A list of things I think about Rihanna’s #BBHMMVideo

I know, I knowwww — no one’s supposed to talk about Rihanna’s new video (TW for graphic violence and pornographic imagery). Reasons we are to sit down and shut up on this one include, as pointed out by Helen Lewis, thinkpieces and basic, but also white feminism (a term that is commonly used by white liberal feminists against other feminists in order to dismiss critiques of objectification and the sex industry but that doesn’t really seem rooted in an intersectional analysis of women’s oppression) as well as a bunch of other expressions and accusations employed (to the great thrill of men) in order to silence women who want to talk about sexist violence. But oops! I don’t care. I don’t care about your liberal brownie points or your shit third wave postmodern first year gender studies twitter essay posturing about how subversive and in control Rihanna is. Yeah she’s in control. Yeah she’s talented (though, full disclosure, I’ve personally always found her music boring.) But just because you like an artist or a TV show or Kim Kardashian or Tyler the Creator or Game of Thrones or Nick Jonas (you would be shocked at the number of angry Nick Jonas fans I’ve heard from) or what-the-fuck-ever doesn’t mean women have to stop talking or thinking critically about those things. Especially when those things sexualize abuse and contribute to the global oppression of women. And I especially I don’t care when it’s dudes lecturing women about what they can and cannot speak about, calling us oppressors for daring to have an opinion about our own oppression. And I have witnessed far too much of this of late. If you are a man and you want to rep for misogyny, don’t. Put your dick and your fake-ass politics away and stop policing feminist discourse.

SO. All that’s out of the way. I won’t get into all this too deeply, because it’s been written about eloquently and at length elsewhere, but here are the basics, from my perspective:

1) A male accountant fucked Rihanna over. Why not create a video sexualizing and abusing him? Why choose to play out a violent fantasy on his girlfriend that plays on themes of date rape and BDSM? Oh right. Because misogyny. What’s the fun in holding powerful men accountable for their actions when we could profit from further objectifying and oppressing women? We all know pornifying men will get us nowhere and that women are easier and more popular targets. This is not an original idea. This is most the obvious way to create media that will appeal to the masses.

2) The to-be-abused woman is objectified from the get-go. I fail to see how this is defensible. Is objectifying white women ok now? Why and in what universe?

3) Rihanna doesn’t have to be a feminist and her video doesn’t have to be feminist, but stop defending the video from feminist critique. Women are allowed to have opinions about  representations of women and women’s bodies in media and pop culture.

4) I hate rich people as much as the next person, but that doesn’t mean I think rich women deserve to be subjected to ritualized sexualized torture. For example, I don’t believe it is any more acceptable to rape rich women than poor women, despite their positions of power. If we’re going to take down the powerful, I’d prefer we not do it by reinforcing patriarchal ideals. That doesn’t help.

5) Rihanna is perfectly capable of making the point that “one does not fuck with Rihanna” without also using violent pornographic imagery. I want her to get back at the greedy accountant who fucked her over, but not at the expense of women. Objectification isn’t going to liberate Rihanna anymore than it will liberate any other woman.

A scene from the Bitch Better Have My Money video.

In conclusion, the way to address systemic power structures is not by reinforcing those power structures and systems of oppression or by making them our own. If I get rich, that won’t end class oppression. If I behave more “like a man,” that won’t liberate my sisters. Rihanna has every right to her anger, as does every person who is part of a marginalized group, but, at the same time, defending the misogyny in her video isn’t necessary in order to acknowledge that.

Men get off on this imagery, all day every day. And it results in the actual abuse and deaths of women, worldwide — mostly of poor women of colour. Men seek out marginalized women, in particular, to abuse. In Canada, Indigenous women have been treated as disposable, funneled into prostitution and then ignored as they disappeared from our streets. Ninety per cent of women in “massage parlours” across Canada are Asian women. Black and latina women are stereotyped in prostitution and pornography, subjected to racist abuse on top of the run-of-the-mill sexualization.

All women are vulnerable under patriarchy.

What happens in real life, every single day, to women and girls everywhere is almost too upsetting to think about, yet we’re to celebrate that very imagery in Rihanna’s video as empowering? No.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Sporenda

    Rihanna is deeply alienated by patriarchy: her general attitude to male violence, her attraction to violent males is indicative of this. She is still very much into kowtowing to violent males: here, she has been ripped off by a male, but she is still unwilling to retaliate against him: she has this ingrained reflex of submission and deference to them. So as a revenge, she follows the intersectional script proposed by (some) antiracist males: go after the nasty bitch, the white woman. It’s more sexy, not only it does not touch the real culprits–white males–but it excites them sexually so it’s good for business. Rihanna cannot separate herself from males, as dangerous they have turned out to be for her: it’s the very power and violence of males she is attracted to: better be nice to them because not only they can destroy women–but they can make them rich too.

    • I think Rihanna herself is more of a figurehead than anything. Along with every other celebrity singer (Beyonce, Lady Gaga, etc). The directors and producers are the ones really in charge of the video, not to mention the corporations that hired them. Celebrities are just an outlet for the anger that people understandably feel towards such vile and degrading content.

      Although it does not make you wonder why capitalists would favour a video that featured the murder of someone similar to them. I think this video was supposed to have the superficial appearance of promoting “rebellion”, when the kind of rebellion being promoted poses no real threat to the capitalist system. It portrays terroristic violence, violence carried out with the intention of expressing anger and making an ideological point, rather than actually changing the world.

      I do not take a simplistic stance against the use of violence (like liberals sometimes claim to when the target of the violence is not a woman and filming the violence would make for a successful pornographic video), but I do believe that violence should accomplish something beyond making a “statement” or making someone feel all “defiant” and “empowered”. Real revolutions are not fun. Violence is not fun. It is necessary in specific circumstances because the ruling class (in every era) refuses to give up its power without a fight.

      The aim of political radicals is to change the world, not to prove how “subversive” they are, not to make a “statement”, which will bring about no actual change, not to make people feel personally “empowered”.

      This video is misogynistic, hypocritical, pseudo-rebellious garbage, which will only harm ordinary women who cannot hire bodyguards to protect them (i.e. not women in the capitalist class or celebrity women.)

      • Anna

        FYI Rihanna directed this video herself and says she had been looking forward to it for a long time.. This was her idea and wish.

        • Meghan Murphy

          It was directed by two white men. She co-directed.

          • Anna

            Okay. But the concept for the video was still her wish.. I just don´t want anyone to give her a pass saying how she´s just a puppet. She´s not. I used to be a fan so this video is not a shocking thing coming from her. I mean she goes to strip clubs(!) and has objectified women many times before(just check her instagram history). I for one love her music but she is not nice.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I don’t think she’s a puppet. The fact that she was behind the concept doesn’t change my opinion. And I still think it’s worth noting that two white men directed. I agree that it’s not shocking coming from her. She has no problem with misogyny/objectification, clearly.

          • Anna

            I agree with what you wrote. I was refering to people elsewhere, who either applaud her for the video or excuse her saying she can´t be critiqued cause she´s just a puppet. As if artists can´t think for themselves and can´t be held accountable for work they get involved in. No matter how big or small her involvement was, she is an artist with millions of female fans and she chose to put her name on a video that made entertainment out of violent misogyny. I want the critique to be loud enough so she can hear it and stop doing this. I´m just so tired of being disappointed by her..

          • Meghan Murphy

            Ah, I see. Yes, I agree with you. Thanks for clarifying.

          • Sylvia Black

            I’m the one who called her a puppet Anna, which is not the same thing as saying she isn’t accountable. It was a response to the celebration of this music video as evidence of Rhianna’s “agency,” which I don’t buy for a fucking second no matter her “artistic input” (which I also highly doubt in any substantive way). All this video proves is that a woman has the ability to say exactly what patriarchy has taught her to say. Even if we are to bring loud critiques to Rhianna, the point remains that the men who fund, create and promote these kinds of videos (which far out number the number of women who want to create them) will remain–unscathed, untouched, not taking a bit of heat. And that cannot happen.

          • “I was refering to people elsewhere, who either applaud her for the video or excuse her saying she can´t be critiqued cause she´s just a puppet.”

            I would not go so far as to call her a “puppet”. I called her a figurehead. Someone who speaks on behalf of the ruling class and acts as a symbol for their way of thinking, while having little actual power to bring about harm (even if she played a role in directing the video, she is not a key decision maker in the music video industry, someone else had to greenlight and fund the video.)

            She her decision to star in the video be criticised, sure, but I would not be surprised if there were immense pressure on her to make such a video. After all, last time she made a video celebrating violence against women (and I am sick of liberals claiming S&M was an empowering, feminist video about women dominating men, not only is that not feminist, but the lyrics are clearly about submitting to domination and in the video she alternates between the two roles) her handlers made millions off it, partly due to the “controversy” about whether it was “too sexy” (wow, what a great explanation of the problems with the video, NOT.) I would not be surprised if she were told to come up with a similar concept or simply realised that doing so would make her more money and fit with what people expected from her (given her brand.)

            In the end, she should not have made the video, but the industry should not have greenlit, funded and promoted it (not to mention similar videos.) In my view, those with more power usually deserve more of the blame. Plus I would rather use this as an opportunity to criticise capitalism and misogyny than yet another reason to attack an individual, black woman.

          • Anna

            My comments must sound harsher than I intended. I´m sorry, I don´t want to attack Rihanna. I don´t like meanness in any form. I understand white men run the industry and are very much encouraging any misogyny. But they are invisible, people don´t even know about them. I don´t see how we´re supposed to have a discussion about the music industry and hope for them to change if we try to confront them. I know Rihanna is vulnerable cause she´s black and should be protected from exaggerated criticism that will surely turn racist eventually. I don´t want that for her either. But I don´t see how these videos are to stop unless fans and others let the artists know they would sell just as much if they didn´t promote misogyny.

      • DK Wilson

        Yes, I’m a man and will likely draw the ire of the author and commenters (I hope not but…).

        Rihanna, like 95% (at least) of pop entertainers today, do not control their every move – which often includes the director(s) of their videos. Though an artist will publicly aver that, “so-and-so director was my choice,” the actual choice was made by many unseemly minds from studio moguls to media hype/propaganda minions, long before said director(s) appeared in the windshield of the artist.

        I find it interesting that no one has commented on the fact that Rhianna’s cohorts in crime are another woman of color —- and a White woman. But then again, it’s far easier to toss the trio into one boat than it is to seek to understand this calculated choice of women; calculated by Rhianna herself or in tandem with the directors.

        All that aside, there is an issue central to the video that carries with it much deeper connotations than banal, myopic, and, perhaps, spurious sideline psychoanalyses of Rhianna’s interpersonal relationships with men.

        This core issue deals with how Western Culture, particularly the Euro and Euro descendant has, for as long as history allows, has dealt with the problem of retaliation.

        People of color know well that, for centuries which includes the present, White men have used women of color to retaliate against the actions of men deemed, “the animal Other.” Taking the female partner of a male Black slave lynching her and cutting their unborn child from her stomach while she hangs and while all the space watched was a well-known, tried and true plantation owner ploy used to quell the perceived notion (real or imagined) of Black rebellion here in America, on the islands from which Rhianna is descendant, and in Africa. And yes, mimicking this psychopathic behavior, “common” White men indulged in the same behavior.

