How Chris Brown is Effing Up My Sex Life: A B-Side to Dating While Feminist

31 Mar

For the last month or so, I have been entertaining a new Friend.  This brother is cute, sensitive, ambitious, educated, knowledgeable, adventurous and funny. For these reasons and others, he could most definitely get it.

Sounds great, right? Yes. And then Chris Brown happened.  The day after the recent shamtabulousness occurred, I told Friend of  my intention to discuss the whole ridiculous chair-throwing incident with students who are taking my Hip Hop class.

Chris Brown w/ Blonde Hair

Photo Courtesy of GlamazonsBlog

Here’s a brief excerpt from our text conversation:

Me: I’m supposed to be preparing a lecture on Hip Hop: The Modern Era, Part I: 1992-1994. But in light of the C Breezy shenanigans I’m gonna lecture on gender politics instead.

Him: Breezy Bad Now

Me: He needs a therapist like yesterday!

Him: In his defense…ppl fuckin with him for no good reason

What?! [Red Flags Waving]

Me: Nobody fucked with him. Robin Roberts asked very reasonable questions and she cleared them with his team first. Asking about the past is not the same thing as dwelling on it.

Him: Hey….I’m just thinking stop mentioning it….he’s suffered enough tho

Me:  This is not about suffering. He beat that girl senselessly. He is nobody’s victim.

Him: Look. No one knows what happened in that car.

Him: Furthermore, it’s no one’s business.  Yeah he shouldn’t have beat her…but that was years ago now.

Him: It’s over…talk about the man’s album not past transgressions.

Me:  Domestic violence is our business. And clearly the past isn’t the past if dude destroys shit at the slightest provocation […]

Him: Let’s talk about Lindsay Lohan and how she can’t seem to put the bottle down. Or Charlie Sheen who can’t seem to put the pipe down.

Me: Re: Sheen, Lohan, and Hilton, all that you say is true. And yet racism is still not an excuse for bad behavior. That argument is the equivalent of blaming the man. Again it’s some bullshit.

Much more was said. But y’all get the gist.  Given that Friend and I have had conversations of this ilk before, I wasn’t entirely shocked that he would take this tack.  But I am wondering what this means in terms of my own gender politics and my own acute understanding of the personal as political.

The necessity of that question was driven home the next day as I broached the subject with my students. Disturbingly, all of my Black women students said almost exactly the same thing as Friend said—that the past was the past, that Robin Roberts goaded and pushed Chris, that we didn’t “know the whole story” with Rihanna.

I was/am livid, sad, and afraid for them.  These same students who were visibly disturbed at many of the misogynistic lyrics we’d listened to in class failed to see how their own belief that a black woman could ever do something worthy of violence was a complete contradiction.  Frankly, being mad that someone calls you a bitch or a ho, but not being mad that a dude beats a woman’s ass, seems to be an exercise in missing the point.

How do we change this thinking in our communities that a woman’s behavior is responsible for pushing a man over the edge? That she can ever do something to deserve to be beaten to a pulp? That a man has a right to a violent response simply because he doesn’t like the way he’s being talked to or treated? That violence is a legitimate response to being mistreated?  That any policy other than non-violence  (on all sides) is good for relationships? That men are out-of-control beings around whom we must tread on eggshells?

And if I ask my students to question their assumptions and to demand better treatment in their relationships, then what kinds of things must I demand in mine? And does that standard apply to all relationships, romantic and platonic?

Can you be a good feminist if you have intimate engagements with partners who have diametrically opposed gender politics?

In a post last year, I lamented the fact that I was meeting men who were rarely physically interested in me and who were always and only intrigued by my mind. Now I’ve met someone worthy of genuine interest, and my brain and my politics are getting in the way again.  But while last time, I was concerned that my brain occupied too much space in my romantic encounters, this time around I’m afraid to check it at the door.

And that is exactly what I would have to do to share my intimate space with someone who doesn’t get the politics of intimate partner violence.

Can I share intimate space with someone who thinks that asking questions about questionable actions is antagonistic?

If you think opinionated women are threatening, will you use intimate space to dominate and tame them?

To what extent is and should my sex life be political?

I mean should I withhold sex from dudes with sexist attitudes as an act of solidarity with my sisters?

It wouldn’t be the first time that Black women withheld sex from Black men in service of larger racial interests. After the Civil War, Black men (but not Black women) could vote for a few brief years. Back then, most Black folks voted Republican as they were the more liberal party at the time and the party of Abraham Lincoln. But there were times when some Black men determined to vote Democrat so they wouldn’t be the target of white racial backlash. In addition to accompanying their men to the polls to monitor their votes, Black women banded together and encouraged each other to withhold sex from any man who voted against the community’s interests. These sisters knew how personal the political was long before white women said it. They knew that when it comes to Black women’s quality of life, there is nothing more political or personal than the person we’re sleeping with.

In a culture where sisters are dying in alarming numbers from domestic violence, what responsibility do I have to them and to myself to choose intimate partners whose thinking and actions are sound on these matters?

Doesn’t the fact that Friend and I had a civil and honest dialogue that ended amicably count for something? And if so, what does it count for?  Honest dialogues are feminist right?

And since we’re being honest, I have some more questions:

How can I get next to you if I can’t get next to your politics?

How can I let you touch me if I wouldn’t touch your politics with a ten foot pole?

Can I feel safe in the softness of your touch if you don’t feel led to question a culture where other men routinely touch other women violently?

Can we really cuddle if you have the option to not care about women and violence?

Isn’t that choice, the choice to not care about how the world affects the woman you’re spending time with, a violent one?

How can I trust you to hold me when your beliefs hold me down?

Damn. Who knew politics were so intimate?

Fam, we’d love to hear how you’re grappling with these questions. Please share.

135 Responses to “How Chris Brown is Effing Up My Sex Life: A B-Side to Dating While Feminist”

  1. Qalil Little March 31, 2011 at 4:21 AM #

    What if you found out that Rhianna was actually the physically abusive partner and finally C-Breezy just snapped and retaliated? What if it was a just a fight that Sleazanna lost? Would you recant ALL your statements?

    I’m appalled by domestic violence whatever form it comes in, but it is high time we stopped looking at the woman as the perpetual victim. I understand women make up the largest percentage of domestic abuse cases, but we can never say they never instigate the fight by wielding a knife improperly or bringing a gun, or using their fists.

    Do you know for sure what Rhianna did?

    Too often women get overlooked because they are the “weaker sex” and they are turning out to be some of the worst perpetrators of emotional and sexual abuse towards children and spouses.

    Addressing your concerns with your man’s views – if your concern doesn’t lie with the fact that he would touch you with violence, then I’m not quite sure what the issue is. The thoughts of your mind plague you alone and the purpose of your life (if it is to bring to light violence committed against women) it cannot be his. If he supports you and can understand your views (and of course you’ll reciprocate) then allow peace to enter your heart and cuddle girl!

    • Ju March 31, 2011 at 9:35 AM #

      First of all, the name-calling comes across as tacky. I’m not sure how you expect anyone to take your commentary without several huge grains of salt when you start out calling the woman “Sleazanna” in the first paragraph.

      Second of all – yes, you’re right that we don’t know exactly what went down in that car. But let me put it to you like this. If somebody were asking the same kinds of questions about, say, a white person calling their POC spouse/intimate partner a racial slur in a heated argument, I get the feeling that you wouldn’t be asking about what the person of color did to get the white person so angry. There are men who are abused by women in their relationships, true. Acknowledging that the overwhelming majority of people who are abused in intimate partnerships are women does not, in any way, invalidate that fact. So you can take your “it is high time we stopped looking at the woman as the perpetual victim” point (which, especially after the “Sleazanna” quip, strikes me as coded language for “y’all are complaining too much”), jump up in the air and stay there.

      • Evan April 3, 2011 at 11:44 AM #

        Wait, so are you saying (in this analogy) that Chris Brown is the white one who called Rhianna a racial slur, and Rhianna retaliated by hitting Chris Brown first?

        I still say you don’t need to hit somebody because they called you a racial slur, even if it is an interracial relationship.

    • Sister Toldja April 1, 2011 at 11:00 AM #

      Considering that Brown has been asked about the incident many times, he’s had ample opportunity to reveal that Rihanna had subjected him to physical and emotional violence. Considering his behavior after the incident, I don’t think he would have withheld that information. Considering that we have no real evidence of Rihanna’s role in perpetrating violence against Chris, we can’t jump to the conclusion that this was a retaliatory beat down. And there is no evidence that the maority of male on female partner violence is the result of sustained female on male abuse…so of all the assumptions one can make about Grammy night ’09, this may be the most unreasonable one yet.

      • mEEKS April 8, 2011 at 12:01 PM #

        There is most definitely a reason Chris Brown would not reveal that information, and it’s the same reason that Mister Cee will deny the allegation that he was with a trans-gender prostitute, despite any amount of evidence to the contrary . While women have a voice to express the unfair situation that gender roles limit them too in our culture today, men have not gained access to the same expression. The short answer, because it would make him look the “bitch” in the situation, and in an industry of selling your virality that is a non-option.

    • jenn April 2, 2011 at 7:23 AM #

      Who walked away with the most scars? Yeah. That tells me everything I need to know.

    • deannamcmillan April 2, 2011 at 10:10 AM #

      Anecdotal evidence does not an argument make. Time and time again, rigorous academic research has nailed the fact that women of all races, but especially women of color, are subjugated, discriminated against, and abused on a systemic level. That has nothing to do with “we don’t know what happened in that car.” But when people like you say s*** like that about a particular case, it makes gender-related violence seem less pervasive than it really, verifiably is.

  2. Z March 31, 2011 at 5:49 AM #

    I think this is something only you can answer for yourself. You are the one who has to look yourself in the mirror and live with the choices you make, no one else.

    Domestic violence is a serious issue, which needs to be brought into the light. And stay in the light until men and women stop hurting each other and deal with their pain, instead of putting on to their partner.
    All people make mistakes, I get that. And the past is the past, I get that too. But if you didn’t learn from the mistakes in the past then you are bound to do it over and over again ’til you get the lesson. The Universe had a strange way of making that happen 🙂

    Thanks for a great blog!

  3. yes March 31, 2011 at 6:53 AM #

    Thank you for this post. I only wish I’d asked those questions a while back when I was dating a certain Friend who said that if a jury found R. Kelly innocent, we should just let it go. I let it slide, thinking a little ignorance wouldn’t ruin my sex life. Come to find out the Friend identified with the pied piper because he had narrowly beat a rape charge himself- and only because his state was one of the few backwards states that still accepted ignorance of the victim’s age as a reasonable defense. I guess the moral of both of our stories is that when we live our politics, we have to be prepared to encounter others living theirs. And your Friend’s politics may eventually help him excuse his own violence toward you (say, calling you a bitch) by claiming provocation.

    • Anabanana April 3, 2011 at 9:57 PM #

      Thank you both (crunk and yes) for your stories. I had a certain Friend about a year and a half ago. Early on, he told a story about a girl who said she’d been sexually at a party, and that he thought she was lying because she looked like she was still friends with the guy during said party. His roommate called him out on that unfair assumption, saying there were plenty of reasons someone might react that way. I chose to let it go, seriously thinking that he must just be ignorant of some statistics, and it couldn’t possibly reflect his gender politics because he seemed so sensitive and sweet.
      That conversation came back to haunt me when he date raped me a few months later and, unable to emotionally process what happened, I interpreted it as an “accident” and kept dating him. It was only after several months that I realized how subtly abusive his behavior had been all along and finally cut him out of my life.
      I don’t think you can stress enough that the personal is political. We need to be reminded so often. As much as I appreciate my real male allies, there are still plenty of times we are our only defense, emotionally and physically. If we don’t stand up for ourselves and our sisters in those little interactions, we won’t be prepared when the really bad shit hits the fan.

      • Anabanana April 3, 2011 at 10:03 PM #

        I meant to say, she’d been sexually *assaulted* at a party.

  4. TheFeministGriote March 31, 2011 at 6:58 AM #

    “How can I let you touch me if I wouldn’t touch your politics with a ten foot pole?”

