Chris Brown at the Grammys – A few reactions you’ll like and a lot you won’t.

I am probably ten years past the legal maximum age to be watching the Grammy’s. And yet, I was interested in the Whitney Houston tributes, feeling a great deal of sadness about the loss of talent and the sad final years of her life. And so I watched.

Of course I felt like an old farty lady, on the couch with Christina, bursting out with gems like “she’s wearing WHAT?” and better, “who is that again?”

So I pretty much stayed out of the tweeting frenzy last night. Until Chris Brown took the stage.

chris brown tweet

Judging from the responses I got, no, I was not the only person upset to see violent guys tho beat up women winning awards. As @sashalyn wrote, “Can we send them off to space or something?” (Maybe Newt can make that a priority.)

And as I tweeted later, I’m an equal opportunity women abuser-hater. If Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen dropped off the face of the earth tomorrow, I could live with that.

But most interesting, were the small number of women in my feed defending him. One suggested that since Rhianna forgave him, we should too. Which is about the most convoluted logic I can imagine. An abuser is still an abuser, whether or not his girlfriend forgives him. He clearly still has anger management issues, and guess what? I don’t have to like him. I can accept that he may be honored for his work, and maybe the Grammy’s don’t have to separate his work from his personal life.

But I am also entitled to say I think it sucks. And that believe that we should save our sympathies and our very American underdog support network for rehabilitated shoplifters or middle school truants or you know, pretty much anyone who isn’t a man who beats up women.

Now I understand that we all have our own moral lines we can and can’t get over. Roman Polanski remains polarizing 35 years later. Some women can’t get past Woody Allen leaving his longtime girlfriend for her daughter–and I may be in the minority for forgiving him, considering he’s remained, to my knowledge, happily married and faithful to his wife for 20 years now. So I really do get that we all have different views on forgiveness and rehabilitation. Still, I think that those defending him should ask themselves, why? Why do they feel so committed to this man that they spent hours on Twitter doing just that? Is it an overall belief in forgiveness, or is it just that he is soooo cute (ahem) that we should let it go?

And then I saw this.

Christina forwarded it this morning and my head exploded.

Some choice excerpts from Matt Stopera’s piece at Buzzfeed about the more disturbing responses to Chris Brown on twitter:

reactions to chris brown on twitter via buzzfeed

Who are these women’s mothers? Who are their fathers? And what the hell is wrong with young women when “cute guy” (subjective) trumps “violent abuser” (on the record).

I wish I had some smart conclusion. I just know I’m heinously disturbed and recommitted to making extra sure that my own daughters have more self-esteem than these women do. Like, 16 hundred million percent more self-esteem, as Sage would say. (That’s her favorite number.)

Above all, can we talk about the elephant in the room?

I find it wildly ironic that during a ceremony in large part mourning the tragic death of a legend whose end of life was marked by drug abuse and codependency, violence and abuse at the hands of her husband–that at the same time, there was the adulation of Chris Brown.


137 thoughts on “Chris Brown at the Grammys – A few reactions you’ll like and a lot you won’t.”

  1. Those comments are devastating to me. Something is wrong with us if this is part of our culture. I don’t know whether to thank Twitter for shining a light on it or wish for a time when I was ignorant of it.

    1. I’m glad I know about it because it means I know what I’m up against with my daughters in this culture. Know thy enemy. Or something.

  2. Ill admit I was one of the women banging my head against the table asking why? Why would people stand up and cheer for a guy (because I can’t stand to call him a man) that beats woman. I also had anoth woman tweet me about his girlfriend forgave him maybe I should too- she was defending because he had a tough upbringing. Well you know what that’s not an excuse.

    1. I got a similar response from someone. Also…a lot of “God will judge, we shouldn’t.”
      Which is all well and good if you believe in God. For the rest of us, I think we have the right to judge and to condemn and to speak out against injustices in the world.

      1. Maybe God will pass final judgement on Chris Brown, but in the meantime, it doesn’t mean I have to condone through my purchases or viewing choices what he did in this lifetime. (I’m Roman Catholic, for the record.)

  3. What the hell is going on? Are we so celebrity obsessed that even their heinous crimes are cute? I considered letting my 6-year-old stay up a bit later to see Adele but the moment Chris Brown took the stage I shut off the TV. She protested, wanting to see the “cool dancers.” I told her she can see cool dancing live on stage. My husband and I were discussing why such a guy is even given a platform, when there are thousands of talented performers out there. The answer: because people eat it up. The tweets you posted are incredibly upsetting. Eye-opening and terrifying.

  4. Can’t imagine what would possess someone to post something like that. Alarming and really really sad.

  5. And the sad cycle continues. Those women have no idea what their words even mean. They should be taken to a women’s shelter and enlightened about what it really means to be abused. As for the Grammys, I think they should hold a much higher standard for the broadcast. They have a stage and they should be promoting and presenting only the very best of the industry. Letting Chris Brown perform not once, but twice, in addition to giving him an award, is bringing the whole thing down. It may have been true years and years ago, that personal lives were separate and private from public lives, but that’s not true anymore. We see it all and so should the Grammys. They are promoting violence toward women when they feature that man.