        In a burgeoning White, male-owned America, this practice was used against indigenous people of this land; in fact, “scalping,” contrary to the history written by the winners, was an “invention” of White soldiers and their paid and unpaid, racist minions. And guess which scalps were most treasured by these White men because they meant utter and complete destruction and dominance of native peoples who fought them? That’s right, female scalps.

        We see the same tactic – killing women, children, too – used as “retaliation” by the White criminal Mafia against rival Mafia gangs and anyone who is perceived to threaten their “territory;” used to let others know not to snitch; not to disobey orders. And it is projected to viewers in film and video and on television screens in matter of fact fashion as the killing is glorified as an integral part of America’s “coming of age.”

        In fact, we see the same, sickening killing women and children retaliatory tactic used by gang types and their drug lord brethren of all races – mimicking the acts of the “top dogs” of the perceived dominant culture.

        When viewed relative to a larger, cultural-historical context, simply abhorring Rhianna’s fictionalized violence against another woman and rebuking her for, allegedly, failing to exact her fantasized retribution against the male figure responsible for wronging her, is reductionist.

        Her video acts to accurately portray one of the secrets of success for the racist, imperialist, hyper-violent White male-dominated subjugation of other peoples (and, push come to shove, of other White people, too).

        America’s first CIA director, Allen Dulles, in a candid moment, said this of the raison d’être for the intelligence agency: “[The goal of the CIA] is to ensure unfettered access to the world’s natural resources for America and her allies.”

        Rhianna’s video is, unfortunately, but a reflection of America.

        • Meghan Murphy

          And there’s also the fact that rape is used as a weapon in war. So men rape women/civilians as part of ‘conquest’ and, really, to show other men who’s boss. Sexual violence against women is very much a part of colonialism. Indigenous women were prostituted by European men when they came over to what is now known as Canada, too…

          • DK Wilson

            Whoops! I repled in my gmail box thinking, somehow, the reply would magically end up here (duh! moment)…

            You’re right. I did mention the War of Conquest here in the U.S. between indigenous people and the European-American settlers but failed to mention that rape of women and worse is, as you said, a staple of war.

            Thank you. It’s an important addition to understanding not only how subjugation works but how heinous acts can become accepted memes.

            I also should have noted this: I am in no way defending portrayals of violence toward women. Rhianna’s video, though, is an example of turning accepted, grossly maleficent behavior on it proverbial head.

            I can only hope that her co-directors feel the same.

    • KS

      This comment is on point. Anyone with any knowledge in Rihanna can attest to this. She went back to Chris Brown (understandable as an abused woman myself) but what happened after is unthinkable. She literally harassed another WoC (Karreuche, Chris Brown’s OTHER GF) for months at a time and alienated her because she perceived her as a threat/homewrecker/whatever.

      Rihanna is nothing more than a woman who hasn’t learned yet that women should stick together, not use and abuse each other. The things she said/did to Karreuche over the years were despicable and I share NO pity for this woman. Before the accountant backstory came out, a lot of people were wondering whether this video was “about” CB/Karreuche or even Jay Z/Beyonce… there is a reason for that… Rihanna is a common participant of girl-hate when she feels as though her relationship w/ powerful men is threatened.

  • L

    In one of the article you linked, the author says: [Rihanna] is a black woman who uses her body the way she wants, owning it at all times.

    Here’s the thing , we know that isn’t true (re: the image of her face after Chris Brown assaulted her). We know that there was a time when her body was being used as a punching bag. I feel like much of Rihanna’s visual imagery after that picture came out has been about trying to erase that image from our minds-instead we should see Rihanna’s naked or almost naked tattooed body or we should Rihanna as an incredibly tough woman who you do not mess with.

    Female violence against men is unacceptable (think of all the MRA’S freaking out about Mad Max), but violence against women makes you tough and shows that you DGAF.

    • Sylvia Black

      Yes, though I feel like said imagery is a more of a way to distract us from holding Chris Brown accountable and making us all believe any act of violence against Rhianna is just bdsm gone too far.

      • L

        This is an interesting point which I really hadn’t thought of.

        I remember when their abusive relationship came out, people said that Rihanna enjoyed rough sex and implied that she may have enjoyed her abuse.

        When Rihanna did that s & m song and there was all this conversation about how Rihanna likes violence and there was this underlying idea that CB didn’t really do anything wrong. Unfortunately, I think this video will be another piece of the “Chris Brown is really the victim narrative b/c Rhi loves receiving and inflicting harm.”

  • tinfoil hattie

    “Is objectifying white women ok now? Why and in what universe?”

    Yes, yes, it is. Because white women are privileged, and must be punished for that. It’s only fair!

  • anne cameron

    Yeah, but here we are, talking and typing about her… about it…about…. maybe if we IGNORE her, her boring music, and her porn-dancing b.s. and … maybe… let the woman stop posturing and get on with being herself…

    she is trying SO hard to out-do Tina Turner….

    give it up, Ri-Ri, because you can’t out-do Tina! She sings better than you do, she dances better than you ever will and she doesn’t trash other women the way you do in this sick little video

    grow up. If you’ve got a gripe with him, settle with HIM… don’t be a child!

  • Tracy

    Wow, this video is so horrendous. She is beaten by boyfriends, fucked over by male accountants… and takes it on females. It is only comprehensible in that she must be suffering from some horrible PTSD that makes her lash out nonsensically instead of combating that which oppresses her… males. How very sad. I almost feel like she deserves pity.

    • Les Morgan

      Rihanna is maybe suffering from being indoctrinated by mass-media/soap-opera`s way of portraying all female characters as totally unable to function without a man/boyfriend,so this hideously ugly video does not help! A few self-esteem classes maybe needed.

  • The Real Cie

    From what I’ve read about Rihanna’s father, he’s a creepy asshole who obsesses on his daughter’s body. He set the standard for how she allows herself to be treated.
    Whenever one goes with the old “sex sells” chestnut, translate that phrase to “misogyny sells,” and you’ll hit the nail on the head.

    • derrington

      Rihanna’s father has groomed her into accepting violent sexist behaviour as normal – in fact the whole R & B thing seems to be about hierarchy, who gets to use who as their ‘bitch’. The fact she uses the term bitch to describe women or as an insult is sexist in itself. I’ve never been one for excusing women for using sexism on other women to oppress them to give themselves a better deal. Shit behaviour is shit behaviour, regardless of the gender of the shitter. Its called equality Rihanna and if you think you deserve decent behaviour because of the colour of your skin, well other women deserve decent behaviour because they are human too.

    • julian ambrosiano

      I don’t disagree with your analysis of Rihanna’s video. It’s ugly, misogynist, and without any artistic creativity to (artistically, not ethically) mitigate that in anyway. However, do you think there is any legitimacy to the argument White women need to be mindful of their privileged outsider position when critiquing Black women’s work in the way men need to be mindful of their privileged outsider position when critiquing women’s work?

      I’m not saying you didn’t do that in your critique of the video.

      • Priscila

        But julian, this is not about race, it’s a critique of the video’s *misogyny*. Any woman is fully entitled to speak about misogyny.

        • julian ambrosiano

          But it is about race because it’s (significantly) an artistic expression of a Black woman. So, while a white female critic shares greater propinquity to a Black woman’s work than a male critic does to a woman’s work, she should still be aware of her “outsiderness” when making that critique.

          As I said above, I wasn’t saying Ms. Murphy failed to do that in her own critique; I was just addressing why many African-Americans would take exception to White criticism of Rihanna’s video if they felt it was patronizing and not self-aware. I’m aware, as a male, this comes off a bit like man-splaining, but I truly believe it’s a valid point, and I can’t be anything but a male saying it.

          I do reiterate, though, my agreement with Ms. Murphy’s evaluation of the video, and I’m a fan of Rihanna’s.

          • “But it is about race because it’s (significantly) an artistic expression of a Black woman”

            This reply only makes sense if you believe that the intentionality of the artist has primacy over our interpretations of their art. I find that view generally unsatisfactory.

          • julian ambrosiano

            No, it makes sense regardless of whether one believe it or not. The intentionality behind the artwork, as well as the artwork itself, is vital to sound critical perception, understanding, and analysis, whether it holds primacy or not. If it didn’t, male critics could willfully discount the intentionalities of female artists…just as White female critics could discount the intentionalities of female artists of color. I know many male critics who already willfully do so. Considering your argument, you would clearly support them in doing it.

          • Diana

            It’s not an artistic expression of a black woman, the video was directed by the Megaforce Crew, a bunch of old white men. You can say that Rihanna is credited, but if you look at her songwriting process, it’s like, the “real” songwriter brings her the song and she says yes or no. Watch some of Ester Dean’s interviews. I think it’s the same with videos.

          • julian ambrosiano

            You’re right that it’s not entirely an artistic expression of a black woman. And Ms. Murphy makes the significant point that it was directed by a man, so that does mitigate thins. However, like Madonna and Taylor Swift, Rihanna has had growing input in her songs and videos and deserves to get both credit (and blame) for the artistic vision of the video. To completely dismiss her as just a “puppet” or “voice” who has no say in her art would be both unfair and inaccurate.

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but being dismissed as a non-contributing puppet/object has been a legitimate long-time complaint of all women in the arts.

          • Meghan Murphy

            It’s a tough one… I do think she’s ‘part of the machine,’ but I also think she is responsible for what was produced here. I was unsurprised to hear it was directed by two white men (Megaforce), but she did co-direct. It’s not defensible either way. I mean, the imagery is pornified, sexualized violence against women. To pretend as though it’s simply a neutral revenge plot or about Rihanna getting back a white people completely ignores the misogynist aspects of the video. Why is it necessary to pornify the revenge?

      • What are the principles that you follow when being mindful of your privileged outside position when commenting on this woman-authored feminist blog?
        How do you put these principles into practice when making comments on this blog?

        Your comment reads as if you were looking to find fault with Meghan’s critique using a favoured technique of men to shut down feminist analysis or chill feminist discussion – Hey look, with my supersensitive racefail detector, I’ve uncovered a white woman is critiquing a black woman! But since I’m a good guy, I’ll only gently remind her of her perfidy! – and then having failed to find to find significant fault, you cannot even affirm that Meghan has written a good post (‘I don’t disagree’ rather than ‘I agree’, and ‘I’m not saying that you didn’t do that’ rather than ‘I saw that you did do that’).

        Of course, I’m just saying ‘Your comment reads as if…’ I’m not saying that’s what you did. Or that you are a man popping up into a feminist discussion of misogyny, to remind white women of what you consider to be their privileged *outsider* position in this discussion.

        • tinfoil hattie

          But he used “propinquity.” Can’t he get a pass?

          • “Propinquity”, that is even worse than “obstreperous”. Plus it is an official sociological term. Why can’t they just say “nearness” or “proximity”? (Yes I just googled the word) Oh right, because then people who have not been to university might understand them and that would be horrible, wouldn’t it?

            Seriously, there is nothing intellectually impressive about liberalism, so they feel the need to make up fancy terms instead. It is a real nuisance.

          • Morag

            If I call julian an “ultracrepidarian” will you all still love me tomorrow?

          • Sure! Just as soon as I google the word.

            Yeah, you are totally right he is commenting on issues that he is unqualified to discuss (namely issues related to women’s liberation.)

