An Open Letter to Rihanna

First of all, Rihanna, I love you.

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I think you’re talented. And your hair is great. And you don’t give a flying fuck what anyone thinks of you.

And why should you? As a celebrity, people are always going to be judging you. Opinions about the clothes you wear, the food you eat and the politicians you support are going to be flying around the internet till kingdom come, and you, Rihanna, have held your head high and flipped them a gleeful middle finger. We admire this about you. In an age where women are expected to conform to whatever men are hungry for that week, you have done your own thing. You are a shining example for women in that respect.

But you need to cut it out.

You know what I’m talking about.

This whole Chris Brown issue.

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I know it sounds like a contradiction. I just told you that you should continue to waltz around doing whatever you please. So how can I tell you that you shouldn’t be dating a guy who you are clearly attracted and devoted to? Don’t women have the right to make their own decisions based on their own experiential knowledge? Doesn’t Rihanna know how Rihanna feels better than I know how Rihanna feels?

The first reason why the whole thing is a big No should be obvious. It’s the reason no woman should stay with a man who beats the shit out of her: It’s fucked up, that’s why. No relationship that is founded on love and trust involves physical violence of any kind. And anyone who thinks they cannot be happier than they are with someone who hits them is kidding themselves.

But if you can’t do it for you, I’ll give you another reason why you should leave his ass, and it pertains to your celebrity: You are a role model. I don’t care if you don’t want to be a role model. If you don’t want girls to look up to you, you might not want to keep releasing amazing music. You are one. Deal with it. Girls and women hold you in high esteem. And this behavior is a very bad example for them.

It’s bad enough that your songs glorify sexual violence against women. You can tell us again and again that you just like rough sex, but with lyrics like: “I like the way you pull my hair,” and “Chains and whips excite me,” it’s hard not to take them out of context. In a beautiful collaboration with Eminem on “Love the Way you Lie,” you sang, “Just gonna stand there was watch me burn/ That’s all right because I like the way it hurts.” It could hardly have been clearer that an abusive and inescapable relationship was being romanticized.

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I actually loved all these songs. They were catchy and well-sung. But they’re sending the wrong message to your impressionable listeners. A message that as long as you justify it to yourself in eloquent lyrics, letting a man walk all over you is your place in life.

Your continued relationship with a known offender is setting women back hundreds of years. Domestic abuse isn’t a joke. It isn’t sexy. It isn’t glamorous. It’s a big, black blot on the face of this country. Do the right thing, Rihanna. Get help. Break up with him by way of Nair in his shampoo and grammatically incorrect text message.

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