    1. When it comes down to it, the music industry tends to glorify “bad boy” behavior because it sells records–drug use, partying, violent outbursts, jail sentences. And then we’re so shocked when Amy Winehouse ODs or a pop star beats up his girlfriend. I see it in sports as well. Why is Michael Vick cheered on the field again?

      Business before values. God bless America.

      1. Yup, really shocking tweets in the lack of understanding or self esteem, etc.

        But I don’t know…are you saying that there is never the possibility of redemption for anyone? Or that say, in Michael Vick’s case, he would have to go and do well in a different career? Any person convicted of a crime then has to find a new career? I’d agree that this should be true if the crime were connected. I don’t think that say, financial wizard criminals whose crimes were about their job should get out of jail and go back into managing money. But if that financial wizard/football player/plumber has committed a crime that’s not connected with their work, has served their time…they should have to switch careers?

        Sigh. I’m not making my point well. My problem with Chris Brown is that I don’t feel he ever was given true consequences for his actions and thus he hasn’t learned a better way of living. I don’t think he’s paid for his crimes or changed because of that.

        But I do think other people can do that. And I think that they can go back to careers that don’t relate to their crimes. Child abusers shouldn’t have jobs with children. Money related criminals shouldn’t have jobs related to dealing with other people’s money, etc.

        1. Of course there’s redemption or penance or turning over a new leaf or whatever we want to call it. Not to get political, but I think of David Brock, who was a former right-wing hit man, who wrote Blinded by the Right and then went on to create in order to search out truth and do penance for what he felt was a lifetime of practicing in deceit. He’s still in politics. I think there are former drug abusers like Drew Barrymore or Robert Downey Jr. who get help, change their lives, and become wildly productive members of society–and they continue to act.

          So no, you don’t have to find a new career. But do you have to live your life on a very different track with serious commitment to it.

          It takes time. And some major turnaround. Have you seen that in Chris Brown somewhere? I haven’t.

          You make good points about child abusers and perpetrators of financial fraud. It’s an interesting line of thinking. Thanks so much Jen.

    2. This is along the lines of what I was thinking. That those women must be young and ignorant, and have probably never been punched in the face. Not that that excuses their foolish tweets. I agree with other people here, and I am going to really examine the media I use in my life and watch with my children. Where can I as a mother do better? What can I tell them that shows them abuse is inexcusable, even if the abused forgives her abuser? What tools can I arm them with so that they never take abuse against another lightly, even when the abuser is rich, famous, and/or cute/sexy?

  6. This is disturbing on so many, many levels. Thank you for writing what was on my mind last night, watching Chris Brown strut on stage to accept his award. I was aghast.

    As for those tweets…..ugh. I just. don’t. get. it.

  7. Liz –

    I love that you wrote this post.

    We have a short memory when it comes to violence against women. We push under the rug, minimize, re-tell, apologize, forgive, make excuses, hope time makes it go away, mock it by saying we want Chris Brown to beat us up. Ugh.

    I have to be honest. I have never quite forgiven Alec Baldwin for the way he spoke to his daughter on that voice mail. When people talk about how awesome 30 Rock is or how brilliant he is, I wonder: do you remember how he threatened her, told her she didn’t have brains, called her terrible names, swore, threatened to “straighten her out”? Do you remember the ugly, demeaning, loathing tone in his voice? We got to see who Alec really is. And Chris Brown has shown himself, too.

    I don’t know if we can or should stop giving these guys awards and accolades for their work, but we should never forget who they really are while we are fawning all over them. Period.


    1. Thanks Kim, I really appreciate that perspective. I also think about that tape as well. I love his performance but find it hard to believe that he might not be a wretched, unhappy, angry guy deep down. It’s hard to reconcile the two.

  8. I saw those tweets, and they made my heart feel heavy.

    When I was a kid in the 70s and 80s, there was a strong streak of feminism running through our media, and I remember watching Maude or Degrassi Jr. High and hearing it repeated over and over again how women had power and choices if we made a stand and took them.

    I don’t see that as much anymore, but I do see us putting unapologetically abusive men front and centre as though what they do to women and children doesn’t really matter as long as they wield some other kind of power that we value. It turns their getting away with abuse into another valued sign of their power.

    1. Beautifully put. Why is this? How in a post-feminist era are we doing this? Where did it go wrong?

    2. This is totally going in a different direction from this post, but I agree with these sentiments. It’s as though treating women as equals was some fad of the seventies and that to talk or act like that is somehow dated. But I’m not sure what it got replaced with.

      With only sons, two of whom are pretty much grown, I have only heard of the “girl” lego controversy via friends with a young daughter. And I have to say that I truly don’t get it. How is it that there is this incredible backlash against Lego sets that are NOT solely pink or purple, that are able to be built and rebuilt in innumberable ways according to the child’s ideas, and that are perfect for encouraging play — actual play, not video games or apps, involving dialogue and creativity?