            Notice how phrasing it in plain English does not make the statement seem ridiculous? Pity that does not work for liberal statements. Although I cannot think of a synonym that fully conveys the meaning of “ultracrepidarian” so the existance of such a word might actually be necessary, though perhaps we can find a shorter word for it.

          • Morag

            Oh, there are lots of shorter words for it! All of them considered quite rude.

          • Mar Iguana

            Shorter word for it: “Men.”

          • LOL, I actually thought someone might say that as soon as I had submitted my comment. Great minds think alike.

          • julian ambrosiano

            I used “propinquity” because it can denote kinship, while “proximity” and “nearness” usually only denote physical (and sometimes ideological) nearness. Since White women share a greater kinship with Black women than White men do, it was the more appropriate word.

            And you’re absolutely right that I spoke out of my area of expertise. I just didn’t think I had to be an expert to speak. Many men, in defending Ms. Murphy’s positions on prostitution and other areas, criticized women and their feminism for criticizing those positions. Using your logic, those men were wrong and should have remained quiet, too.

          • marv

            Men’s role is to raise awareness among other men and confront anti-abolitionist men who are wedded to masculinity, white supremacy and economic class. If some women willfully argue that these classes don’t exist (or are natural) between men and women or people of colour and whites it is legitimate to debate them as a man. The same hold true if she is pro-capitalist whether she is wealthy or a labourer.

            It is a different matter for a man to tell abolitionist feminists they should be conscious of white advantage when their aim is to eradicate gender, race and monetary categories. It is elitist of him. Moreover, his posturing would remain haughty if abolitionists ONLY focused on sexism because it warrants opposition by itself and because male supremacy is the fundamental cause of race and other class divisions.

            You are cautioning abolitionist feminists about a problem that doesn’t exist within their social analysis and praxis. You don’t understand the movement.

          • julian ambrosiano

            Firstly, I envy your certainty of what a man’s or anybody’s position in any movement is. I hope someday to have your absolute certainty on this.

            And if re-iterating what White feminists and feminists of color have written and conveyed to me is haughty and elitist, I’m fine with that, too. What I find haughty and elitist, is you, as a man, dismissing those critical views held by White feminists and women of color who do believe White women need to be aware of their position of privilege when critiquing works of women of color, although they still can legitimately critique those works. Your dismissal of those views, just because a male reiterated them, is the exact type of male patronization of which you accuse me.

            And if men are not allowed to critique or advise women on feminist issues or feminist aesthetics, Ms. Murphy wouldn’t publish the works of a man who criticizes Liberal feminists in his writings and tweets. She clearly has belief in him and his ability to do so, and I assume she knows more about the “movement” than you. If you are ok with that as well, your critique of my daring to make a point to women as a man is invalid.

            Finally, I would never claim to “get” the movement. Any man, including you, who does would be arrogant and presumptious. The fact many women–including the women debating Rihanna–don’t agree on what the movement is particularly shows no man, including you, can claim sovereign knowledge of it. And if you don’t think white critique and criticism of women and color isn’t a problem within their “social analysis and praxis,” then you haven’t read much feminism by women of color or talked to many of them either. Again, your limited view of the movement clearly shows.

          • Meghan Murphy

            The men whose work I’ve published here criticize/hold to account other men… Not feminists.

          • julian ambrosiano

            I do remember reading one column by a man on this site who criticized liberal/postmodern feminist views of transsexual issues as well…which is criticizing women’s views of feminism. I also saw him debate women on twitter about these issues; so he was OK with criticizing women’s views of feminism.

            If he did not actually criticize liberal and/or postmodern feminism, I will retract what I said and apologize.

          • hak

            “Again, your limited view of the movement clearly shows.”

            Well since you know everything about feminism, instead of writing narcissistic essays, you should just explain why VAW and pornified torture is OK here.

          • marv

            You have the unforgivable notion that abolitionism is just another brand of feminism which shouldn’t have right of way. There is no realization on your part that liberal feminism is male liberalism administered to women.


            Plus, you seem oblivious to the reality that women of colour and indigenous women are at the core of revolutionary feminism (some of which are commenting in this discussion field).


            You remind me of liberal and conservative reformers during the Antebellum era. Humane treatment and better working conditions for the slaves were their responses to slavery. Many slaves voiced this view, mostly out of fear (understandably) but frequently conviction (due to social conditioning) . The reformers portrayed the black (and white) abolitionists as extremists who wouldn’t compromise. Well we know how those ideas played out.

            You are advancing male hegemony by exploiting factionalism among women.

          • julian ambrosiano

            I never said anything about “abolitionist” feminism nor implied what you said I did. And it’s pretty hubristic for a man to tell every liberal feminist woman her feminism is wrong. That isn’t your place. Considering you said a man’s role is “to raise awareness among other men and confront anti-abolitionist men who are wedded to masculinity,” you have clearly transgressed your role.

            And stop focusing on me, and focus on my arguments. This is a discussion, not a personal battle of personal attacks. And if you think I’m oblivious to the importance of women of color–which you erroneously said without support–you haven’t been reading my posts.

            And what I remind you of is irrelevant. What is relevant is what you can find wrong about what I said. Instead of doing that, you made an unfounded comparison that had no connection to what I said. So, your erroneously comparing me to people who would “make slavery better” is just an unsupported insult.

            And I was not exploiting factionalism or advancing white hegemony. Your patronizing dismissal of liberal feminism and all the female feminists who practice it, however, did exactly that.

          • hak

            “Considering you said a man’s role is “to raise awareness among other men and confront anti-abolitionist men who are wedded to masculinity,” you have clearly transgressed your role.”

            Why Am I not surprised that male allies stink so much of narcissism? They all look like trolls, you can’t even take them seriously.
            As if feminists can’t see that they’re bluffing.
            A piece of advice: try to make it less obvious next time.

            Also, stop playing this game “you bad male ally, me good male ally”, “you don’t listen to libfem, while I listen to them, you’re awful because you don’t”, ” I know more about non white feminism than you, you horrible”.

            That shit is not cute at all (and you don’t look smart either).

            You’re repetetive af btw.

            Again since you’re here to mansplain us what feminism is, I’ll repeat myself: Well since you know everything about feminism, instead of writing narcissistic essays, you should just explain why VAW and pornified torture is OK here.

          • Morag

            “You are cautioning abolitionist feminists about a problem that doesn’t exist within their social analysis and praxis. You don’t understand the movement.”

            Yes, this is it. Thanks, marv. This isn’t exactly about “expertise” (that crazy multi-syllabic word, which I’ve already forgotten, was a joke — chosen for its pretentiousness and obscurity); it’s about a man not having clue, but talking down to us anyway as if WE were clueless.

            It’s arrogant, smug, and deeply insulting. It is sexist. We’ve seen it and heard it a million times, of course, but every single time it’s a reminder of our lower, degraded social status as women. That when our pain and outrage is so obviously justified (even to a man!), he can’t resist the temptation to caution us that, while outrage is allowed THIS time, we had better keep in mind it won’t always be.

            He says, more or less, “Remember that there are limits on you, ladies! Don’t go around thinking you can always rail against misogyny and sexism, because if there’s another “ism” involved, that will most certainly prohibit you from speaking out. Sorry, but you’ll just have to put a sock in it. Those are the rules, and don’t you forget them, even though I’m giving you a pass today.”

            Ugh. Insufferable.

          • marv

            Yes. I hear your agony. He is keeping women down by defending the schisms among them – a ploy that fortifies male dominance, hence himself.

          • Laur

            Exactly, Morag and Marv. I don’t even understand what his issue is. He said he agrees with Meghan’s post. He doesn’t have a problem with what Meghan’s writing on this post in regard to race. Yet he is here to tell us that White Feminists (TM) need to be more accountable to WOC. Starting a divide where there is absolutely no reason to do so…proclaiming himself as the vangaurd of racial justice…both trademarks of Mr. Julian Real.

            At least the other dudes who come here to tell us how awwfuuul we are, have some specific issue with what’s being said. He gives no concrete example of whatever the hell he is talking about.

          • Laur

            I have a hunch this ultracreptarian is “julian real.” I put that name in quotation marks because that is not his real name. He sees himself as the most anti-racist of all white people and loves telling feminists they are not as anti-racist as him. He searches for racism and when he can’t find any, makes it up.

            Of course, he will deny being Julian Real, but that is another thing this dude is known for: denying who he is.

            The links below are just the tip of the iceberg:



          • marv

            Beguiling discovery. Both personas definitely exhibit the same impudent sexism. Terrific investigation Laur.

          • julian ambrosiano

            And Marv, this quote was yours:

            “There is no realization on your part that liberal feminism is male liberalism administered to women.”

            Considering most proponents of liberal feminists are feminist women, your male dismissal of them is impudent sexism at its worst. And, it contributes to the same “schisms” among feminists you incorrectly accused me of above.

            That truly is a beguiling discovery.

          • julian ambrosiano

            Will I deny an outlandish, ugly slander? Of course, I will…as would you. If, in your logic, you want to see my denying that slander as actually making me him, knock yourself out. I’d rather spend my time talking with thoughtful people like poster I.

        • julian ambrosiano

          I hope I expressed those principles: to suggest without admonishing, and to do so while acknowledging my privileged perspective could be flawed because of it. Ms. Murphy, herself, publishes male opinions on feminism and feminist issues; so, she clearly feels they can be of value, even if you apparently don’t.

          You also didn’t read my posts particularly carefully. I opened my first post by saying: “I don’t disagree with your analysis of Rihanna’s video. It’s ugly, misogynist, and without any artistic creativity to (artistically, not ethically) mitigate that in anyway.”

          I followed that in my second post with “I do reiterate, though, my agreement with Ms. Murphy’s evaluation of the video, and I’m a fan of Rihanna’s.” So, I certainly didn’t find any “perfidy” in Ms. Murphy’s critique, nor did I suggest there was any. I was only attempting to explain why many Black women are upset with White (male or female) criticisms of Rihanna’s videos that weren’t aware of the critic’s position of white privilege…while making clear Ms. Murphy didn’t do that herself.

          If you don’t believe White men and women have a position of critical privilege when addressing the works of artists of color, I won’t spend any time convincing you. If you feel my being a man negates everything I say on this site, I won’t convince you either. I do, however, appreciate your politeness in addressing me and appreciate your input.

          • Morag

            “If you don’t believe White men and women have a position of critical privilege when addressing the works of artists of color, I won’t spend any time convincing you. If you feel my being a man negates everything I say on this site, I won’t convince you either. I do, however, appreciate your politeness in addressing me and appreciate your input.”

            Not that you deserve politeness, Mr. Smug, Condescending Teacher-Man.

            Oh, how he tried to teach the unteachable women how to do feminism properly! But their irrational prejudice against men, as usual, got in the way. He’s good, and dedicated, but he’s no miracle worker. Oh, well, at least they were polite, so he gave them a pat on the head for that …

          • Laur

            Apparently, no other white person understands white supremacy as well as you.

            Apparently, white women can’t be in solidarity with WOC who think this video is misogynist and racist.

            Apparently, women’s comments on this blog directed at you (including noting the wording in your original comment) aren’t even worth your responding to.

            Noted, Mr. Julian. Noted.