    That question cut me deep because I have thought this many of times. “The personal is political” and unfortunately the politics of your friend is so diametrically opposite from yours that to ignore it would be a grave mistake. As feminists unfortunately we do not have luxury of dating unconsciously like some of our non-feminist sister do. Your consciousness can’t be raised politically, but any man with shady politics will do sexually. We must always seek to be consistent not contradictory!

    Great post. You really have posed some serious questions that I really need to spend time with.

  5. s March 31, 2011 at 7:49 AM #

    it’s crude, but here’s where i’m at:

    i cannot date a cop.
    i cannot date a prosecutor or prison guard.
    i cannot date a republican.
    i cannot date most democrats.
    i cannot date a homophobe or a heteropatriarch.
    i cannot date an uncritical consumer or a ceo.
    i cannot date the grown and sexy.

    and i’m sure there are more. i want my strongest relationships to be partnerships. i can’t spend all day trying to create and live alternatives to capitalism and consumerism, to organize myself and others around the ethos of feminism, queer justice, labor rights, and prison abolition–and love–and not have a place to rest and recharge. i can’t do my work in the world if my interior spaces are unsupported and perpetually contentious. shit’s too hard.

    my position on this does not make me close-minded or intractable. i am friends with plenty of folks who disagree with me, or who spend their days reproducing the structures i’d rather dismantle. i do not withhold love or care from them, and i honor the generative potential of difference. however, justice work is a team sport and some folks are just unable to provide the assist.

    • Shana March 31, 2011 at 12:01 PM #

      Thank you for this!

    • Renoir 422 March 31, 2011 at 5:40 PM #

      Amen, this too is my testimony. I will not co-sign,copulate or capitulate to/with any man whose politics I don’t respect. True intimacy is too precious to waste on someone who is questionable.

      • Marie March 31, 2011 at 10:04 PM #


        I myself became a victim of dating violence recently. Extra unexpectedly. I was punched and kicked in the face for about 5 minutes. My face was a little swollen and some parts bruised but physically I was okay. With a little bang precision I was able to go out the next day. I say this because after this incident I was able to see the Brown and Rihanna situation in a whole new light.


        I was beaten and my face looked nowhere near what Ri Ri looked like. Breezy straight tried to kill her for what had to be atleast fifteen minutes. Nothing a person can do can “provoke” an attack like that. Nothing. If I talk about your mom or tell you that you are shit, you don’t have the right to beat me. Walk away, punch a pillow or even better get a fucking life.

        His family came by the next day to console me, being that they were the only ones that came to my aid. (This happened abroad in a developing nation) Then his cousin came by, shared a story of how his biological father beat his step mom and how he understood my pain. But then he had the nerve to ask me what I said to provoke the attack?! I told him the same thing I stated earlier in this post, that it doesn’t matter what I said.

        I’m just so tired of everyone forgetting and forgiving what Brown did when he has shown no growth as an artist in his lyrics (Since we only know him as an artist.) They are still the same mysogynistic lyrics with nice beats. Fuck him and fuck all the Chris Browns!

        -Empowered Educated SURVIVOR

    • ashon April 1, 2011 at 10:52 AM #

      i appreciate what you say…and agree with you on that list (plus more…)

    • TF April 1, 2011 at 7:15 PM #

      True. Fact. But watch the ones that talk too good of a game and use their politics as control. Dudes who tell you that yr not feminist enough, that they understand gender politics better than you, etc, seem to end up ending up cops or rapists or might-as-well-be’s in ally clothing. There’s not reason to open up your safest places to people you don’t feel safe around.

    • Anders April 3, 2011 at 6:40 PM #

      “i can’t do my work in the world if my interior spaces are unsupported and perpetually contentious.”

      Thank you for this. It’s too easy to get bogged down in how we need to date certain people based on our ideals, which always leaves me feeling unsatisfied because it can’t just be about ideals, can it? Well no. And thanks for putting it into words. It is absolutely about the practical, every day shit as well — like is your home space (or intimate space) a safe space for your anger, your sadness, your need to be understood.

  6. Bewildered March 31, 2011 at 8:07 AM #


    It’s in this word you chose to use: instigate. How does one instigate an attack like that? What does one do worthy of that sort of beating? I see this word being thrown around all the time, but no one has any specifics. What does an “instigated” attack that results in being beaten and left on the street look like? Of the hundreds of scenarios I’ve thought of, none seem to warrent what Ri got.

    Allow me to digress briefly: If you know anything about domestic violence, then you know that this was not the first time Chris hit Ri. First-time attacks don’t include head butts, bites, and several blows to the face accompanied by statements like “I’m gonna kill you.” At this point it’s clear that violence was the mediator in their relationship.

    Let’s not reduce the fact of physical dominance to the “weaker sex” argument. The fact of the matter is that whenever a man asserts his physical dominance on a woman, it’s highly likely that he can render her powerless. We can’t ignore the physicality of this issue, because that’s where the power lies, and that’s what abuse is all about- using one’s power (perceived, real, contrived, etc.) to intimidate and hurt others.

  7. kristlsmithtyler March 31, 2011 at 8:18 AM #

    First – I want to comment on CB’s behavior – then on your post. CB’s body language shows me a troubled person who has never taken responsibility for his part in what happened. Robin did her job. She wouldn’t have had to come off as pushy if he had just answered her questions the first time. Like you are saying, his behavior proves he hasn’t dealt with it – meaning he thinks other people did this “TO” him.

    To side with your students and the first commenter – we do need to talk about women’s potential role in these situations. Just because Rihanna looked worse at the end, doesn’t mean she was completely without fault. I was in a relationship in the past where I regularly struck first. I was wrong. That didn’t make him right but it also didn’t make him an “abuser”

    Re your relationship – I think you should def keep him in your sights. Disagreement is healthy. As long as he is not obvs misogynist then it’s just healthy discussion.

    • kristlsmithtyler March 31, 2011 at 8:42 AM #

      I just watched a few clips on YouTube – of Chris talking to Robin in 2009 – and in that clip he behaves the way I think we expect and want to see him behave – with remorse. So now I am more torn than ever. Maybe we should let it go. Maybe he does deserve not to have to answer these questions again. It’s a tough, tough issue. I agree we should not get physical with people whose politics we find abhorrent but I am not sure this is the case with you and your Friend.

      • Apache Maroon April 2, 2011 at 10:12 AM #

        Thank You for offering a different viewpoint. I remember that nite where we learned that Rihanna was taken to the hospital and the news of chris brown’s alleged attack. I immediately made the decision to not make Chris a monster and to not treat Rihanna like a damsel in distress just because the media wanted me to believe this.

        I knew that my experience 7 years prior to this news prepared me with a ring side seat to a domestic fight between a friend and her lover (male). Although charges was pressed on the male party, I did not feel comfortable releasing a statement to the police because deep down I knew that the physical scars on my friends body only delivered half of the drama and twisted manipulative ways I had witnessed first hand.
        I later realized my friend was severely disturbed and suffered from a poor self esteem in which she demanded constant attention from people to feel worthy of herself. If you didn’t respond to a phonecall or couldn’t be there when she needed you (at that very instant), she would act out irrationally. In fact, she openly admitted to setting another ex’s car on fire b/c he cheated on her. This is not even the half of it, really. I share this story not to put my old friend out there but to add food for thought. Is the man always at fault no matter what?? I worked in law enforcement also and have seen charges completely dropped because the male party had a hidden video of the girlfriend verbally/and physically abusing the male and provoking him to hit her so that she could call the police. This really does happen. Though we’ll never know for sure what really happened beyond a photo of Rihanna’s battered face, it is fair to speculate and assume that this is ALL on Chris. He’s had his trial already, let him redeem himself geez..Meanwhile we watch Rihanna sing “Just going to stand there and watch me burn/but That’s alright because I love the way you” or lyrics to RudeBoy or even the recent performance with Drake on the grammys. I just don’t get it. I just would like to see that young man get his life back and 20 years from now he will be like Vanessa Williams…another celebrity that was able to successfully rebuild a tarnished reputation.
        Sorry for grammar, typos etc. Felt compelled to comment and got caught in the moment on this mobile device lol.

    • jenn April 2, 2011 at 7:36 AM #

      You sound like you have a few issues. “A woman’s role in these issues” is some messed up stuff to say. NO ONE should get beat. EVER. If a guy was beat like that by another guy, what would we be saying. We would be saying who is that crazy to beat a guy like that! And this advice you give about keeping someone in there sights when warning signals are going off is nuts. Those warning signs are what keep women alive. Sisters get killed out there on the regular. You need to use every instinct you have to protect yourselves.

      So sisters, please, there are men out there who are worth your time and they are worth the wait. When someone sends signals that make you question his attitude towards you and women in general, move on.

  8. LaToya March 31, 2011 at 8:49 AM #

    No one should ave their tail beat like Rihanna did – period. I think we all agree on that. I guess I just wonder is there a place/ time for healing? When will we collectively decide that CB has been punished and scorned enough? What does this scorn accomplish? I agree with some of the other comments – we don’t know what else transpired. Each of the people involved have to deal with their roles in the situation. Whether we like CB’s demeanor, or feel he is “truly” sorry for what happened, at what point is enough enough?

    I think we need to explore other, more productive stances to take in discourse that go beyond accuser and defender – these stances are clearly contagious as seen in the “transcript” above. I don’t have the answer, but I do know that with this type of divide between black men and women none of us will be getting our groove on or moving forward together at all for that matter.

  9. iwritethewrongs March 31, 2011 at 9:02 AM #

    I won’t get into the rights/wrongs of Chris Brown. But must cosign Qalil Little comment. Been in a relationship with my college sweetheart for 17 years, married for 10. There is no way we agree on everything. There are quite a few debates we’ve held around certain issues. But he loves me, and therefore supports me in my community focused work. He challenges my thoughts and helps me to understand perspectives that are not always aligned with my own. And he provides for me a soft space, a retreat to be a woman, soft and free of reserve. That is our intimate space that is not open to politics, or outside views.

    Even further, this piece makes me take a step to the side and ask, do sisters who heavily and exclusively identify themselves as feminist declare all others the enemy? If I share 70% of the same beliefs and politics, but do not agree wholeheartedly on theories and responses to Chris Brown or other popular “topics,” does that mean I am less vested or less “certified” as a feminist? Do I not belong in this “circle” of sisters because I do not vehemently wave my Fem Flag at all times?

    • reevesonkeys March 31, 2011 at 11:22 AM #

      @iwritethewrongs–I don’t think it’s that cut and dry to say that if you don’t agree with everything a feminist proclaims that you are automatically left out of the circle. True Feminism is about inclusion of everyone. It’s about challenging injustices and unfair conditions for all. For example, as a feminist/womanist, I am just as concerned with equal rights for all women as I am for equal rights and conditions for Black men, immigrants, children, senior citizens, differently-abled individuals, etc. You don’t have to isolate your man to identify with feminism and by that same token, to declare someone “outside the circle” who does not agree with all beliefs about feminism is divisive and discredits the goals of the movement.

      • Liz April 3, 2011 at 4:20 AM #

        @reevesonkeys — then why limit yourself to being a “feminist” rather than just calling yourself a human rights activist? No other civil rights movement — LGBTQ, non-whites, etc. — was labeled with its own, separate term (with all of its negative connotations). How absurd would “homosexualists” or “Africanists” sound? Can we start just labeling the people who think that abuse and other inequalities toward women can be justifiable and start acting like equality-minded people should be the norm?

    • Tami April 11, 2011 at 11:08 AM #

      I don’t think it is that feminists reject people who do not share 100 percent of their beliefs. I think in intimate relationships, we all have to understand what our “deal breakers” are. If we have values, surely there are some that we will not compromise.

      For me, the idea that sexism and violence against women is wrong is a deal breaker. That is not a value around which I will compromise. I feel the same about, for instance, equality for GLBT people. My husband and I don’t share the same views on everything, but on these issues we are in agreement and that is important to me. Some people feel the same about, say, religion. I have heard many a Christian say that they must be “evenly yoked” with a potential mate.

      There is nothing wrong with any of this. Indeed, finding someone who shares your values is important to a healthy relationship. So, I am surprised that some commenters seem to find evaluating a person re: their views of domestic violence to be evidence of some sort of narrow mindedness or rigidity.

      I think it is more that, in our community, violence against women is not taken seriously and is not roundly seen as bad. Therefore, many believe a potential boyfriend’s thoughts on this issue are not worth taking a stand over. I doubt there would have been this push back if the issue at hand was one our community deems important like race and religion.

