Three years ago, on February 8, 2009, R&B singers Rihanna and Chris Brown were set to take the stage and perform at the Grammy Music Awards. The couple had been dating publicly for about a year. However, that Sunday morning Brown severely beat Rihanna in a Los Angeles neighborhood. The injuries she sustained caused her to cancel her appearance at the awards show. Chris Brown turned himself in to the LAPD later that evening. Despite felony charges of making criminal threats and domestic violence, Brown was only sentenced to five years probation. He has yet to complete all of the conditions.
Following the attack, Chris Brown’s reputation plummeted; however, this didn’t last long. Since 2009, Chris Brown has refrained from attending any Grammy Music Award shows, despite being nominated. During a 2011 interview on Good Morning America, Brown was questioned about his abusive relationship with Rihanna by Robin Roberts. He diverted questions to the promotion of his new album and abstained from directly responding to the comments regarding his abuse. Following the interview, Chris Brown returned to his dressing room, destroyed it, broke a window, and ripped off his shirt. After being escorted out of the building by security, Brown was then arrested. It is obvious that Roberts’ questions regarding his abuse pushed some buttons. Brown’s damage to his dressing room as well as his inability to discuss his role as an abusive partner exemplifies the fact that he shows little remorse for his actions and still harbors abusive propensities.
At the 2012 Grammys, Chris Brown took the stage to perform and even won an award for Best R&B Album. Immediately following the Grammys on Sunday night, Buzz Feed posted “25 Extremely Upsetting Reactions To Chris Brown At The Grammys”. The list includes twenty-five tweets that were posted following Chris Brown’s appearance at the event. While all are extremely troubling, a few that stand out are:
2. “Everyone shut up about Chris brown being a woman beater…S*** he can beat me up all night if he wants”
4. “I’d let Chris Brown beat me up anytime ; ) #womanbeater”
12. “I don’t know why Rihanna complained. Chris Brown could beat me anytime he wanted to.”
19. “i wish chris brown would punch me”
24. “chris brown can punch me whenever he wants #love”
One of the writers wishes that Chris Brown would physically attack her. No one should wish violence upon themselves. Another writer tags “love” after stating that Chris Brown can punch her. It is important to understand that abuse does not belong in a healthy and loving relationship. Many of the Twitter responses urge society to let go of the fact that Chris Brown beat his girlfriend only three years ago. We shouldn’t. Many argue that his performance at the Grammys shows that Brown has redeemed himself and deserves to be forgiven. He doesn’t.
Chris Brown, his staff, and his fans think that it is time to move on. It isn’t. Domestic violence is a serious issue that affects far too many people. The fact that Chris Brown violently beat Rihanna, his now ex-partner, will always matter. We should not “forgive and forget” an individual who victimized his partner. No woman deserves to be told that the abuse she suffered is meaningless and can be easily pardoned. Society has downplayed domestic violence for far too long. Like the title of our blog shows, one in four women is affected by domestic violence in her lifetime. It is time for society to stand up for these women and show that their suffering at the hands of their abusers will not be tolerated and will not be forgotten as time passes.
We here at FVPC strongly believe that education is necessary to inform society about domestic violence and the effects it has on survivors. No one deserves to live a life of violence. No one should wish violence upon themselves, no matter the celebrity status of the hoped-for-perpetrator. Understanding what healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships look like is key. FVPC’s Start Strong program starts conversations with sixth and eighth grade students throughout the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School System on these topics. Talking about what different relationships look like allows individuals to know what comprises a healthy relationship and also recognize the warning signs of an unhealthy or abusive relationship so that they can hopefully seek help.
We hope that the students who we have encountered through Start Strong recognize the implications of glorifying Chris Brown despite his partner abuse. We hope that they can apply what they learn in our programs to their personal lives and seek healthy relationships. And lastly, we hope that the individuals featured on Buzz Feed’s list of tweets, as well as the rest of Chris Brown’s fans, think twice about their support and about the role that domestic violence plays in all of our lives.
Chris Brown has been a hot topic to discuss after his appearance at the Grammy Music Awards. Do you have an opinion about all of this? If you have access to social media, use it to let others know how you feel about Chris Brown’s glorification in the media and what this says about our society’s attitude about domestic violence, abusive partners, and survivors. Tweet about it, post it on your Facebook wall, or message a friend. Share your thoughts!