“Love the Way You Lie”: Raising awareness or same old shit?

The new Eminem/Rihanna music video, Love the Way You Lie, features actors Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan as a couple in an abusive relationship. It’s been touted as exposing the cycle of domestic violence, but I’m not so sure about that. The Feministing editors are going to weigh in on Monday in a group post, but in the meantime…what do you think?

Song lyrics available here.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/tashabunny/ natasha

    this is tricky.on the one hand the violence with the couple is disturbing and frightening as it should be, but somewhere i feel like the video takes a turn to just showing the mutual abuse as intense and seems to be giving a romantic impression. it could be trying to show how confusing these relationships can be even when you know you should leave. but the last image of the video showing them in bed cuddling looks sweet and i think that can be the last impression it leaves, that abuse is love and that is a big problem, whether it was the intention or not.

  • Kaleigh

    I’m so looking forward to hearing the feministing editors discuss this. I’ve been struggling myself with what kind of message the video is sending plus with the added layer of it being Rihanna singing those lyrics “but it’s okay because I like the way it hurts.”

    On one hand I do see how it exemplifies the cycle of violence. However, there’s also an emphasis on mutual abuse. Some of the Eminem lyrics: “But your temper’s just as bad as mine…” Although the video shows how violent and scary abuse is, it also makes it look sexy and romantic at times too.

    I think all in all it sends a very confusing message and I always try to remember that people in the mainstream are not listening/viewing with a critical prespective, they’re just taking it at face value: “I like the way it hurts… I love the way you lie…” It seems to me like it’s just teaching people that relationships are violent and that they hurt but that’s okay if you love someone. It makes me nervous what young men and women will take away from it.

    • http://www.sarahingram.co.uk Sarah

      Obviously I agree with Kaleigh – imagine the girls singing along, ‘but that’s alright because I like the way you lie…’ it’s alarming

    • Terra

      Yup, it’s the “same old shit”. This video is neither realistic nor does it go deep into the issue of domestic violence. I’m hoping young people will see it that way — as surface treatment.

      The good news is it may open doors in the mainstream for domestic abuse dialog. Because it’s done by someone who’s in their radar [Rhianna -- not so sure about Eminem these days] they’ll have something to say about it.

  • Lucy

    I heard this song on the radio prior to watching the video. As it was Eminem, I was skeptical what agenda he was trying to fulfill. The video is dangerously deceptive concerning abusive relationship. The remorse and “romantic” apologies only occur after one or both parties have been abused (physically or mentally). The words to the song,, on the other hand, I think do a fairly good description of what it is like to be in an abusive relationship. Rhiana’s lyrics, “I love the way you lie” and “I love the way it hurts” express the way I felt for 15 years before I found the strength to walk away. Every time, I wanted to believe the lies so desperately and after a time, the hurt was “normal.”

    Given the audience the song is marketed to teens and college students I fear it will give the wrong impression to many young people. I support the need to express one’s self creatively but I think this song is much too confusing to be touted as “exposing domestic violence” and it is not a love song.

  • Kelly

    Mainstream musicians Rihanna & Eminem destroyed an opportunity to empower women with their “Love the Way You Lie” lyrics/music video. Instead of lyrics and a music video exemplifying women who walk away, Rihanna and Eminem chose disempowering lyrics such as “that’s alright because I like the way it hurts” and a music video that employs romanticized and hypersexualized displays of domestic abuse. How sad it will be to hear young girls singing along with Rihanna “that’s alright because I like the way it hurts”…

  • http://feministing.com/members/pothus/ Pothus

    I do think it’s a disturbing song. I also think it’s quite beautiful.

    I think we ought to give listeners credit: that we will not choose to live by this song. Just like the Columbine kids didn’t do what they did because of Marilyn Manson.

    As far as the message goes, too, the song by itself is less ambiguous than the video, and makes it pretty clear that the abusive relationship in the song ends with murder.

  • poliscifeminist

    The part that bothers me most is in the last verse:

    “If she ever tries to fucking leave again
    I’mma tie her to the bed
    And set the house on fire”

    Yeah, that’s absolutely terrifying. Because leaving an abusive relationship is that dangerous. This song does nothing to expose the cycle of violence. It glamorizes it.