  10. Kismet March 31, 2011 at 9:09 AM #

    I’m glad that I didn’t write this post and therefore don’t need to pretend that I want to engage, teach or dialogue. Because I am furious. I’m furious that we still give men who abuse women in any form–this case being physical–a pass. A slap, a punch, a kick, a knife–none of that means that any man has a reason to deliver a beatdown back. I don’t care. Walk away.

    And wait, let’s not forget, he did. AFTER he left her beaten. To go to a party. He deserves our utmost sympathy *drips with sarcasm*

    In fact, if we want to apply the “We don’t know what happened” logic to the event at hand, why don’t we take it further. We don’t know if he was emotionally abusive in the relationship, do we? We don’t know if she hit back in retaliation for emotional or other kinds of physical abuse, do we? We don’t know the spectrum of sexual abuse in the relationship? But we don’t even bring that up, do we? So busy trying to give some kind of space for the impossibility of really knowing, we forget to make these kinds of connections in behavior, in sentiments, in perspective and in our interpersonal relations.

    It isn’t about this one incident, any more than it was about Kels one child pornography or Bynum’s one abuse incident (or Long’s one inappropriate text message). It is about what those moments say about the larger context of a dangerous and unhealthy relationship. And it is about what our friggin first instincts OUGHT to be when we are faced with these things.

    Why the hell don’t we ever question the men as hard as we question the women? When the rumor hit that she was sleeping with Jay-Z, no one was like, “Well, we don’t know what happened in the bedroom.” We are quicker to believe that she deserved it, she “instigated” it, she walked around like a walking vagina (why you would insert “Sleazanna” into this dialogue is very offensive and completely inappropriate to the discussion, Mr. Qalil) and that she is a hot, crazy, Bajann and that’s what they do than to actually consider that there is something very wrong with how we manage our personal relationships in THIS community.

    What a different world it would be if, instead of jumping so quickly to the defense of all our ever-so-maligned black men, we actually, with zero excuses, jumped, LEAPED, and FLEW to the defense of our women and girls. If that was our first instinct, our first assumption, right or wrong, if we believed them every single time. Imagine how empowered they would be to speak up? Imagine how terrified men would be to do beat down? Imagine how our assumptions would all change?

    I won’t apologize for the anger here but I do want to add that I’m leaving this post with love and not offend anyone. The comments here aren’t pressing on my heart so much as the general sentiment around the CB issue.

    And to crunktastic–I’m in a relationship with a man who over the years has learned that these are issues that I will ride, die, cry and bleed for. And through his love for me, and his general interest and commitment to women in his life, he does to. I couldn’t be with anyone else. A conversation like the one above that did not eventually end in him understanding where I’m coming from would end in me checking. So you do what you do, but never feel like you’ve got to settle for less than someone who can affirm the politics that affirm your self. These politics ARE intimate as shit.


    ps. My bad for the mad heterosexism of this post. I’m speaking from my experience but just as it is important to think beyond the physicality of abuse, it is also important to recognize that this is about violence in intimate relations not just in male-female relations.

    • yes April 1, 2011 at 6:15 AM #

      Thank you Kismet!!!!

    • Chai Latte April 1, 2011 at 5:29 PM #

      Beautifully said!

    • JC April 2, 2011 at 6:04 AM #

      “I’m furious that we still give men who abuse women in any form–this case being physical–a pass. A slap, a punch, a kick, a knife–none of that means that any man has a reason to deliver a beatdown back. I don’t care. Walk away.”

      Why should men be unable to defend themselves when fearing for their physical safety?

      • kristlsmithtyler April 2, 2011 at 8:21 AM #

        I’m with you JC. This stuff has swung way too far to the side of women. I know because I was someone who routinely acted out in a physically agressive way against a man who was 6’4″ and 220lbs. Why? bc I knew he wasn’t “allowed” to strike back. Over the course of a three year period his patience ran thinner and thinner. He was the model of composure. It all came to an end when neighbors called the police and he was arrested. The Gender Politics police got involved and tried to convince me I was a battered woman. It was so ridiculous. I was never battered. I was never scared. But I had my marks from our fight. He didn’t – for a number of reasons. Marks don’t tell the full story. I often went for the nuts.

    • Nyorai April 3, 2011 at 8:19 AM #

      Thank you! One particular thing I want to commend is that finally someone mentions- albeit briefly- the implicit role of Rihanna’s “foreignness” in the vitriolic characterizations to which she has been subjected. I have often wondered whether if she were American she would have garnered more sympathy. Ethnocentrism is the missing piece up in here that has never been accounted for. Someone above mentioned how Rihanna danced with Drake as evidence of something insidious. Well Caribbean sensuality/sexuality is primarily expressed through dance;that one makes such a leap from watching a culturally-informed way of empowerment to conclude something about her character, and by extension, Rihanna’s right to protection, sympathy or whatever, is just madness.

    • Assiya April 5, 2011 at 11:47 AM #

      Thank you

  11. Gwendolyn Pough March 31, 2011 at 9:21 AM #

    Good and tough questions…

    I’m all for healthy and vigorous debate; these could actually be great foreplay in a relationship. 😉 But no matter how much I love a good argument there are some topics I feel shouldn’t even be arguments. Domestic violence is one of them. I don’t want to be with a man who thinks there are any reasons or situations where domestic violence can get a pass.

    One thing that I used with students to discuss this issue of giving C-Breezy a pass was this… If I wouldn’t give men I know, love, care for and allow in my life a pass, if I wouldn’t give my husband, father, brother, uncle, cousin or nephew a pass on this kind of behavior, why the hell should I give Chris Brown a pass? What makes him so special that I have to give him a pass on behavior that I would call men I care about on if they ever lost their mind and went there? I asked them if they would tolerate this kind of behavior from men they cared about. If they would come up with excuses for them? I got silence and crickets, but at least they stopped defending C-Breezy for a few minutes…

  12. Mark Mays March 31, 2011 at 11:16 AM #


    I dated a republican many years ago. Within a year she was working for a Democrat politician. I don’t know how much I had to do with that, if anything. She traveled, got a year older. Maybe she was just doing what her parents had expected until then. Who knows. Moral of the story, don’t be so quick to toss they guy aside, at least he isn’t a republican.

    There’s a larger point to this, about absolutism among the left. Examples of it go back to US Communist party in the 20s. It’s where the term “politically correct” originates (it was not always a conservative catch phrase). Seems to me as though this absolutism tears apart leftist movements. I’ve seen it happen on a micro scale a couple of times. Hasn’t bothered the right wing very much, certainly not to the degree it has the left.

    Maybe it’s part of our nature, we like to discuss (argue, fight) ideology. Conservatives tend to acquiesce to authority, the “team.” Our ideals that we argue over are very personal (as in this case) and things can get nasty.

    In the end, we are divided and conquered because we split over single issues.

    On Brown in particular, I never had any use for him before, and now I just have a good excuse to keep my 6 yr old boy from watching him when he’s on TV.

    About his contriteness, I was assigned to review of one of his concerts for a local paper. Soulja boy opened for him and “showed out.” For some reason, Brown felt he had to apologize for Soulja Boy’s lewd acts, and did so at the end of his set. That was either a shrewd recognition of potential repercussions or he was genuinely sorry the kids in the audience saw it. I don’t give him enough credit in the wits part for the former.

    Brown is probably like most ppl, a complicated person, neither villain nor role model. Clearly, he’s in need of some psychiatric assistance. His problems are beyond “he beat a woman,” more like he issues that can make him dangerous to anyone (windows, too) including himself. He has to be willing, however, to be free of the hubris that stands in the way of recovery. It can be done, I’ve seen it.

  13. R. O'Quinn March 31, 2011 at 11:37 AM #

    My litmus test for lovers is this: If I were not this person’s lover, would this person stand by & let me be [beaten, treated as a 2nd class citizen, forced into childbirth, whatever the issue in question is], or would this person stand up for my right to be treated as a human?

    I’ve found that when the answer is that they’d stand by & let it happen, it takes much of the joy out of my encounters with them…and without that joy, what’s the point?

    I’d rather be partner-less (and have been, for long stretches of my life). At least masturbation doesn’t feel like betrayal.

    • moyazb March 31, 2011 at 12:32 PM #


  14. alexis March 31, 2011 at 11:53 AM #

    Brave and powerful post. The intimacy of our politics is also a source of great power and transformation and pleasure and healing.

    And my question is…where is the billboard that proclaims the truth…that black feminist sex is the best sex around and that folks who insist on ignoring the dynamics of gender violence in order to maintain their privilege are missing out.

    Makes me want to create an ad campaign that gives new meaning to the phrase “come correct.”

    • moyazb March 31, 2011 at 12:33 PM #

      This Too!!! “Come Correct” is brills! Let’s make it happen!

      • Ashaf April 1, 2011 at 6:52 AM #

        Moya and Alexis, can I be a part of the “come correct” campaign? I have been thinking about starting a black feminist erotic magazine that borrows Essence’s tag line, “Where black women come first…” Anyway, I’ve never had black feminist sex (except for the sex that I’ve had with myself). Where does one get some? I’ve had misogynist sex with a man who hated women’s bodies so much that he would only go down with a peppermint in his mouth, which invariably led to infections. I’ve had homophobic sex with a man who hated “everything gay” but wanted to wear my panties and be anally stimulated (wasn’t a problem– just found it contradictory). I’ve had religious zealot sex with a man who jumped up in the middle of a sex act to change the radio station because Yolanda Adams came on… I jest, but black feminist sex is not so easy to find. I suppose that once you find it, you’ll never settle for less. Hell, I’ll never settle for less again and I haven’t even found it.

      • Kismet April 1, 2011 at 9:43 AM #


        “Black feminist sex is the best sex around.”


        good lord i heart these words. and the campaign. April is DV Awareness month. Can we make this a blog-a-round theme of some kind? 30 days of “how to come correct” or “the politics of black feminist sex” or “cumming correct” (yeah, i be vulgar sometimes)?

        Who wants sum?

        Let’s make this happen.

      • withoutscene April 1, 2011 at 11:06 PM #

        Can there be a Twitter hashtag so I can read ALL the things?

    • proseroom April 1, 2011 at 11:12 AM #

      Please add me to the “Come Correct” campaign, too! This is some BRILLIANCE right here!

  15. kris March 31, 2011 at 1:02 PM #

    After a long line of macktivists I learned that sharing politics does not always equal sharing intimacy. Some of the men most ready for the revolution were the main ones you would never ever want to be in a relationship with. I think we can share different views but must always share the same bedrock values. That includes an openness to learning, asking questions, and not getting stuck in an ideological rut and/or “progressive” echo chamber. I feel lucky to have a partner whose gender politics are right on, mostly because he knows rule #1 of being a feminist ally: shut the hell up and let yourself get learned. I don’t need my boo to quote Freidan or Bambara. But I do love that he asks questions, supports my activism, acknowledges his privilege and shows compassion. Even when he doesn’t understand. But lord help any partner who doesn’t understand the inherent wrongness of Chris Brown. That’s a dealbreaker, ladies!

  16. Alex March 31, 2011 at 2:00 PM #

    I think some guys have a “trained” reaction. People are “trained” to defend the brothers, because how they’re defending them (your class included) is kind of automatic response. Nothing original there.

    That said, your Friend has shown no evidence of abuse either past nor present, he just has some wack politics, but it’s a trained auto response — defend the brothers. So I would say, since people aren’t perfect and not everyone is done growing, cut him some slack. Don’t get all up in his grill about it, be nice, let him know how you feel, have a real convo about it (as I’m sure you have) and keep convo’ing. Over time he’ll learn/ or see for himself how to re-think some attitudes and ideas that he’s been taught (defend the brothers) from childhood on.
    I think it’s racist to say “defend the brothers” over every little thing — people at this point (in our supposedly post racial world) should be judged by what they do as individuals. Chris Brown is not an example of a black man, he’s an example of Chris Brown. And yeah, he’s got issues. He’s imperfect and messed up human being. So are a lot of people.
    But your friend will spend time with you and learn to listen to you and you to him (as I”m sure you do) and he will grow and change too. Cut him some slack and persuade him nicely over time. We all got some growin’ to do. He can learn from you.
    All the best!

