I don’t actually care all that much about the singer Chris Brown. Seriously, he’s just a famous singer. What I do care about is violence against women and victim blaming. And that’s unfortunately why Chris Brown sometimes becomes the topic of my writing and conversations.
A story yesterday on NPR addressed the fact that Chris Brown had his biggest year ever. Essentially, his career has rebounded completely from the day he decided to beat up his girlfriend pop singer Rihanna and leave her unconscious on the side of the road. He’s selling a lot of albums, great from him.
What’s disturbing however is the reasons his young (mostly female) fans state when they explain why after Chris Brown beat Rihanna’s face to a bloody pulp, they still remain fans, they say it’s because they blamed her for what happened.
NPR interviewed fans outside one of Brown’s concerts recently and their comments are unsettling although not unsurprising:
Just after he beat Rihanna in 2009, the Boston Public Health Commission’s Start Strong Initiative polled teens in Boston to see how they felt about the incident.“Close to 50 percent of the young people we surveyed thought that Rihanna was actually responsible for the incident,” says Casey Corcoran, the former director of Start Strong who led the poll. “They were blaming her.”
And more than two years later, they still are.
Outside of a Chris Brown concert in Baltimore this past fall, almost a dozen teens interviewed still held some troubling views about “the incident.”
“Obviously she played a part in getting beat, or whatever,” said 19-year-old Kristina Coleman. “However you want to put it.”
And she wasn’t alone in her opinion. Several other teenagers in the crowd outside 1st Mariner Arena made similar remarks, forgiving Brown and blaming Rihanna, but they were too young to be named or quoted in this story.
Two things make these young women’s views surprising. First, Brown has apologized for the incident, denouncing his behavior on national television and in a widely viewed YouTube video.
But outside of that Chris Brown concert, these things weren’t on fans’ minds. Alicia Robinson, 17, was among the fans who go beyond just forgiving Brown and blaming Rihanna.
“He’s kind of what we would like our boyfriends to model after, in a way,” Robinson said.
Corcoran says some of Brown’s current songs aren’t exactly role-model material.
“While he hasn’t been involved in any dating violence incidents since this one with Rihanna, he’s put out a number of songs that have really challenging lyrics,” Corcoran says. “He may have addressed his behaviors, but we have to question whether he’s really addressed his thoughts and beliefs that underlie those behaviors.”
Did anyone just read that line about, “he’s kind of what we would like our boyfriends to model after, in a way,” and want to go find this young teenage girl and try to fix her thinking somehow? I’ve written a lot about Chris Brown, who I see as a textbook batterer who is going through the cycle of domestic violence without going to counseling and hoping that record sales will cure his problem (Hopefully, he’s going to therapy sessions that we the public just don’t know about).
I’m still just as upset as the day I learned he beat up his girlfriend. Why? Because it’s a high profile incident that highlights just how far we still need to go in terms of teaching young people how to be in healthy romantic relationships in their teenage years.