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10 August 2010 @ 05:16 pm
Love The Way You Lie  

ETA: this is stirring quite a debate online about whether this is good or bad in terms of raising awareness of domestic violence and the dynamics that go on. A lot of good points have been made regarding Rihanna's lyric seeming to affirm the myth that battered women like the abuse. On the other hand, as one commenter writes:

many famous rappers, Biggie, Dr. Dre, Busta Rhymes, Mystikal, Big Pun, etc etc, have all been accused of violence against there women and down played it!. BUT As far as I know, he's the first Rapper, address it from a personal point of view, openly admit He hit his woman, and express SHAME and REMORSE for hitting a woman in a song. That's a big freekin deal in hip hop!!! He never said anything like that in Kim when he addressed it! Quite the opposite! No rapper has ever had the balls to say this - --"but when its bad, its awful, I feel so Ashamed, I snap whose that dude? I don’t even know his name. I laid hands on her, I’ll never stoop so low again. I guess I don't know my own strength" ---- Because it will be seen as weakness by other Rappers

One thing that I notice as I watch the video and, yes, am triggered by some of the scenes is that it accurately depicts the lows and the highs of the relationship. What you have are two people with extremely low self esteem, having felt unloved for most of their lives, finding that the intensity of attention, both good and bad, they get from each other makes them feel like they matter, like they affect someone. The dramatic "I can't live without you!" moments seem to validate their existence. That someone would want to kill them if they leave also, in a horrible way, makes them feel important, validated, wanted, loved. In another lyric Eminem raps that "It's so insane cause when it's going good, it's going great
I'm Superman with the wind at his back, she's Lois Lane."
For people coming from dysfunctional homes, these highs may be the best they've ever felt, and they convince themselves they can overcome the low points, the violence, the fighting, if they just try harder.

It takes a lot of work in recovery, a lot of counseling, to get past this dynamic and have a healthy relationship, and it's work that must be done by both parties. This is not at all to say that women some how deserved their abuse. But if they are going to have a positive relationship, free of abuse, women (or abused men) must heal their own psyche and repair their self esteem. Then the drama of the abusive man, that initial rush of intense attention before the abuse, the instant relationship, the "I've never known anyone like you before! I feel like we've known each other all our lives" type of guy won't seem attractive--he'll seem alarming and creepy. The healthy guy, the one who gets to really know you, slowly, and considers carefully whether this is working--that's the guy you'll gravitate to instead.
Ms. F.goodbadgirl on August 11th, 2010 02:31 am (UTC)
Mathers said he wrote the chorus with Rhianna specifically in mind to sing it...as I view I see it almost as a movie within a movie with the musical artists both commenting on their abuse histories via the song. And, I interpret the point of the song as something along the lines of: abuse is awful and fucked up....and it's often not something either party enters into purposefully. I come from an abusive home...and as much as I swore the same would never happen to me I have witnessed myself enter into more than one toxic relationship wherein I deeply loved the person (who almost always came from abusive homes,) and while power dynamics are not always equal there is a place where both parties have to buy into the relationship to continue the cycle.

Point being...at least for me...hindsight is 20/20. I didn't have that perspective then. And even as a woman in toxic relationships I've had moments of slamming doors or throwing things (across a room, not AT the person...but still..I am not proud.)

People have criticized the video for not making more of a "statement" at the end....but I think Mathers and Rhianna standing together on the outside watching the house burn is a pretty strong statement. As tapati quotes I find the way he avoids not sugarcoating his abuse and consequent shame refreshing. (I'm not saying that my dear friend tapati is saying that's refreshing...just referencing what you have quoted specifically.)

Also - Rhianna and Mathers notably both come from abusive homes. And I like how tapati talks about self esteem and how hard work can help people overcome those histories...but often we repeat those mistakes before we heal ourselves. Which is where the cinematic piece of the video with Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan comes in for me....they're still caught in that cycle....but hopefully Mathers and Rhianna have unhooked themselves from it.

I know it is controversial and I can certainly see how it might trigger people. But I find it compelling and I see it creating a lot of good dialog.

