Years ago when Good Enough Mother was trying to transition from my middle class, relatively protected upbringing to the responsible and somewhat unpredictable world of adulthood, I dated a bad boy. I was 19 and he was 27. He was a hard body who smoked and cussed and in general seemed a bit dangerous in a crazy, sexy, cool kind of way. Maybe I was trying to rebel against my parents without going as far as, say Montana Fishburne.
Anyway, we had what could only be described as a combustible relationship. One night while driving down the street, we got into our most serious argument. I have no idea what it was about except to say it was awful. I pulled over and ordered him out of the car (I was driving) right there, miles away from his house. I don’t need to tell you he was pretty pissed and before I could pull off, he let loose a stream of expletives and kicked the side of my car with his steel-toed boots, so hard he put a dent in it!
As I drove home, I vowed never to see him again, worried that eventually that violence directed at the car would come full force at me. No sooner had I arrived home, the phone rang and there was Steve, soft, caring, repentant the way the cycle always went. Eventually our relationship ended and to be honest, I’m not even sure how or when. I think it just sort of petered out. Thank God.
So it is against that backdrop that I watched the new Rihanna/Eminem video Love the Way You Lie . It’s a catchy song, one that I am embarrassed to admit I sing along with in the car. But I’d never really stopped to listen to the lyrics in depth. But when you watch the video the message of the song and its domestic violence theme is really hammered home… check it out…
Now listening to the song, especially the explicit version, is troubling enough. But the video is absolutely cringe-worthy. I know it’s art and expression and all that but given the fact that a woman is battered every 15 seconds in the U.S. and that three women EACH DAY die at the hands of a partner, is this really a song we should be singing along with?
And what of Rihanna’s role in it? We remember all too well that horrifying episode in which she was battered by her then boyfriend Chris Brown. She came clean, sat down with Diane Sawyer to talk about the incident and was even awarded Glamour’s Woman of the Year for her stance against domestic violence. Given that incident doesn’t it seem odd that Rihanna is singing a song with lyrics like “I like the way it hurts”?
We all know that TV is a powerful medium and whether children see the video there or online, the fact remains; our view of the world is shaped by what we see. Watching this couple consumed by lust one moment only to be blinded by rage the next sends the message that it’s okay to treat each other like that in relationships and/or that the line between love and hate is as thin as a razor. Maybe I’m completely misreading the video but as the mother of two children I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me uncomfortable.
After Steve, I never entered another relationship where I felt physically threatened again. Once was enough. And I make sure BOTH of my kids know physical violence has no place in relationships. I hope my word will be enough to counter what they see around them. But in a world where pop stars and actors (yes that’s Megan Fox in there) play domestic violence in glossy slow motion – I can’t help but worry…
But what’s your reaction to the Rihanna/Eminem video? Do you think it’s harmful – or will it help get kids talking about the subject matter? And have you ever been in a physical – or verbally – abusive relationship and what did you do about it?