I’m sure you’ve heard, Rihanna and Chris Brown are back together! Well, sort of. While the twosome aren’t quite rekindling their love publicly, they are collaborating on a remix of Ri Ri’s hit, “Birthday Cake,” which is set to hit the internet this week, just in time for the Bajan beauty’s 24th birthday. But news of the remix isn’t sitting well with fans or feminists alike; many are petitioning Island Def Jam and Sony Music to block the track from ever hitting airwaves. Why? Because the message behind the “Birthday Cake” remix isn’t at all a joyous one.
There’s no broom that could brush the violent altercation between Rihanna and Chris Brown under the rug. After reportedly threatening to “kill” his Loud girlfriend over a questionable text, and the resulting photos of the battered singer, Brown had sealed his fate as an abusive lover. The Grammy winning pop star added an asterisk to his once flowery bio, it read “violently abusive.”
I don’t know the pressure of being a pop star, I don’t know what happened the night Chris Brown beat Rihanna, and I don’t know why he decided to throw chairs at a window shortly following a Good Morning America interview. What I do know, however, is that both Rihanna and Brown set the tone for the actions of tween-nation, and with three women dying every day at the hands of an intimate partner, a celebratory “Birthday Cake” remix doesn’t make me lick my lips any.
During Brown’s Grammy performance, young female fans tweeted fast and furiously. “Chris Brown can beat me anytime he wants,” wrote young woman. Another wrote, “Chris Brown…please beat me! ;).” Messages like these, from the future generation of America, are concerning. While most of these teens don’t actually want to know what it’s like to have a fist to the face, the thought that they could make light of a terrible (and very real) situation should cause alarm.
So, back to why Rihanna’s Chris Brown ingredient is a bad one. With over 51 million fans on Facebook, Rihanna knows that her actions are amplified in towns across the globe. By teaming up with her abuser on a track that is pointedly about sex and satisfaction, Rihanna is sending a message that is extremely detrimental for abused women everywhere. It isn’t often that things get sweeter between an abuser and his/her victim, and the debilitating dependencies that a reunion between the two may foster can lead to emotional and physical distress. Rihanna and Chris Brown’s relationship is not normal, they’re pop stars after all. On the remix of “Birthday Cake,” young fans will see fireworks! fun! glitz! glamour!, but that’s not what a reunion between violent partners and their abusers looks like…at all.
I’m not Rihanna, I can’t make personal decisions for her. All I can do is ask, as a fan, that she think less about copies sold, money made, or hype had and more about lives lost, confidence taken, and families torn apart by abuse. Messages wrought with violence are never sweet, I don’t care which pop-stars are making the cake.