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WHY GEM DOESN’T LOVE “LOVE THE WAY YOU LIE”

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!

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…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uelHwf8o7_U&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

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?

7 Comments

  1. Dave Jordan

    August 7, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    I haven’t seen the video, but I do think the song is catchy. And I sing it as well. I think the motive is to highlight domestic violence as being horrible, not to glorify it to the impressionable masses.

  2. Jean

    August 7, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    I have to agree with you GEM…everytime that song comes on the radio..my son starts to sing..and says
    ” Oh mom I love this song” I know he doesn’t understand the premise…but still…..not a good choice by Rhianna…

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  4. Rachel Pritchard

    August 7, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    I was friends and roommates with Frank (not real name) for 2 and a 1/2 years. I met him when I was 17 and we moved in a few months later when I turned 18. He never hit me but he was horribly abusive to me. He belittled me all the time, made me feel worthless, with held his love from me and so on. I didn’t know that I was being controlled and abused mentally and emotionally so when my friends and family would talk to me, I had no clue as to why they thought that way. I finally snapped one night when he embarrassed me in front of a friend (usually, he only acted that way when it was just the two of us, therefore I took it for it was only me. I could turn the other cheek adn pretend it didn’t happen) and I vowed that he would never do that to me, nor would I ever let anyone get themselves in a situation like that, either. He really changed how I viewed the world. I was living with him for vital getting-to-know-oneself years and it changed me in many ways.

    No matter the type of abuse, it’s never healthy. I hope to show people (yes, men too) that no one should ever make them feel horrible about themselves all the time. It’s not okay. I wish Rihanna continues to speak up about abuse so more people can stop being the victim.

  5. Shelly Spoeth

    August 9, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Rene:
    Thank you for taking this on and being honest about your experiences. After watching the video, I am honestly nauseous. As a mother, woman and board member for Men Stopping Violence, I am actually in shock that we still see videos such as this. Was it to increase awareness about the issue of violence, power and sex? Maybe, but the end take away unfortunately is quite destructive. I hope enough people speak up to make it clear that this type of behavior is never ok, especially when you “love” someone.

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  7. Val

    April 23, 2012 at 7:26 am

    I’m surprised how few people seem to get the point of the song and video. People living in abusive relationships often view the drama as somewhat glamorous, e.g., He/she really loves me. Look how sweet and apologetic he is after, etc. This video combines the mistaken tendency to confuse abuse with passion with the outcome of such a faulty worldview. I have worked and researched in this area, and academics have done a poor job of recognizing that there is something “sexy” about volatile relationships. We point out the ole power and control wheel and say women have no power in these cyclically abusive situations. What we have done a poor job of acknowledging is that romantic perception of the drama that the video captures so well, along with the reality of the most probable and horrific outcome. To be clear, I’m not saying these relationships are sexy, but we have to recognize that many of the people in them do in fact feel this way.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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