  17. Chris March 31, 2011 at 2:10 PM #

    Here’s a revolutionary, countercultural possibility: refuse to do sex without covenant. It’s an agreement that both parties commit to. It creates a safer space for the dangers of intimacy. It’s like saying, “You don’t touch me until we agree on the rules of the game. You don’t like the rules, we don’t play. You break the rules, game over.” Covenant can be a girl’s best friend.

  18. kristlsmithtyler March 31, 2011 at 2:24 PM #

    I can’t believe that everyone uses “domestic violence” and “abuse” interchangably with the idea that they had a physical fight. Neither of them have explained what really happened. I think what those of use who are saying “we don’t know what happened” are saying – we don’t know if he’s an abuser or just someone who got in a fight with a woman and won. I think it is “anti-feminist” to say “you should never hit a woman.” I am tall and strong and if I chose to beat up men, I could. Are they not allowed to defend themselves? If they do, am I some pathetic lady cowering in a corner who has been abused just because I am a woman? That’s sexist.

    • yes April 1, 2011 at 6:57 AM #

      You must not have seen the pictures. Of both of them. I would share the link with you, but it’s hard for me to see. Then again, I don’t believe in getting in a fight with a woman and winning. I also assume you’ve never taken karate. Defense is not brutal retaliation.

      • kristlsmithtyler April 1, 2011 at 7:13 AM #

        Actually I did the see the pics and I was struck by how much they look like a pic I was asked to “hold” for a friend many years ago. She also put a copy in a safe deposit box at a bank. The fight was not he-man coming home letting her know who was boss. It was a loooooong progression in a long relationship. It was the last time she ever hit him. Because he went too far that time. Prior to that night she brandished knives and threats. She threw candlesticks at his head. She grabbed his nuts and twisted as hard as she could. She poked her fingernails into his eye sockets. Why? Because he was a cheater and they both figured he deserved it. So it was allowed to progress. A little abuse from her meant remorse on her part and then forgiveness. He could take the pain. But one night it got out of hand – she hurt him bad enough that his instincts kicked in. And what did I learn from all this? Stop going there. Stop thinking that because this guy has been told all his life that he must “never, ever hit a woman” you have a free pass to do whatever you want, say whatever you want bc he can’t do shit. What I know about my friend’s partner. He snapped. And he has to live with that. He’s not an abuser. I’ve known him 30 years. He’s not. So yeah, I saw her face. We still don’t know what happened.

  19. eyelid March 31, 2011 at 4:41 PM #

    Let’s start with what we know: We know that C.B. beat Rhianna terribly, including biting and headbutting her. We know he didn’t get a scratch on him. We know he didn’t let her out of the car while he was assaulting her.

    I’m baffled as to why people’s reaction to this – including many commenters above – isn’t “wow, that’s really fucked up” but rather “hey, we don’t know, there could be some reason why it’s all her fault.”

    There’s no evidence or even allegation that she hit him, let alone hit him first. So why on earth are people jumping to that conclusion?

    All the evidence we have says that he beat her bloody cause he got mad. Everything else, his defenders are just plain MAKING UP out of thin air.

    To get to the point of the original post: Before I was married, I hooked up with guys for fun and seldom was very serious about them. Consequently their exact politics could differ from mine; they were just a game to me.

    But for something more serious, I need to feel like my partner is on my side. My husband would have the exact same reaction to the Friend’s bizarre take on the CB incident as I have. Because he and I completely share the apparently-radical view that it’s not ok to beat up one’s own domestic partner.

    I have found that it is a valuable and wonderful thing to be able to go home to my husband and vent about messed-up sexist stuff, where his reaction will be to listen to me, nod in complete agreement and make hilarious sarcastic comments. I don’t have to fight about things with him. He gets it and I know he’s on my side. That is a partnership.

    I don’t think you have to settle for less. I don’t think you should settle for less.

    You could try talking more to Friend and see if there’s some way he could be brought to get it. Some people can learn. If he can’t, though, I wouldn’t overlook it in a million years. His statements and position are frankly disgusting. “No one knows what happened in that car. Furthermore, it’s no one’s business.”?? seriously?? What happened in that car is that CB broke Rhianna’s face, and domestic violence is everyone’s business.

    • Fay April 1, 2011 at 8:19 PM #

      I agree with this completely. No one knows just exactly what happened in that car before he beat the shit out of her… but it doesn’t matter. There is no evidence that she hit him at all… but even if she had, self-defense is not a 15-minute beating and walking away. Even if she provoked something… nothing provokes what happened to Rihanna. Period! Why is this even a question?

    • Nyorai April 3, 2011 at 8:30 AM #

      The other thing that we know is that the people who called the cops did so because they could hear a woman’s screams from their houses. We know that her screams were so horrific and so enduring that they knew that a woman was being badly beaten.

  20. Jen March 31, 2011 at 6:18 PM #

    “Can you be a good feminist if you have intimate engagements with partners who have diametrically opposed gender politics?”


  21. the GREENEhornet March 31, 2011 at 6:58 PM #

    Okay first things first….the guy that you describe…total clown ass n***a. Dont ever talk to him again…I heard that dude aint even graduate from college and is perpin being an Alpha…real bitchassness.

    Now that I have addressed that, I think what the man is getting at is wrong is wrong, but what happened to forgiveness? Do feminist not believe in that? No one is giving Breezy a pass for beating her ass cause he was wrong for that. But at the same time, lets hold ever other woman beater in the world under the same scrutiny.

    In Robin Roberts defense, I am sure she was not trying to rub Breezy the wrong way. He needs to have some self awareness and been like nah….I’m not trying to hear questions about Rihanna…lets stick to the music.

    But to address to comment about politics…people are going to differ in a variety of ways. Personally, I say to hell with it because almost no one can discern personal feelings from politics. Just because you and him don’t feel the same way about this incident is not indicative of her personal dealings with you in a romantic way. The last thing to do is the change a person on how they feel, as this would imply that you have some control problem…don’t want that do you? Just agree to disagree, make a note of it and keep it pushing…never push a person away because they make look at things differently…embrace a persons diversity.

    Look at it from this side of the coin too…Do you think Rihanna really wants to flip on her TV and watch Breezy answer questions about a incident that scarred her for eternity? I don’t think so? Would you want to be reminded on national TV about how this dude beat the hell out of you and effectively embarrassed you? Yeah she is a victim, but does every victim want attention drawn to her? I very much so doubt that.

    Long story short….you partner should not always AGREE with what you have to say, but he/she should respect your gangsta in the end. Is he interested in engaging your conversation? Is he understanding of where you are coming from? There are more important questions than do your politics match up. Holler

    p.s- I heard this dude wears stocking instead of dress socks…And that he sells curried chicken out of the trunk of his car to pay his bills….smelly ass stankin ass N***a…

    • Medusa April 4, 2011 at 10:36 AM #

      Long story short….you partner should not always AGREE with what you have to say, but he/she should respect your gangsta in the end. Is he interested in engaging your conversation? Is he understanding of where you are coming from? There are more important questions than do your politics match up.

      Erm. No. On some things, sure, your politics can differ. On whether it is acceptable for a MAN. TO BEAT THE SHIT. OUT OF A WOMAN. No, there is almost nothing more important than whether or not you can agree on that.

  22. Jess March 31, 2011 at 7:44 PM #

    I have to say that I really appreciated your post and it was thought provoking but in the end I find I don’t agree with the basis of your premise that this is a political issue.

    I have dated and slept with people whose politics in general I don’t agree with, I will say it can make for a harder relationship and doesn’t usually help to make a committed one. To many arguments and when the political issues you have that are different stem from moral beliefs then you really have a problem emotionally.
    But I have never slept with or dated a man I know to be excusing of domestic violence in any shape or form. Loud and vigorous arguments on the above mentioned differences not withstanding LOL.

    So I would say you can still stand by us your sisters when you become intimate with someone who you disagree with about general politics but to give up your self to a man who likely doesn’t respect what a gift you are is unacceptable. And would likely sully any beauty that you could find in that union.

    Best wishes on finding the right man and to happy and healthy sex life 😉

  23. Agleska March 31, 2011 at 9:56 PM #

    “Can I share intimate space with someone who thinks that asking questions about questionable actions is antagonistic?”

    Thank you for putting this question out there, it is warmly received in my own self reflections. I can’t answer that in theory, but apparently I have lived a life trying to prove that one can share that space. As a DV survivor I get how terms like victim and survivor can undermine women’s agency. However, being that we live in a male dominated violent culture, I think to put it lightly that it is wishful thinking to take those identifiers away in the name of emancipatory labeling that is meant to expose female domestic abusers. I mean people really got to sit with how no matter how you spin it, we are in a hegemony that puts certain people on top and a whole lot of us at the bottom. Forget that, and it is easy to use personal experiences that does not fit the norm to actually support the norm. If my mother was emotionally and physically violent, during the time that my father wasn’t because he left, who is it easy to be the most angry at? Reconciling that in terms of social justice in an environment of genocidal racism toward my ancestors has left me with the awareness that witnessing/healing/reconciling with my father does not have to be at the expense of my mother, nor the other way around. But, to say that a woman can antagonize a deserved beating because some woman abuse men is irresponsible and shifting the blame which invisiblizes the statistical victims. I grew up in a family full of women who worked in a matriarchy, but who remain ultimately ruled under the U.S. colonial patriarchy. I have good reason to understand the threat that an abusive woman can pose, but that is never a good reason to deny the reality of this violent male dominated culture.

    “To what extent is and should my sex life be political?”

    As a Two-spirit (queer First nations), I would say that sex is political, in the queer community it is an intersectionality that can and should not be ignored.

  24. Tina April 1, 2011 at 12:06 AM #

    I’m very conflicted with my opinion about the entire situation. While Chris Brown did something that was shameful and disgusting, I feel that there is a point where forgiveness is needed. After taking many women’s studies classes and becoming a strong minded feminist, I feel even more conflicted. It’s just that how long is it, and at what point does someone say, it’s okay, it’s over? Even if it was a one time thing for Chris, it’s now a part of him and how people percieve him but what could one do to make ammends? Stop someone else from beating their girl? Stop many people? Apologize over and over or does time heal all wounds? Lastly, I am just starting to see the domestic violence thing in a lot more than black and white as with a lot of other issues. And knowing people that have been on both sides, both men who I would never have expected it but have confessed to huritng someone and also knowing women who have been beaten. What can we do to stop this?! And is it always either or?

    • Chai Latte April 1, 2011 at 5:36 PM #

      Re: forgiveness

      That’s for Rihanna to give, if and when she so chooses (if she hasn’t already). For me it’s not an issue–I didn’t pay much attention to Chris Brown before. His music does nada for me.

      Well, if he wanted to make amends, he could stop flipping out in public, maybe. Or acknowledge the fact that this violent act will always be with him. The sad fact is that he almost killed another human being. (Note: the human skull is relatively fragile, especially under such an assault, and it doesn’t that that much pressure to deliver a potentially fatal blow. The right amount of pressure in the right spot, and it’s game over.) This SHOULD NOT ever be forgotten, least of all by Brown himself. Not if he’s sincere in wanting to change. Right now, the only thing he seems sincere about is that he wants the whole issue to sincerely go away.

      • Liz April 3, 2011 at 4:03 AM #

        I almost completely agree with you, but just want to mention that I know someone who was struck by a massive, speeding vehicle, and took most of the impact to his face. Dude now has metal plates in his skull, but he is, for the most part, fine. Yeah, a life can end just like *that*, but people are also shockingly resilient, which is why Rihanna’s had the option of moving forward and past this (let’s just hope she stops singing lyrics that are forgiving towards domestic violence).

  25. Matic April 1, 2011 at 12:19 AM #

    Thank you for your post. It is most intriguing.

    I feel that some of the questions that you raise are perhaps not explicitly political, but rather are questions about the nature of the link between intimacy and personal commitment. It seems to me that you are committed to certain perspectives and it is perfectly reasonable to expect friends and lovers to share them. This is not to say that we should demand a full consensus of opinion, but i think there should at least be a willingness to discuss. What it most worrisome about your interaction with Friend is that he wanted to change the subject, that is, not discuss and therefore learn about your perspective. Unless you conceive of the acceptable sexual partner in purely physical terms, it seems perfectly sensible to cast question marks on turning this guy into a lover. (And if you do conceive of a partner in this way, you should probably cut down on all the talking and get down to “business time.”)