      Have these complainers not gone down the “girl”aisles at toy stores? Someone is out there buying those godawful items for their daughters or they wouldn’t be there. I see little that’s creative, interesting, thoughtful, or even just not all about appearances in most of those stores.

      So, how did we get to the point that women are more represented in the work force and more likely to be at least accorded something nearing equal status if they watch out for themselves, but their daughters are dressed in glitter and high heels and squeal at the thought of a “boy” toy?

      It’s so confusing!

      1. Sadly, I think we are in a backlash period from the second women’s movement of the late sixties, seventies and eighties. It’s blogs like this one, and thoughtful responses like yours, that may get us out of it and move the pendulum to the other side.

  9. BDSM is lagging way behind homosexuality as an acceptable alternative form of sexual expression but the facts are that the desires to beat and be beaten, in clinical circles, are shedding their status as “deviant”. Those women may want Chris Brown to beat them up without it necessarily implying anything about their mental health or the parenting they received. If you beat up a non-consenting woman (or man), you should go to jail. But beating up women (or men) who want to be beat up is just good kinky fun between consenting adults.

    1. I don’t think they want to be beaten. I think they want to fuck a pop star at any expense.

      Yes? No?

        1. I love the contrarian in you BHJ! But I don’t think they actually desire to be beaten. As someone else mentioned, they think they’re being funny in a really un-empathetic, kind of scary way.

  10. I’m not surprised about these tweets, although, I am saddened by so many women’s perceptions of love, honor, respect. And, outside of the Chris Brown issue, I see this lack of self-worth on Facebook, too, and, with some misguided quotes floating around on Pinterest, too.

    This is pretty simple for me, I guess. I do not like Chris Brown. I do not like Mel Gibson or Charlie Sheen, Woody Allen, or Roman Polanski. I recently watched an excellent movie on television, missing the opening credits and then discovering when it was over that it was a Roman Polanski film (The Pianist). Had I known this at the outset, I would not have watched it. So, okay, I can concede that these people may have extraordinary talent, although knowing this does not change my regard for them.

    Love your blog.

    1. Wow. I can entirely agree with a comment on a blog. You and Schmutzie win, Cindy. 🙂

      I think it’s boiling down to very simple decisions for me, too, as the conversations and rationalizations get more complicated — while I nonetheless acknowledge that that’s warranted sometimes, too.

  11. I almost threw up when I read these comments. I really, honest to God, to not get the world when women are responding this way. And when the music and media industry promote an abuser. How can young girls (and boys!) understand?? I was very sad to see CB on stage last night…Thanks for writing this honest and important post.

  12. I suspect those are the same type of women who write to violent offenders in prison and fall in love with them. There’s always going to be a portion of our population of both genders that is just completely fucked in the head, and whether it’s a result of nature or nurture, it’s quite depressing.

    1. Hm, interesting point. I don’t know if they’re the same type. It seems to me that there’s now a generation of women who put their sexuality (and therefore their sexual appeal to men) above all else. The Bratz generation? Those were public tweets, meant to be seen, and meant to make a point. Who they may or may not be writing to in prison, I have no idea.

  13. I’m glad you’re an equal opportunity “grrrr-er” at idiots like Chris Brown, who continue to feel entitled to behave however they behave, along with Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, and so many more. A lot of people found the whole Charlie Sheen thing hilarious for a long time — hence #winning — but I kept saying to people, “You know he’s been arrested and charged multiple times for beating up women, right? You know he had his kids taken away? Are you actually tuning in to watch his celebrity roast or using that hashtag?” I don’t think it’s okay that Chris Brown did it, and so I don’t think it’s remotely okay that Charlie Sheen did it. Or Gibson. Or Nic Cage. Or, or, or.

    But what doesn’t seem to occur to people is that there are a hell of a lot more guys — James Brown, Phil Spector, Rick James, Bobby Brown — who’ve been arrested for this kind of thing, and we tend to forget in fits of nostalgia, or when we’re speaking of their contributions to music.

    Bobby Brown will once again be in the spotlight for being the pig he is with Whitney’s death, but New Edition continues to tour. When Bruno Mars did a little JB dance, everyone cheered at the reference, despite the fact that he was charged multiple times for battering his partners — more times, in fact, than Chris Brown. And though Dave Chappelle went a long way in making Rick James look like the asshat he is, he also brought about a resurgence of interest in him, and paid him to be on his show. Phil Spector abused his famous wife, Ronnie, until she broke free, and then went on to *shoot* someone else. Yet the “Wall of Sound” is still revered and referenced all the time. Ike Turner exists in the shadow of his ex-wife, Tina Turner, thank goodness, but no one really talks about that when they reference music they did together.

    Even John Lennon — who is almost universally revered, especially last night in sneers against Paul McCartney’s performance — admitted several acts of violence against women, and it doesn’t come up when people speak of him.

    I can’t think why Chris Brown would ever think he’d have to change, not with heroes galore to justify your behavior, and a society that forgets when you do as long as you’re successful enough.

