Empowering Or Disturbing?

Because a lot of people have asked what I think, Love the Way You Lie, featuring Rihanna:

I’ve seen a lot of reactions to this, and the majority of people seem to be disappointed that Rihanna took part in a video that “glamorized abusive relationships.” I disagree entirely. It’s music, and while we should never expect it to be a public service announcement because that’s not it’s purpose, I personally think the song and video do a fantastic job of demonstrating the cyclical nature of abusive relationships. Also, knowing Rihanna’s history as a domestic violence survivor, I find her singing of the chorus totally haunting and completely moving. In fact, it gives me chills. And I find this empowering in many ways. This is a survivor using her art to reference her struggles, and owning it. And being an empowered abuse survivor requires taking back the power that you forfeited for so long.

I also know a lot of people disagree with me. What do you think?

This entry was posted in Culture Goes Pop, It Felt Like A Kiss. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. just another faceNo Gravatar
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    I don’t get how the “Too Close” song by Next bothers you but this one doesn’t.
    “If she ever tries to leave the house again I’m gonna tie her to the bed and light this house on fire.”

    Along with plenty of other abuse filled lyrics that make this song up. It does make abuse seem like less of a big deal. As if it’s normal and just something that should be expected and dealt with.

    Yet a song about dancing and grinding in a club bothers you immensely.

    I’m not attacking. I just don’t understand why this song wouldn’t bother you.

    • mdoveNo Gravatar
      Posted August 7, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      I don’t see that this song glorifies or abusive relationships. It is a work of art that describes the mindset of those in such a relationship, but I don’t get a sense of approval from it at all… certainly not approval about the horrific visual image of tying someone to a bed and setting them on fire. This is about as serious a song and video as Eminem gets, IMO.

      The Next song described dance-floor humping in creepily detailed fashion, complete with women asking the men to “stand back” and the men replying “no more cryin’,” but also treated it much more explicitly as fun and games. Standard video fare: leering singers, gyrating dancers. I don’t see the comparsion, frankly.

  2. SaNo Gravatar
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad you’re talking about it.

    I was never in a physically abusive relationship with a man, but I think the song is beautiful, haunting and honest. I was surprised at how good Fox was as well.

    Eminem just makes me so angry most of the time, and then he does a song like this.

  3. VanillaKinksNo Gravatar
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    As a survivor of an abusive relationship, I love this song and it’s video for it’s honesty about these types of relationships.

    It’s strangely beautiful.

    • FaeTeardropNo Gravatar
      Posted September 5, 2010 at 6:28 am | Permalink

      i agree, it totally sums up the reality of what it’s like to be in a co-distrutive relationship.

      having been in several emotionally abusive relationships, i can completely relate to this song and video, i find myself transfixed everytime it is on

  4. EpiphoraNo Gravatar
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    It’s not empowering, but I wouldn’t say it’s disturbing, either.

    My main issue is with Rihanna’s lyrics, “I like the way it hurts” and “I love the way you lie.” Those lyrics just demolish the power of her other ones, which seem to suggest feeling helpless and angry at those around her for not doing anything. I guess I’m just disappointed, because the chorus is really beautiful, but the message is so mixed. And that could be the point, but that doesn’t make it any better, imo.

    As for the video, I think there is definitely an element of glamorizing the relationship, just for the simple fact that it shows them quite happy on several occasions, and they make it look so romantic. Like, look at how this awful fight made for some AMAZING SEX!

    I dunno. I like the video and the song, and I like the cyclical feeling of it that you mentioned, but it’s not the perfect portrayal of an abusive relationship or anything.

  5. RanterNo Gravatar
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    I agree with you 100%. I blogged about this song when I first heard it in my car about a month ago and it gave me chills. Check it out, but for those who don’t want to, this song does ANYTHING BUT glamorize violence. I personally think that it brings it out in the open with a slap in the face of detractors who don’t think this is how it actually is. This kind of violence IS a vicious circle and maybe, just maybe three of the biggest names in the world right now can get together and possibly open a few eyes, it can only help. As for Rihanna, whom better to take part in a song like this than someone who has experienced domestic violence. The emotion in her voice is intense, and I think she did it to try and help. But that’s just me.

