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Blame the Victim: A Play in Six Acts

So: it really, really looks like Chris Brown beat up a lady. What we basically know – that she had a split lip, two contusions on either side of her forehead, a black eye, and, according to some sources, bite marks; that she is reported to have said that he choked her until she lost consciousness; that a stranger called 911 [UPDATE: I was wrong and/or read this wrong – she called them, and Chris Brown is still an asshole of titanic proportions] and the sound of her screams could be heard on the tape; that Brown fled the scene and later turned himself in – is pretty overwhelmingly conclusive. That lady, by the way, was Rihanna, who was dating him – but then, you know that, because she is famous, and despite the fact that the identities of domestic violence victims, like those of rape victims, are typically withheld, various outlets, from TMZ to the LA Times, published that information.

It is a sad thing, domestic violence. It is a sad, scary, terrible thing that women – who comprise the majority of its victims – have to live in fear of, yet another weapon in the seemingly endless arsenal of threats that keep women constantly on guard lest they somehow come across as uppity and are forced to pay the price. That price is sometimes death; sometimes, painful and disfiguring injury; sometimes, just an emotional wound that never stops hurting.

Hey, did I mention that I saw this video about kittens today? It is right below this post, if you want to go check it out.

Anyway: as the allegations come in, and are reported and commented upon by various sources, celebrities, and journalists, it’s clear that the victim in this case will need loving, unconditional support, professional help, and, of course, privacy, in order to recover from this unbelievably painful betrayal. The victim of whom I speak is, of course, Chris Brown.

Here follows a collection of quotes, presented with no commentary.


“He got a booty call. He got a text. Rihanna saw it and she got upset. They started to argue. She got out of the car. He wanted her to get back in, so he grabbed her,” the industry source said. “She pulled away. That’s when she’s told people he hit her.” [Anonymous source, via New York Daily News]

My homey Rhymestyle (who I battled on Twitter) sent me a blurb that Chris and Rihanna might have gotten into a beef, because she may have given him a VD. If you don’t know what that is, its a venereal disease. In this particular case, the word Herpes has been floating around. [Illseed, All Hip Hop]

I’m a girl and i personally think a it’s acceptable for a guy to hit a girl WHEN THE GIRL IS VERY UNCONDITIONALLY SO ANNOYING! I have loads of friends who actually provoked the guy patience until they can’t stand! Man is like dogs, very nice when treated with respect but will bite you in the *** if provoked! [Commenter, E! Online]

in his defense…I have to say…there have always been those rumors about Rihanna being very posessive and that she has flipped her lid a time or two…point of my story is that i do not wish what has happened on anyone…But here is my story…My first love and I had hit a ruff patch…i found out he was talking to another girl…and while he was always a very loving guy, he would have never put his hand on me, until…one night, i was sitting in his car and we were talking which escalated into a huge argument…my feet were proped up on the dash…i got so angry and before i knew it i had kicked his windshield and pulled his keys out and threw them across the parking lot (same as Rihanna)…well before i knew it he was out of the car and came around and threw me out of the car onto the hard concrete… The guy loved me really really loved me…but i had pushed him to his breaking point. I am sure Chris feels really bad about what happend. [Commenter, E! Online]


Is Paris To Blame For Chris Brown & Rihanna’s Fight? [Persia Ali, The Frisky]

Leona Lewis has refuted stories suggesting she was at the centre of Chris Brown and Rihanna’s altercation on Saturday night… A source had told The Mirror: “Rihanna saw Chris flirting. He and Leona were laughing and Rihanna saw his hand on the small of her back… It was totally innocent but it set Rihanna off.” []

I am also hearing that some girl disrespected Rihanna by hitting on Chris Brown right in front of Ri Ri. Ri Ri screamed on the girl and the girl may have gotten too hype and Chris busted clocked HER, not Ri Ri. [Illseed, All Hip Hop]


