In Her Own Time: Rihanna, Post-Feminism, and Domestic Violence

Kristin Rodier, Michelle Meagher

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Abstract: Using the example of the very public discussion of violence in the wake of Chris Brown's abuse of Rihanna, we argue that the widespread success of feminist efforts to combat gender-based violence in domestic settings have been undermined by parallel demands to uphold a neoliberal, post-feminist and post-racial subject who is called upon to create a future free of violence and abuse. Focusing on the media response to Brown's violence, we examine how many accounts of gender-based violence rely on temporal imperatives (i.e. ‘give it time’, ‘move forward’) that are intended to bolster women's agency. Through an analysis of the media response (especially Diane Sawyer and Oprah Winfrey), we argue that the otherwise sympathetic discourse around the incident deploys self-improvement imperatives underwritten by victim blaming. We read Rihanna's response to the violence done to her through the controlling images of black women including the ‘strongblackwoman’ and the ‘island woman’. We challenge the responsibilization of victims of violence and we imagine a solidarity that enables victims of violence to do more than simply imagine a future where one ‘moves on’ and ‘gets past’. We propose thinking of agency as between a past and a future where we negotiate new futures over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-193
Number of pages18
JournalWomen
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr. 2014

Keywords

  • agency
  • cycle of abuse
  • domestic violence
  • neoliberalism
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • post-feminism
  • Rihanna
  • strongblackwoman
  • temporality
  • victim-blaming

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