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I HATE I Love The Way You Lie

A few weeks ago Kat Stacks, a woman known for hooking up with celebrities, was attacked. The official story was that she had been attacked for commenting negatively on the size of the rapper Bow Wow’s penis. At the news of her beating the Internet CHEERED. Twitter immediately went into a frenzy of slut-shaming. As usual. She was savagely beaten? But she insulted his dick! He raped someone? BUT HE PLAYS THAT SPORT WE LIKE. These people always crowd into the discourse, screaming “Nothing to see here!” at the top of their lungs when we attempt to discuss rape, or intimate partner violence, or stalking. Some of these people are women, which makes me want to randomly mash my keyboard like the kids do when they want to tell you they’ve just fuckin’ given up.

This is exactly what happened when Rihanna was attacked. Instead of focusing on Chris Brown’s behavior and what he did and how we could best go about scrubbing him from our collective memory, all the attention immediately went to her. What in the fuck is this chick’s deal? Why did she stand in front of PUNCHES? Why doesn’t she know those aren’t good for her FACE? Hasn’t Chris Brown been through ENOUGH? But Chris Brown never made a sincere apology for savagely beating Rihanna. He essentially issued a press release of an apology and jumped directly into trying to reform his image. And then he cried some fake tears and the Internet went “He’s back!” And I was like WHAT THE FUCK?

Internet, we need to have a conversation about comebacks. The following people WILL NEVER BE BACK:

  • Michael Richards
  • Ben Roethlisberger
  • Mel Gibson
  • Chris Brown

I never want to hear another fucking word from any of them. I don’t want to hear about their public redemption because there are too many talented people in this world for me to waste my time with human garbage. Or people who defend human garbage. Like Whoopi Goldberg, who has been on the longest campaign to get me to hate her this summer. And I don’t want to hate her! I don’t want to hate the woman who made Jumpin’ Jack Flash! But asking what the victim could have done differently is just the wrong thing to do.

A music video came out this week, one that deals with intimate partner violence. It begins with a close up of Rihanna’s face, with her fucking fierce hair and her 500$ dollar eye shadow. It cuts to Megan Fox sleeping with some skeezy dude on a dirty bed, which is EXACTLY what I’d be doing if I were Megan Fox. Then back to Rihanna. She’s singing in that gorgeous voice of hers, and for a moment I think “Maybe this won’t be so bad.” A few seconds later, the recording fails and “I Love The Way You Lie” turns into a rap song. By Eminem. Who is literally the last fucking person I want to hear singing about intimate partner violence.

To me, Eminem will always be ‘97 Bonnie and Clyde, his song about taking a trip to the lake with his daughter to dispose of her mother’s body. Eminem has spent his entire career depicting women as treacherous, disposable punching bags, and nothing he has ever done changes that. Especially that Elton John duet, because apparently there’s not a goddamn thing Elton John won’t do for money.

Eminem sings that rage feels like “a steel knife on my windpipe.” He compares hate to huffing paint.  “Who’s that dude?” he asks before admitting he “laid hands on her.” “I guess I don’t know my own strength.” He’s distancing himself from his behavior after the fact. Making excuses. Promising to change. Exactly the way abusers do. While he’s doing this we see Megan Fox’s relationship with her boyfriend, played by Dominic Monaghan. (Yes, that is the same Dominic Monaghan who admitted he tried to taunt Fox into getting violent with him during the filming of this video! Why? He wanted a more realistic response! He wanted rage! This guy is method. He is the Stanislavski of douchebags.) Fox finds a phone number on his hand, and they start arguing. She punches him, he punches the wall, and then they kiss.

She leaves, he tracks her down and beats the guy she’s with. And she goes back to him. And she’s got beer! And then we go back to Rihanna, who of course knows a thing or two about dating violent assholes. So some of this video is about Rihanna commenting on her own personal experience with intimate partner violence. And part of it is Megan Fox donating her fee for the video to Sojourn House, a Los Angeles Women’s Shelter. Which is yet another reason to just absolutely love her. But it’s also about a music video shoot for a song about intimate partner violence where a male actor was allowed to abuse his female costar in the name of authenticity.

As the video progresses, the violence escalates. Eminem’s last line is “if she ever tries to fucking leave again, I’mma tie her to the bed and set the house on fire.” As he sings, Monaghan hits Fox, they are both consumed in the fire, and then they’re kissing again. I can’t even believe I have to say this, but a music video about Intimate Partner Violence shouldn’t be sexy. Which this video is, in places. This video is so very close to PROMOTING the thing it is supposed to be preventing. We have Eminem, who is singing about his relationship with his ex-wife. And we have Rihanna, whose only lines seem to be about STAYING in an abusive relationship, not getting the fuck out.