  14. It’s all of a piece. In a patriarchal society it takes enormous courage to end identifying with your abuser. Call it the Stockholm Syndrome if you like. In the past week the number of women who 1. spoke out against Obama’s plan to give free birth control pills to women who work for Catholic hospitals, who 2. decided that JC Penny was not fit to sell to lesbians, and who 3. chose to identify with abusive, dangerous men (I know I can come with many more examples. It’s only Monday after all) makes my point. On the other hand, women like you and others who no longer fear the wrath of a dominant male narrative and who have the courage to speak out and name it for what it is should give you hope for your daughters’ future. And theirs.
    (NB: I say this with love for my husband and men like him who are not afraid to embrace the masculine and feminine that lives within us all).

  15. We used Chris Brown to let our daughter know why we don’t like him, and that she should never let anyone treat her that way. She’s almost five, but I don’t think you can start too early to enforce the complete and utter wrongness of violence of any kind.
    Violence against women crosses all kinds of socioeconomic borders. It pays no attention to race, or class, or profession. It won’t change unless we talk about it, and refuse to put up with it. That includes spanking kids, because everyone who is an abuser, learned it somewhere. Everyone who is abused and doesn’t speak up for themselves, was lead to believe that violence is OK.
    It has got to stop. Those comments made me sick to my stomach.

  16. In the 80s, when General Hospital was all the rage with its Luke & Laura rape/love story line, Tony Geary (the actor who portrayed Luke) said that fans would yell “rape me, Luke!” when they saw him.

    When I was a teenager, I knew that was fucked up.
    now that I’m a mom, I’m terrified. Because that mindset is out there. And all those women tweeting “hit me, Chris!” are someone’s daughters.

    1. I remember how they went on to get married and have kids. Dear God was Rick Santorum writing for General Hospital in the 80s.

  17. I am with you. I thought we were raising women to be stronger, and smarter then that. I don’t think he should be winning any grammys.

  18. This society has become so twisted, from overexposure to everything, that I’m dismayed, but certainly not surprised. It is sad, though. Quite sad.

  19. I think there have always been women who put their sexuality before anything else in there lives. It’s not a generational thing. I don’t think it’s a product of our products. Perhaps the marketing we see and equate as being directed toward that personality type (Bratz … Barbie before that) seems to make it seem more acceptable? I don’t really think so. We are complicated people … Always have been. Just as there have always been strong, resilient women so has there been insecure and self destructive ones.

    As I read this, for some reason, I was reminded of your essay on describing ourselves on terms of politics and in terms of personality. I think we all have an ugly side that some one else would consider unforgivable.

    Tough to parse who should be forgiven and who should remain on the pillory.

    1. I’m with you — we all have different lines to draw when it comes to forgiveness, as I mentioned. We may not agree on where to draw those lines. But it seems that those forgiving Chris Brown (or rather, turning a blind eye to his past) either have room to profit from him, or just want to sleep with him. Or maybe they’re just really really forgiving people. That can be a good thing. Or it can be a bad thing, when it leads to us collectively idolizing violent felons. You’re right – it’s complicated!

      1. I think there’s another possibility. I tend to think of twitter as a place where people go for entertaining conversations, not unlike those we used to have over drinks at a bar. Perhaps there was some inebriation involved. Perhaps there’s some attention-seeking involved.

        I also think the profit motive is interesting. Who has the most to gain or lose from whether or not his Grammy appearance is well received or a total flop? My guess is none of the women in the buzz feed.

  20. Rhiana may have forgiven him, but I’m not sure she sees the damage he did. Does anyone else think she’s gone so hyper-sexual and trashy since then? I worry that she’s crying for help and not getting any.

  21. I really don’t care if others think Chris Brown is cute, or want to honor him for his work, or whatever. I do hate seeing something as serious as domestic violence trivialized. My guess, those tweets had nothing to do with violence or beating or desiring that kind of thing from anyone. They think Chris Brown is sexy and saying they’d like to get beat up by him any day is a attention getting way of expressing that. They likely didn’t think much about the actual seriousness of the issue, of how domestic violence affects us all, or about how idolizing abuses perpetuates sexual stereotypes and enables abusers to continue doing what they do without serious consequences. In my opinion, those women shows nothing but a serious lack of empathy when they posted those tweets.

  22. So, here’s the thing- I didn’t actually watch the Grammys last night- I only followed along via twitter while watching “Once Upon A Time.” I knew that in the media frenzy surrounding Whitney’s death, I would get to see all of the ‘good’ parts of the show without being subjected to the rest.
    I’m going to go on record here as an anti-violence advocate that worked actively in the field for 10 years… a woman forgiving her abuser does NOT, in any way, make someone stop abusing women. On average, a woman will ‘forgive’ her abuser SEVEN times, only to be abused again and again, often with increasing severity, before she is finally able to escape her abuser. It is NOT AT ALL rare for a woman’s life of abuse to end in death at the hands of her abuser.
    These things, these murders, continue to occur PRECISELY because of the kind support given to abusers shown last night. You don’t have to be famous to get that sort of support as an abuser. It happens every day, everywhere. Do you really think that the incident of abuse that Chris Brown perpetrated against Rhianna that landed her in the hospital was the first time he hit her? That level of abuse, that escalation, that public display, usually only happens after someone has been abusing their victim for an extended period of time.
    The abuse of women will only stop when we make it clear that it is absolutely unacceptable, under ANY circumstances, for men to beat them. Ultimately, the only people that can end abuse are the people perpetrating it.
    I stand by my request that we just send them all out into space- it may be the only way we can end the cycle of violence. A girl can dream, anyway.

