Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rant: Rihanna, you do us wrong.

Dance club diva she may be, but I've gotta admit that some of Rihanna's lyrics make me uncomfortable, and her latest hit has me downright disturbed and annoyed. Crimony, it makes me feel like an old lady railing against 'the music those kids listen to today', but when must an artist take responsibility for the cultural and social impact of their message? Allow me to explain...

Let's review some of the possible lessons of
Rihanna's lyrics for "Only Girl".

Want you to make me feel like I'm the only girl in the world

Like I'm the only one that you'll ever love

Like I'm the only one who knows your heart

Only girl in the world...

Like I'm the only one that's in command

Cuz I'm the only one who understands how to make you feel like a man, yeah

1) Co-dependence

The very concept that it's Your responsibility to make Me feel like a woman, or mine to make you feel like a man, is co-dependent. My emotions are mine, and it's MY job to manage them, not yours, and vice versa.

2) Selfishness

Why would I want to be the Only One that my partner will ever love? ('has loved' is implied, eh?) Or who will ever know his heart? How f@%&ing selfish is that?!

Loving people and being loved in return is a joyous and magical experience that I want my partner to have. I hope he's been loved by many people before me, and should we break up, that he'll find love with others in the future. Even if we agree to be monogamous, I still hope that he meets new people, comes to love them, and has lots of people in his life with whom he can share his heart.

Not only would I find it selfish to hoard his love for myself, but it's also selfish to deny him other resources for experiencing love. (Not to mention the pressure placed on me should I be made responsible for meeting all of his future needs in the realm of love. But that's a different issue altogether.) Why would I want to limit his life this way unless I'm threatened, which brings me to the next point...

3) Competitiveness

Perhaps it's just me, but isn't there a measure of competition once I demand to be the Only One? It's me OR anyone else. Now, before you get all uppity, I acknowledge the difference between wanting to BE the only one and wanting to FEEL LIKE the only one. Bear with me here...

If it's desirable to Feel like the only one, it must therefore be desirable to BE the only one, and for me to be the only one, I must be in competition with others. And this is the message that we soak up without question... It's Me vs. You ladies.

Now go
watch the video. First, if she were the only girl in the world, I doubt she'd be wandering around the desert in her low-backed strapless bra!

The real issue is the message that she's selling... one of which is that men are submissive.
How else do you explain her lyric about 'making him beg for it and then swallow his pride,' ergo - emasculating him, and that she's 'the only one who makes him feel like a man?' Okay, yes, some men are submissive by choice, but not all! Most men I've dated felt LESS like a "man" when emasculated, but perhaps that's just me.

And women... well, clearly, providing enthusiastic sex is what will make us feel valued and desired.
We're sold the line that we'll win the competition for attention by being really giving in bed, putting his sexual needs first, and by being responsible for his feelings of masculinity. (Which we've already undermined...)

REALLY? For a one night stand, that's fine. But for any other substantial relationship, not so much. Albeit, it's not an uncommon message, and yet, it does not lead to a healthy and fulfilling partnership. And musical messages are so subliminal! They sneak right in and inform our view of ourselves, each other and the world without our even noticing. Is it any wonder that so many of us experience such mental and emotional, not to mention physical, trauma as we enter the realm of romantic and sexual relationship?

Rihanna, I implore you... if you actually care about the well-being of your fans, please take a tougher look at what you choose to promote with your beats and your voice. You can do so much better, and we deserve it.

M. Makael Newby, 2011 - All Rights Reserved -

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