  • christine

    i think we shouldn’t forget that this is eminem and that he’s probably laughing and congratulating himself on the debate he’s ignited.we forgive em so easily that he has the guts to do this.he’s just selling records,end of…

  • Jenny

    This video sends a rather odd message. What I take away from this video… is some form of S&M. They look like they actually, dare I say it, enjoy this …. they derive an intense sexual pleasure from being abusive towards each other, though in the beginning it’s her hitting him and him trying to retrain himself from hitting her… very violent and aggressive foreplay it seems because they do have sex afterwards. The whole fight at the bar is another red flag for S&M… she probably intentionally flirted with this man so her boyfriend would come over and hit him… almost like they planned it out. Because, again, this is what gets them off. I do know couples that like to do this. Perhaps this video is showcasing a very fine line between S&M and domestic violence… because by the video’s end, it does become clear that the pleasure, if there really was any, is gone.

    If they are trying to raise awareness for domestic abuse then I think they failed. It glorifies it more than anything, it’s displayed in a rather forgiving nature… and that’s disturbing… especially given Rihanna’s history.

  • Tati

    The video sends the message that violence can be romantic and passionate. It does not raise awareness. It’s rather unimpressive, and honestly, I feel like it’s just another excuse to see Megan Fox parading around with some cute shirtless guy.

  • Melissa

    I couldn’t even finish it. I’m dealing with ptsd and I can’t read or watch certain things (like family guy). So I guess I can’t really weigh in since I didn’t watch the whole thing but I figure the fact that I couldn’t finish it says something.

  • http://feministing.com/members/april/ April Streich

    Wow. I had VERY mixed feelings about the song, and while I thought that maybe it was valuable to hear his perspective, I mostly thought that it was terrible, and the fact that it was so popular was disturbing. After seeing the video, though, and reading you describe it as exposing the cycle of violence, I’m starting to see that, and the value in it, much more.

    I’ve been wondering when the feminist blogosphere was going to ponder this one, and considered doing it myself soon; I look forward to the upcoming post.

  • Audre_bell

    I was greatly disturbed by this music video. If anything, it only glorifies and sexualizes domestic violence and abuse. While the video may point out the cycle of domestic violence, it doesn’t send out the message that this is not a healthy relationship. I am surprised to see that Rihanna who has publicly dealt with an abusive relationship, is not more careful about the message she is presenting about intimate partner violence. It also puts forth the notion that people stay in unhealthy relationships because they enjoy it, which as we all know is not the complete story. Yes, this is just a song and a music video, but it is also a very popular song right now and millions of people, young people at that, are going to watch this video. I work at a summer camp with middle school students and when this song comes on, they all sing along. I think it sends out a terrible message and if Eminem really wanted to present a more accurate portrayal of domestic violence, his video would be much different.

  • http://veggielezzyfemmie.tumblr.com/ Liz

    Megan Fox donated her entire salary from the “Love the Way You Lie” video to Sojourn House, a charity for battered and abused women. So that’s pretty awesome.

  • Kate B.

    I agree with Kaleigh.

    I finally got around to hearing the song and watching the video last night, and all I could think throughout it and afterwards is that not only does it romanticize domestic violence, but essentially presents it as something normal and acceptable to be happening in a heterosexual coupling.

    I can’t help but feel like this is a continuation of celebrity endorsement and excusing of violent and abusive relationships that came out of the ugly woodwork when so many stars defended Chris Brown’s severe assault on Rihanna, only this being done by Rihanna herself in this case. While the song could have commented on similar subject matter without glorifying it, the collaboration (with Eminem no less, who has made a career out of lyrics that detail fantasies of brutally harming and murdering his ex-wife and mother of his child) produces a message that anger and violence is passion, and passion therefore must equal sexy and primal and therefore perhaps even ‘natural’.

    Really, I don’t care how its been packaged or how well constructed musically this song is, it’s wielding a very precarious message that packs culturally dangerous heat (none of this heat coming from the horrifically corny CG flames in the video! Harrr).

  • http://feministing.com/members/suntzu1984/ Matt

    Not sure if the reference is intentional, but with the image of the burning house, does anyone feel like it’s a nod to Martina McBride’s “Independence Day,” also about domestic violence?