  23. Is it the fame? The money? Why is it somehow excusable for him to beat woman as opposed to your real life boyfriend whose a broke nobody? I don’t understand these girls at all. It’s never excusable under any circumstance to tolerate abuse. Much less ask for it publicly on twitter. Not only did he win at the grammys but he was seemingly on all the time. It basically sends out a message that its okay to hit your girlfriend. As a society we don’t care. We just sweep it under the rug, like Penn State, like everything else that is easier to pretend it didn’t happen than to act on it.

  24. in an effort to prove a point…I turned off NBA last night and turned on the grammys. I find it funny – there is so much written on the neg effects of super bowl commercials and sports center, yet the grammys are ripe with some of the same very negative messages.
    I can appreciate this post b/c it is another prime example of the value of open discussion with tweens/teens. The opinion is that by the age of 12, these open lines of conversation must be established otherwise …. youth find their info elsewhere (as in the media and web).
    I actually met the Chris Brown performance with an open dialogue about why I don’t support him.
    Just another day in the life of being a mom to boys and feeling the weight of the huge responsibility of being kind, gentle, and supportive to girls/women. A burden that I feel will live with me forever.
    As for those tweets, I just threw up. I am sick for those women and their parents – WTF?

    1. Rachael-
      We need more moms like you. Every one of you make a difference. Every day.

  25. Just when I think I cannot be shocked anymore by the stupidity of today’s youth, I see something like those comments.

    I don’t know whether it makes me sad, angry, or confused. I think all three.

    By the way, love the conclusion in the last paragraph. Great post.

  26. The only upshot of watching last night’s Grammy’s with my kids was the fact that thanks to Chris Brown’s multiple (yet equally horrible) performances (I’ll admit to being totally prejudiced against him) was the fact I was able to use him as a launching pad to discuss domestic violence and morals with my kids.


    I’m ANGRY. I mean, WTF??

    1. Thanks for taking the time to talk to both of your teens about abuse. I know that they have lots of first hand experience of the everlasting effects of domestic violence (your sweet boy, Jumby,) but continuing the conversation is critical, because it gives them the language to stand up for themselves, each other, & others when they witness or hear about abuse. You’ve got yourself a couple of incredible advocates in training.

  27. And that is why he shouldn’t be on these shows- b/c it makes people think that what he did was okay.

  28. we are living in a time when teen pregnancy gets its own tv show and is in all the magazines. where a woman with a huge tushy make gazillions for having a big tushy. we are at a crossroads in our society. will we be the biggest losers? will we ever stop suffocating ourselves with the mundane? artists are artists and should not be judged on their artistry because of their personal lives (ie: miles davis, ray charles, van gogh, picasso, whitney houston). that being said – in our 24hr world of self indulgence, we as the adults, need to set boundaries of what our children should think is okay. beating up girls isnt okay – even if she sings about s & m and whips and chains exciting her. we live in a world where we can expel into the universe our every thought and dream. and now that CHILDREN, yes that means teenagers too, have access to this technology, they can too. however, they are children with children’s brains, pressures, and ideas, and when playing with adult technology (facebook, twitter, etc) need to be monitored. this is all so gross. all of it. especially chris brown.

  29. As a DAD, a man, an employer, a husband, a HUMAN I don’t even understand the debate. You don’t hit. If you hit, you have lost all privileges. You don’t hit.

  30. The whole “Rihanna forgave him, so why can’t you” thing brings to mind a song my parents used to play a lot, which had a line “God may forgive you, but I don’t. And I won’t even try.”

    Not equating Rihanna with God or anything- just saying, I get to choose who I forgive, and like some people upthread- someone who beats up his girlfriend and doesn’t really suffer any consequences is not someone I feel I need to forgive.

    But then, my musical taste ranges from “old fuddy-duddy” to new but far from the mainstream- so I wasn’t in the Grammy’s target audience, anyway.

  31. I haven’t followed his story all that closely, but does he beat up “women” or was it a single assault? Obviously, once is way too often, but I hate to see anyone, especially a young person, refused an opportunity to grow past a mistake. If it’s been established that he’s a habitual abuser, that’s one thing, but being a habitual asshole isn’t sufficient grounds for lifelong censure in my opinion.

    1. I am sure I have no right to make this assertion (though Sashalyn does) but I think you are either the type who beats up women or you’re not.

      This is not a mistake.

      This is felony assault, and a serious, serious character flaw. I’m of the “one strike and you’re out” school when it comes to men beating up women.

      Maybe if he’s ever once seem authentically contrite I might feel differently. Or maybe it’s just too soon, who knows.