We have to include her thoughts on the song, because no matter how severely wrong this video is, she chose it to comment on her own abuse: “The way [Eminem] did it was so clever. He basically just broke down the cycle of domestic violence, and it’s something that a lot of people don’t have a lot of insight on. So this song is really a powerful song and touches a lot of people.”

I understand that it is possible to depict violent behavior and allow the audience to draw their own conclusions and that some people will watch this video and understand that at least from a marketing standpoint, it is supposed to be about how toxic abusive relationships are for those in them. But it also has lines like “maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano,” and scenes of Fox and Monaghan sucking face, which teaches the same bullshit lessons about destructive, abusive relationships being “passionate.”

I knew people who listened to Eminem when I was younger, people who were survivors of domestic violence. Some of them could see their relationships or their parents’ relationships in his music. They would take their experiences and filter them through his albums, contextualizing the realities of their lives with his. But his music also normalized the experience, making it harder for them to imagine being with people who didn’t abuse them. This is the most mature and honest that Eminem has ever been about his own behavior, but he has still never acknowledged that his music might incite others to violence. He’s always stood behind the “for entertainment purposes only” disclaimer, cowardly hiding from his own culpability in creating a culture that accepts violence against women.

Should people be making music videos about intimate partner violence? Absolutely. Twenty years ago another music video about intimate partner violence came out, Garth Brooks’ “The Thunder Rolls.” CMT and TNN both refused to play it. We need media outlets to change the way they report abusive relationships, to stop using sensational and insensitive language in their reporting. We need videos that are more than simplistic revenge fantasies, like the Dixie Chick’s “Goodbye, Earl” or Martina Mcbride’s “Independence Day,” which ignore the fact that women who kill their abusers are almost always made an example of by the justice system, and place the onus on women to respond to violence with violence, and not onto a system which forces the abused to chose between jail and death. But what we don’t need is Eminem trying to convince us he has anything we need to hear about abusive relationships. He’s said enough.

52 Comments

  1. alanna wrote:

    If I weren’t at work, I would give you a standing ovation from my cubicle.

    …eh, it’s almost quittin’ time, I’ll do it anyway.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 5:45 pm | Permalink
  2. Megan wrote:

    THANK YOU! YES!

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink
  3. Miranda wrote:

    Well, this post is on fire.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Permalink
  4. Good points all, but “Goodbye Earl,” revenge fantasy or not, is a damn fine song.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Permalink
  5. Caitlin wrote:

    Garland Grey! I have listened to The Thunder Rolls song pretty much my whole life and adored it and I read what you said here and went “WHAT? No it isn’t what the hell?” And then I googled and it turns out there’s a third verse I have never, not ever, in a lifetime of enjoying Garth Brooks’ music suspected existed. MY MIND IS BLOWN. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THIS INFORMATION.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 7:00 pm | Permalink
  6. Kathy wrote:

    This is the post I wish I could have written when I tried, in vain, to post something about this video when it aired last week.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
  7. Erin wrote:

    I’m confused. Do you mean you would have liked the Garth Brooks video to have been aired more? I haven’t seen it, but it sounds just as bad as you are saying the Eminem video is.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink
  8. Not having heard of the Garth Brooks video, I went to YouTube. Whaddaya know, not there — though a bunch of other official Brooks videos are. You have to hit Teh Google and go to MySpace or similar to see the original Thunder Rolls vids.

    Once you get past Attack of the 80s Hair, the most interesting thing about the video is that it shows an extra angle to the story. The cheatin’ man is killed because *the two women communicate*. They *both* want him dead.

    But that desire isn’t enough. The man comes home, the wife accuses him, and he beats her. Then their daughter (age maybe 8) sees them, stares accusingly, and only *then* does the wife get the gun and kill him.

    So it’s not just that the man is killed, he’s killed by a conspiracy of women to stop the cycle of abuse.

    So tell me again why they pulled this video?

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Permalink
  9. Garland Grey wrote:

    @Erin It isn’t a great video. In the last verse she grabs a gun to shoot him, thereby engaging in the same revenge fantasy that the other two videos do. What I object to is that CMT in their press release said they were in the business to entertain, not focuse on “social issues.” And given the culture of hypermasculine swagger that the world of country music prides itself on, it a conversation that desperately needs to happen. (Fun Fact: TNN, the other station that banned the video, is now Spike TV.)