  6. SkyddsDrakeNo Gravatar
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    That was a difficult song to watch, but I agree that it was well done. If abuse was at it’s worst 100% of the time, no one would stay. It’s the few good times that make us think everything is okay. It’s what makes it so hard to walk away. *Shakes head*

    The other thing that I appreciate about it? It shows the struggle from both perspectives… the man and the woman. It’s not pleasant to wake up to being pummeled by fists, no matter how much stronger you might be or whether or not you can “take it.” This couple was caught in something vicious. I feel for them. Sometimes it bothers me how the focus is constantly on the woman’s pain, the woman’s victimization (which is absolutely justified at times, but not always). This video showed how both individuals perpetuated the cycle, and how much it hurt them both.

  7. Nell GwynneNo Gravatar
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    The song is disturbing, but I think that is the purpose. I agree with Sa, Eminem is very hit-and-miss, but it does seem like he is maturing as an artist/person. I don’t think this song is saying “FUCK YEAH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!” but acknowledging the cyclical nature of violence–from his perspective, and admitting how it is hurtful to him.

    I also have to credit him with having Rhianna sing on the song, it is haunting. And I’m glad that she’s continuing to make music.

  8. SolangelNo Gravatar
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    The fact of the matter is relationships like the one portrayed in the video exist. They are violent and abusive and completely unhealthy but sometimes these people stay together anyway. I just see the song and video as just an example of one of these types of relationships. I don’t think the video glamorizes it. Yes the video looks pretty and everyone in it is fucking hot but it’s not like the couple is exactly happy. There is nothing about it that says this is alright. In fact the last line of the song is a big reason why I don’t think it glamorizes abusive relationships. It’s pretty much saying, things are just going to get worse until you end up dead because of it.

    However, it does bother me that Rihanna is a part of it because everyone knows what she has been through so instead of the song being what it is , the song becomes about her which, I agree, makes it completely haunting. The thing is I just worry that girls will see the video, look at Rihanna and think that “Well it’s okay to go through something like that because Rihanna did and shes awesome and shes saying she likes the way it hurts and I want to be like her”. Or something like that.

    All that being said, I am not trying to criticize her or say she shouldn’t have done it. I think survivors have the right to deal with their struggles however they see fit and if making this song was a part of that, or taking back her power as Britni said, then I saw more power to her.

    • SolangelNo Gravatar
      Posted August 7, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      That last line should say “…then I *say* more power to her.” Doh!

  9. alanaNo Gravatar
    Posted August 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I pretty much said the same thing. If anything I’m more bothered by the criticism of every decision Rihanna makes because of her relationship with Chris Brown (people were critical of her new album and the song Russian Roulette for the same reason).

    I also don’t think Rihanna’s chorus is too passive either. IMO it reinforces the idea that there are good sides to even the worst relationship. (Plus I think there are some people who feel like they prove their love by weathering through the storm and going through all the pain.)

    • Britni TheVadgeWigNo Gravatar
      Posted August 7, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      I *just* saw your post!

  10. JasonNo Gravatar
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    I’m actually more interested in how you’d interpret “Oh No” by Marina & the Diamonds. I find the lyric–of a very bouncy, cluby song–”Cause I feel like I’m the worst, so I always act like I’m the best” a mind boggling lyric. Warning: the song will stick in your head, click link with caution: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1t77mkzVko

  11. TopazNo Gravatar
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    She’s a great performer and has a wonderful voice. That doesn’t mean she’s (now) above exploiting whatever means she can to generate buzz to sell more albums/singles/paraphernalia. Yes, I think she’s trying to send a message. But she’s using it to make some money. I’m not saying she’s hoarding all that cash – I know she gives back. But that song is just one of many that propogates the idea of ‘Rihanna the performer’ to increase her commercial viability. But yes, it also carries the message. What her intent was, no one will truly know, but one thing is for sure – they wanted it to be edgy and they wanted people to notice it. And that’s exactly what they got (they, being the entire team responsible for the production of the song and the video – it’s not just Rihanna at work here).

  12. MelissaNo Gravatar
    Posted August 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    This is my first time commenting, but I really wanted to tell you that I 100% agree with you. I believe that most people who think that the song and video glamorize abusive relationships don’t really understand abusive relationships.

    I have never been in a physically abusive relationship, but I have been in a relationship that had the same kind cyclic “personality.” I understand all too well the highs and lows. How you begin to feel that this is what you deserve to have. How you often find yourself apologizing, believing that it was all your fault.