      For maybe one of the first times ever, I’m with Gawker.

  32. I missed a lot of the Grammy’s ’cause I changed the channel every time Chris Brown was mentioned. I did not watch his performance or see the reaction to his winning.

    I will say that I am not surprised in the least about those disturbing tweets. Hubs has an 18 year old cousin who is in LOVE with Chris Brown. Her last name on FB is “Brown” because of him. She has loved him for years and defended him when he beat Rihanna. In fact, she hates Rihanna for tarnishing his image. Yes. Because she hit him first, allegedly. It’s sick and disturbing and there is no reaching or reasoning with her. She comes from a family of many strong women – her parents are married and have a wonderful, loving relationship. Her father is kind and gentle. It doesn’t make sense to any of us why she she defends him so vehemently.

  33. I’ve had this argument for years, should you separate the art from the artist? John Milton virtually enslaved his daughters, yet he wrote some of the greatest poems in the English language. Picasso was a lying asshole. Caravaggio was a violent criminal. Chris Brown may never create that level of art, but I think that ultimately the art has to speak for itself, and the artist has to live with him/herself.

    1. So do you think last night’s performance (2 performances) were celebrating his art, or celebrating “him” and the comeback the industry wants for him? Honest question. (And I’ve had these same debates.)

    2. Yes, this is what I was getting at, I suppose. Partially. I’m also just inclined to be wary of canonical thinking and ironclad rules….the once-an-offender, always-an-offender assumption. I’m more of a two strikes you’re out kind of person. So underpinning this debate is the philosophical split over the nature of justice. I guess I fall on the side of wondering of how it serves society to silence his obvious talent. It’s a shame (and I mean shame), he has not made a public act of contrition. It would make it easier for me to accept his music as restitution.

      1. I don’t exactly have rules either, so I know what you’re saying. (Except for the no second chances for a man who would ever hit me. That’s a rule.)

        I just know that viscerally, I felt sick to my stomach watching him be lauded last night–at the very same time that we were mourning another talent, whose downward spiral was part because of an abusive relationship and its effects.

        1. And if we only want to look at the question of art– Rihanna was there, present, in the same room, as he was lauded. I can’t get away from the thought that his assault to her head could have easily, easily cost her the ability to perform, to offer HER art as it were, so there is no way I can be worried about his. Looking at her there, and then looking to him and clapping–that’s very different from the abstraction of separating artistic contributions and what we know of the behaviors of Picasso. In truth, we don’t know what her healing and the deals she’s had to make to manage all of this and retain her career have cost her in her potential artistic development.

          1. Thanks Deb. I recently saw a FB comment that someone was upset SHE was performing because it makes beating women seem cool…or something like that. It was so convoluted and I thought, now we’re blaming the victim? She should lose her right to her career because a man beat her up? Sigh.

  34. I’m so glad I was watching young couples get stung by bees during Fear Factor instead.

  35. The fact is that many young people do not have good role models in their homes, whether it’s because of mental illness, hard life situations, or other.

    School can only fill in the blanks so much.

    I firmly believe with all my heart and mind that the ONLY way to change the world is for adults who are capable of offering other peaceful world/personal views to make the time in their lives to volunteer with youth groups of all sorts: sports, social, scouts, religious. We can “out” these girls, we can accuse them, humiliate them, threaten them with what their lives will look like if they don’t change, etc., etc., etc.

    The only way people every change – the ONLY way – is when people whom they respect offer them another example of how to live and offer them that example in love and mutual respect. It’s not easy. It takes time. It takes compassion. It takes understanding that what we offer even by our example can be a threat to their comfort zone and identity. It takes a long time to assimilate a new idea. It can never be forced. I hope someone comes into their lives and makes that difference sooner, rather than later.

    Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Just “be” and offer friendship and your learning and experience. Offer them another example of what self-esteem and self-confidence look like and they will incorporate it into their own.

    (Not “you” you…general “you”.)

  36. Nice work, Liz, and I agree completely. So what does it say that Chris Brown and Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen and plenty of other abusive schmucks are still in the public eye, getting work and making money?
    It says:
    1. Big corporations will promote most any act, no matter how vile, as long as it still sells. No surprise here.
    2. People are forgiving, as in, “everyone deserves a second chance.” In the case of these sleaze balls, what they deserve is jail time.
    3. That our culture values entertainment over ethics. A laugh, a dance step, a movie role, all trump moral character.
    4. That violence, whether directed against women, gays, minorities, et al, is still, to some extent, tolerated or excused.
    Surely there are more, deeper and better explanations.

  37. As someone who was in an abusive relationship in high school–more emotional than physical, but it left enough of a scar, it makes me sad that we so easily forget and joke about it. Rhianna might have “forgiven” him, but only because that is was abuse does to you–it makes you feel like you have no choice. It makes you feel inferior. It makes the abuser all-powerful.

    I might not kick Brad Pitt out of my bed–but you won’t catch me joking about abuse. Because it’s real.

