ve won a few Grammy’s and sold millions of records, your influence on the public changes. Their amount of fame does not give them the license to act as if this situation is trivial to them; in fact, it amplifies the severity of their actions. It is important that both parties realize that this is not another buzz-worthy collaboration, but rather an issue of awareness, an issue that plagues households with domestic abuse everywhere.

 

Sarah Menendez is a first-year political science major. She can be reached at smenende@uci.edu.

 

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