          • julian ambrosiano

            I never implied any of those things. If you can show where I did, though, I would gladly retract them and apologize.

            As to my responding to other posters, I have posted to most who actually addressed me. I didn’t address the poster I., because she or he made intelligent, valid responses to my point, and I wasn’t going to respond just to get the last word because I disagree. And I didn’t reply to the posters who just made snarky comments about me. Snarky comments are fine, but they don’t merit or demand response.

          • L

            “As to my responding to other posters, I have posted to most who actually addressed me. I didn’t address the poster I., because she or he made intelligent, valid responses to my point, and I wasn’t going to respond just to get the last word because I disagree.”

            -Feel free to respond to my post and let me know what you disagree with or why you disagree.

            -Let me ask you this: Would you view the criticism of Rihanna’s videos as more valid if the critics were primarily men or women of color?

            -In a few of your responses, you mention the idea that white women are outsiders as it relates to the issues of woc; but I don’t think that they are outsiders. Radical feminism is critical of misogyny (no matter who is perpetrating it). Rihanna’s art does not and should not get a free pass from feminist analysis merely because it is the art of a woc.

          • julian ambrosiano

            I will respond to your post, and thank you for the gesture.

            And I wouldn’t view the critique more valid if it were by a woman of color. If a man wrote “A Room of One’s Own,” I would still consider it valid; I would just be stunned he wrote it. A White woman’s thoughtful, insightful, and well-informed critique of a woman of color’s work would be superior to a woman of color’s thoughtless, not insightful one, and could even be superior to a woman of color’s thoughtful, insightful critique. Part of that thoughtfulness is simply the critical awareness that one is criticizing the work of someone partially outside his or her experience. That is just a mind-opening hurdle beneficial to criticism, not a barrier. As I’ve emphasized a few times, I don’t think it was a barrier to Ms. Murphy’s sound critique, and shouldn’t be a barrier to most white women.

            I think my use of “outsider” and yours are probably different. By “oustider” I am not suggesting little or no kinship. White women and women of color share many connections giving White women insights into women of color White men don’t share and need to open their self-awareness to learn about. The same goes with Black men and black women and Gay men and lesbians. However, they are partial–if only minimally–outsiders in that they don’t share the experiences of being a person of color. So, like many White feminists–and the best White female critics– have already done, white women (like everybody else) just have to be critically aware of that difference and/or lack of experience when addressing works by women of color. Again, it’s not a major hurdle, most thoughtful white women already do do it, as I’m sure you do as well. As I’ve said before, these aren’t the words of an “enlightened man;” I’m simply reiterating what I’ve learned from women of color, as well as White feminists.

            And I never said anybody should get a free pass. People of privilege, including White men and White women, are allowed to criticize unethical behavior, bad art, and unethical art by members of marginalized groups. Being marginalized never gives anybody a free pass to be a bad person or make bad art.

          • Rich

            “I was only attempting to explain why many Black women are upset with White (male or female) criticisms of Rihanna’s videos that weren’t aware of the critic’s position of white privilege…while making clear Ms. Murphy didn’t do that herself.”

            Putting aside the nonsense that the average white person commenting on this crap is “privileged” over the multimillionaire, megastar, cultural icon that put it out there, what difference does the race of the artist or her critics make?

            Seriously??? If Rihanna was just another actress in the video, rather than the star behind it, would it magically become OK then for white people to criticize it? It would be exactly the same video!

            Julian, you clearly don’t disagree with the criticism of this video on this site. Why do you feel the need to genuflect to identity politics in saying so? Garbage is garbage, whoever puts it out. And garbage remains garbage, regardless of the identity of the people who support it, or criticize it.

          • julian ambrosiano

            Actually, Rich, it is not nonsense at all. What is nonsense is your assuming a woman (White or of color) suddenly doesn’t face the marginalization, physical dangers, or misogyny just because she has money. And a Black woman like Rihanna still faces situational and systematic racism; her money doesn’t negate that.

            And no, a video isn’t just a video. Who made the video does matter and who is in it does matter. Women are objectified much more and differently than men are. And women of color face types of objectification White women don’t. Again, it’s nonsense to think otherwise…Seriously. And the works of all marginalized groups criticized by outsiders should be done with an awareness of that “outsiderness.” It’s what Black women rightfully expect of Black male critics (among others) and what lesbians expect from Gay male critics.

            And the only one genuflecting is you by making a spectacle of “criticizing” me with excessive question marks and poorly constructed notions of a supposed invulnerability of rich women instead of cogent critique of my points. And the term “identity politcs” itself is garbage. Like “politically correct,” it is a nebulous term meant to dismiss the concerns of (or for) marginalized groups without actually addressing them. Considering you did that above, I’m not surprised you used it.

          • Mar Iguana

            According to my manometer*, sir, you are full of it.

            *Every woman should own one of these gadgets. It measures gas and air pressure in a vacuum. Whenever you want an accurate reading on exactly how much noxious gas is spewing, just insert one of these handy dandy gauges in the orifice of choice. (Paints a funny picture, no?)

          • Rich

            “What is nonsense is your assuming a woman (White or of color) suddenly doesn’t face the marginalization, physical dangers, or misogyny just because she has money”

            Please! Money is one of the major engines on which this society runs. Money talks loudly in our society. If you try hard enough, you may be able to think of possible scenarios wherein Rihanna’s blackness and being female harm her more than her wealth helps her. I can instantly think of a hundred practical situations in which her wealth raises her up above most everybody, of whatever color and race they are. If you want to see her as oppressed, and white people that may not even know if they can pay the rent next month as “privileged”, be my guest. It is still nonsense.

            “And no, a video isn’t just a video. Who made the video does matter and who is in it does matter. Women are objectified much more and differently than men are. And women of color face types of objectification White women don’t. Again, it’s nonsense to think otherwise…Seriously.”

            You don’t answer my question. If this exact video turned out to be entirely the product of white men, and Rihanna was just another actress in it, would it be OK for white people to criticize it then? The video is what it is. It does not suddenly become something different if it turns out not to have been Rihanna’s idea.

            And I am not criticizing it based on whether it does or does not objectify anyone. I criticize it because it presents a story wherein the main character, the star, acts in a vicious and vile manner against one person to get back at somebody else. From even the most rudimentary of Western ethical standards, that is wrong.

            “And the works of all marginalized groups criticized by outsiders should be done with an awareness of that “outsiderness.” ”

            Why? Why should her “outsiderness” mean a damn thing to anyone? It is still the same video, whoever made it.

      • L

        “However, do you think there is any legitimacy to the argument White women need to be mindful of their privileged outsider position when critiquing Black women’s work in the way men need to be mindful of their privileged outsider position when critiquing women’s work?”
        Imo, not really. Yes, white women have privilege by virtue of their race. But I think it’s a small amount of privilege that is limited by their position as women. Many white women face the same struggles as women of color-poverty, rape, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and etc. Statistically speaking it is easier for a white woman to escape poverty (in part because she doesn’t have to deal the impacts of systemic and institutionalized racism), but its still incredibly difficult.

        “But it is about race because it’s (significantly) an artistic expression of a Black woman.”
        Yes, there is space to talk about the racial, class and sexual issues in this video. Meghan’s chose to use her space to focus on the sexualization of violence against women. Other authors might use their space to focus more on race/class issues.

        I honestly think all this stuff about white feminism is a way to put the blame on women’s problems on white women and to convince minority, working class, impoverished women that feminist don’t care about them. As a woc and immigrant woman, I don’t buy it: Women are my sisters and my solidarity is with them and (I believe and hope!) their solidarity is with me.

        I think radical feminism is more in tune to issues of race and class in way that mainstream feminism/libfem/funfem is not. The popularity of things like “Lean In” really paints the idea that feminism is mostly concerned with helping middle class white women become rich white women. And I think white radfems are much more willing to admit their white privilege without feeling guilty or needing to defend it.

        This is how I look at it: in American slavery, lightskinned slaves often had privilege over darkskinned slaves..but they were all still slaves with all the oppression that came with. Whatever privilege a white woman has, she is still a woman with all the oppression that comes with.

        • julian ambrosiano

          I completely agree that compared to White men’s privilege, a White woman’s privilege is minimal. However, even that minimal privilege and lack of particular experience is still privilege, and a White woman still does not know what it is like to be a person of color. So, being aware of that difference and its possible ramifications on one’s critique just enriches that critique and helps the critic avoid possible missteps from inexperience or unfamiliarity. I went to school with White women who successfully and brilliantly did this, and I work with many who do so now as well.

          It’s not a matter of talking about having to talk about race or having to talk about gender. One doesn’t have to always address the area of separate marginalization in a critique, unless it can’t be avoided. It would be difficult to critique Toni Morrison’s Beloved, for example, without addressing race or critiquing Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth without addressing gender. It’s more a matter of the critic’s awareness of his or her own position in relation to the position of the artist than a requirement he or she directly address the actual area of difference in the artist or the work.

          And I’m not going to get into the libfem/radfem conflct, and my post wasn’t a libfem/radfem post, particularly since I have great respect for feminists who identify themselves as both. And as a man, it’s not my particular place to judge. I can say, it is sad to see feminists fighting against each other instead of patriarchy…although they may see each other as patriarchal. I just think both groups still have so much in common–in experience and thought–thatthose commonalities could still prevail.

          And I never made any criticism of White Feminism at all. So, it’s inaccurate to suggest I did. As I’ve said before, White Feminists share essential, existential, and lived experiences that make their kinship and alliance vital to feminism. I would never suggest otherwise. However, suggesting women be aware of differences when it is relevant–differences that don’t negate that kinship at all–isn’t suggesting White Feminists are the “problem” in any way.

          I am surprised, though, that you equate light-skinned black female slaves with White women in your analogy, essentially erasing the color difference, although White women in “the house” do face some of the same travails as those light-skinned slaves. However, you are the WOC, and you know more about the issues than I. But, even though White women face all the problems women face, would a white girl have been assaulted and attacked by a policeman at a pool party as that young Black girl was? Are you truly saying Black women have no experiences White Women don’t have? I would be truly surprised if you are.

      • S.Law

        Popular culture portrays women as constantly in competition with one another. Anyone remember the Brady Bunch (brain pablum but provides an example). Marsha and Jan seemed to be in competition – at least from Jan’s perspective. I had an older sister however she was so different from me that it would have seemed bizarre for us to compete. Speaks to the hate that a proportion of women seem to express for each other daily (by giving men a pass on family/domestic violence, misogyny in the media, system violence through mechanisms like war, etc.) because they live in a world where the female principle is reviled. People really need to read “The Woman That Never Evolved” by Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. I know, talking about primates, where will that get us. She addresses stereotypes about female behaviour and their position in society by talking about the fact that female primates simply weren’t being studied (at least not seriously, and systematically) by mostly male primatologists (at one point in history), how the idea that bigger is always dominant is flawed, and how human females were considered more like ‘animals’ than men. And how humans are unique amongst primates in how they have institutionalized the “biological dimorphism of the sexes”. It is not a feminist book per say but it is the work of a woman with great critical faculties.

        I admit that I have little patience or tolerance for women who ally themselves with men as a cynical ploy to get what they are owed or further their interests. Having been raised in a household with an abusive father I don’t care what the excuses of these women are … they can take a flying leap. I saw both my mother and my sister do this … make excuses for my father and other men. I just don’t like men in that way or even that much. I don’t feel the need to make excuses for them.