    But, of course, your questions are also quite political in that the commitments that you have are based in a concern for the welfare of all people, not just some personal preferences. So, whereas my date’s distaste concerning motorcycles might not be enough for me to spurn her advances, her lopsided perspectives on race will be more than enough. Because her inability to conceive of the harm that lies in her perspective means that she is unable to truly connect with me. And if she doesn’t even want to talk about it… Well, it seems to me that there are public displays of inconsideration that pretty much tell you what things will be like in the bedroom.

    One question that you ask has stuck with me. You consider whether you should not have sex with this person as an act of solidarity. On first read I thought that this was madness, that you shouldn’t bring the whole community into a consideration of your pleasure. But then I thought of all the women I know who have been harassed on the street or otherwise disrespected by men and thought that maybe if there was a bit more ‘withholding in solidarity’ that perhaps more men would be more reflective about the hegemony of gender.

    I have it on good authority that there are dudes out there who share your commitments, are fond of smart women and are also willing to sleep with them. Good luck.

    This whole blog is pretty great.

  26. Renina April 1, 2011 at 6:34 AM #

    You know Crunktastic,

    As a Black woman in DC, I find myself dating within the heart of the military industrial complex and I have been struggling with how to write about this. I constantly have to teach these Negro men, I am a human being why in the hell are you treating me like an object.

    Some ARE open to my gender politics, but I will tell you that it is a another layer of labor to be struggling with their patriarchy just because you want to have someone to watch the game or go to the movies with.

    Relating Chris Brown’s violence to the large narratives of violence within many Black homes and intimate relationships IS the kind of work that WE MUST do. Intraracial Coalition work?

    Thank you for writing this.


  27. Trudy April 1, 2011 at 9:58 AM #

    I don’t find this situation complex at all. I will not have friendships with Black women who have such views. In fact, I have NO FRIENDS who have such views doused in patriarchy and really self-hate. I love my friends for that reason. They see Black women as equal to Black men and other people, as people deserving of love too, not as whores who deserved to be hit if they damage a fragile Black male ego at any point.

    Furthermore, I will not date men with such views. Period. This is not a hard choice for me because I don’t feel compelled to be sexual all of the time or even often and I am completely comfortable with being single. If I do have life stressors or problems, they certainly are not about my relationship status.

    Now for someone who wants to date a lot I am not sure what to say. Most men have the views that you presented above, especially Black men. This is reality. Black men are often appauled by racism…disgusted by it, but sexism is ok and has been ok for centuries. Their solidarity with justice for Black women ends at the end of race where gender picks up. It’s hard for them to acknowledge having some male privilege despite having so much hardship based on race. They share that fate with White women, in a similar oppressed/oppressor mixed status. Black women do not have that status.

    How a man thinks about gender and politics most definitely affects relationships. It is not separate. Your probing questions at the end of the post are incredibly important. Very. For me, my sexual interest DIES when someone reveals views that I cannot live with. Certainly everyone is entitled to their own views and their views do NOT have to be like mine. However, they are NOT entitled to my interest, my body or my heart if I find their views to be dangerous to women. Men do not believe things about women in vacuum. Strong negative views aren’t going to be separate from the actual relationship they are in. It will surface and in a very personal way. It always does.

    Also, people need to stop with the “it was two years ago” mess. If 2 years past is too long to discuss something then I guess Black people at large should never discuss slavery or Jim Crow and the like. After all, once something happens, it has zero affect on the future right? See how ridiculous that sounds? Brown’s act of rage at GMA shows that 2 years ago was just yesterday as far as his emotional consciousness goes. Robin Roberts did her job and is not in control of Brown’s body/actions…only he is.

    I believe that there are some men out there, Black and otherwise that do not ascribe to this patriarchal violence supporting garbage, but they are consciously and actively rejecting it when they can. They care about women as people beyond the individual woman they are trying to be intimate with. I just am not sure how many of such men are out there. The majority of women who discuss relationships that I know of meet the former.

    Great post…a lot to think about.

  28. Anonymous April 1, 2011 at 12:11 PM #

    I wasn’t going to comment on this but after reading the comments; I think I have some things to say. No one knows what happened in that car Grammy Night’09. Being a victim of “Domestic Violence” I can side with RiRi, but at the same time I can side with Chris Brown.

    There are certain things in my past I rather not speak about. It’s in my past for a reason, and anyone trying to move forward with their future does not want to be bothered with any questions about it. They say speaking about it makes things better, but some people deal with “being a victim” differently. This is for a “Rape” victim, “Domestic Violence” victim, or any kind of “victim”. Some people go on crusades to change things, some just simply put the pieces of their life back together and move on. Being a “Sexual Assault” victim at the tender age of 11 and a “Domestic Violence” victim at the age of 27; I know what it means to putting the pieces of my life back together and leaving the past in the past. How can I move on with my future if you’re always talking about my past? It’s not a simple process to a victim, but society does make it easy to move forward.

    Instead of us tearing down one another and pointing the finger, we need to help reform one another.

  29. Kismet April 1, 2011 at 1:07 PM #

    We LIVE son!

    • ateenyi April 1, 2011 at 2:58 PM #


  30. hellifiknow April 1, 2011 at 1:21 PM #

    I had a relationship some 20 years ago with a man who stalked,threatened and slapped me. It was a frightening and isolating experience. I was around Rihanna’s age when it happened and I will never forget it. There is no true “past” on bullshit like that. I turned on my TV the other day and he was on speaking in his area of expertise and I felt the same fear and revulsion I did the few times since that I’ve seen him in person.

    That said, my pussy and politics are not connected. I have dated men who felt the same way as the author’s partner. My taste does tend to run to alpha males who subscribe to some of those views. I have found that they speak from the male perspective that is so often the norm. I don’t believe they are inherently violent men, any more than any man is. I just don’t think as men, that they consider the often vulnerable positions women find themselves in. I believe that if you are a woman who is informed and feminist you may be doing the world a service by sharing that information with your man. Maybe you can influence him to think differently. I can understand women who choose differently but I can’t limit the dating pool that way. Dialogue with love and love itself can create change.

  31. Dae April 1, 2011 at 2:55 PM #

    I’m a woman, and I think that asking Chris Brown about what happened to him and Rihanna was not appropriate given the fact that he came on the show to speak about his album. I realize that some women may attack my opinion, or think less of me, but I really do not care. I’ve had the “pleasure” of witnessing violence perpetuated by women and girls, and it was just as vicious and bloody as any men I’ve seen.

    My problem in this situation extends from the fact that we do not hold other male stars accountable for their violent acts (i.e. Dr. Dre, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson); all is somehow forgiven and forgotten even though the public is constantly reminded of their histories. Another problem I have is the fact that we look at these young women as if they are not part of the problem. Every one, not just men, should keep their hands to themselves! There have been multiple times where I’ve seen women ball up their fists, or pick up something, and beat on people–men, other women,and children. We turn away from that. But the moment a man turns around and knocks the hell out of female, then that’s the problem.

    My point is this, if you ball up your fist and hit someone, then expect the person to return the favor. If his only reason for hitting her is that she was talking out of turn, then yes, that’s horrible. But, for crying out loud, drop it! Rihanna has moved, so why can’t you?

  32. Blessings Regina April 1, 2011 at 3:09 PM #

    Yes he was wrong.
    Yes it was a year ago.
    Yes we have given him another chance.
    But no one will ever forget, and neither will he. Stop frontin Breezy.

    In my opinion, he got off light. No one ever heard of Ike Turner returning to stardom. He is still a tremendous talent. He probably shouldn’t due anymore interviews though. Just entertain. Speaking is not your strong point.

  33. Edna April 1, 2011 at 3:39 PM #

    nobodies perfect, f*ck who’s best at it, live your life. Never ever let your partner or friends politics define you.

  34. Causticstorm April 1, 2011 at 4:41 PM #

    All of these people saying “they dont know what happened” and “forgive him”.

    No. He beat the snot out of her. That was clearly not self defense, so you KNOW what happened. Stop playing around. There is a difference between defense and mauling a woman’s face. There is a definite line that was crossed in this situation, so stop kidding yourself. Look at the evidence and feel shame for not wanting to believe Chris Brown did a bad thing, because he did. Feel the burn of the shame. You need it.

    Stop making excuses.

    Also, forgive him? No. I do not forgive users and abusers. As far as I am concerned they can sit and spin on it until they catch fire.

    • Chai Latte April 1, 2011 at 5:39 PM #


      • Tameka April 2, 2011 at 11:15 AM #

        Why not “forgive” him? What has he really done to you? Ultimately the “forgiveness” should come from RiRi. I’m still trying to understand why we are still judging him on something that happened 2 years ago. Are we forgiving Charlie Sheen or the other men actors who hit & abuse their women, the mother of their children? Why does he have to be the only one not forgiven?

    • Causticstorm April 2, 2011 at 3:36 PM #

      @Tameka (Since it wont let me reply)

      Because forgiveness is earned. Maybe a little solidarity is needed. Maybe even an OUNCE of expressed regret on his part. And yes, I will judge him. And Charlie Sheen and anyone else who throws their balls around and against children and spouses due to being on a powertrip.

      What did he do to me? He made it that more dangerous for a woman, ANY WOMAN, to continue being just that.

      That’s what he did.

      • Tameka April 2, 2011 at 5:47 PM #


        1. C. Breezy has not done anything to you for you to forgive him.

        2. Forgiveness is earned, but that is an issue between RiRi. If she can move on and forgive him; the rest of thew world should leave him alone.

        3. As a victim of “domestic violence”, I did not seek forgiveness from anyone but the person who did it to me.

        4. We as people need to learn which battles are ours. This is a battle between RiRi & C. Breezy. If she can drop the restraining order & move on; we should also.

    • Causticstorm April 2, 2011 at 7:55 PM #


      1. C. Breezy has not done anything to you for you to forgive him.

      –His name is not C. Breezy. Just Chris Brown. And I don’t give a crap. I think he’s an asshole who should not be forgiven. No abuser should be. Tough.

      2. Forgiveness is earned, but that is an issue between RiRi. If she can move on and forgive him; the rest of thew world should leave him alone.

      Yes, LEAVE BRITTANY– I mean, Chris ALONE. No. And, I don’t even care about him. I care enough to think he should be punished and that’s it. Tough.

      3. As a victim of “domestic violence”, I did not seek forgiveness from anyone but the person who did it to me.

      –As another victim of spousal abuse and child abuse, I forgive no one. Tough. I move on from it and my empathy toward them and “C. Breezy” is not needed. Screw him for what he did and the rest of them. They can die in a fire as far as I am concerned. Tough.

      4. We as people need to learn which battles are ours. This is a battle between RiRi & C. Breezy. If she can drop the restraining order & move on; we should also.

      –No thanks. People don’t need to be let off that easy. Especially not just because you’re a fan of their music so they can continue being a saint in your eyes. Chris Brown did a bad thing and now he wants to act like a jackass. Why, again, should I be all “D’aw it’s okay, look how cute he is and how nice he sounds!”

      No thanks, again.

      • Tameka April 2, 2011 at 8:09 PM #

        This really seems to be about your own angers & why you can’t forgive anyone. This is not about Chris Brown, this is about you. You have some anger built up about things other people have done to you in your life. It seems to me no one has ever told you “sorry” for the things they have done to you. My opinion. As far as for me, he has done nothing to me. No one has ever said sorry for the sexual abuse or domestic abuse, but I refuse to let them control my life. I have moved on with my life. With God and forgiveness, I have been able to live my life without any regrets.

        Kanye Shrug!!

      • Causticstorm April 8, 2011 at 1:01 PM #

        Don’t try to rationalizew it away with deities or your love for bad music. He is an abuser. Point Blank. I suppose you are too fantarded to see that as the commenter below mentioned. Lost cause, right?

  35. enyouse April 1, 2011 at 5:35 PM #

    Can you be in a relationship with a person whose politics are repugnant to you? (Or, who finds your politics repugnant?) I think the answer is: yes, so long as it’s not important to you.