  38. As far as Chris Brown, I haven’t been following this story. Generally, my knee jerk reaction is the same as with anyone who is abusive AND who is a celebrity. Like it or not, they get the whole package: with fame, comes scrutiny.

    Without getting too far into it, I try to be careful how I vote for differing moralities by how I spend my $$$. Those are, for better or worse, the only votes that count. However, I do keep in mind that there is no “pure” act. Every action comes with a negative and positive consequence, no matter how far removed. I am responsible for both consequences to some extent, and can only balance for myself the societal risk/benefit. But the fact that anything I do has a bad as well as good consequence is just a kind of “original sin” we can’t get away from.

  39. This is from a Grammy producer.

    “We’re glad to have him back,” said executive producer Ken Ehrlich. “I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.”


    Shut the f**k up. This is the scariest thing of all.

    1. OMG. What an amazingly stupid thing to say. They were inconvenienced. Rihanna was the victim. There are probably many, many secondary victims whose abusers justify their actions based on the culture that represented by the acceptance of Chris Brown’s actions. But the Grammys and their producers? Really not victims here.

      I almost wish that I watched awards shows just so that I could stop watching the Grammys on principle because they employ such an insensitive clod.

  40. The tweets of these women, is one of the reasons women are being looked down in society. It if I was to analyze their characters, I would say that women who allow themselves to be treated badly haven’t yet learned to love themselves. I fear that praising a guy like Chris Brown will result to many considering what he deed as normal.

  41. Amen to everything you wrote!

    When the Chris Brown/Rihanna abuse hit the media, I remember telling my husband that Chris would be losing a lot of fans and I really hoped he never made it back into relevant music culture. He scoffed and told me that inevitably the people backing him would turn it around and he would be a hit maker again. I am appalled that he was right. My 22 year old SIL and I had quite a debate about this since she’s a fan and I just can’t get into hearing love songs from someone who abuses women (call me crazy!). She was in the “she forgave him and I was always a fan” crowd. Uhmmm…not ok with me. Giving him praise and a platform is totally excusing his behavior and yet again reaffirming negative role models and icons in the hip hop industry. Don’t the girls listening to hip hop have enough negative messaging out there (try watching a little of “Love & Hip Hop” or “Basketball Wives” and you’ll immediately know what I’m talking about).

    Those tweets make me cringe. Obviously none of those girls have ever been in or known someone in a relationship with domestic violence. Sad, just sad.

  42. Holy ish! I can’t believe those tweets. Please tell me someone hacked their accounts and those are real tweets?!

    The dude has serious anger issues. Not just woman beating. Throwing chairs at the Today Show? Yeah. I’m all for second-chances, but he’s been given a few and hasn’t proved that he’s any different than he was back then. And the only reason he won that award was because he was the biggest name nominated. I had no clue who the other people were, so I wasn’t surprised when he was called up as winner.

    The scary thing is, we probably admire and adore so many celebs with horrible (woman-beating) pasts. They just not may be as public as Chris’ was. Still, I won’t be buying any Chris Brown albums anytime soon. Or, you know, ever.

  43. I’m in agreement with you and when my kids (ages 7 & 10) saw Brown for the first time on the Grammy’s last night and asked “who’s Chris Brown?” I told them he used to be Rhianna’s boyfriend but he beat her up. I usually try to shield them from that type of gossipy/negative news but I was upset to see him there and wanted to color his performance for them. IMO, it’s one thing for his music to win awards, but it’s another, separate issue for the show planners to give him the stage multiple times. I hope the tweets above were from women who understand this in their hearts and possibly were just trying to be funny on Twitter.

  44. Those tweeters….obviously don’t know what it’s like to be a child huddled behind older siblings while Dad is raging on mom. I agree with the comment who said those women should be taken to a battered women’s shelter. They really should.

    There really should be classes in the ciriculum of highshcool and college about how to pick the right person to marry. Really. If I’ve made one right decision in my life, it was picking the right person to marry. I’m so glad I can make comments about this and I don’t have to deal with it myself.

    But really people, pick a nice person to be with and marry. Let’s think past the pretty face shall we?

  45. thank you thank you thank you. i knew i couldn’t have been the only one watching in disgust. lord help me as i raise my daughters to become strong women that know beyond a doubt that any man that lays his hands on a woman is a shit bag.

  46. Not only did they give Chris Brown two occasions for repulsive self-aggrandizement (Dancing to the top of a pyramid? Really?), the Grammys rolled out a multi-artist tribute to Glen Campbell – who certainly has a longer history of domestic violence than Brown.

  47. My comments (said to my mother) were, I really don’t care about his performance or him winning anything. I just will not forgive him for what he did to Rihanna.

    Also, Rihanna might say she forgives him to just move on with her own life and not have to dwell on that moment in the public forum; however, I bet she relives that experience sometimes and still suffers painful reactions and feelings that developed from it.

  48. Totally agree with you! Our society is pretty messed up if we praise him after physically abusing a woman… I don’t care if his work is phenomenal or not.

    Besides, wasn’t it at the Grammys two or something years ago that this guy beat the living daylights out of her? Makes me incredibly sad.