    Abusive relationships are intense and complicated, and so many people don’t understand this. All they see is a girl getting beaten and not leaving. Before we can REALLY make progress on this front and help people, we have to understand not only what happens in abusive relationships, but why these things often happen. And understand it from both sides. Not to excuse the abuser, but to try to understand why.

    I found the video and song to be empowering and more than anything, REAL. And that is why I like it.

  13. SuspiriaNo Gravatar
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    While the video is stunning… and moving I would be hard pressed to say that it glamorizes domestic violence. I think it shows, fairly accurately, and with an apt metaphor, both of them being consumed and burned up by the destructiveness of the relationship.

    The fact that Emimem and Rhianna each have personal history that ties into this song makes it all the more effective. I usually don’t like Eminem. In this case, however, I don’t see him glorifying or promoting abuse (god, those horrible lyrics about killing his ex? wife Kim). It’s the most honest lyrical depiction of a man’s addiction to anger and control that I have heard…. it could be one of my abusers.

    As a survivor it was difficult to listen to and to watch. I remember what it was like… the horror as well as the draw to stay. There is a confusion there, equating intensity, suffering and control with love… The most telling moment in the video for me is what seems to be the reconciliation point– where she hands him the bear and looks him in the eye… and then everything turns again. This is what it is really like. Once they have you, they can turn on you again. I’m glad they show this, the breaking of the illusion.

    Rhianna’s chorus strikes a simple place in me — I never wanted to leave. I only left because I had to.

  14. EvaNo Gravatar
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t looked into the entire Rihanna thing – I don’t know much about celebrities and I also just don’t like this type of music, so I haven’t sat down and listened through it all and haven’t got any opinion on what Rihanna is doing.

    I do have an opinion on entertainment in general, though. I think anybody who puts something out in the world is responsible for whatever it is they put out there for people to see/understand/listen to/be influenced by – be it music, art, literature, video games, whatever.

    And famous people like Rihanna and Eminem have an extra responsibility with what sort of message they put out there, as they produce content that is consumed by millions of people and thus becomes part of our culture.

  15. adrianaNo Gravatar
    Posted August 11, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    I think the song is honest. I’ve only seen a bit of the video and I would say that it may glamorize the situation a bit but no more than any other video does. Videos frequently stray from the content of the lyrics for the sake of art.

    But the lyrics? Are nothing but true. If they’re confusing it’s because being in that situation usually is confusing. If they outline crazy highs and lows it’s because there usually are highs and lows in situations like that. If the characters of the song seem to enjoy their relationship as much as they loathe it, it’s because that happens in real life.

    Now, I could certainly see someone objecting to this song because it’s triggering but telling the truth is far from glamorizing.

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Snappy Sunday 3 | The Blogging Slave on August 15, 2010 at 11:38 am

    [...] Empowering or Disturbing by Britni (This is an awesome post about the popular song from Rihanna and Eminem) [...]

  2. By Stuff Heather Thinks is Super Great « Heather and Rachel Have Feelings on August 21, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    [...] Heather Isn’t Sure How to Feel About.  Britni at Oh My God, That Britni’s Shameless did a good job of covering the controversy in asking whether it’s “empowering or disturbing,”  [...]

Post a Reply to Solangel

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe without commenting

  • This site contains adult content and is not intended for anyone under the age of 18. Under 18? Click here:


  • Britni TheVadgeWig

    PhotobucketI'm Britni, a snarky bitch and generally awesome person. I write about sex, love, and bullshit. If sex-positivity, discussions about BDSM and kink, queer issues, and topics that are completely inappropriate by society's standards make you uncomfortable, then this blog is not for you.
    Photobucket Photobucket
  • Because I Am a Shameless, Broke-Ass Bitch

    All donations are welcome, of course! You can always buy me something off my wishlist, as well.

  • Get Yourself Off

    Good Vibes PinkCherry Sex Toys Love yourself. Everyday. Tickle. Photobucket ER-150x250-1a_3 / JT's Stockroom
  • Photobucket
  • See My Writing At

    Photobucket Photobucket
  • Watch Them Get Off

    visit ifeelmyself.com Photobucket visit beautifulagony.com
  • The What

  • The Who

  • Go Back In Time