I am not okay with Rihanna and Chris Brown's new collaborations.
Earlier this week, the former couple released not one, but two collaborations. One was a mix of Rihanna's track Birthday Cake, the other was one of Brown's Turn Up the Music. You can listen to them both here.
I am not okay with the fact that in an attempt to "shock the world" (according to Kosine, one of the producers on the remix of Birthday Cake), Rihanna has made a public statement that it's okay to go back to the man who abused you.
Court documents in Brown's 2009 trial made it clear that he beat Rihanna repeatedly. Photographs from that night – the night before the 2009 Grammy Awards – show a Rihanna that is almost unrecognisable.
The recently released documents made for absolutely terrifying reading. You can read the full report on Perez Hilton's site but I'll give you highlights.
Brown punched her repeatedly, smashed her head against the window, bit her left ear and two of her fingers, threatened to kill her, had her in a headlock and tried to strangle her.
It's been just three years since that night – and, in fact, Brown is still serving a five-year probation for the felony assault. He made an extremely controversial return to the Grammy Awards last week – he performed twice – and his appearance raised the ire of a number of celebrities, music fans and critics.
Country star Miranda Lamber tweeted: "Chris Brown twice? I don't get it. He beat on a girl ... Not cool that we act like that didn't happen."
They questioned the appropriateness of his inclusion into the ceremony, and his reaction does not seem typical of a man who is remorseful of actions. He tweeted, "HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That's the ultimate F*** OFF!"
And then Rihanna tweeted about her two collaborations with the man that beat her head against a car window.
In 2009, Rihanna said: "I don't want to be the big domestic-violence spokesperson, because that doesn't define who I am. But if I can help young women in any way, and that being one of the things they need help with, then I'll do that."
She told Diane Sawyer: "When I realised that my selfish decision for love could result in some young girl getting killed, I could not be easy with that part. I couldn't be held responsible for telling them, 'Go back,' even if Chris never hit me again. Who's to say they won't kill these girls? It was a wake-up call for me, big time."
Rihanna had a perfect chance – whether she wanted it or not – to make a statement, shine as an example to abused men and women. She had the chance, through her actions, to say: "What happened to me is not okay. What he did was not okay. I do not need to stand for it. I am better than he is. I do not need to go back."
But the collaborations have sent a very, very public message: I have forgiven my abuser, and want him back in my life. (Even better, I can cash in on the controversy and the abuse.)
These were my thoughts before I had even listened to the remix of Birthday Cake. And yes, while Brown's contribution to the song is keeping with the hardcore, S&M style of the original's lyrics… Well, wow. It is not okay for the man that abused you to be singing those lyrics.
"Girl, I wanna f*** you right now. Been a long time. I been missin' your body … Give it to her in the worst way. Can't wait to her blow her candles off."
I was surfing for various opinions on the tracks, and an article on the Boston Herald site really stuck out. The author had interviewed one Wendy Murphy, who teaches a seminar on sexual violence at New England Law School.
"I don't even have words to describe the perversity of (the collaboration)," she said.
"The obvious message she is sending isn't that violence is bad, it's that you need to find a way to enjoy it. … Someone should confront her and say, 'Women are dying from the same violence you are celebrating'."
"To do a song with the man who beat the hell out of her is exploiting her own victimisation for money," Murphy said.
I am not okay with Rihanna's collaboration with Chris Brown. I do not care whether she has forgiven him for what he did.
Instead, Rihanna's stand-alone collaborations with Brown are a public statement – that she publically endorses the man that abused her.
This could have been done differently. If they want to announced to the world that they are happy and back together, they could have released a statement instead of dropping two unnecessarily controversial tracks. Or, if they simply had to release the tracks, then release them with an accompanying statement. The usual celebrity run of the mill statement would be fine: "After much consideration ... Deep introspection ... Looked within our hearts ... We ask for your privacy..."
They both owe it to their fans to provide the underlying context – whether they think they owe anything to the people who keep buying their records and keeping them in business or not.
Rita Smith, the executive director for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, seems to agree with me.
She told MTV News: "I don't know what the message is. I would like the message to be: People can change, and I will never be treated that way again and I will never treat anyone that way again.
"The content of the songs seems to be more in-your-face than something about, 'We're collaborating on something because we care about the way people treat each other.' That would have been the message that would have been nice to come out of this very public and tragic incident.
"If they had released a song saying this is what this represents for us, that would be such a much more fabulous, powerful story than not saying a word," she said.
Like so many other victims of domestic abuse, Rihanna returns to her attacker. Convinced he has changed, perhaps, or convinced that she can change him.
And what if, like so many other victims of domestic abuse, it happens again?