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Permalink
  10. Garland Grey wrote:

    @Mr Subjunctive I loved that song when it came out. It definitely addressed my love of simplistic revenge fantasies. But over the years I started to realize that sometimes listening to one of those songs can be personally satisfying, but that it doesn’t really advance the dialogue in the correct direction. The answer isn’t to arm everyone and weaponize romantic relationships, but to teach people that violence and relationships are mutually exclusive.

    But yes, awesome song.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink
  11. Erin wrote:

    I didn’t know TNN became Spike TV! That’s odd.

    Also, I’ve never felt that country music had much of a culture of hypermasculine swagger. Actually, I’ve always felt that country music culture was informed equally by female and male singers. And I can’t really think of any country song that makes me think of hypermasculine swagger. Most male country singer’s songs are more “Awe shucks, I’m a country guy and the ladies love me.” Maybe country music stations play completely different things in TX (I looked at your ‘about me’ page) than in NC.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Permalink
  12. Another good country song about abusive relationships (and getting out of them): “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” by Mary Chapin Carpenter. That one always lights me up.

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Permalink
  13. Jaime wrote:

    Thank you for posting this blog. I was going insane because I had several of my friends tell me that this song had such a romantic video. I have been flabbergasted and thought maybe I was missing the point. Your view has alleviated some stress on my end since I thought I was losing my mind through paranoia about the abuse in this video since I was in an abusive relationship when I was younger and sometimes feel hypersensitive about it.
    Passion and abuse do not go hand in hand. Abuse stems from feeling of POSSESSION, not passion so it’s always sad to see in the media portrayed as “sexy” and “passionate.”

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Permalink
  14. Garland Grey wrote:

    @Erin I’m glad you asked that question, because I’ve been thinking about this all week. On one hand Country has had this great, fun, co-ed family atmosphere for years where country singers respected and loved each other, something you could see when they performed on the Smother’s Brothers or the Grand Old Opry. They grieved for each other, like when Loretta Lynn stopped singing Patsy Cline’s songs after the singer’s death, and talked about what a large part of her life Patsy had been. But Loretta Lynn also wrote songs like “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’ With Lovin’ On Your Mind” and “The Pill” which are both about a woman wresting control of her own body from her husband, and “The Pill” especially was slow to be accepted by the mainstream. I think Country Music has had great, visionary social activists. They are lauded these days because it is now permissible to have talked about Birth Control or Feminism in the past, even if it still isn’t something decent people sing about.

    And with that I am done writing comments for the day. I hope that answered some of your questions.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 1:35 am | Permalink
  15. Graphite wrote:

    Trigger:
    Today I met up with a close friend going through a breakup, who told me that one of the things that had driven her to finally break up with her ex was listening to this song and realising that the emotions expressed in the lyrics were clear and present in her relationship, and that she knew if she had reached the point where a song like this was speaking to her real life experiences, it was time to get the hell out, no matter how “passionate” her love for the guy was.
    So, at the moment, I cannot help but be grateful to this song. I know not every listener will understand that it is a warning and will instead read it as a romance, but it’s helped my friend to open her eyes.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 5:42 am | Permalink
  16. Samantha B. wrote:

    @Garland Grey That’s not even to mention the fabulous “Rated X,” which is significantly less well known probably because it was flat out banned from radio. And there’s nothing remotely pornographic about the song, which deals with the stigma women used to face after divorce and the assumptions made about her:
    http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/loretta_lynn/rated_x.html
    This was inappropriate for airplay, why?

    So, yeah, the banning of certain songs from country music radio play has a long tradition of being arbitrarily, or perhaps pointedly, anti-woman, even while country music has always had great female icons like Rose Maddox, Patsy Montana, Wanda Jackson, etc. I can’t think of any female pop musicians of that era that were quite so explicitly brash (although certainly I can think of blues ladies.)

    *That’s quite the derail.* Back on point, as a woman whose been in an abusive relationship, absolutely “Goodbye Earl” irritated the fuck out of me. Why is it inconceivable that I might just want my goddamned life back, instead of having it controlled in perpetuity by the legacy of an abusive uber-creep? I’m also not clear on how the fetishization of violence is the solution to it. Frankly, what gave me a sense of peace in the end after that relationship was the realization that I could walk away from that emotional torment, and the uber-creep never could. Maybe that doesn’t make for as catchy and scandalous(!!) a song lyric, but I tend to think it’s made for a fuckload happier life, at least for me.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 8:00 am | Permalink
  17. CJ wrote:

    On Radio 1 (UK) they’ve been putting out a helpline number/DV ad whenever they play this song.