    I was in a long relationship with someone conservative — “socially liberal,” but “fiscally conservative,” i.e., he liked drugs and sex but not as much as he hated taxes.

    I started out apathetic-liberal, and as time went on, became very, very liberal. And politics got more and more important to me. And reproductive rights got more important to me. And I became feminist. And I went to law school.

    And that’s when it became untenable. (Not the only factor, but, for a sensible person, it would have been enough). So much of my daily life had become me living my politics, living my beliefs, working towards something, that to come home and have all of it dismissed, minimized, and disrespected was devastating.

  36. M. Landers April 1, 2011 at 6:45 PM #

    Partner selection is neither about “withholding sex” nor solidarity. If a person’s point of view makes you question their suitability as your sexual and/or romantic partner, the personal may be political but those politics are still intensely personal. In an instance like this? It’s all about how much do you want to keep having that same conversation.

  37. Sonya April 1, 2011 at 7:10 PM #

    Everyone has said everything (I think) that can possibly be said on the Chris Brown issue, so I won’t add anything redundant. But I will answer your question, which I believe you have already answered for yourself.

    Question: “How can I trust you to hold me when your beliefs hold me down?”
    Answer: You cannot!

    If you are looking for a serious, long-term, egalitarian relationship with a man, you cannot “overlook” his toxic politics. His politics are ideology, and ideology is at the very core of who we all are. So, how can you dismiss flawed thinking?

    Years after the sex simply becomes a part of your days and nights, your child-rearing, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, and trips abroad, will you be able to trust him to experience all of that with you and enrich your life if his ideology is diametrically opposed to yours? No, you will not.

    But, if you just want to get between his knees (and I don’t think that you do), then you can sacrifice your politics for a few steamy nights between the sheets. But you will soon tire of arguing with him and move on.

    As one poster said, yes, people’s politics do change over time. But sometimes they don’t.

    You said earlier in your post that you were constantly involved with men who were only attracted to your politics, your ideology, your mind but not your body. You are not asking too much by wanting a man who desires both your mind and your body. This is not some type of ideal. This is the stuff of which all good and lasting relationships are made.

    I would pass on this guy if I were you.

  38. EF April 1, 2011 at 10:23 PM #

    “How can I trust you to hold me when your beliefs hold me down” –> this! well put.

    I can see being with someone who does not agree with me on certain issues, like fiscal issues or foreign policy, but if they don’t stand for abortion rights or can’t understand why domestic violence and rape culture are major issues then not only is it a huge turn-off, I just don’t feel right putting myself in their hands.

  39. Reclaim Your Queendom April 1, 2011 at 11:50 PM #

    “Frankly, being mad that someone calls you a bitch or a ho, but not being mad that a dude beats a woman’s ass, seems to be an exercise in missing the point.”

    AMEN!!!! It baffles me to hear young women justify Chris’s actions. And every time I hear someone say “let it go” it makes me cringe. Domestic abuse is NO JOKE and it isn’t something you just let go. Honestly, Chris got of really easy with just a slap on the wrist. No jail time. He’s out partying having a good time. I understand he wants to “move on” be he has to understand he ASSAULTED someone. A well known someone at that. You got no jail time. The least you can do is address it when they ask you. And if you don’t want to answer the question, then say I don’t want to answer the question. No need to throw a temper tantrum.

  40. friday jones April 2, 2011 at 2:17 AM #

    The history of men of color being less privileged in the eyes of law enforcement than their life partners has created a great deal of defensiveness whenever a man of color is accused of domestic violence. That’s often the initial point of entry into The System for an adult African-American man, a loud argument with his wife or live-in girlfriend.

    But that doesn’t mean that Chris Brown didn’t beat the hell out of Rihanna, or that she in any way deserved it. While I understand people leaping to his defense, I just don’t think there’s any excuse. And he ought to be more humble about this subject, because he was way out of line. Being a famous musician means people are going to ask you about your low points as well as your current projects. Chris Brown needs to learn how to handle his fame, or get the hell up out of it.

  41. CatBallou April 2, 2011 at 3:58 AM #

    I just dropped in from Shakesville, so please excuse my impertinence in joining this conversation. All I really want to say is please, dear author, reconsider the term “withholding sex.” It seems to suggest that some man is ENTITLED or DESERVING of sex with you, and you’re refusing to let him have it as a way of control or manipulation. This is an oppressor’s viewpoint. If you don’t want to be with a man for WHATEVER reason, that’s entirely your choice. You don’t owe anyone access to your body, and you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
    Men like to promote the fiction that “those mean ol’ women are refusing to let me have the pussy I’m entitled to,” that women are somehow hoarding a precious commodity instead of sharing it. Bullshit. It seems to me that when you refer to being sexually selective as “withholding,” you’re buying into that fiction.

  42. Emma April 2, 2011 at 10:21 AM #

    Thank you for this post. In a past relationship I vastly compromised my political beliefs (and opinions in general!) just to avoid conflict with my boyfriend. I justified this by telling myself that I was just ignoring “the little things”, but when you self-censor for so long it becomes a big thing that starts to negate any real intimacy you have with your partner. Thank you for not only speaking up to your Friend, but also for sharing your story. Sometimes it feels like I should just settle for someone whose beliefs I can never identify with, but hearing you assert just how intimate the political is only makes me more committed to finding someone with whom I can speak my mind. Thanks again.

  43. Nour April 2, 2011 at 2:35 PM #

    I’ve never, ever written on a blog before or commented on a post/article. This is my first time. And I just had to say thank you. The questions you posed really struck me on so many levels because I’ve been dealing with similar issues and have been unable to express myself or get to the heart of the matter the way you just did in this piece.

  44. Muk April 2, 2011 at 10:47 PM #

    From what I understand, she was being just as violent as he was. The whole idea that “A woman could never do anything worthy of violence” is totally wrong, and hypocritical. You treat people the way you wish to be treated, and if you think that you can beat on a dude and expect him to not defend himself, then you’re not only being hypocritical, but also sexist.
    It is a human right to defend yourself regardless if it’s against a man or a woman.

    I do, however, think he was being childish throwing a temper tantrum because he was asked questions that he doesn’t like.

    • Medusa April 6, 2011 at 11:28 AM #

      Huh? She was being just as violent as he was? How? Did you see her after the incident? Did you see him after the incident?

  45. Danielle April 2, 2011 at 11:13 PM #

    I have not paid as much attention to the Chris Brown incident when it happened because I don’t really watch any of the news shows or entertainment tv that covers these things. Eventually though, I ended up hearing so much about it I had to look it up. My heart went out to Rihanna and I was disgusted by the incident but I was tired of following the celebrity news when the same thing happens to non-famous people everyday without these kinds of stories. However, it did say a lot about today’s society and how we still view domestic violence.

    With all that said, this story really got to me. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’ve been with the same man since I was 17 and will be 24 in June. I love him so much and we’ve been through tons. Now we are both in college and I have been learning more and researching more about feminism. Politics were always personal to me, but there was a period of time I was selfish and tuned many of those things out. Now that I learn more and my passion has been reawakened, my boyfriend and I fight about political and feminist related things a lot. I’ve never believed in capitalism and he is going to school to get into finance. I am studying feminism and he still calls me a bitch sometimes. And while these things didn’t make a difference before, they do now. When we talk about it, we make some progress. I know his beliefs won’t change overnight. He has always known I have had beyond liberal politics but these past couple years I’ve been taking them more seriously.

    I’ll cut myself short before I ramble too much, but your questions are the same questions I’ve been asking myself. I will be going to grad school soon and know my knowledge will just grow even more as I become older. Where do I go from here if he is not moving at the same pace? How can I make this work if he wants to continue working towards becoming of a screwed up capitalist and baking system? More questions than answers. But what I can say is intuition. Sometimes you have to just listen to your intuition. Others can help, talking about it can help, writing about it can help, and these things should all be done. But I guess really taking the time to listen to your gut, what it says about this man, about your future decisions, about the choices you are considering making. We often ignore those feelings but they tell us a lot. I have to do the same, but I think thats all I can add for input considering I’ve been really thinking a lot lately about similar things.

    • Danielle April 6, 2011 at 8:24 AM #

      Liz and her inability to see that race still exists for non-whites, which is why its talked about, has taken away my ability to receive a response :(. Lol. Lots of cool dialogue going on here though.

    • sharpie April 7, 2011 at 1:33 AM #

      Um.. Wow. First of all, this might sound harsh, but if you’re 24, you really need to take a step back and realize that all these hard-core opinions you’re formulating from college or personal studies are subject to change. In other words: you may realize, in a few years, that your views on capitalism were too rigid, that it’s actually a nice thing to have a partner who has a job that keeps you from being indigent, and that your ideas about “feminism” transform over time. Instead of worrying about where you two don’t see eye-to-eye, think about what this relationship is teaching you about what you want and need in a partner, and how it’s helping you grow. What are your core values – not only on the “relations of production”, but on the relations of your actual life — what is important to you as a person? What makes you happy? What’s your passion? What do you want out of a romantic partnership? Is it just for them to agree with you on everything? or only some things? If you and this guy aren’t working out, it’s not the end of the world. Date other people and see what else is out there. You only get to be 24 once!

      • Danielle April 7, 2011 at 9:34 AM #

        I realize that my ideas can change, but I’ve watched them grow progressively stronger as my education seems to confirm more and more of what I see. I was upset when I wrote that and him and I have talked since. I’m one of those people who thinks of the future and sees a million scenes, but tend to grab hold of the pessimistic snapshot. So the idea of being some strongly opinionated woman against certain beliefs and still being with a banker or something is funny to me.

        But you are right, we talked and I have to be grateful for what he has done for me. He is grateful for what I have done for him. He can’t change, grow, or learn overnight and thats the same with me, especially in the patience area lol. I think I just need some friends to talk about this stuff with and I don’t. No female friends. Which sucks. Sometimes I gotta just take a step back. Thanks.

      • crunktastic April 7, 2011 at 11:48 AM #

        Danielle, I think you are on the path by asking the questions. I hope you and your partner can continue to grow together, and I hope there is a mutual willingness to hear each other out and to make principled and ethical adjustments as the need arises. At the same time, there may come a point where you have to make a tough choice about the kind of principles you want to govern your life and you may find that your current partner doesn’t fit the mold. I wouldn’t be being honest if I said otherwise. And it didn’t seem to me in your original post that you were being irrational or overly emotional at all. You asked legitimate questions about building a life with someone that thinks really different from you. This can be incredibly productive or it can be incredibly destructive. Time will tell, and you will decide. The best thing I can tell you is something you probably already know. Whatever choice you make, be intentional in making it. The power in asking these tough questions is that the answers we give, to the extent that they dictate our behavior, give us an incredible amount of choice in shaping the lives we want to have. That’s why I asked the questions; not to excuse what could be an unhealthy choice, but rather to demonstrate what it means to be intentional in every aspect of my life in choosing the folks who I allow to take up physical, emotional, or intimate space. It’s a process, and while it’s difficult, it’s also exciting, passionate and fulfilling. And in that regard, I wish you strength, wisdom, and courage for the journey.

      • sharpie April 7, 2011 at 11:26 AM #

        @ Danielle – yes, sis, get some female friends!

  46. Liz April 3, 2011 at 3:45 AM #

    It’s not about what happened between Chris Brown and Rihanna, it’s about the way we go about discussing it.
    I wanted to thank you for posting such a thoughtful article on such an important, troubling topic — until I got to “These sisters knew how personal the political was long before white women said it.” Making it racial seems pointless…and racism doesn’t excuse bad behavior, right? You seemed so well-educated and reasonable until I read that — and then I remembered that you don’t seem to be able to decide whether to sleep with a guy who can dismiss domestic violence.
    The Black man I’ve had a five-year relationship with is appalled by domestic abuse, and would be suicidal if he ever physically hurt me. But hey, it sounds like you might be able to rationalize sleeping with Friend enough to live with yourself.
    It seems like you might only give a damn about equality for one specific group. If so, you’re just as much a part of the problem as your Friend and your students.
    But that’s just the opinion of a White woman who doesn’t need to label myself a feminist — I’m a human rights activist and don’t tolerate bigotry, period. Good luck with those students of yours.

    • crunktastic April 3, 2011 at 6:42 AM #


      “These sisters knew how personal the political was long before white women said it.” Making it racial seems pointless…and racism doesn’t excuse bad behavior, right?”

