Rihanna Bringing Kink to the Mainstream?

Cross-Posted at Not Your Average Feminist

Rihanna’s newest video “S&M” is full of chains, collars, full figured dommes, and oh so much more. I don’t know about you, but I think this is a seriously risqué/freaking cool topic to set a music video around. Aside from allegations that she stole a lot of this imagery from the photographer Dave LaChapelle, I’ve got to admit, Rihanna has hutspa! So sit back and enjoy “S&M”

What are your reactions?

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  • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    Well, LaChapelle may be the first to explore similar Pepto-Bismol color schemes with this topic, but he’s not the first artist to explore BDSM themes. Robert Mapplethorpe, Eric Stanton, Charles Gatewood, Coum Transmission, Nan Goldin, Lydia Lunch, Bob Flanagan/Sherree Rose, Midori–and except for that last name, these are just Western artists! Rhianna’s certainly not the first to sing about it either (P.S. neither was Madonna). I thought BDSM had been somewhat mainstream since the 90’s? Maybe not people who actually play, but references in the common culture, sitcoms, movies and the like.
    I don’t know whether or not Rhianna actually plays but I will make an observation that there’s been a certain amount of co-option over the years–people who say they like this but don’t seem to get the physical sensation or psychology involved–they just see it as an excuse to parade around the club in an overpriced PVC outfit, and when BDSM is no longer deemed “edgy” in their eyes, they’ll move onto the next thing they believe they can purchase to make them look outre. This is not a critique of Rhianna, who I know very little about, just an observation of public perceptions of BDSM and co-option of it in general.

    • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      On a side note, why is it I can comment in the community, but things I’ve written over a week ago on the main board are still awaiting moderation? Have I unwittingly been deemed some sort of anti-feminist troll?

      • unequivocal

        The process for determining “trusted community responder” and “trusted main site responder” is handled by different admins. I’m in the same boat.

        I suspect that it has to do with the volume of the comments on the main site, but I don’t know for sure.

        The overwhelming majority of my comments have not made it through moderation on the main site (not, as far as I can tell, because there was anything objectionable in them, but simply because they seemed to fall through the cracks), though all of them have been okayed on the community site; I don’t know if this reflects a different standard between the sections or something else, but I will say that as much as I love feministing they have an ongoing problem with being able to effectively moderate and maintain the site. Tech support requests go unanswered, simple problems remain unresolved for months (or years) and moderation remains utterly hit or miss. I love the site, but to be honest, I spend a lot less time here than I used to because there is no real sense of community and the haphazard moderation makes it close to impossible to actually engage in conversation or discussion.

        I’m pretty much venting at nothing here, since if a mod actually responded to this comment or addressed these concerns, I’d probably have a heart attack from the shock.

  • http://feministing.com/members/blondeintokyo/ Heidi

    I agree with the above poster. Madonna did the same thing a few years ago with her song “Erotica”, and it really didn’t change anything for the BDSM community. We’re still regarded as freaks and weirdos, and a couple of starlets playing around in costumes won’t really change that. It’ll be a while before alternative lifestyles are really accepted for anything other than the “freak” factor.

  • http://feministing.com/members/dark_morgaine_le_fey/ dark_morgaine_le_fey

    I like this video. My only concern is that the people with press passes didn’t look consenting to me, and maybe that wasn’t the intention, but it sort of looks like they are uncomfortable or scared, and I wonder if this furthers the idea that practitioners of BDSM are sick menaces to society? Other thoughts on this? Aside from that, I can imagine people flipping out that children are going to see this, and God forbid we should actually have to not only talk to our kids about sex, but explain that there are different avenues from vanilla sex for consenting adults? The horror! Also, from a personal standpoint, when Rihanna kisses the woman through the duct tape over her mouth, it took me a few views when I first saw the video before I remembered that some people still find homosexuality taboo. Does anyone think it was done intentionally to infuriate that crowd, or are we just reaching a place in pop culture where we no longer pander to homophobic hysteria?

  • http://feministing.com/members/blondeintokyo/ Heidi

    People who find homosexuality taboo are likely to find BDSM taboo as well. Is that meant to be more shocking than the guy in rubber being walked on a leash, or the lyrics about getting excited about whips and chains? I can’t see anyone accepting the other imagery and then getting hysterical over a faux lesbian kiss.

    Honestly? I hate it when pop stars do this. It irritates me to see my lifestyle portrayed in a way that is completely unrealistic. She wears PINK costumes, switches back and forth between submissive and dominant, and the lyrics say “I’m so baaaad because I like a little rough sex…but don’t call me a slut, ’cause I’m really a GOOD girl.” IMHO, this is just more of the same old bullshit we see from the likes of Britney Spears.

    I’m all for art portraying alternative sexualities, and bringing us closer to them being accepted, but please goddess, not like this! It’s EMBARRASSING.