        Women who give tacit approval to violent males by saying ‘she deserved it because’ … they don’t deserve my sympathy. I think most of us (barring the most sainted) have gotten mad at or been puzzled by women who associate with criminal, violent, and misogynistic men. But we take a breathe, have second thoughts, and we don’t make a mass market video (or tweet or blog) about it, attacking the violent man’s associates. Problem is, I don’t think this is just a Rhianna problem. This is a behaviour that a lot of women engage in on a smaller scale, with mostly local consequences. When they excuse male behaviour, when they laugh at misogynist jokes, or chant misogynist chants (so they can be one of the guys), or tell you that talking about family violence isn’t done in polite circles.

      • Rich

        “However, do you think there is any legitimacy to the argument White women need to be mindful of their privileged outsider position when critiquing Black women’s work in the way men need to be mindful of their privileged outsider position when critiquing women’s work?”

        Why should anyone of any race or gender hesitate for half a second to call garbage garbage? Who cares what the race or sex of the artist is?

        All this “mindful of privilege” stuff adds up to getting people to censor themselves by inducing a feeling of bad conscience. Why anyone would let anyone else try to guilt trip them out of listening to their own heart and mind is beyond me.

        Not to mention the fact that Rihanna is a huge star. Her “art” is broadcast all over the place. It is a significant part of our culture. It is not just in black womens’ faces, or black peoples’ faces, it is in all of our faces, and we all are perfectly within our rights to call her out on it.

  • flighty_filly

    I am really disturbed by this video, and honestly surprised by just how much I am disturbed. I think what freaks me out the most is that Rihanna’s character does all these things for money. I’ve been put-off for quite a while by the obsession with money so many #important celebrities have these days, and this really just ratchets things up to eleven. Why would you celebrate something like this? Why would you glamorize it? It’s fucking bonkers. Even the articles criticizing this video all have to talk about how much they support Rihanna, and how great that this young black woman has control of her body (whatever the fuck that means when you’re an entertainer worth millions). Really, who cares? Rihanna certainly doesn’t. She’s famous, she has the attention of the entire world and more money than anyone could ever need, and what does she do? Does she try to make the world a better place? No, she puts out shit like this. She spits on the ideas of justice, equality, and empathy. I’ve liked Rihanna in the past, I’ve listened to her songs. That doesn’t complicate things. Rihanna might be a nice individual. I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter. Because Rihanna, as a public figure, is not a good person. We deserve better. This video is disgusting, and it needs to be condemned. I’m tired of the sexism, but I’m also tired of this sadistic, celebrity-obsessed, money-before-people culture. It’s all connected, and it’s all fucked up.

    • Les Morgan

      I don`t think anyone could have put it better you`ve got so right, it`s all about the money, they don`t care who they hurt/insult!

  • hak

    The second pic is popular culture (ie misogynist culture) in a nutshell: women must be objectified and/or tortured for the male -boner- gaze.

  • Sylvia Black

    Rhianna is a Brand. Rhianna is surrounded by business men (mostly white I would imagine) and a “creative team” whose soul purpose is to make us think Rhianna is an autonomous artist. No, Rhianna is a vocal box, and a puppet. I think assigning much decision-making power to any female artist in this industry is to gravely misunderstand how this industry works. I want to know the names of her manager(s), the video directors and editors, her music agency (Arista?), the producers, the fucking lyricists, and I want to take them to task, bit by bit.

  • Les Morgan

    Well that`s 7 mins 1 sec of my life gone, Why! What! the fuck is Rihanna trying to say with this uncomfortable, slightly disturbing video, It comes across as a badly made porn, by & for young/immature boys/men who really hate women, & of course are terrified of real women with thoughts or opinions of their own. plus added to that musically its shit, Rihanna you have & surely can do better, you own it to yourself,& even more to all your female fans!

  • Nullvoid

    Absolutely horrible. That video is atrocious misogyny. the fact that she takes out the brunt of her rage on the woman is just unspeakably saddening. We already have a problem where what we perceive to be privileged women are hated much more than what we perceive as privileged men. The fuck are you going to torture a woman for something her husband did? Oh, okay, I get it; he has to fuck her over to be bad, the woman just has to fucking exist to be so evil that she needs to be tortured.

    This whole thing makes me sick.

  • Jane (the first)

    Every time I think Twitter libfems can no longer surprise me with their ignorance, malice and solipsism, they outdo themselves. Lauren Chief Elk:


    “White men’s most prized possession is their women. Why wouldn’t she take her as hostage for her most prized possession?”

    I see why third wavers are so gung-ho for porn: they too get off on sexualized violence against women they either dislike or don’t care about, regardless of the repercussions on class:female.

    How does Elk expect me to take her seriously on social justice issues (or at all) when she is so quick to dehumanize a human being? Furthermore, how does Elk think she can encourage violence against white women without it affecting her too? As noted above, Rihanna is a figurehead for her male directors and handlers, and playing primarily to the male boner-gaze. Since when have men ever confined their violence to one class of women? I thought one of the main tenets of intersectionality was that racist and misogynist shit rolls downhill to women of color. Try to use your fucking heads for once, libfems.

    As feministbrown said:


    “But that’s the problem with these anti-colonial expressions. They make metaphors out of female bodies. Literally dehumanizing.”

    I encourage everyone to go to the feministbrown link above and read the whole thread.

    Leaving aside their disgusting Machiavellianism, libfems like Chief Elk are insane if they think men of any color will ever limit their violence to “rich white ladies”. You can’t have your social justice and your revenge porn too, Lauren.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Lauren is no feminist, I’ll say that much about her. Here’s another tweet from her https://twitter.com/ChiefElk/status/616957683497721856 — like, yeah. I do ‘owe money’. To the National Student Loans Service Centre. PURE GOLD, LAUREN.

      • Meghan Murphy

        OMG I am actually losing my mind over some of these defensive tweets. https://twitter.com/anne_theriault/status/617013636100435969 “Sit and ask why??” ARE YOU STUPID?? You want me to sit around and ask myself why I think pornified, sexualized violence against women makes me ‘uncomfortable’?? ARE THESE PEOPLE SERIOUSLY PRETENDING TO BE FEMINISTS WTFFFF.

        • Jane (the first)

          Frankly, I’m disturbed at the suggestion that white women should NOT be shocked at the sight of a black woman torturing a woman who wasn’t an aggressor toward her. Are we to expect black women to fly crazily off the handle at uninvolved people because they’ve been hard done by? Who’s the racist here? “Sit with it and ask yourself what part of her whiteness deserved random violence.” No, take your nihilism and cram it.

          Liberals have a childish, downright frightening inability to make moral distinctions. “Bwhahahahaha! Get the white bitch!” These are the same people who sneer at films like Death Wish. Just because white male directors make shitty revenge porn doesn’t mean it’s liberating or social-justicey when a woman of color does it. In fact, Rihanna’s video is worse than Death Wish because her violence against the white woman doesn’t even qualify as vigilantism.

          These people are simply broken.

        • Funkstar

          Lately, I’ve noticed that many libfems have started co-opting pyschological/therapeutic terms and ideas

          As above, the idea of ‘Sitting with discomfort’….great idea, if for eg. you’re having an anxiety attack at a shopping centre…
          A reaction that is out of proportion to the event.

          Sitting with ‘discomfort’ after watching Rhiannas video for bwmm. A nasty, delusional and dare I say, abusive suggestion.

          • Lee

            People who feel they have almost no chance of being violated or having violence done to them are able to ‘sit with discomfort’ about atrocious things because they are abstract concepts to them, just existing for the purpose of exploration (from a safe distance, in an emotionally detached way, in a controlled environment).

          • Funkstar

            Great point Lee

          • Morag

            That’s a great observation! It pathologizes our responses to depictions of misogyny and violence against women, and that is abuse on top of abuse. Men do this all the time: tell us that if we are upset, it’s due to something broken inside of us, some individual flaw. “Queer” culture does the same thing to women, which is unsurprising, since it’s informed by male-created theories, even if it is other women who are putting them into practice.

        • Kate

          This tweet in part of that conversation made me laugh out loud:


          Yeah! Why, in a mainstream music video with a gigantic budget, is a woman tortured instead of a man? What could the answer to that question possibly be? What a complex mystery. Don’t worry, people are looking for the answer.

      • Jane (the first)

        Libfem idiocracy is a good part of the reason most American women don’t identify as feminist, and I can’t say that I blame them.

        • Empirical Thinker

          That’s quickly changing, though, as more women realize they don’t have to change the way they think or act to call themselves feminists and act like that’s a trump card in any discussion. (From my darling sister: “I’m going to go back to Jezebel, where the real feminists are. And I am a better feminist than you because I give women agency.” This was in a conversation about whether it would be ok for a man to bash my head in if I consented, and she said yes.) Even Kim Kardashian identifies as a feminist now. The term is meaningless.

          • Priscila

            HA. Libfems are usually the ones accusing us of playing the “I’m a better feminist than you” card. This would be so deliciously ironic if it wasn’t sad.

    • Jane (the first)

      No, she isn’t. Speaking of Machiavellianism, neither is MiaMcKenzie:


      “Yes, there is violence (not nearly as much as an R-rated movie, tho. Almost all of the violence is implied). Yes, there are images of a woman being kidnapped, held hostage, and even hung upside down from the ceiling while topless. These are the kinds of images we see a lot in violent revenge films. They can be upsetting and harmful. I didn’t like seeing them here. But they’re also not the entire story.

      Let me tell you what I see when I watch this video: I see a black woman putting her own well-being above the well-being of a white woman.

      Let’s be clear: white women put their own needs and well-being above those of black women every day and call it “feminism”.”

      This is just nutty. Vicious sadism as self-care? I’m gonna remember that the next time you pretend to have the moral high ground on anything, Mia. Third wavers are morally bankrupt to the core.

      • tinfoil hattie

        Yes, Mia. All white women are guilty of SOMETHING, amirite? So even if the woman depicted in the video isn’t the one who ripped off the Rhianna character, show her being tortured because #whitewomenstears.

      • hak

        “Let me tell you what I see when I watch this video: I see a black woman putting her own well-being above the well-being of a white woman.”

        And yet she (like all the people who wrote essays to “”prove”” that BBHMM is so feminist) doesn’t even talk about the pornified torture or VAW.

        It’s just Rihanna fighting the white supremacy right? Really, 3rd wave feminists will do anything to justify VAW. Sigh.

  • Sasha

    I’m just about done with “feminism.” This is the last straw. That women calling themselves feminists would defend this video just shows what a pathetic joke this “movement” has become.

    I’m not gonna watch this video cos the descriptions I’ve seen have already been bad enough to trigger my PTSD. That’s cos I’ve been hung from the ceiling and tortured and sexually assaulted like the woman in this video. I can almost hear the intersectionalists cheer on the people who did this to me. After all, I’m white and blond like the woman in the video (I’m also poor–and a whole lotta other things–but we all know that class is a non-issue for intersectionalists and underage prostitution is empowering). Moreover, no woman should have to list all the ways in which she is oppressed that matter (that is, ways in which men can be oppressed too) before feminists will say that encouraging people to get off on the sexualized torture of women who look like her is bad.