    I dunno if that is part of a larger context that alters my relationship to this song but I’m so disturbed by the message that violent, abusive relationships are mutually exclusive with passion and love. Because that message is exactly what led me to understand that I wasn’t being abused, wasn’t a victim.

    It’s probably also because I’ve seen the word passion with scare quotes around it so many times in the past few days that it is massively triggering my anxiety over the sneering reactions I’ve had from so many when I try to talk about my experience in any greater depth than ‘it was really bad and wrong and bad and also, it was bad’.

    But then I also know that I would have loved this song (instead of, as now, just feeling.. something, really strongly, but not love) once upon a time and it would have been all kinds of fucked up and I fear for the people who are loving that song right now so I just.. I don’t know how to create the space to have both conversations, even within myself.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 9:59 am | Permalink
  18. Lady D wrote:

    Amen to the Martina McBride “Independence Day” reference – when I was a teenager, I used to love singing along with that song until the day I actually *thought* about those lyrics. The mother must die along with her abuser because she is automatically complicit in her abuse?? WTF.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink
  19. William Craft wrote:

    “I can’t tell you what it really is
    I can only tell you what it feels like”

    CJ, I found your comment really interesting. What I feel when I listen to the song certainly isn’t love, but I do think it’s willing to acknowledge the greater depth that you mentioned.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 10:23 am | Permalink
  20. Just Reading wrote:

    I agree with your take on “Goodbye, Earl” and have never liked it for basically that reason, but to me “Independence Day” has always seemed like more of a warning than a revenge fantasy.

    The woman gets abused, everyone knows about it but never helps her, and eventually she achieves “independence” by burning down the house. The fact that even the child is negatively affected by the abuse underscored that no matter what you do (stand your ground or fight back), the victim is going to lose out.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  21. PennyArcadia wrote:

    Right there with you on the hate. Right there.

    Even apart from the video, I hate the whole set-up of the song because it’s tricking the listener into thinking Eminem is doing some kind of deep introspection, while in truth he’s being perfectly in keeping with some of the most important myths about abuse out there. And uses them as excuses. I could tick them off while I was listening. The ‘passionate relationship thing’, for one, yeah, and tied directly into that, ‘his love makes him lose control’ (aka “it’s a crime of passion/he was so mad he didn’t know what he was doing”). ‘Dysfunctional relationship where both parties are equally to blame’ (aka “but what did she do to provoke him?/she has a temper too!”). ‘It’s as bad for the abuser as it is for their victim’ (aka “he hates himself/suffers from mental agony/can be healed with understanding/didn’t mean to take it out on her”). Pronoun use prompted by the song, by the way, nothing else.

    These are all myths that have been successfully dispelled by experts on domestic violence, and yet they’re all there and it’s… ARGH. The whole structure of the song is such that it focuses completely and totally on Eminem and his agony, and because of that it seems honest, but it’s not. Not entirely. There are so much parts of the story missing.

    Maybe I’ve just reworded what you’ve already said here, come to think of it, but – except for the “liar” bit – I hate what Eminem’s doing here so much I couldn’t leave it at the first paragraph.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 11:06 am | Permalink
  22. uglily wrote:

    Some good points in this post, but I don’t think one can have truly meaningful discussion of the video, not to mention Eminem’s history as an abuser, without first acknowledging the intersection of DV and class. Brownfemipower’s recent posts at flipfloppingjoy should be required reading.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Permalink
  23. Erin wrote:

    @PennyArcadia

    I think I disagree with everything you wrote (sorry!). I don’t think the video or song is focused on Eminem’s pain, because the song features Rianna and the video focuses more on Fox than Monahan (or maybe I just focused more on her while watching it?). And like other people have already brought up, the song/video does represent some people’s experience with DV. I think there are two dominant narratives about DV: the one about an intense (or passionate) relationship where there is lots of fighting on both sides and the one where the woman is a perfectly innocent victim who is entirely controlled by her abuser. I think both are problematic, but I feel like the second one is even more problematic because if that is how people think of DV, then when the woman isn’t a completely passive victim, people will refuse to see the real abuse that is taking place. Which is why I completely disagree that the video reinforces the idea that a woman who also fights and throws a few punches in a relationship is to blame, thus the abuse is ok. I think the video shows the complete opposite. She isn’t a completely passive victim, but the relationship is still BAD, the relationship is still abusive. I think the majority of people watching the video will see it and think, ‘damn, she should get out of that fucked up relationship. They both should.’ And from reading youtube comments (ack!), it seems like that is the majority response.