  • Margaret McManus

    I agree with the above comment. I think it could potentially raise awareness with the focus on mutual abuse. That was what I was most surprised by. The media usually portrays abusive relationships with “the abuser” and “the abused,” rather than acknowledging that abuse can be mutual.

    • http://feministing.com/members/feministcowgirl/ Barbara Bessette

      I agree!

  • http://www.sarahingram.co.uk Sarah

    This has been playing over and over on Radio 1 in the UK and it’s been on in my new job at work. I didn’t know it was Rihanna, it just sounded like the standard female-vocalist-on-a-rap-song singing words put into her mouth. Women like being hurt, women like being lied to.

    If a secret desire to be hurt and abused is within some of us, then this would be acceptable as a raw, confessional lyric from a woman, but there’s something about it that doesn’t sit right. It’s a terrible pop song and Eminem’s attempts at depth are always going to fall short (‘I guess that’s why they call it WINDOW-PAIN’) I don’t know how much input Rihanna had into it, but it feels like a 2-dimensional woman.

    The video is complete fiction. I think the key scene is right at the beginning when the woman is holding fire in her hands, ‘playing with fire’, because she ‘likes the way it hurts’, she likes to be abused. Her character is portrayed as reckless and thrill-seeking, passionate and angry. Most of the scenes seem more like play-fighting, and mutual. It seems that the first fight is started by the woman, prompting the man to pin her down to stop her fighting him. It is not a story about any typical abusive relationship at all.
    And of course the guy is full of pain… Love MAKES him do this. She MAKES him do this. Yeah, really groundbreaking.
    It’s a clumsy attempt to ride on the back of the news stories about Rihanna with nothing new or interesting to say.

  • http://feministing.com/members/feministcowgirl/ Barbara Bessette

    I could probably write an entire blog on this video/song. For some I understand that they think its the “same old shit” and I for sure understand the mixed signals of it. But my own personal experience has actually led me to feel like this video and song actually raise awareness. I also realize that not everyone has the same experience or opinions as me. To me this song represented my past abusive relationship of 6 years. Our fighting was almost like foreplay, we both would almost get off on the fighting. I also understand the lyrics Rihanna sings, because I loved the way he lied to me about everything, because I knew he would change. I also loved the way it hurt, it was the only way I felt loved. To me this song was almost written about my past relationship. I confused passion with violence. But I also fought back with him. This roller coaster relationship was all I knew. I thought love was supposed to be like that. I feel that in media there is nothing that connected with how I felt. That we would have mutual abuse and how I liked the feeling of fighting and honeymoon phase. I also think that this is brining discussion to the DV topic. But I do value everyone’s opinions and I think everyone makes valid points. But it was very powerful to me. It was hard to watch and listen to, but it was also like healing. I am in a great relationship now and it reminds me how lucky I am and how far we have yet to go.

  • Nicole

    This video romanticizes an abusive relationship. I honestly think it might do more harm than good – if you’re going to raise the issue of domestic violence/partner abuse, address it responsibly.

    While I think the lyrics are supposed to be from the obviously unstable point of view of someone IN an abusive relationship, I think that coupled with the romantic or passionate imagery in the video glamorizes the situation and doesn’t send a clear message. It glorifies the cyclical nature of violence and that’s not very productive as far as prevention/awareness goes.

    Also, this lyric: “If she ever tries to fucking leave again/I’mma tie her to the bed/And set the house on fire”


  • Melissa

    I was in abusive relationship for several years when i was 15 (today I am 44) He punched me so hard in my face i needed 15 stitches across my check. I think a lot of the people who hear this song do not understand how the cycle of abuse is…. maybe when i was a teen this song would be glamorizing violence, but today I really appreciate the song. The words completely explain how the relationship between an abuser and the abused is so tangled up and complicated. On one hand you hate the person but then somewhere you have this sick love. In no way is there any S and M….. After the years pass, you as the abused begin to strike back and it is true you both are clawing at each other.

    I think Rhiana’s words,” I love the way you lie,” are more explanatory, this must be how one feels if they are continuing in the relationship… you know he is lying but you must love the lies if you are still committed.

    We must walk in ones shoes before we can totally and truely feel how the other person feels. both Rhiana and Eminem have been in abusive relationships and know what it feels like, what is means to live in such tragedy.