    Also, I’m sick to death of people glorifying everything pimp-related (song title). That a woman’s saying it don’t make it better. These parasites were all over our neighborhood growing up and got their claws on several girls I knew. While there was no way I was gonna hand my $ to some dude, I still got the message at a real young age that I was merchandise. Makes me sick to see how pimps are glamorized in our fucked-up culture.

    As for Rihanna, just another greedy rich woman who doesn’t hesitate to make the world a more hostile and dangerous place for women and girls (especially those who don’t have her resources) if doing so allows her to get even richer and more famous. Of course that’s pretty standard behavior for most rich people; the sick thing is that mainstream feminism worships these women who are rich, glamorous, pornified, surgically enhanced and full of unexamined internalized misogyny.

    I can’t relate to that at all. Guess my mom was right: Feminism isn’t for women like us and it never will be.

    • C.K. Egbert

      I’m so sorry to hear what happened to you Sasha and I hope you are in a safe place now.

      I completely understand why women, particularly poor and marginalized women, don’t think feminism is about or for them. I am relatively privileged and I don’t think that what passes for “feminism” has anything to do with my liberation. This is how men have, Orweillian-style, taken over what was originally a movement for liberation into a movement into greater submission.

      I hope though, that real feminists will listen to women such as yourself and work to make the world better for you.

      Solidarity, sister.

  • There is a way to make kickass music videos without it going into misogynistic territory and reinforcing violence against women. I’m a metal listener and there are a few music videos made by female artists that show them getting revenge against rapists. And even if they don’t have a explicit feminist theme there is a way to display violence in a non misogynistic way. Rihanna is doing nothing by throwing another woman under the bus. We as women may have our disagreements but we should not replicate misogynistic violence against each other. I say let’s kill rapists and pedophiles instead of targeting each other.

    • S.Law

      I agree. I am generally not a fan of rock/pop/alt/rap (classical (#1), world, blues (not R&B, Odetta or the Fairfield Four), folk) but remember a music video in the early 1980s by the group Rough Trade whose singer Carole Pope was featured pushing men around as she strode around the set. She seemed so powerful, unconcerned, and ready to assert her dominance. It was quite thrilling. Although I never became a Rough Trade fan, I became a closet fan of Carole Pope. I understood at that point that I don’t really admire the demure, even though I tend to be on the shy side myself.

    • Mar Iguana

      “I say let’s kill rapists and pedophiles…”

      We should not replicate patriarchal solutions.

  • k.

    Meghan, did you come across of the critiques saying that white women/white feminists should “take accountability” for the Charleston shooter’s claiming to act in the defense of white women? The idea was that white women were responsible for/benefitted from the white supremacist propaganda. Would love to know your take.

    • Meghan Murphy

      No I missed that…

    • S.Law

      I think it as likely that women (poor white women particularly) are the victims of the violence of these white supremacists males as they are the beneficiaries of it. Anyone have stats?


      Women have colluded with the enemy throughout history – think of all the peoples who were conquered and who chose to ally themselves with their conquerors. Look at all the women (and others, including men) who allied themselves with the Nazis in countries occupied by the Germans in WWII. Guess which group was punished more publicly – the women who collaborated (e.g. shaved heads, paraded naked or near naked through their home towns, and made to run the gauntlet (were beaten)). Men were taken away at gunpoint but there didn’t seem to be the same glee in shaming them so thoroughly. Although in some cases they were executed.


      I don’t know why betrayal by women (especially those one should be able to trust, one’s family) hurts more than betrayal by men (including family), but it does.

      But it is hard to see how a man’s malfeasance should be taken out on his spouse. Unless you are talking tit for tat (where one represents all) justice and even then it does not make sense.

      I am not a rich b*tch. And I find the violence against the spouse cowardly. My own grandmother left her husband and children to escape domestic violence. She was in fact threatened with death by her husband if she returned to the area. My grandfather destroyed all images of her. To this day I don’t know what happened to her, even where she is buried. So if anyone says that white women are automatically privileged, I say I have a foot that I will aim at their groin, with extreme prejudice.

      • Morag

        Thank you for this comment, S.Law.

        Those pictures, of the Danish woman chased down, held down, and stripped of her clothing, with swastikas painted on her naked body — that is a scene of sexual humiliation, torture, prurient violence. In the last photo, she is crumpled on the ground, in shame and in pain, in a fetal position. Who knows if she was also raped?

        That series of war-time photos can be compared to the Rihanna video. It’s a roughly analogous scenario, in the sense that the white women in both have aligned themselves with the evil, enemy men, either knowingly or unknowingly or somewhere in-between. We don’t know their level of guilt or innocence, only that they somehow benefitted from their alliance with white, male power. And, in both, they are not just made an example of — to deter others from making the same corrupt choices — they are not just punished, but punished specifically as women: sexually, with pornified, rapist methods of control and humiliation.

        But, what’s been done to them doesn’t count as sexual assault (especially in Rihanna’s video, where the kidnapped and tortured woman appears, at times, to be in ecstasy — porn-inspired, anyone?). The white women’s betrayals (of her countrymen, or other less privileged women) are used to disappear the violent misogyny enacted upon their bodies, and to recast it as “justice.”

        But, justice for whom? For others who have been the victims of similar or the very same systems of power and oppression? Certainly not justice for other women. If sexual torture, humiliation and rape can be justified as not actual, active woman-hating under certain circumstances, if it can be justified for some women some of the time, it can be justified for any woman at any time.

        Which is pretty much our history right there: it’s OK to do it to women who are witches, who are poor, who are slaves, who are incarcerated, who are prostitutes, who marked by the colour of their skin. It’s OK to violate her AS a woman, because she is not really a woman, so male supremacy and misogyny cannot be named. And, in these examples, it’s also OK when the woman in question has had it TOO good by virtue of her race or social position, or when she has, in reality or in the imagination, behaved selfishly and badly.

        Is this what the queer-third-wavers are calling intersectionality now? What a perversion. Instead of highlighting multiple oppressions, and how they compound, it is busy at work erasing female-specific oppression and suggesting that this is strike against “the man.” Except that the strikes are against a woman’s body, and they are sexualized and are intended, not to annihilate her dangerous privilege and supposed power, but her dignity — her very core. It is, in fact, The Man’s wet-dream-come-true.

    • Tim

      Not exactly what you’re talking about, but here is a post from Laura Flanders on that idea:


    • Rich

      “Meghan, did you come across of the critiques saying that white women/white feminists should “take accountability” for the Charleston shooter’s claiming to act in the defense of white women? The idea was that white women were responsible for/benefitted from the white supremacist propaganda. Would love to know your take.”

      There was an article on Huffington Post that said pretty much said that. By a white woman, of course. Looks like it is gone now.

    • Rocio

      It’s so ignorant and ahistorical to think that White supremacists supposedly defending White women was actually them doing that. White supremacists have historically taken least kindly to White women having Black men as lovers and punished those men the most severely. Almost like White Supremacy is patriarchal at its core. This is not to say that many many white women did not collude with white supremacy but this is the most stupid possible example I could think of to explain how white supremacy possibly benefited white women.

  • Laur

    People need to understand that the Rhianna is not trying to send a message about race. Rhianna may not have even come up with the part about assaulting the accountant’s wife. Apparently, she had an idea for a story, and then the MALE DIRECTORS put it together.

    If this type of violence had been done to a man in the video (which I am not recommending), it never would have been *sexualized* the way it is in this video. I’m not sure why it’s so hard for people to understand this. Or for people, including white women, to imply that white women are not part of feminism. Apparently, intersectionality does not include white women.

    • Les Morgan

      I don`t understand what kind of message Rihanna is trying to send, other than she is clearly a very damaged women or she dosen`t give a shit about anyone, she has manipulated by the business (& the men that run it) into just wanting the money, the drugs & ofcouse the so-called fame

  • L

    Have any of you read the huffpo article about this video?
    It ends with: “But with #BBHMM, perhaps it’s best, ultimately, not to overthink it. By its last shot, with a naked Rihanna, covered in blood, laying in a trunk full of money, the video is asking you to do only one thing: ease into your discomfort. Embrace it.”

    Did y’all hear that? We shouldn’t think critically about what we consume, just stop thinking and everything will be fine! Obviously, thinking is the real problem here. *eye roll*

    • Ann

      Reminds me of “just lie back and think of England”.

    • Rachel

      Oh my god, if I could count the amount of times I’ve been told I “think too much” I would literally lose the plot. I hate when people say that. You’re right, thinking is the problem here! Actually, not just thinking but women thinking. That’s the real problem!

  • SaraClue

    Suppose, in her video, Rihanna and pals kidnapped and tortured and drowned her accountant’s dog instead of his wife. What would the public’s reaction be?

    • Rachel

      Wow. Really great point. I am an avid animal lover and so I actually don’t see animals as less than humans when I say this…but you are right, people actually see women as less than animals. It’s not even sub human, it’s literally just like an inanimate object. Wow. I mean, I always knew this but your statement really made me break it down again.

      • Priscila

        Rachel, you’d be horrified with the amount of misogynistic men I met who were vegan and/or animal rights’ activists. They’re just everywhere. You’ll also meet them. They’ll get all (rightfully) indignated about animal abuse but see nothing wrong with their pornography because, ya know, “consent” and stuff. They’re disgusting.

        • Hitler was a vegetarian and antivivisectionist too… And he had no particular affection for women.

        • Rachel

          Ugh how disheartening! You kind of hope that with people who have compassion for animals, you may find some compassion for women, but I don’t hold my breath to be honest anyway. You summed it up in one word “consent”. But but but don’t hurt the boner! *eye roll*. Yep you’re right, disgusting!

          • marv
          • Rachel

            I can’t believe I never thought about it like that before! I never realised that even in the animals right communities there is major patriarchal influence. I mean, it makes total sense! Most of the movement does include women “protesting” naked or near naked. And most people are dawn to vegetarianism and veganism by a promise of how “sexy” they will be. This always irked me, but I can’t believe I never made that connection! *slaps forehead*. I guess I can still be quite naive with my thinking “vegan compassion=women compassion”. Not so! Thanks for the link to the website by the way!

          • Rocio

            I’ve long been in the radical leftist millieu and long ago a male anarchist friend informed me that the radical wing of the animal rights movement was very sexist and that many of the men there literally have a “go make me sandwich” attitude towards the women in their midst.

          • Tim

            Another post on this very blog led me, after several subsequent clicks, to a post on the blog Radfem News Service about the Russian group Pussy Riot. Warning on the linked story; it describes some very nasty stuff. It turns out they are part of an “anarchist” group where the men make the women do all kinds of submissive things in public sexual displays as part of their “protests.” There is a book coming out this fall, I think, that goes extensively into how awfully misogynistic (among other things) the anarchist movement is

          • Morag

            Ah, yes — I remember reading that on the RadFem Hub a couple of years ago. It’s excellent, a real eye-opener! Behold, “radical” men “protesting” injustices by fucking women over in the most disgusting and humiliating ways possible.

