4 Reasons to Love Rihanna 10 years later

If you’re like me, you recognize that Rihanna has been the shit ever since she killed the choreography in the video for her breakout hit “Pon de Replay.” Single after single, album after album, power move after power move, I have found myself sending affirming head nods across the world in support of “bad gal RiRi.” The truth is, I was a Rihanna fan before I even knew I was a Rihanna fan. Here we are, ten  years after the debut of her first single, and her 2009 claim is still true: “that Rihanna reign just won’t let up.”

At the core of why I love Rihanna is this simple fact: she continuously embodies what it means to be unapologetically young, Black, and female. More than a pop star, fashion icon, businesswoman, and stoner extraordinaire, Rihanna dominates multiple industries by demanding that she be allowed to be herself — something that her supporters have grown to admire about her. And while I have no problem writing one, this is not a Rihanna thinkpiece. There has been some great coverage of Rihanna this year that have excited my specific feminist interests. But there are a few pieces in particular that really capture how Rihanna’s brand of creativity and vibrance add complexity to why we love her.  So real quick, here are three reasons to still love Rihanna in 2015:

  1. As mentioned, Rihanna is an honorary member of the Carefree Black Girl movement. Hannah Giorgis at Buzzfeed did an excellent write up of Rihanna’s contributions to said movement, and the radical potential of maintaining this public image. Documenting a genealogy of contemporary Black women entertainers who carved room for this free spirit, Giorgis reminds us that the agency of Black women is always a balancing act with representation. And Rihanna has harmoniously navigated this territory with an air of IDGAF that we could all learn from.
  2. Bitch Better Have My Money. *drops mic* … *picks mic up* Seriously, this title might become the header on my resume and my email signature. Already a summer banger, Rihanna’s latest single is an ode to anyone who has ever tried to sell her short. It’s playful, boastful, edgy, and somehow still works as an appropriate response to anything said to me by any one of my bosses, ever. The accompanying visuals are just as dope, with Rihanna channeling vigilante realness by acting out revenge fantasies against a greedy former accountant. In the video, Rihanna kidnaps the accountant’s wife and uses her as collateral, which has some white feminists ALL in their feelings. Mia McKenzie was quick to remind them, though, why they should get over it.
  3. We (by “we” I mean the dope feminist coalition of the internet) have Rihanna to thank for knowing (and by knowing I mean Instagram following) Sanam, the Desi woman in the BBHMM video. Thomas Gordon interviewed her at Dazed to give us some background on one of the strongest eyebrow games of 2015. In this interview, Sanam talks about Rihanna liking one of her selfies, following her, and subsequently flying her out to appear in the BBHMM music video. But who wouldn’t do that for someone who includes old school bell hooks texts in their survival kit? Rihanna gets it.
  4. This gif of her throwing a stack of money in a BET exec’s face. I don’t care that it was staged.

Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

is Feministing's resident sexpert and cynic.

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