      You should check our mission statement. We are a women/people of color feminist blog. In addition to being a Black woman and a scholar of Black feminist thought and a scholar on Black women’s history, I take every opportunity to make sure that Black women are given credit for the very specific ways in which they have shaped the women’s rights movement; more often than not ideas and practices are ascribed to white women that Black women had long before engaged. To this end you should check Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s Words of Fire, if you are interested in educating yourself, and I hope you are.

      And I usually don’t do this…but Liz, you need to check your tone. They don’t call me Crunktastic for nothing, and so you should roll all the way back on these assumptions you are making about my politics, my desire for equality, etc. If it weren’t Sunday and I weren’t Christian (yes I’m being reductive; I’m a Christian every day of the week) I’d spend a little time speaking to your need to let us know about why your particular “Black man” is anti-domestic violence. Note that my piece didn’t feel the need to clarify that it was Black men who specifically had problems with these issues. You, however, did as if you need to hold up a shining example of a Black man who gets it. I already know there are plenty of brothers who get it. My piece is about the one brother I’m dealing with. In other words, your own need to racialize your words betrays more about your effed up (‘humanist’–read: problematic ColorBlind) racial politics and further justifies the need of Black feminists like myself to set the historical record straight whenever we can. So as a white woman who dates Black men you definitely need to ask yourself why you would get so defensive about another Black woman choosing to discuss things that are a legitimate part of her history.

      Sorry. I guess I said all it anyway.

      • Liz April 3, 2011 at 4:59 PM #

        And you made your own assumptions about me based on misinterpretations of my words.

        You’re right, I had no need to mention the man (singular) I’ve been in a long-term relationship with, it can just get frustrating how whites are often completely left out of the equation. Not saying whites go through all the same things as blacks or that we aren’t privileged, just that we’re dealing with and care about much of the same sh*t.

        Nothing that I said was defensive at all. You just reach a lot of people and have an opportunity here, and by making it into a black women vs white women issue (e.g., why the choice to deliberately capitalize black, not white?), you’re contributing to the problem for all women. One can give credit to black women where it is due without framing it as some kind of competition against white women.

        Hope that made it clearer.

      • crunktastic April 3, 2011 at 5:57 PM #

        What equation are white folks ever left out of? No seriously? Really. The fact that you believe this is all the justification I need for the original post. I will never apologize for clarifying Black women’s history and I will never apologize for showing the ways in which dominant interpretations of history leave Black women out. Clarification and competition are not the same thing. The historical record has favored white women’s contributions over Black women’s and every other group of women — Asian, Indigenous, Latina, etc. You should do some research for yourself on why myriad scholars capitalize Black but not white. I won’t do that work for you. You should also google Peggy McIntosh’s “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” because it is clear that you need to grapple with the realities of white privilege in your life, since you actually believe that “whites are often completely left out of the equation” (which is ridiculous since this is only one blog. Google dv and white folks or dv and charlie sheen and see how many hits you can come up with. I bet by contrast that I can count the number of prominent women-of-color centered blogs on my fingers and toes) or that I’m contributing to “the problem for all women” by choosing to capitalize Black. I have reached a lot of people here, and I know that, and you’re the only one who chose to take issue with the racial characterization in the post. Everyone else commented on what the post was about, namely dv and the connections between the personal and the political. Again, your need to reclaim space to recenter whiteness and to make sure that white people are treated fairly when the post was not about this at all is both a defensive reaction and a privileged one. And I realize as I type this that I am privileging your need to be at the center by choosing to respond. So I’m done.

  47. feministletters April 3, 2011 at 4:05 AM #

    Great post! Its definitely a tough call when your politics don’t quite match. But this is an issue that I think should be a ‘line in the sand’. If someone thinks its okay to beat up a partner who is ‘provoking’ them rather than walking away, then what is to stop that person doing the same themselves someday? Having said that, if they just haven’t thought about it carefully enough before it might be possible to bring the person around to your way of thinking and that could be good for you and good for the world too.


  48. thetruth April 3, 2011 at 6:33 AM #

    I’m totally against Domestic Violence..but Woman are not these totally defenseless innocent beings that you are trying to draw here.I had a situation with two woman..Never put my hands on either one of them but they know that the law is on their side..get into an argument and they play victim..I get arrested..when i was a teen i was arrested and had to face attempted murder..only because thats what she said I did..of course Im free now..but i had to go through that crazy system..Now ask me if i think she deserved an A$$ Whooping..hmmm…Rihanna could be some crazy chick for all we know..That chick on the news wasn’t concerned about Chris or Rihanna that was all for ratings…so lets be honest…
    I love Woman, but alot of you woman are out of control..sorry but its the truth….

    • kristlsmithtyler April 3, 2011 at 6:04 PM #

      Well said. Sorry for what you went through. Also, someone asked why Chris didn’t come out and say, “Well, this is what she did to me” – I’m betting bc his PR people said, “No Way!!” They told him to say he was wrong and he was sorry and he was wrong and he was sorry and…you know he wanted to tell his side but they said “absolutely not bc anythign you say is going to sound like you’re saying she provoked it.” The fact is, we don’t know what happened in that car!!

  49. Ju-dah April 3, 2011 at 8:11 AM #

    I can only speak from Black male perspective but men are not taught to be emotionally responsible. As a result, they suffer and so do their partners. 

    On CB. I honestly believe he will beat another woman. He’s still got the look in his eyes. He’s also very comfortable playing the victim. I can see it. He loves that people say shit like “well we don’t really know what happened that night?” 

    I had a friend that recently had a guy burn down her kitchen and beat her ass in her living room two weeks later. When I asked her if she was going to stop dealing with him she yelled at me. She also recently told me that she thinks women should stop trying to do what men do in the workplace and go back to being women. She’s crazy. We are not friends anymore. 

    Lastly, politics and love are immensely important. If this guy has an open mind then expose him more to your lectures. Let him hear or read the voices and words of battered/raped women. If he still holds those opinions then ditch him. He will not have your back like you think he should if he easily forgives violence against women. Trust me you want him to give a fuck about these things 100% I’ma teach my daughter that she better screen these dudes to keep me from going to prison!

  50. BC April 3, 2011 at 9:37 AM #

    After reading your post I feel you have touched on alot of different ideas and I will try to address them with some organization. In regards to your budding relationship with your “friend”, you may very well be overanalyzing the situation. People are going to have differing opinions, perspectives, and ideas, it’s all apart of being individuals. Though I do not think it is anyone’s place to tell you how you should or should not feel, a difference in opinion is not a precursor of disaster. In regards to the Rihanna/ Chris Brown incident, I think that there are too many nuances to truly formulate an accurate opinion. I in no way condone domestic violence, however I feel it unfair to villainize a person without all of the facts. Case in point everyone was up in arms after the photos because she’s a woman and we assumed she was the victim. What about all of the male domestic violence victims? Would the situation be as “serious” if it were CB with the bruises? What about the reports and witness accountings of the physical violence he underwent at the hands of Rihanna? What about the millions of men worldwide who are too ashamed to admit that they are in fact being abused by a woman they love? As a “feminist” I understand that your charge is to champion women and that’s cool, but I think it very unfair to imply that any woman that doesn’t share your view has an issue or is in need of concern. Life is not black and white, there are many shades of gray.

  51. cj holla April 3, 2011 at 12:01 PM #

    I’m a male and if I was hooking up with a girl and if she was defending or listening to Chris Brown NEXXXXTTTTT!!!!!!

    Chris Brown sucks for so many reason. I can’t wait til he blows it again.

    All the people who support him are either 1) totally brain dead 2) really really like terrible music 3) don’t really think beating women is a big deal.

    What if Chris Brown totally destroyed Rihanna’s face in self-defense? What about all the male abuse victims? I got beat up by an exgirlfriend once. It was wack and embarrassing. I didn’t have to smash her face in retaliation. I just walked away (or ran.. rather. Haha.)

    Chris Brown is the poster child of a young woman beater. All the public saw was a photo of Rihanna’s face smashed in and Chris Brown walking around like a tough guy. He doesn’t have ONE person on his press team that thought, maybe Chris Brown should take some classes on woman abuse and make some public statements against these actions? He didn’t have some simple back up line for when reporters ask him about Rihanna? Such as “What happened was terrible. And I’m here to correct my mistakes and continue on with my life to show people that they can overcome these terrible actions”. Or some shit like that?

    He’s sending out a crap message through crap music. Fuck. He if was as talented as Michael Jackson I’d cut him some slack.

    There’s not one redeeming quality about this clown. If you think there is, you’re a fucking clown.

  52. Del April 3, 2011 at 2:54 PM #

    I’ve read through this and I can only conclude that I think I’d rather people concentrated on domestic violence that happens in our communities and in our families and people we know. I am for the record anti-violence. I also cannot bare the way celebrities use anything they experience as a marketing tool domestic violence included. Chris Brown needs to humble himself and prove that he has learned his lesson. Rhianna needs to refrain from giving interviews in which she details intimate info about her sex life. The fact that she likes to be ‘spanked’ and ‘tied up’ and enjoys being ‘submissive’ really is none of our business. Under the circumstances it really isn’t appropriate to share this with the world. I for one am more concerned with women who feel that they are trapped in abusive relationships because of low self esteem and social and economic reasons. Out of curiosity have either Rhianna or Chris publicly aligned themselves to anti-domestic violence charities?

  53. Finisterre April 3, 2011 at 3:34 PM #

    Excellent post! I think many feminist/womanist women will identify with having to deal with differences of opinion with their Friends over politics. Mine’s views are very similar to my own – sometimes he doesn’t agree about whether a particular incident was sexist or not, but for him DV is an ultimate no-no as well.

    And thank you for the part about black women realising that the personal was political first. You explained it and it made perfect sense to someone who isn’t always aware of my own privilege.

    Finally, I never thought a post on a DV thread would make me laugh. But kudos to CJ HOLLA not just for a fine post but for really tickling my funny bone with “it was wack and embarrassing”.

  54. leslie April 4, 2011 at 9:38 AM #

    I spend a lot of time feeling sorry for straight women. I do think politics are personal, and as a thoroughly political creature, politics define all of my interpersonal relationships. The person in my bed has a feminist spine of steel stronger than anyone else I know; her politics aren’t barely passable, she inspires me.

    I wish straight women had higher expectations of men. As a partial tangent, there’s so much media noise about the “epidemic” of single mothers: does anyone believe there are as many men whom a woman would want to be with as there are women who want to have children? Ha. Most women want two-parent families, and I want them to have that. But single women and single mothers make me happy because they’re not settling for assholes.

    • sharpie April 7, 2011 at 1:08 AM #

      lol This post made me smile. Just curious – does your lover also think like you on every other dimension of who you are? Do they also have a “spine of steel” that corresponds to your ethnic or racial identity, your political affiliation and any other category you might include in your conceptualization of who you are and what you represent? In other words, is your partner your ideological clone? And if so, is this what you think straight women are missing out on?

  55. Lynx April 5, 2011 at 7:04 PM #

    Well, I think at that point you would have to tell your man that you would never take a chair and smash a window after he has asked you about something just as if he did that, you would dump his ass asap.

  56. sharpie April 7, 2011 at 1:02 AM #

    Thank you for this post.. It reminded me of an epic argument I had with my partner several years ago when the whole Rihanna/Brown incident went down. At the time, his first reaction was to be critical of Rihanna: “Why did she stick with a guy like this? I’m sure it wasn’t the first time. What did she do to him?” His queries disgusted me – but not only that. As the conversation escalated into a full blown argument, I transformed into a screaming mad woman. And my partner lost it too. We damned near had a domestic situation. I think it ended with me throwing his things out of my apartment. It hurts me to type these words now, because it’s a microcosm of so many things that were wrong with how both of us were thinking, behaving and communicating. Thankfully, it was nothing that love, committment (and therapy) could not overcome.

    First up, I used to think very much like you: If a person doesn’t share my politics, how can they share my bed? It all seemed very black and white to me: a good man, sh*t, a good PERSON – period – would not immediately subject a woman who’s been beaten to a pulp to the third degree. When I demanded to know why my partner did not say anything critical of Brown, he said that it “goes without saying” that what he did was wrong. That just made me even more angry. Of course it does no “go without saying” – that is what NEEDS to be said, again and again.