    I didn’t articulate that as well as I wanted to, but I’m done.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  24. Erin wrote:

    Correction (to a comment that might still be in moderation): I don’t think the song/video focuses *ONLY* on Eminem’s pain.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink
  25. ivyleaves wrote:

    Everytime her names comes up, I suggest people google “Whoopi defends” and read back 7-10 years. As far as I can tell she should, if she doesn’t already, have a retainer with a PR firm for assholes in the news. This list keeps growing.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink
  26. Samantha B. wrote:

    Uglily, that’s kind of an odd comment because it makes no point in of itself and does not link to the post it mentions. A little Google suggests that it’s this post: http://flipfloppingjoy.com/2010/08/11/non-stressed-out-thoughts-about-eminemrihanna/

    I don’t actually find her (very brief) point on DV and class that relevant to Garland’s post. He does, in fact, pretty much reference class when he mentions Rihanna’s “$500 eye shadow, no? But, you know, as a domestic violence survivor myself, I don’t so much appreciate being told what I am and am not allowed to talk about at one time or another. There’s no rule that every blog post be encyclopedic, and I think it would be more interesting to look at bfp’s post in useful conjunction with Garland’s rather than in opposition to it.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink
  27. Kat wrote:

    @uglily and Samantha B.

    I’m also confused by your reference to DV and class. Domestic violence has no class or racial signifiers – it’s one thing that we all share, no matter our socioeconomic status. Hooray!

    @Garland Grey

    Thank you for this post. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Eminem for years – I think he’s incredibly talented and I often absolutely hate what he chooses to talk about, along with the ongoing Marshall/Kim saga that romanticizes what was obviously a horrendous relationship that no one should want to emulate! I had a few male friends in my younger years who looooved that murder song and it honestly made me afraid of them.

    And I’m so glad you commented on how domestic violence is made sexy in the name of passion and “loving too much” AND how women who fight back are often punished. I work with some of those women and there is nothing liberating or sexy about being forced to wear stripes in a correctional facility. Nothing at all. The myth that somehow romantic love is more romantic when coupled with violence and madness certainly clouded my judgment in several of my own relationships.

    Why are we always so focused on why the woman stays? We should be asking why men abuse and why men continue to abuse and destroy their own relationships with women. One small point of hope is this organization: http://www.mencanstoprape.org/

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Permalink
  28. CJ wrote:

    @Kat It is something we all share, sure, but if we’re serious about combating domestic violence from a ‘why men’ rather than ‘why women’ perspective then we definitely need to talk about how class and race play into it because they ARE relevant. My boyfriend, who has a working class background and I, who am supremely middle class, (both of us have a handful of experiences with DV to our names) were talking this very moment about how class factors in to the way domestic violence situations can play out, and how they are perceived by others and consequently how easy it is to escape, what help or advice you can expect to receive. I’m gonna go out on a wild limb here and suggest that working class people simply don’t have the same wealth of resources available to them.

    Pour one very tiny example: the way my mother treats the violence I experienced versus the way she perceives the violence that my brother’s girlfriend has been subjected to is definitely not just based on the fact that I’m her daughter. She thinks of my brother’s girlfriend as one of those massive chavs who kind of got what was coming to her. I mean, you know, she has tattoos and an alcoholic mother and ‘incorrect’ dining manners and everyone knows that violence is just part of what happens when you do something foolish like be poor. I think it’s particularly relevant when it comes to this song because of a) – Eminem’s background and b) – the video, which clearly portrays a couple who are not well off.

    I, on the other hand, can expect to be treated with a great deal more respect and sympathy than that by pretty much everyone, not just my dear mother. Plus, you know, I had parents who could bail me out monetarily and stick a roof back over my head when I finally got the hell out of dodgeville.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  29. laura k wrote:

    I don’t think this song and video are simple enough to be either wholly endorsed or written off. When I saw it, I was incredibly moved (as in, emotional, not Hallmark-card touched). I found it to be a compelling representation of the way abusive relationships (and alcoholism) can trap both partners in destructive cycles. I DID NOT see it as sexy and I don’t think it was intended to be sexy (and the people who think it’s romantic worry me).

    I know people will probably jump down my throat, but so be it: Abusive relationships are often far more complex than we want them to be. Love does not always disappear the minute someone hits you. Maybe it should, but it doesn’t. I appreciated that complexity in this video. If people are glorifying it, that just means we aren’t having enough real, honest conversations about abuse and sexual violence in the greater media (which, duh, we aren’t). I don’t believe it means the video shouldn’t have been made.

    Friday, August 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Permalink
  30. William Craft wrote:

    Agreed, Laura, word for word. After the first chorus by Rihanna, the music does a sudden die-out, and I took that as a hint that the song is saying “everything she just said is bullshit.”

    Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 12:15 am | Permalink
  31. firefly wrote:

    The site was catchy…but the rap, the video,and Rihanna’s part about wanting to be abused…creeps me out. A video showing partner violence doesn’t have to support it, but this one comes close to it…

    Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 12:23 am | Permalink
  32. firefly wrote:

    Oops, I meant song instead of site.

    Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 12:24 am | Permalink
  33. Em wrote:

    “Independence Day” has always seemed like more of a warning than a revenge fantasy.

    The woman gets abused, everyone knows about it but never helps her, and eventually she achieves “independence” by burning down the house. The fact that even the child is negatively affected by the abuse underscored that no matter what you do (stand your ground or fight back), the victim is going to lose out.

    That’s exactly how I’ve always understood it (song only, never seen the video).

    Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 10:11 am | Permalink
  34. Samantha B. wrote:

    @CJ, erm, no. Rich and middle class women die all the time from partner violence. While there’s no doubt that such a thing as intersectionality, you’re playing a “why didn’t she leave” game here, wherein it’s only justifiable to remain in a DV relationship if class has confined you. This I find a bit hard to take on a feminist blog. You’ve completely erased the realities of a mass of women’s lives here.

    Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink
  35. CJ wrote:

    @Samantha B – I’m uncertain where I said that they didn’t? I’m also uncertain where I suggested that there’s any blame to put on ANY woman who doesn’t leave, regardless of her situation. If that is the case then I’d have to be erasing my own experiences as well.

    Okay, I am re-reading as I write this and perhaps the implication from my personal anecdote (use of the word ‘easy’?!) sounds very much like ‘therefore if you’re rich you can just up and leave any time you like’ which is, as you say, a load of rubbish.

    Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink
  36. CJ wrote:

    I’m probably commenting too much at this point but I’m now equally concerned that what I’ve said also comes across as suggesting that working class/poor people are some kind of giant victim class who have no autonomy. My intention was to highlight the fact that there are simply different considerations depending on your situation (in this case as it relates to class) but I think I have failed at that SO: I will just say that I apologise for using a personal anecdote to bludgeon both people who are well off, AND people who aren’t for.. I don’t know, not being me or something, and depart!

    Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink
  37. Kat wrote:

    @CJ I agree that people from different socioeconomic backgrounds might have different levels of respect and/or resources available to them – I bristle at the mention of class and DV because I’m always wary of it descending into a “those people” problem rather than an everyone problem. (PS – I haven’t heard the world “chav” in a long time, are you from the UK?) I think it’s too complicated an issue to be explained with personal anecdotes – I have had somewhat opposite experiences to yours, where I’ve seen middle class women have a harder time than working class women get help because no one believes them, so this might require a bit more research on all of our parts.

    Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink
  38. AMC wrote:

    @Garland

    Hey, I was just wondering why my comment is still in moderation? I don’t think it’s anything offensive, since I don’t really have an opinion on all the “controversy” I was just proving some background to try and help the dialouge along. Did it get lost?

    Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Permalink
  39. Anna wrote:

    YES!!!!
    thank you! I’ve been trying to explain the (many) problems of this song to people and they just don’t get it! I’ll try your angle or send your post to them.

    Sunday, August 15, 2010 at 12:24 am | Permalink
  40. Alasdair wrote:

    Good post. When I saw this video, my thought was ‘is it possible for a video to both criticise domestic violence and glamourise it at the same time?’. It seems to me like the intention of the video was to portray it as a bad thing, but it didn’t exactly work, and it partly seems to be saying ‘aren’t abusive relationships sexy!’ instead.

    Sunday, August 15, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Permalink
  41. Melissa wrote:

    “…there are too many talented people in this world for me to waste my time with human garbage.”

    I have been trying to come up with this sentence for so long! Thank you for giving me the words!

    Monday, August 16, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink
  42. “We need videos that are more than simplistic revenge fantasies, like the Dixie Chick’s “Goodbye, Earl” or Martina Mcbride’s “Independence Day,” which ignore the fact that women who kill their abusers are almost always made an example of by the justice system, and place the onus on women to respond to violence with violence, and not onto a system which forces the abused to chose between jail and death.”

    Not a video, and not what most of the kids are listening to, but the song “St. Gabriel” by Marcia Ball is about a woman getting out of jail after killing her abusive husband.

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010 at 7:36 am | Permalink
  43. Ahab wrote:

    That idiot Eminem was never in the social responsibility business — he’s in the shock-people-to-make-money business, and the ugliness of his music reflects this. I don’t like “Love the Way You Lie” either because it fails to make any useful social commentary about domestic violence. We need a culture-wide discussion of the problem, but not from the likes of him.

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink
  44. Chris Dawson wrote:

    Garland, I had a very strong reaction to this song, too. I had not seen the video, but my 10 year old daughter and I heard it in the car and listened to the lyrics. It started a good discussion between us about violence and abuse directed at women. I don’t turn the station when it comes on, but I do insist my daughter know the facts about Rihanna’s abuse at the hands of Chris Brown and I tell her she should NEVER put up with abuse or violence from anyone. EVER.

    Ignoring the existence of the many misogynistic pop songs by both male and female singers will not make them go away. My strategy is to listen along with my daughter and then to break them down and point out the idiocy and hatred they contain.

    My girl needs to know what kind of a world it can be so she can stand up for herself.

    http://c-dawson.blogspot.com/2010/07/love-way-you-lie.html

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink
  45. CoGirl wrote:

    I appreciate Eminem’s words for communicating so well the pain and confusion of an abusive relationship.

    But I’m deeply disappointed in Rhianna for flat out saying “this is okay, I love you anyway”

    Hot, sexy, passionate love is not a band aid for abuse.

    Saturday, August 21, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Permalink
  46. Victoria wrote:

    Here’s a band that has not only written a song that addresses domestic violence, but they also put their money where their mouth is. They are not a major recording artist like Eminem and Rihana, but an independent group that donates part of their album sales to two organizations that deal with domestic violence and teen dating abuse. I wish we would hear more about artists like Apsylon who truly are trying to make a positive difference.

    Monday, August 23, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  47. vesivett wrote:

    Like it or not, this video is the reality of many many many many women out there. Yes, there is love in abusive relationships and also passion. Don’t erase many women’s realities by saying that there isn’t; plus saying that women don’t fight back is most definitely not true. Women CAN fight back and they do; it doesn’t make the abuse any lesser or any less serious, but they can have temper also.

    Also, class and race SHOULD be mentioned.

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Permalink
  48. Daniella wrote:

    I think you’re kind of missing the point of the video. Even reading what Rihanna has said about the song/video–”It was believable for us to do a record like that, but it was also something that needed to be done and the way he did it was so clever,” the singer said. “He pretty much just broke down the cycle of domestic violence and it’s something that a lot people don’t have a lot of insight on, so this song is a really, really powerful song and it touches a lot of people.”–is more than just sexualizing domestic violence. It’s proving the powerful and addictive nature of domestic violence and how destructive it can be.

    Yes, I think the way the video was done would cause people, like many in this post, to miss the point because it’s so abrasive. But I think it had to be to make a difference.

    Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink
  49. lunamorgan wrote:

    While I agree that Eminem is probably the last person on earth I want to hear about the horrors of domestic violence from, I think that some of what you said is incredibly offensive and, as a friend put it, infantilizing of survivors of domestic abuse.

    As someone who was lucky enough to get out of an incredibly emotionally abusive relationship before it became physically violent, I don’t think someone who hasn’t experienced domestic abuse or isn’t comfortable claiming that as part of their personal history gets to tell me whether or not an artist’s work is normalizing that abuse. No. It isn’t. Not for me. It may be, in the broad and very real sense, normalizing it within society at large, but BEING ABUSED normalized for me. That part of my every day life has already been normalized by experiencing it. And listening to music about terrible situations (in my case, Stabbing Westward rather than Eminem) helped me to sort through and decide which of my feelings were healthy and valid and important and which I needed to work on and chip away at for years.

    Ceasing to love someone who hurts you, physically or emotionally, is not simple. This is both because most abusers start out very kind and loving and because once that aspect ceases to be the primary part of the relationship, they are often still very charismatic and very manipulative. That’s something survivors need to work through, and telling us that doing it through music that isn’t PC enough invalidates our healing process.

    So yeah, does Eminem say incredibly hurtful and offensive things? Yes. Is he scary as hell? Oh, yeah. Am I confused as to why he has a recording contract? Very. But do I think that any of that should be used to invalidate or undermine the good that comes from catharsis in the case of domestic violence survivors? No. You don’t have that right. You don’t get to tell us what happens in our hearts and minds, you don’t get to imply that we are incapable of seeing the horrible damage being done to us by his demon lyrics. You do not get to police our minds and bodies any more than our abusers do. Stop.

    Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Permalink
  50. CJ wrote:

    Lunamorgan, thank you.

    I’ve been unable to stop worrying at this since I posted here before and so much of this is so incredibly personal to me that I have been unable to express what I felt without either going blue and screaming epithets or hiding behind wider issues that I’m not really qualified to speak on.

    I’m still trying to work through this – it was so hard for me to read the universal condemnation of this song that spoke to me so powerfully, in places I normally feel so included, as just another one of those songs glorifying the oh-so sexy violence.

    And, to follow my thought from Lunamorgan’s last paragraph – I feel like it is emblematic of the problem that there is so much focus on what a shithead Eminem is, and a pretty cavalier dismissal of Rihanna’s part to play here. If I identify with her in this song then are the people who are disappointed that I can’t just put a ‘bad. the end.’ label over things justified in their feelings?

    Aside from the posts at flipfloppingjoy and probably others that I never found, I felt like Rihanna’s viewpoint was dismissed, that mine was dismissed, and that the role of the abuser, the fact that abusers are shitheads and that they can never have anything to say worth hearing, was elevated above everything else to the extent that having complicated feelings was Not Allowed.

    Because, good fucking honest to god, to go the whole damn step, to shoot straight past ‘can violence and passion exist alongside one another’ and taking a left at the fucked-up traffic lights, sometimes the violence itself was sexy. There, I’m saying it on the internet and I will never be able to unsay it now. So, I have periodically been looking at the internet for the past week or so all ‘srs guise, am I really that fucked up? are we past talking about this to yawnz, here we go again?’

    And there’s another bit of me that feels weird about the dismissal of Eminem’s message here. Like, what I learned about abuse, I learned from the dude who did it. And Eminem’s laying it all out there like a map and calling it lies and really he would know? and said dude would explain to me, tell me that what he was doing was messed up abusive shit and I was all ‘yeah, I know, s’cool’. Like, that is a thing abusers do, hit you with some kind of victim exam: ‘If I hold this door open for you are you going to leave or are you complicit here?’

    I feel like there’s this pervasive idea that people who stay in violent/abusive relationships just haven’t ‘got’ it yet, that we just need to change the message, when in actuality I expect that a large number of people are making pretty conscious decisions, quite regularly, about whether or not they’re going to stick around.

    So, uh, yeah? I mean, bin me if I’ve gone and written my own blog post here, I’m conscious that all this is long, and personal.

    —————–

    @Kat! I reckon I see where you are coming from with the ‘those people’ issue and as I said up top of this increasingly lengthy comment, I remember now that am not the person to talk about it, should there be an ‘it’ to talk about! Also, yes I am a UKian and assuming you are the same Kat as at your link I am completely in love with the blog and the whole thing!

    Friday, August 27, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Permalink
  51. Nixie wrote:

    I knew it was ridiculous from the minute I saw Rihanna wearing basically hotpants and a bra in relation to this subject matter, and the way she does a little sexy growl when she sings ‘hurts’…

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Permalink
  52. Cecile wrote:

    I second the notion that bfp’s posts should be required reading (there are 3, she has asked at least one to not be directly linked, undoubtedly to avoid the shitstorm in the blogosphere).

    Another thought that I’ve seen (can’t remember who to attribute it too, not mine, not taking credit for it) is that yes, it might glamorize abusive relationships. BUT ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS CAN BE GLAMOROUS. And intense, and passionate, and an emotional whirlwind. Just cause something is glamorous doesn’t mean it’s not fucked up. Drug abuse can seem glamorous. Anorexia can seem glamorous, but they’re still fucked up.

    I think by writing off this video feminists are alienating a big chunk of women who recognize themselves and their relationships, and who can realise, if someone as fucked up as eminem is saying the exact stuff their abuser is saying, then shit, maybe this IS unhealthy, maybe this IS abusive.

    @Nixie I read that “sexy little growl” as more of a sneer

    Monday, September 6, 2010 at 7:56 am | Permalink