The now former Doublemint-gum-shilling singer was arrested Sunday for allegedly beating up his hit-making girlfriend in the wee hours, and everyone is chiming in on this apparent domestic abuse case, though charges have yet to be filed… Reuters filed a piece reporting that 71 percent of voters in a poll on AOL’s site think Brown is guilty of attacking his girlfriend—because such matters can be decided by a vote, you know. [Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune]

I think Chris Brown is innocent until proven guilty. For the bite marks those were probably sexual or something until there’s some real proof instead of he say she say I’ll believe it. [Commenter, Times UK]

I know Chris Brown and he ain’t that kind of guy, he just ain’t. He ain’t done nothing I’m sure the truth will come out and show that Rhianna did this to herself…the violence on her and stuff is something she did with makeup. Chris is the man and he ain’t done nothing- she is the one making this up putting make up on and all and doing it for the money. [Commenter, E! Online]

Its seems like the media is really blowing this out of proportion when it comes to Chris Brown, the way they are describing this it sounds as if she was attacked by an animal and not a human, they are making it seem like is a criminal and if he had abused her the way that they are saying, then he would have done it before and we would have known about. They didn’t make this big of a deal when Bobby was beating Whitney or when they alleged that Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony were coming to blows in there fights. Evrytime in a situation like this they want to take the girls side, she could be really sneaky and deceitful, hasn’t anyone seen A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. There she is out of the country supposedly recuperating from the situation while Chris Brown is left to have his image ran through the dirt. My prayers are with Chris Brown and his family right now, I hope he comes out of this situation alright and the truth is finally revealed. [Commenter, E! Online]

Don’t assume that every man who hits a woman is an abuser. I was physically and emotionally abused by my X and I finally retaliate by slapping her; i was the abuser. [Commenter, Times UK]


“It’s just life man,” Howard said of the situation. “Chris is a great guy. He’ll be all right. Rihanna knows he loves her. They’ll be alright. Everyone has just got to get out of their way.” [Actor Terrence Howard, via ONTD]

It unbeleivable to hear that Chriss Brown hit Rhinna. It is actually bad, no matter what the misunderstanding may be he should have control his emotion. However, Rihana should be good enough to forgive his boy friend and not allow him to spend his time in Jail and this will serve as a leason to him. [Commenter, Reuters]

“Musicians are no different than anybody else. I’m not judging.” [Recording Academy President Neil Portnow, via E! Online]

“You can tell everybody that Chris really feels bad about the whole situation, about it coming out the way that it happened, the way he went about it, the way she went about it … it’s just a wack situation.” As for what really happened, the friend says the story is “not as bad as everybody is trying to gas it up to be.”[Anonymous source, via PEOPLE]

“One situation doesn’t define a man and I really want American to stop doing that to people. As humans, none of us is perfect.” [David Banner, via Rolling Stone]

The case could be affected by how much Rihanna is willing to forgive her boyfriend. “Prosecutors back off somewhat when they see a couple trying to work out their own issues,” says Steve Sitkoff, an L.A. defense attorney. [Joey Bartolomeo, PEOPLE]

It’s so far unclear if Rihanna will be willing forgive and forget. [Roger Friedman, FOX News]


Of course, there are the stories about Brown’s lost endorsements, such as Wrigley canceling his deal (after the gum company paid him to turn its Doublemint jingle into the hit song, “Forever”) . [Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune]

I still like chris brown.He is a good guy. They are just making this sound worse than it actually is. I still will listen to his music. They should not take him from any of his commercials. I like Rihanna too. I just dont think that it should be all blamed on him. I hope to soon find out the truth. [Commenter, E! Online]

Rihanna is recovering from her wounds, whatever they are, while Chris Brown must deal with the fallout from a percolating scandal. Already he’s been dropped from a Wrigley’s gum campaign. But that’s just the tip of what could be an ugly iceberg. [Roger Friedman, FOX News]

I believe that everyone should keep there comments to themselves….sometimes stuff happens…if she slapped him and brusied him up no one would care…give hime his promition contracts back HE worked hard for them!!! [Commenter, E! Online]

Of course, what actually happened remains to be sorted out in full view of Lady Justice. But PR people universally agree that Brown should have launched his I’m-an-ass apology tour by now, or at least some sort of self-mutilating statement. [Leslie Gornstein, E! Online]

For a couple who tried to keep their relationship quiet, the latest incident is sure to be a personal nightmare for Rihanna and Brown. [Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters]


[Cafe Press via Jezebel.]