          • Mar Iguana

            I’m pretty sure I’ve written this before on FC, but I think it’s important to remember and to pass along to those who don’t know about it:

            Liberal/leftist/progressive men hate women just as deeply as conservation men; the only argument is whether women should be public or private property. From Todd Gitlin’s, The Sixties (it could be said this was the birth of second wave feminism):

            “On January 1969, the antiwar National Mobilization Committee marked the inauguration of Richard Nixon—or “inhoguration,” as it was called—with a march and rally in Washington. In the chaos that followed Chicago, only a few thousand demonstrators turned out; a scatter of objects was hurled helplessly at Nixon’s official caravan. That night, under the Mobe’s circus tent, two speakers from the growing women’s movement were on the platform: SDS veteran Marilyn Salzman Webb and New York radical feminist theoretician Shulamith Firestone. It was the usual movement practice to incorporate constituencies by giving them slots on the program—a pluralist move that made for long rallies. There were two women (along with others bearing mock voter registrations cards) because there were already two women’s positions bitterly antagonistic to each other. The radical feminists had wanted to skip the occasion, having concluded that all men kept all women down; Webb, an organizer of one of Washington’s first women’s consciousness-raising groups, had insisted that women keep taking their case to the larger movement. The radical feminists wanted to tear up voter registration cards on the platform, symbolizing that suffrage had failed women; Webb and her comrades decided to destroy theirs as well—to repudiate electoral politics across the board.

            “Marilyn Webb was twenty-six, slender, attractive. Although she had years of movement experience—she had organized a Head Start project in Chicago while a graduate student in psychology, and had spoken before black congregations—this was the first time she had addressed a multitude on a ceremonial occasion. “We as women are oppressed,” she said. “We, as supposedly the most privileged in this society, are mutilated as human beings so that we will learn to function within a capitalist system.” As she warmed to the subject, pandemonium broke out in the crowd below her. She plunged on, denouncing a system that views people as “objects and property”—and a cheer went up. She heard shouts: “Take her off the stage and fuck her!” “Take her down a dark alley!” “Take if off!” This was not a burlesque joint, this was the movement she knew and loved. She finished, shaken, and Shulamith Firestone went to the microphone and attacked—not just capitalism, but men, and not just capitalist men, but the men in front of her, “revolutionary” men. “Let’s start talking about where you live, baby, “ she roared, to boos, “and wonder whether…capitalism and all those other isms don’t just begin at home…Because we women often have to wonder if you mean what you say about revolution or whether you just want more power for yourselves.”

          • Morag

            That’s good snapshot of “progressive” misogyny and male violence. Thanks Mar Iguana.

            What has changed? I think it’s much worse even than in the sixties.

          • Mar Iguana

            “What has changed? I think it’s much worse even than in the sixties.”

            What changed is that men lost control of women and laws got passed before they knew what hit them. They’ve been trying to get it back ever since by any means necessary. See Susan Faludi’s “Backlash, The Undeclared War Against American Women.” Before Second Wave women’s liberation (fuck equality feminism), men could afford to act like gentlemanly benevolent dictators.

            To regain their control over women, men have resorted to militarism, porn and prostitution, fundamentalist religion, laissez faire capitalism, acting like assholes and proud of it and are willing to destroy all life on Earth if they can’t dominate it.

          • Rocio

            Oh I’d love to read that book Tim says is coming out on sexism in the Anarchist movement.

            I have felt I was an anarchist since I was 19, in the sense that I read the ideology, and agree with it. (Against hierarchy and domination and for socialism.)

            That said, OMG is the North American Anarchist subculture a shitshow. Makes me want to just call myself a socialist these days. It’s basically led by White middle class men which is bizarre given that it was an ideology that originated in working class struggle.

            And despite the fact that they generally hate right-libertarians, Anarchists have generally bought the third wave Feminism hook line and sinker. It’s partially just that so many anarchist are super into counterculture and will adopt a lot of things that seem the most “out there”. The problem is that there’s no strong structural analysis, the typical anarchist ideology is a hodgepodge of liberal, socialist, & libertarian ideas.

            And hence you have anarchists who think Miley Cyrus and Rihanna are Feminists and radical! (Bc they’re rebelling against their families and Christian conservatismsm?)

          • Priscila

            Thanks for sharing marv. Sadly unsurprising. 🙁

    • ArgleBargle

      Horrified. Because it is sick and twisted to hurt animals. Because they are innocent. Not like women.

    • Which reminds me, we don’t even have to suppose. Remember whatshisname, Michael Vicks?, years ago, NFL player I think? Abused his dogs, major national scandal, drummed out of the NFL.

      Twenty years later, the NFL finally gets around to noticing wife abuse (only because there was an actual goddamn video that went viral). The reaction was pretty much, “oh, the poor guy, you’ve ruined his career, you’re so nasty, he said he didn’t mean it, it was just a private argument, why are you butting in,” etc., etc., etc.

    • Tim

      Yes, and imagine if they had done that and gotten Michael Vick to play the Eric Roberts part.

  • S.Law

    I think there is hostility among women for other women who seem to be in the kept woman category. “The poor little rich women” (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/opinion/sunday/poor-little-rich-women.html?_r=0). Whether that hostility is justified or not is another question. And it is not simply a question of jealousy as some would assert. I think it is associated with the fact that this type of woman seems oblivious to the world around her – that she lives in tower (like the fairy tale heroine) waiting for her saviour or her keeper to provide her with the necessities of life as well as jewels, etc. In former times some of these women lead the suffragette movement or the anti-poverty movement (http://www.victorianweb.org/history/slums.html), now they just exercise their buns off to ensure their ‘wife bonus’. To my mind the bargain that is made is not worth the sacrifice. That may explain some of the rage in the video. But I agree that depicting white women as victims empowers no one. And hasn’t this been going on for some time. Before the ‘democratization’ of soft core porn and the inclusion of more women of color in it, white women seemed to be a mainstream porn staple. That was the impression I got anyway (1980s, early 1990s). Albeit I did not watch enough music videos to really know what the breakdown was – white and other women.

    • Some of the anti-poverty work did have their Lady Bountifuls, but you’re being grossly unfair to the women who fought for the right to vote. Whether or not they came from privileged backgrounds, any woman who took up that cause was ridiculed (I’d say beyond belief, except that feminists are still viciously ridiculed — not very much has changed) and ostracized. If she was arrested during a protest, she stood a good chance of torture, such as forced feeding. When she got out, nobody put up statues to her heroism.

      None of that is being oblivious to the world or equivalent to exercising your buns in fashionable gym clothes.

      • S.Law

        I don’t know if it is worthwhile responding since you seemed to have willfully misunderstand my comment. I was referring to the wealthy women of the present http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/opinion/sunday/poor-little-rich-women.html?_r=0. A certain subset of wealthy and middle class women were involved in good works and the suffragette movement. But to claim that it was the majority of that class would be misleading. The women leading the shirtwaist factory workers were poor, immigrants. They were supported by wealthy women but those women didn’t initiate the movement. I think there was a different expectation of wealthy women in 1800s and 1900s. That they be involved in good works. I do admire those women – whatever their class. But to imply that all wealthy or middle class women were involved in the suffragette movement is just untrue. I would assume that a minority was involved – a vocal minority but a minority nonetheless. Women of the past didn’t have the number of labour saving devices we have, so I assume the majority would be in the home or at work (on the farm) ‘working their buns off’. Wealthy and middle class women had servants to help, so had more leisure time. And one has to consider the literacy rates for women. Which were quite low, generally lower than men’s, particularly in the 1800s. Literacy is often required before the vote is given to a population. Or an awareness of the issues. Given the highly rural nature of Canadian society, I don’t think many women worked in factories.

        Given the reluctance of many to be associated with anything feminist (until recently when any behaviour can be called feminist) I find it hard to believe that women in history were that eager to earn the ire of their menfolk. I volunteered on a feminist film festival’s board for a number of years and every year a new crop of volunteers would question our mandate and selection criteria for the films. Films had to have women in top creative positions (like editing, directing, writing) and every year volunteer programmers and board members would try to push the boundaries on that. Note, that our funding was dependent on following our mandate. We also had women-only programming committees with the exception of one year and a few committees. Again, so that women could talk openly with one another about issues like abortion (we received submissions that dealt with contentious topics like female sexuality, sexual preference, family violence, mental illness, etc). Eventually even the term ‘feminist’ was removed from the name of the festival. I mean, if the majority of women living in the rather privileged present generally cave to male opinion (we received negative press now and again because we had LGBT programmes), what would the majority of women in the past do. Basically nothing. Given their heavy workloads (if working class) and other priorities if wealthy.

        • I did misunderstand your comment. I thought from this “In former times some of these women lead the suffragette movement or the anti-poverty movement” that you were talking about the women in history. You meant women-now-who-are-like-those-in-former-times? And I didn’t say that historically they were any kind of majority. Rare as hen’s teeth, more like. Sort of like actual feminists now. Real change seems slower than continental drift. Depressing.

  • Freddie M

    Well the site Feministing.com won’t allow any comments that criticizes the video.

    I guess it’s just good manners in their feminism to accept that a white woman get graphically abused in a video as long as it is a black woman doing it. Particularly a white woman that didn’t even commit the crime.

    It’s just good manners to not speak out about that on Feministing.com where they only posted a positive review link to the video and allow no critical commentary on it. For three days. From anybody.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Feministing is boring and gutless af.

      • Freddie M

        Basically any of the big feminist sites in the US believe it’s just good manners for a white woman to allow abuse because white feminism.

        There’s this belief that currently, there is a white feminist cabal. They are rich. They do not give all these riches from their books, blogs, their podcasts, their feminist foundations to women of color. They are rolling in power and money. If they get asked to speak on CNN, they should be ashamed. They horde all the media invites and are responsible for the actions of the people asking them to speak. If they are in power, say one of the 11% of women who direct in Hollywood or run a show or one of the 8% of women at all in power in a male dominated profession, they should be ashamed. White feminist thinkers are rolling in power and money and somehow keep women of color out.

        While every feminist group I know is quite mixed. And it’s gotten to the point where it’s just good manners to accept all manner of insult or abuse without any sort of response because white feminism.

        Rather than be accused of “white feminism,” it’s just good manners to praise a video where a white woman who wasn’t even actually the person to do the stealing, gets abused for amusement and pleasure. It’s just good manners for feminists to accept that it for fun and games.

        It’s just good manners, and like white girls are the predominate cutters, they dutifully cut themselves. They are the soft target. Instead of railing on the patriarchy, percentage wise, a huge part of the railing is on white feminists, vaguely.

        I’m not saying there is not white privilege. But there’s this thing where you see black identified feminist bloggers in their WordPress description or twitter handle use a slagging on white feminists as their brand. It’s their product. Not “white privilege” or conservative power brokers in govt or the workplace, but “white feminists” is their preferred target. If you ask them about it, you get some sort of vague reference to something someone wrote 60 years ago in one article one time, if that. It’s usually some vague femiNazi reference. The fog of war means white feminists are what are holding them back. And it’s just good manners to reassure them for everyone to use the words “white feminist” never as even a neutral descriptor.

        If you ask people to use the words “white privilege” when that is what they mean, they get hateful. You may be able to rail against the word “tranny” or “fag” but you aren’t allowed to say white + feminist without the requisite curtsy toward hating it. We can defend a nonhate of any group on the planet – how they identify, how they biologically are, but somehow, “white feminist” is forbidden to have even a neutral spin. There are even “reachout” articles on “white conservative women” and “pro-life women.” You can even find positive and peace making references to that. Not “white feminist.”