My two cents. xo
Tapatitapati on August 11th, 2010 03:52 am (UTC)
I do find it refreshing. :)

Thanks, Fran. xoxoxoxoxo
Warrior of Worrywarriorofworry on August 13th, 2010 02:50 am (UTC)
I agree with Fran - that's a very very nuanced video, and people who haven't lived in an abusive home/realationship may not understand the dynamic the lyrics describe so well. (My BMF loves Eminem, and while my experience of his work felt very misogynistic, I have to say a careful listening to this was pretty eye-opening.)
I had to listen to the lyrics at the end carefully, that if she "fucks him up again" he's going to tie her to the bed and light the house on fire; the inevitability of that horrible moment as he and Rhianna watch the house burn, the moment of hope as the morning starts again.
Is it possible? for people in this kind of relationship to change their behaviors?
Rhianna walked away from her own abusive relationship very publicly (yay!), and by singing this song she says, "I participated in this dynamic" (NB V.V different from being responsible for the dynamic, V.V. different from blaming the victim, does that make sense?)
That chorus acknowledges the thrill from the high drama/ownership/power/control dynamic of abuse relationships. I've only ever heard abuse survivors who also dabble in conscious, consensual power exchange relationships (i.e. BDSM) talk about that particular issue/emotional payoff. I hope that people who actually listen to the entire song a) better understand the dynamic b) understand that the thrill exists and doesn't make the abused person bad, and c) that change is/might be? possible.
Anyway, commenting while tired.
Tapatitapati on August 13th, 2010 07:23 am (UTC)
Thank you (and I often comment while tired so I understand). Yes some of the payoffs of a dv relationship--or any unhealthy relationship--aren't apparent to people who've come from healthier families and childhoods. I can look back and analyze it even while I have, thankfully, graduated from needing that level of hyped up "romance" to affirm my worthiness and desirability.

I haven't been attracted to BDSM though I have friends who are and I can understand the insight that conscious exploration of power dynamics can bring. I don't think one must explore it to understand the dv dynamics, though. (I should add that I think about BDSM for myself much the way I think about asparagus. A fine vegetable, loved by many, that just doesn't do anything for me.)

A very clever, nuanced video, to be sure, and I think it will take people several viewings to begin to get it--if they're able.
Warrior of Worrywarriorofworry on August 13th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
Asapargus, lol! Oh, absolutely I don't think BDSM is the only way to process it. I have just noticed over the years that very few mainstream anti-abuse organizations and survivors acknowledge the emotional payoff for the survivor. It's the dirty little secret we don't discuss, explored in this video.
The problem being that people who don't understand the dynamic won't understand that "I love the way it hurts" isn't equal to "I consciously want this to happen" or "All women are masochists".
Awk, preaching to the choir. You know what I mean.
Tapatitapati on August 13th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
I think that if you participate in BDSM you have to develop a language to talk about these issues, as Fran points out, in order to keep it safe and consensual. :)

I think it's useful for us to have this conversation because we have to find a way to convey this stuff to those who have never thought about it before (as the video is trying to do).

One analogy I came up with is that of kids and the notion that negative attention is still attention. Sure, a kid would prefer positive attention, praise, interactive time together. When they don't get it, though, all of the experts have noticed that they act out. Because being ignored is more painful than a spanking, and because getting some kind of concentrated attention from a parent is better than none at all, and because a child doesn't have the skills to explain what they want--or perhaps a parent healthy enough to respond appropriately.

And when such a neglected child grows up, it is quite natural to be numb to abuse that would curl the hair of women who grew up in healthy families and to make excuses for the abuser as she made excuses for the parent, and to prefer abuse to being alone and abandoned.
Warrior of Worrywarriorofworry on August 14th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
Studies have shown a couple of interesting and sad things about abused kids - 1, that they love their parents desperately, despite the abuse, and want to return to them if possible; and 2 (and this may cause #1) many abusive parents are very inconsistent in terms of limits, punishment, direction. Animals and humans both exert more effort in a situation where reinforcement is intermittent, not consistent: i.e. we try harder for approval.
And yes, Fran, BDSM does give a context for dialog of some of the abuse issues - and I agree that consensual BDSM is NOT abuse (though it can be uncomfortable and/or triggering to participants and non-partipants alike).
Ms. F.goodbadgirl on August 13th, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
"I've only ever heard abuse survivors who also dabble in conscious, consensual power exchange relationships (i.e. BDSM) talk about that particular issue/emotional payoff."