  1. Perfect Ratio wrote:

    That tank top really makes me aware of the perils of my favorite site

    It’s also insane how in the commentary running under these articles, people are saying “How could you hit such a pretty face??!” as if domestic violence is only uncouth when it involves hotties.

    Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Permalink
  2. Joan of Archetype wrote:

    Fuck. I’ve been trying and trying to think of a way to right something on this. You did it. Because you let the fucking commenter’s speak for themselves.

    It’s thoroughly disgusting by the way. Can I link to your post?

    Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 5:48 pm | Permalink
  3. Blue Sky wrote:

    I am at my last nerve on this story! One of my friends on facebook (I don’t know him well) had his status line set at “Rihanna… I’d hit that”. I replied with a reasonable request for him to think about the negative impact of violence against women rather then joke about it. He deleted me! No loss, but fuck, doesn’t blaming the victim, or laughing at her, or justifying it, just get tired after a while?

    Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 10:12 pm | Permalink
  4. Sady wrote:

    @PR: Yeah, it’s really weird to me how there is so much about this being “deserved” versus “undeserved” for certain very specific reasons, like her being pretty – I mean, is there any kind of domestic violence that is NOT undeserved? Isn’t that why it is, you know, a CRIME?

    @Joan: Sure thing, lady. Yeah, I kind of regret spending 9,000 hours reading comment boards just to figure out what people were saying and how they were saying it, but maybe the only way to get at how these conversations happen is to actually look at the conversations.

    @Blue Sky: You have officially lost the worst Facebook friend in the world. Congratulations! He is gone!

    I mean, the fact that these things are so trivialized, and not put in context, is terrifying to me, because it allows them to be perpetuated and excused. About a third of the female murder victims in this country are killed by a male partner, according to the statistics I know, and people are talking about “forgive and forget”? Like that is ever an advisable or safe option, given the cultural climate?

    So here is a bonus comment I did not publish, because it was too horrible. It’s from the Rolling Stone article, and shield your eyes:

    “nah man… chris is innocent. yea he beat his girl. so what? she deserved the bitch slap and the punch in the eye socket. guys don’t get mad at they woman for no reason unless she was acting up. and i bet you a million dollars rihanna with her attitude towards dudes.. yea she probably pissed him off thus ended with a black eye with her big ass forehead. look.. im pretty sure it wasn’t attended for him to hit her.. it’s not like he called out on a 1-1 fight with her in a ring. she acted up, he’s a man with authority and it ended the way it did. so.. chris.. i hope you the best and i hope rihanna learn her lesson to keep her trap closed and her attitude in check. that’s what’s up.”

    Yep. Even when we’re trying to be “impartial” and pretend that domestic violence and the systematic oppression of women are somehow unrelated or don’t belong in the same discussion, the people who SUPPORT it are pretty much open about how it works and what it is intended to do. Super.

    Friday, February 13, 2009 at 12:09 pm | Permalink
  5. Eleniel wrote:


    The shirt is horrifying, but the ones that break my heart the most are the ones where a woman defends Brown by telling about how she was abused and it was her own fault. Sob.

    Friday, February 13, 2009 at 8:56 pm | Permalink
  6. Anonymous wrote:

    Oh I just loooooooove how the t-shirt font looks like blood! Get it? CAUSE HE BEAT HER!!! HAHA!


    Saturday, May 16, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink