the last few days the internet has been ablaze with the news that singer chris brown allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, pop superstar rihanna. people are shocked, angry, and upset which i find surprising in a country where three women die each day as a result of domestic violence (according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence NNEDV.)
i guess that it has to take something drastic to make people understand the reality of what violence against women is. to see these young successful talented people in a new light is very difficult. rihanna is 20 years old and has won 3 american music awards, 3 billboard music awards, and a grammy - 46 awards all together. brown is 19 and has had two number one US singles and has done charity work for the st. jude’s children’s hospital. as we usher in a new era where it means something very new and exciting in america to be young, gifted, and black - we have the first african american president after all - it’s a blow to our perception of the american dream.
we want to believe that violence against women exists in a neat little package that makes some sort of sense: a drunken husband, a trailer park. collectively we want to believe that educated, young, successful people are immune. this doesn’t happen in “nice” neighborhoods to “good” people. it doesn’t happen to me, it’s not going to happen to my daughter because _______ [insert whatever faulty reasoning helps us sleep better at night here].
violence touches each and every one of us - gay straight black white rich poor and we don’t want to believe that because if we do then we have to assess not only our risk but our culpability. this is not just a personal problem for some abusers or people who are abused it is a societal problam that cannot begin to be fixed until we fix our perceptions of it. it should not take a famous young women being harmed to make us focus on the reality of violence against women. NOW president kim gandy stated: “When it involves public figures, domestic violence gets attention - but what about the rest of us? We just watched the Senate attempt to cut the very modest Violence Against Women Act funding from the economic recovery package, in order to attract Republican support…”
so i ask YOU, you reading this right now: what are you doing to change your perceptions of violence against women? what preconceived notions do you have that need to be challenged? we all have them from the most informed activist to the layperson who doesn’t want to turn on the news because it’s so depressing. someone said of the alleged rihanna attack: “i wonder what happened to provoke it?”
what i heard was: “what did she do to deserve that?”
because that would make it make sense, and as human beings we look for answers, we want things to make sense to us. the violent beating of a young women doesn’t make sense. we don’t want to live in a world where a young innocent woman will be left with contusions on her face, a bloody nose and bite marks on her fingers and arm; where she would have to hear the man she loves say “i’m going to kill you.” yet if we take a step back and really look, can anything she “did to provoke” that attack really warrant that? can you think of anything that would make that ok? according to the ny daily news sources close to brown says he “feels very bad”. probably not as bad as rihanna feels.
take some time today to think about violence against women, REALLY think. it’s time to make some changes.
for more information about what you can do to help stop violence against women visit the NOW national site.