Chris Brown's Domestic Assault on Rihanna Through a Gendered Lens

by Dragon_xox on March 20, 2016 - 4:41pm

We've all heard it before, domestic violence is a very real and present issue in many cultures today, and celebrities are no exception. A recent BBC article interviewed Rihanna about the very exposed abusive relationship she endured with her now ex-boyfriend Chris Brown. Rihanna points out interesting things related to her specific case of domestic abuse and how she managed to thrive for a change by trying to reform her ex-boyfriend, even though the violence was still pursuing in her life.


This article shows that men can indeed be violent as Arthur Chu said in his article: "there will always be some violent guy who crosses the line into committing a violent crime" (Chu, Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds, The Daily Beast) but does that mean that it is necessarily the guys fault? In this case, yes. Rihanna claims many times in the article that she tried to help Chris Brown through everything, as she says: “You want the best for them, but if you remind them of their failures, or if you remind them of bad moments in their life, or even if you say I'm willing to put up with something, they think less of you - because they know you don't deserve what they're going to give” (Rihanna opens up about Chris Brown assault, BBC). It is clear to see Rihanna's efforts were in vain as they later broke up for a final time and lost connection with each other.


This article demonstrates that violence can be a very big characteristic of male behaviour, the same one that is part of the idea of hegemonic masculinity. Chris Brown's case shows this very well as the abusive measures he used on Rihanna were both for pleasure and exposure. With this kind of superfluous violence, there is no question that it is destructive. Chris Brown demonstrates to men all over the world who admire him that it is ok to be violent in a relationship, this is dangerous as celebrities are usually the ones who set trends for people, especially younger audiences. Of course, not all men will be naive, but in our very mediatised culture, even the most resilient men will be on thin ice to this type of very influential behaviour. 


Although not mentioned by name, the author believes that, if you put aside your needs for those of your partner, the result will only lead to a chaotic and possibly even a dangerous relationship. Rihanna stayed so long with Chris Brown even after all he did, she realized in the end that it was crazy what she was doing because she understood that changing him would not be possible. Rihanna's case is actually not very common in the media. Usually, the media is more likely to put women on the spot than men. When men are involved it is usually in a good light. They usually cover male celebrities in such ways as to show their abs or to show what movie they starred in recently, all very positive things to talk about. Men are usually praised in the media for their looks and for their talents in the business showing a very male dominated culture much like that of the idea of hegemonic masculinity. There are rarely any men, like Chris Brown, who are put on the spot on real issues like abuse or rape, and when there are, there is a higher tendency to see the backlash against it then when it is a female celebrity that is being scrutinised.


Works Cited


Chu, Arthur. "Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds." The Daily Beast. 27 May 2014. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.


"Rihanna Opens up about Chris Brown Assault." BBC. 7 Oct. 2015. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.



Hi Dragon_xox, I really liked how you approached this issue by looking at this incident as more of a wide spread problem than just a singular occurrence when referencing hegemonic masculinity. The idea that men use violence on the women in their lives, or men that they consider to be inferior, to assert and ultimately reinforce their masculinity over them.

Something that I feel could help reinforce this assessment even further would be to bring in the concept of the “man box” and the problems associated with it. At one point you brought up a quote from Rihanna where she comments that she tried to be there for Chris Brown emotionally and to help him however she could. Two main aspects of the “man box” are that men must be powerful and emotionless, no matter the circumstances. While Rihanna was clearly trying to help him at the time, he might have taken it as a type of attack on his masculinity. Her comments made it seem to him like she was saying that he was weak because he was able to have emotions and that he needed help because he was not strong enough to take care of himself. The “man box” makes it difficult for men to properly react to these situations, and that coupled with hegemonic masculinity can often lead to instances of assault or sexual assault.

Here’s an interesting article that discusses the link between emotional suppression and violence that might help.