Huh. That is so interesting! Now that you mention it I am certain that my participation in consensual BDSM relationships has given me a better dialog - especially an inner dialog around this subject. Of course one of the things that frustrates our community the most is when people outside of it believe that we are unwittingly participating in our own abuse...and it just so not *that.* It has been through the very careful and loving negotiations and frank conversations around power and pain exchanged in context, within specific time frames and for specific purposes...with great care taken to make sure both (or all) parties feel safe before, during and after...with great care taken to ensure that everyone knows they have the power to end it for whatever reason, the moment it begins to feel uncool that has helped me see where I have existed in relationships where that has not been a priority.

And, on another note as an artist I want there to be room in America for art to create discourse, and make people uncomfortable without automatically feeling like it needs to be shut down. Obviously it's difficult to say..."That Eminem...I love everything that comes out of his head! He makes me feel warm and fuzzy and seen." :)

No. He makes me uncomfortable all the time. Yet he is a remarkable wordsmith. A high end, heavily produced and packaged, yet talented wordsmith. It is difficult for me to ignore him because he continuously brings the issue of Class to the forefront of his work - and often with an authenticity that I cannot deny, though sometimes I wish I could.

But Charlie Sheen held a knife to his wife's face last Christmas and his punishment was 30 Days of posh rehab already served and $2 million an episode for an idiotic television show. That makes me so much more uncomfortable than this video.

I'm also uncomfortable with how many times I've seen the press - notably the feminist press - write: "Rhianna and/or Megan Fox glamorize Domestic Violence in Eminem's New Video."

That is *so* interesting and telling to me!

I mean, Mathers wrote the song. Monaghan is doing the majority of the hitting in the video while portraying Mathers. The video was directed by a man. Certainly the music company execs and people who will profit most heavily from this project are men....but somehow Rhianna and Fox are guilty of betrayal.

Is that because beautiful women don't get beaten?

Beautiful, famous, wealthy women don't get beaten?

Do I even need to say: Nicole Brown Simpson. Just for starters?

Fox donated her paycheck from this video to Sojourn House. I'm pretty sure that was the only donation to come from this project. It seems like lots of different people have a lot invested in continuing to portray an archetypal female victim of domestic violence. And my questions are: Why? And, Who does that serve?

Tapatitapati on August 13th, 2010 07:20 pm (UTC)
We always focus on the women. Always. We always analyze and criticize and judge the women. We don't ask why the men do this (well some just figure Eminem/violence/abuse all go together, nothing to analyze, but I think he's a bit deeper than that and this is an effort to do something positive) (yeah, complex guy). No one is asking why Dominic is doing it that I can see so far, and I keep looking at articles. Maybe they think he just wants to kiss Megan in between the violent scenes. I don't know. But yeah, women aren't supposed to participate in this even if the ultimate goal is to make people think about the dynamics of domestic violence and perhaps do something about it. It's maddening, that's what it is.

Warrior of Worrywarriorofworry on August 14th, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you're reading the articles, since I can't right now. But I'm not surprised. And yes, it's always our fault. St. Paul and the (early)Catholic Church - demonized an entire gender, and we're still paying for it.
Tapatitapati on August 14th, 2010 10:56 pm (UTC)
Sigh. Yes we are. :(
Good grief, it's a running gag: mamoru (WK)lady_ganesh on August 27th, 2010 12:13 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure that line is actually 'if she fuckin' leaves again I'm gonna tie her to the bed,' etc.

(Here from a link on denelian's journal, hope that's okay.)
Tapatitapati on August 27th, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)
I think you're right about that line, thanks! And welcome. :)
Good grief, it's a running gag: 15 minutes into the futurelady_ganesh on August 28th, 2010 02:37 am (UTC)
No problem!
Warrior of Worrywarriorofworry on August 27th, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, you're right. (In my defense listening and commenting while tired.) Also the concepts (f' me up/f'in leaves me again) are so closely related in such a relationship.
Good grief, it's a running gag: lotuslady_ganesh on August 28th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC)
Nothing to apologize for! I just think that line pushes it so clearly into the realm of 'not okay,' you know?
Warrior of Worrywarriorofworry on August 28th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I think that line *makes* the song, though. It illuminates the depths of fear and anger felt by the abuser (for those who can see that) while starkly spotlighting the escalation and the true extent of the danger the abused is really in.