        It’s just good manners to allow this hate to go on and not to challenge or criticize in any way.

        And so comments that say that RiRi’s joy violence on a white woman – hey maybe could be, I might be wrong, hey a little …..bad are not allowed on these sites. It’s bad manners to speak out against joy violence against women if the woman is white and the person doing it is black or …..white feminism.

        You have to follow the fashions here.

  • “A male accountant fucked Rihanna over. Why not create a video sexualizing and abusing him? Why choose to play out a violent fantasy on his girlfriend that plays on themes of date rape and BDSM? Oh right. Because misogyny. What’s the fun in holding powerful men accountable for their actions when we could profit from further objectifying and oppressing women? We all know pornifying men will get us nowhere and that women are easier and more popular targets.”

    And – I’d suggest – if Rihanna’s vid depicted anyone but a white female woman in that same position, RiRi’s career would likely be OVER or at least severely impeded. And most likely to be over, as the result of vicious, abusive furious backlash – as opposed to analysis and criticism – if the victim were a white male of any gender identification. Choosing to depict the torture and murder of any person in this way is repulsive. Choosing a woman target is -IMO- an act of career-minded cowardice dressed up as empowerment.

    Personally, I don’t have words for how abhorrent and sickening I find it that the objectification, cruelty and violence of/against another being is framed as empowering-fun-justice-revenge that the audience ought to be cheering for. That would be the same for me if the victim were a male or female of any skin colour, stated gender identity or any other characteristic.

    But I’m pretty sure that framing could only be popular, career enhancing AND accepted by a substantial number of ‘feminists’ as empowering and revolutionary, if it were a white female woman depicted to be abused in this way.

    It sounds trite I know, but I see feminists cheering this vid., and simply wonder – where is their compassion and empathy for another suffering person?
    Why don’t they question why they are able to shut down, ignore (or fail to experience in the first place) empathy for a victim of torture and murder, because that person is a white woman?

    The only good thing that might possibly come out of this – and I’m not holding my breath – is that a critical mass of people might achieve Peak #whitefeminism.

    • Funkstar

      I agree. Can’t we just say, violence, torture, abuse is absolutely wrong, full stop. Not kinda ok if it’s a white women, more ok of its a white man, worse if it’s a poc, blah blah blah. It’s absolute insanity.

      I believe their is some use in clustering people into groups, in order to look at structual and systemic disadvantages. However I think people get out of hand with these labels and dehumanise people too much.

      Idk maybe I need to do a first year intersectionality class to understand his stuff.

      • Sally Hansen

        Nope, you’re fine. You’re just not an insane post-modernist liberal feminist, CLEARLY lol The moment we start classifying some people as more worthy of abuse than others, the more you delve deep into identity politics and accomplish NOTHING. The whole point is to unite women all over the world, and for those who are privileged to use their privilege in the defense of those less privileged, not to target women who had no control over the class they may have been born into. What does that accomplish? It tells men that some women are more worthy of abuse than others (just what they’re hoping for, I’m so sure), and it gives the rich further incentive to hurt the poor. Liberal feminism is divisive at it’s core.

  • Morag

    A Pakistani writer, Bina Shah, has written an essay criticizing Rihanna’s video. It’s a must-read:

    “Rihanna’s New Video Depressingly Familiar for South Asian Women”


    An excerpt:

    “Over here, people know that the best way to hurt a man is to attack his woman. Be it his daughter, wife, mother or sister. Kidnap her and then rape her to avenge a slight. Or marry her to your son or brother and then you’ve got power over him because she’s in your family’s control and you can do what you like to her. Strip her naked and make her walk through the village. Have her gang-raped. Or kill her on the pretext of honor. Or throw her out of your house, divorce her, leave her without any maintenance.”

    • Meghan Murphy

      Excellent! Thanks for sharing, Morag

  • Jonas

    So some celebrity women thinks its cool to depict sexualized torture of women to sell more stuff to the patriarchal, capitalist mindset and in return make more money.

    The world is getting sadder by the minute.

    • Sally Hansen

      and sadly it’s the status quo 🙁

  • Jane

    Not watching the video but Rihanna has always had a huge internalized misogyny & internalized racism problem. She uses the words bitch, hoe and n*gga freely (the latter often referring to children too) and has often referred to herself as having a metaphorical penis. The woman suffers from deep-rooted self-hatred and lacks the self-esteem to break out of it. I just want her to discover feminism asap.

  • Rocio

    First the thing that struck me when I first read about reading about the video is the premise of the entire video is a rich woman killing a wealthy but less wealthy person over money. That in and of itself should have the masses not defending her. The Black Girl Dangerous defense is a joke when you realize that this is not even about needs at all but about greed! A huge chunk of Black women struggle for their very survival and people spend energy defending a rich person on their greed?

    Secondly I read the following article that helped restore my sanity after reading actual people defend Rihanna’s video as some sort of Black on White revenge fantasy. The blogger, a Black man, speaks of how disgusting and absurd the idea of targeting White women to get back at White Supremacy is particularly in a sexualized manner.

    He discusses the case of one former Black Panther who was quickly kicked out by the organization for his crimes who raped White women and viewed it as “insurrectionary” because it caused pain to Whites. And guess what? He admits that he raped Black women first bc he could. And he goes on to note how most of the Black liberation tradition in the US has rejected sexualized violence against White Women and I’d argue personally in general that it has also generally rejected any sort of revenge against Whites. In fact he cites Fredrick Douglass noting how even during the Civil War when slaves vastly outnumbered the White women left behind on plantations, they did not take revenge upon those women. (Just want to emphasize that I and the blogger do not want to add to the white supremacist stereotype that Black men are violent. They are human period.)


    • Meghan Murphy

      Thank you so much for sharing this post! It’s excellent.

    • Black Women

      In your comment you capitalized both of the words White and Women when you referred to White Women, but you didn’t capitalize both of the words Black and Women when you referred to Black Women – you only capitalized Black.


      • Mar Iguana

        Oh, good grief.

      • vagabondi

        Well, I’m not rocio so I can’t say for sure, but I notice that the phrase “white women” appears four times in that comment, and three of those times women is not capitalized, and one time it is. I’d agree with you that there was something weird about it if it was a pattern, but it looks more like a mistake to me.

        • Rocio

          Well I had jetlag. The only real attention I paid to capitalization was trying to make sure Black and White were capitalized. Reviewing it there was only one place I capitalized White women, and three other times I did not like the above commenter noted. So yes it was a typo. There’s also an extra repetitive word in the first sentence, if the person who asked thinks the capitalization typo signifies anything more than a typo.

  • C.K. Egbert

    “White feminism” at work: A white woman defends Rihanna’s video with absolutely zero analysis (I’m presuming in order to get intersectionality points).


    • Meghan Murphy

      This person is a slutwalk supporter. She is a white liberal feminist. Who does she think she is talking to? https://twitter.com/britschulte

      • C.K. Egbert

        Not that I condone her position, but I understand where she is coming from. This is the way of acceptance and validation, at least in the more leftist circles, and in fact it is probably very difficult for young women (for example, on college campuses) to find a feminist group or role models that didn’t follow the same line.

        I think she’s speaking to “white feminists” who are critical of the video.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I think she doesn’t really know who she is speaking to, what her position is, or what the response has been. I think she’s looking for validation but isn’t really doing any critical thinking and isn’t very clear in her own politics… Which is normal for many young people, I suppose…

  • A H

    Some of these people critisizing Meghan over this are the same people who said she was racist because she said she hoped that Chris Brown would die!

    That should give you am idea about how much they actually care about Rihanna and women of color in general.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Oh give it a rest please. I did not and do not think Chris Brown should die. Aura Bogado, whose MO is internet bullying, screen shotted a one-off comment I (stupidly, in retrospect) made saying “Ugh, can somebody please kill Chris Brown?” like five or six years ago, on my private Facebook page, that was in reference to his response/shit-ass behaviour in the media, WITH REGARD TO HIS ABUSE OF RIHANNA. All Brown ever did was try to avoid accountability and feel sorry for himself when, only months after he beat her up, the public hadn’t fully forgiven him. The comment had context, and the context was Brown whining about being held accountable for beating up Rihanna (I think — honestly it was so long ago I hardly even remember, despite the fact that anti-feminists have tried to spin as both a current comment and some kind of Official Statement On Chris Brown).

      For the last time, it was not a serious comment. It was equivalent to me saying to a friend, in private conversation, “Ugh, can Charlie Sheen just go die?” which I have likely said many times, or “Please fuck off forever, Terry Richardson.” I talk like a valley girl, am very saracastic, and exaggerate everything. I did this even more, years ago, before I was a public figure of sorts and didn’t care much if people misread or misunderstood me on my personal Facebook page (or in real life). Five years ago I was not well-known as a writer and commentator and did not consider exaggerated or joking, rando, thoughtless comments I made on my private Facebook page to be pubic statements. Because they weren’t. Oh LORD the number of stupid comments you coulda dredged up from my Facebook page back in 2008, 2009! How’s about we go back to every single private comment — spoken or written — you’ve made in the past ten years and see how we can incriminate you over it eh? Aura Bogado, too. Wouldn’t that be fun?

      Anyway, for the last time, at no point in my life have a seriously or literally wished Chris Brown would die. At the same time, CHRIS BROWN IS A FUCKING WOMAN-BEATER. STOP DEFENDING HIM.

      You people who have more concern for rando facebook comments about Chris Brown than you do women’s actual lives and well-being — for RIHANNA’S actual life and well-being (you know, the one who got beat up by Chris Brown) need to have a moment with yourselves.

      Now quick! Go tell everyone I want Charlie Sheen dead too. I’M A MURDERERRRRRR.

  • Ash

    Ugh, I never watched the video because the stills were too upsetting for me. I can’t even believe people would say this is feminist merely because she’s a woman and chose to make a music video about torturing another woman. backlash runs deep, apparently. so incredibly depressing.

  • anne

    I remember when this came out and I first read libfm rabidly defending Rhianna standing up against racist oppression, and how white women need to shut the fuck up and check their privilege, basically the same diseased logic that enables autogynephilic male perverts to subvert and damage not just feminist spaces but feminism itself. I watched the video thinking it must have been empowering, and yet I couldn’t see why. I felt uncomfortable and sad, not just for the white chick but for Rhianna with her gun tats and abusive childhood. I feel the conflict between sexes has became an all out wa.

  • Milli

    Oh yes, BBHMM…When I saw it I was like…WTF? I kinda think that she really want to do something “empowering” and “shocking” but it doesn´t work at all. It´s full of clichés. Yes, Rihanna is the boss here and yes, she is female – but this thing does not make it feminist. Only rihannist. I am not against violence in the film when this violence is portray critically – like this is ugly, painfull and bad thing to do but it´s real, it´s present and we should point the finger to it. Society is misogynist and violent so we show critique of misogyny and violence on screen. There is a lot of smart and more or less graphic ways how to do it. But BBHMM is not that case. Another thing is the endless warfare between “lartpourlartism” and “engaged art”. Is it really necessary to see everything (in art) like political act or statement? Is necessary to label it this way? Is possible to be apolitical (especially for well-known person) today? Is it responsible?