    In retrospect, I came to realize that my politics were personal on this point because of my own family history. Like many black women, I witnessed domestic abuse and quite frankly, it f*cked me up. In vowing to never allow myself to be victimized in that way, I somehow came to see women as both the ultimate victims and – simultaneously – the ultimate victors. That is, in my mind, women could almost never do wrong, because of their traditional victim status. Thus, I could not suffer the notion that a woman could push a man to violence. I somehow came to honestly believe that a woman could do and say anything to a man and he should simply “take it”. A woman could be verbally abusive (yell, scream, insult, demean) and even physically confrontational and – in my mind – the man’s only option “should” be to walk away.

    What I’ve come to understand is, very simply, that this is bullsh*t. This is not some fantasy world of idealism — this is the real world. And the real world is not really about what ‘should’ be, it’s about what ‘is’. What it is is this: most people, male or female, will lash out eventually when they are abused or attacked, verbally or physically. And many women have crossed the line, humiliating and attacing their men, using their historical status as victims as an excuse to victimize their partners. I’m very sad to say that I used to be in that camp.

    At the end of the day (well, actually after months of couples therapy..) my partner and I came to understand how our personal biographies played a role in shaping our sensitivities to these and other issues. More importantly, we came to strengthen our love and respect for each other so that we could show empathy for each other even when we disagreed and so that we could know which issues were the core-hot-button-subjects that should not be toyed with (i.e. domestic violence for me, and numerous topics for him). Maybe in your case, if your ‘Friend’ knew more about what makes your politics on this issue personal, he could come to reflect more deeply on his own position and, in so doing, move closer to yours.

    The litmus test for a good partner, in my book, is not that they agree with you on everything. It’s that they have the maturity, introspection, respect, empathy and care neccessary to be sensitive to your feelings and ideas (so that they can know “where you’re coming from”) and sufficiently in tune with their own sh*t so that they are also grounded and secure in who they are and what they believe.

    • kristlsmithtyler April 7, 2011 at 6:33 AM #

      Sharpie – Amen.

      • sharpie April 7, 2011 at 9:30 AM #

        Let me just say that I think you and I agree on some things, which is fly, but I do maintain that there is no need to have further details about what Chris Brown did – he should not have beaten Rihanna down, period. It is ALSO true that IF Rihanna did something to him – if she physically or verbally abused him, she should NOT have done that either. Either way, all we know for sure is that he acted like an animal and tore her apart. That’s all we need to know that he should have done jail time and needs intensive therapy to get his head straight. He clearly has severe anger management problems.

  57. kristlsmithtyler April 7, 2011 at 10:07 AM #

    Sharpie – I agree with the things you said in the prior. I agree that we disagree on a few points as well. I agree that we really don’t need to know all the details. that was what the court case was for. I disagree with what you and so many others on here magically seem to know – “he tore her apart”, “he acted like an animal”, and “he beat her.” I don’t know if you actually sat in the courtroom or just read the transcript start to finish. But in any event, I don’t know those things – I don’t know what happened in that car.

    • crunktastic April 7, 2011 at 11:41 AM #

      I’ve been following your comments for a few days, Kristl, and I’ll keep it brief. I hear you in your charge to us to be more nuanced about how we think of abuse, because your own experience indicates that women can indeed be aggressors. My original post tried to speak to this possibility by noting that non-violence is the best relational option. I think where you and I differ is that you seem to see violence as a reasonable response to mistreatment. I do not. I think all parties should walk away, if they find themselves being less than humane with each other. Yes, I understand that when our dignity is consistently challenged (or we perceive it to be being challenged), that violence is often a strategy that folks adopt, especially in a larger culture that is so damn violent. But I believe that men adopt this strategy more; I believe this is borne out by the fact that one of the top two killers of young women ages 15-24, along with AIDS is domestic violence. When you couple this with the fact that the top killer of young black men in the same age range is homicide, then what you have is a problem in Black communities with male violence that is deadly for both young Black men and young Black women. We discuss this in endless convos about black-on-black violence in our communities, but rarely do we have a sustained dialogue around Black men’s violence against Black women.

      So here’s my charge to you: make sure that you put your own experiences in a larger cultural context. Just because you yourself were the aggressor (which is admittedly unhealthy and highly problematic), doesn’t mean that this is the larger experience of women in our communities. And it might also point to the ways in which women adopt patriarchal strategies to gain power in relationships. Some of the folks who are most complicit with patriarchy is women themselves; I completely acknowledge this. So your actions don’t in any way mitigate what happened to Rihanna. To me they simply point to the pervasive wrongheadedness of violence as a relational negotiation strategy.

      Last point. With privilege comes responsibility. Where violence is concerned in our communities, Black men have more power and privilege, and this means they have the greater duty to make sure they don’t use that privilege to our detriment. It is on these grounds that I can both a.) not know what happened in the car and b.) still hold Chris accountable.

      • kristlsmithtyler April 7, 2011 at 1:45 PM #

        I never said violence was a reasonable response. I just said it happened. I was young. The relationships (2 of them) were inherently bad. That didn’t make my partners abusers.

        Things escalated over time. I learned that if you don’t start hitting it won’t ever escalate. I learned that if you are in a respectful relationship, you won’t feel the need to want to physically hurt someone because they so willfully disregarded your feelings by cheating on you.

        I had to walk away. These relationships were horrible. But my partners still weren’t abusers.

        Regarding larger contexts – everyone I knew at that time was in the exact same kind of relationship. Everyone I knew had these same stories to tell. I won’t go into the reasons why we all ended up as friends, I’m just saying, I was not alone. Any place where you have men who have a lot of money and access to women, you will see these same fights playing out and when the men are famous and moneyed and most especially black, they will be villified as abusers. But that doesn’t make them abusers.

        I totally disagree with your point about privilege. The rule is either “People should never hit each other” or it isn’t. It’s not “A man should never hit a woman” and it is not “The privileged should never hit the under-privileged.” People should not hit each other, and when they lose control and hit, they need to examine EVERYTHING that led up to their altercation. Yes, the words need to be examined just as much as the strikes. Only when all the components have been teased out can they BOTH begin to work toward changing their behaviors. Villainizing the man doesn’t get us very far.

        By the way, if Chris is an abuser, then his ass should be locked up. I just don’t know if he’s an abuser.

      • crunktastic April 7, 2011 at 4:15 PM #

        We agree on the rule. No one should never hit each other. We just disagree about caveats: if a woman hits a man, he has the right to defend himself (which means restraining his female attacker), not to be the aggressor. Same is true for a woman. She has a right to defend herself, not to be aggressive and violent.

        We clearly also disagree about the definition of abuser. And that is what it is.

        I’m sure you were not alone. Patriarchy is a wide-spread problem and the notion that lots of women have uncritically adopted its strategies is not at all shocking to me.

        At the end of the day, I realize that you are committed to your interpretations and I’m committed to mine, and while I think it’s politically and personally worth it to defend my interpretations, I am also learning how to be more strategic about where to spend my critical energies.

        But I wanted to give you the courtesy of a reply.

        With that said, you be easy, Sis. I’m done.

      • sharpie April 7, 2011 at 4:59 PM #

        I’ve thought more about this thread and reflected on my own dating experience. I think what I’ve been able to do over the years was define the “minimum requirements” I have for partners on the issues that are most important to me. This basically means that any partner of mine must:

        – Value the environment and nature to some degree (i.e. not litter, recycle or at least understand why I recycle, have empathy for animals)

        – Have some critical understanding of the pro’s and con’s of capitalism and its various unsatisfying alternatives

        – Understand gender inequality and critique patriarchy (for the record, my partner identifies himself as a “feminist man” – we’ve had “fun” over the years debating what that really means.)

        – Understand racism, especially its anti-black manifestations, since I am black; broadly valorize the various cultures of the African diaspora

        – Share my commitment to anti-racism and equality for all groups

        – Believe in some kind of higher power; share my disdain for dogmatism, fanaticism and the problematic dynamics of religious organizations; understand why spirituality is important to me even if they do not share my particular brand of belief

        – Share my commitment to equality for the LGBT community; understand my need to have queerness (friends, community, etc.) in my life in some way shape or form

        My man and I see eye to eye on these basic values — we disagree on some of the particulars. I could and have had those areas of disagreement infuriate me, but now I’ve learned to let go of my need to have my partner think exactly as I do. He’s just got to agree with me on about 80%. I think the 80/20 rule is pretty solid. It leaves room for both of you to grow and evolve in your opinions and beliefs, but ensures that you’re on the same page for the stuff that matters.

  58. Zindzhi April 8, 2011 at 8:16 AM #

    Well go on with yourselves compromise yourselves so you can have THE SEX .. ecxept remember statistic don’t lie. When you lie with dogs don’t be suprised if you wake up with flees. We DO NOT have the luxury of choosing someone who does not share our views. We wil regret it later. we will be beaten, sexually harassed and assaulted. I’m not from the US. I was 100 % Behind Rihanna. Chris Brown can go fuck himself. Beware of the NICE GUY ( Especially if he says he is a nice guy) . Here in Haiti shit is getting worse. rape has become endemic if it wasn’t already. I do NOT have the luxury of not choosing someone who do not shares my view. I don’t date and I’m single for this very reason. I’d rather be alive than dead! It’s a matter of survival.All I hear is women who want to settle for garbage peice of shit man because they need sexin. MASTURBATE !!! ( safest way to get doem love and to have feminist loving sex you deserve!)but don’t ever ignore the red flags because you think he is cute. do not idealize him. You ignore the red flags now, the comments, the political stance and beleive me you you will pay sometimes in no big ways other time with your life. THERE IS A WAR on Women ( there is a war on black women in our own communities) there has been for thousands of years because we settle we settle we settle and we pay daily with our tears, our blood, our lives, They don’t need anything to put us in our “place” to silence us. there is 100 million woman missing in the world. one of the sources thatt lead to our DEATH is intimate partner violence. Aquaitaince rape is the number one form of sexual assault. Your politics should be intimate with the personal for this very reason. like I said it is a matter of life and death! Western black women can go on a limb on some of these” nice guys” but some of us Third world feminist can’t compromise on shit like that because there is no one laws and safety net for us.( Until 2003 in Haiti the law said you had to marry your rapist) I am a child survivor of dometic violence. My mother went through it and many other women in my family! we pick the wrong person and we lose. like I said that is why i’m single . Chris brown is not messing up your sex life you are by selling yourself short and not following your instincts. we have more important things to worry about than Brown !

  59. Danielle April 10, 2011 at 5:51 PM #

    Thanks so much crunktastic, for your response! It does take trial and error to really find the answers to the questions we have for ourselves, but its nice to share them with others and see others have similar questions. Keep on writing and sharing with others. It really means a lot to people like me who cannot connect with others of similar beliefs like this in person as easily as online. Much love, strength, and courage to you as well. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more!

  60. Deborrah Cooper May 17, 2011 at 12:52 AM #

    I say this – no matter what happened in that car, he was sentenced for it, he did his “time” as required by the courts, and now its time for us to drop it.

    Rehashing it over and over again and using that incident that happened between two stupid teenagers years ago as an excuse to judge him NOW (in a non-court setting) shows prejudice. And if Rihanna can get over it and move on with her life, you should too. Channeling anger from every domestic violence case in the world towards Chris is not fair nor is it right. They were BOTH stupid and doing things they should not have done. But that is what 19 year old KIDS do, whether they are big stars in the music business or not. They were KIDS not even old enough to legally drink yet in the State of California!

    And the interviewer did harass him. When someone repeatedly says “I just want to talk about the album” and you keep battering them with the same dumb a## question over and over and ignoring their request, you deserve to be walked out on. Personally, I would have got up and left the interview after the second time I asked. I was proud of him for asking five times!

  61. somebody May 29, 2011 at 10:33 PM #

    Holy moly! I know this post is old but I have thought about exactly the same stuff. I went through something so similar to this recently. I tried to ignore all his nonsense but I just couldn’t take it anymore. He told me not to go outside in my pajamas because I would be raped and said if I was his kid he would slap me because I was being “sassy,” among other things. Sometimes you just want to ignore stuff but you can’t because it’s going to come and get you.


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