Rihanna going back to Chris Brown doesn’t make her a “bad girl”

The cover of RIhanna’s 2007 album, “Good Girl Gone Bad.”

I’ve noticed a theme emerging in the mainstream media of late.  Namely, the idea that singer Rihanna is a “bad girl.”  Yes, she has an album called, “A Good Girl Gone Bad,” and certainly is living the “rock star” lifestyle of late night partying  and traveling all over the world, but all too often these are not the types of things that are being discussed in the context of her “bad girl” behavior.  Instead, she is being labeled “bad” for returning to the man who abused her.

The most recent example of this trend, is a piece in BuzzFeed titled, “What Chris Brown Will Cost Rihanna.”  The piece details the myriad reasons why Rihanna risks losing lucrative endorsement deals but makes the mistake of focusing on her reconciliation with Chris Brown as the catalyst.

BuzzFeed cites Jo Piazza who says:

Piazza thinks Rihanna could salvage her appeal by steering her career in the direction of Madonna’s. Madonna is the rare star who’s been able to successfully reinvent herself with each scandal — but the difference between Rihanna and Madonna is that Madonna is controlling and manufacturing her scandals. “Rihanna’s playing a little too fast and loose with her brand right now,” said Piazza. So that bad girl image, captivating though it may be, “is not necessarily a good business model.” 

Let me be clear: Rihanna’s reconciliation with her abuser does not make her a “bad girl.”  Rihanna returning to her abuser makes her just like many other women who have been victimized who return to their abusers multiple times before they are able to walk away completely.  And while there is certainly negative publicity surrounding Rihanna returning to Brown, that shouldn’t then be conflated with her being “bad.”

Rihanna was beaten by Chris Brown and then blamed for it.  Rihanna decided to return to Brown and her brand is being damaged because of it.  Certainly, Chris Brown’s brand has been damaged substantially – and rightfully so – but we need to stop saying that Rihanna being back together with Chris Brown is some form of rebellion.  It’s not.  It is a clear reminder that the cycle of domestic violence is sadly very real.

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