  49. Pingback: Blogging
  50. I didn’t watch and honestly barely know who CB is, but I was riveted by your post and this discussion. Thanks to you and all your commenters!

    I now sheepishly admit that I never even considered the Grammy’s over the TWO HOUR Downton Abbey last night.

  51. Those tweets.
    Sigh. Bleh. Barf. Boo.

    It’s instances like these that make me wish I were still teaching college english, still making my students question this way of thinking, still trying to get the light bulb to come on in their heads that goes “…Oh! That’s wrong! That’s not funny! That’s not ok! DING DING DING!!!” I saw this change in a lot of my young women when they realized that deferring wasn’t the only option, that being a woman is not commensurate with being weak.

    And ironically, even though my oldest son is only 7, tonight I found myself drifting off to the future, envisioning his first, second, third date, envisioning the successive dates of my next two sons, imagining myself telling them that if they ever so much as lay a hand on a woman-or man-or if they ever so much as disrespect a woman-or man-they will not only have to answer to their niggling conscious, but they will also have to answer to me. And that wouldn’t be pretty. That before they say or do something they may regret to think of how they were taught to treat people-with kindness and respect.

    And then I come to find this. And it’s nauseating.

    Thanks for making us think.

  52. One more thing.
    I liken those girls’ tweets to when my mom says “I wish I had a touch of anorexia.”
    I’m tempted to laugh when she says this because she’s funny, and I know she’d like to be thin. But then I remember the two girls I lived with in college that were anorexic and I come up short with the chuckle. And my mom gets away with saying this little phrase because she is sooooo far from being anorexic-it’s not in her world, never has been, never will.

    I have to think-hope even-that for these girls, getting beaten is so far from their realm of possibility or experience that they can’t see what they’re saying as as serious as it really is. Or they would never, ever say it.

    Let’s hope it stays that way for them.

  53. My mind was blown when I saw that Buzzfeed piece. I was thinking, “Really? REALLY??” I re-read the MTV article of the Rihanna police report, and it was so horrific. He literally almost killed her. How can that be desirable?

    There’s this post on The Rumpus that addresses the Grammys reaction sensitively and I wish those tweeters would be able to read it. She makes a good point with, “I am sorry our culture has treated women so poorly for so long that suffering abuse to receive celebrity attention seems like a fair and reasonable trade. We have failed you, utterly.”

  54. Liz – Just as aside…This morning I read Bob Lefsetz, (the controversial music critic) and he said this, which I thought was important to this discussion:

    “The Grammys may have forgiven Chris Brown, but not the public, most of the comments on social media were negative! Meanwhile, he appeared on the telecast twice. Shows that Ken Ehrlich and CBS are out of touch…Doesn’t matter what the fat cats say, nor traditional media, it all comes down to what the people think.”

    It doesn’t matter what record industry people say or Grammy producers because they no longer make the decision of who becomes a star and who doesn’t. We do. It only matters that we keep talking and writing about it, getting our opinions out there, and doing it as loudly and passionately as possible. Thanks for doing just that, Liz.


    1. Interesting Kim, thanks for that. I’m still shocked by that Ken Ehrlich quote “we were the victim of what happened.”

      It will be interesting to see what happens to his record sales. Something tells me, judging from his fans, that he may do just fine. You and I aren’t buying his stuff anyway.

  55. Here’s what makes it difficult for me to accept the “rihanna forgave him” argument (well, one of many things because that argument is so flawed I just…):

    His “apologies” and attempts to act in any way regretful about his actions are disgustingly nill. He shows little to no remorse and has that flippant way of apologizing akin to “I’m sorry you feel that way but…”

    He’s just disgusting. Simply disgusting.

  56. Wow. Wow wow wow.
    Those comments make my stomach turn. As someone who left an abuser and the mother of a daughter, I cringe reading what these girls think are flippant comments.
    As you said, all we can strive for is that our daughters won’t ever think disgusting behavior is OK because “he’s just so cute”.

  57. I really don’t understand how women could look at a known abuser and find him sexy or much worse want to sleep with him. Is it because they blame the victim? Or is it the bad boy thing? I guess I’ll never know since I’m pretty much in the belief that it isn’t something I could get past. When I was in High School there was a football player that everyone loved. All the guys wanted to be like him and all the girls wanted to date him and they all looked past the fact that when he got drunk he liked to push his girlfriend around. I saw him at my High School reunion and it was the first thought I had and I wondered if he was still beating women. I hope not, but that is how I will always see him and how I will always see Chris Brown.

  58. These ladies are playing foolish games. Who would wanted to be beaten up? I hate abusers- Men who are selfish and have hard hands on women. They need to be taught with a lesson.

  59. I don’t like Chris Brown..I am a fan of Rihanna, actually…

  60. Awful, awful, awful. While I really, really want my daughters never to have a man like that in their lives, the bigger challenge for me (having never been a young man) is how to raise my sons NEVER to treat women badly. (Particularly when, sadly, their father is not a very good role model.) Living in a culture that cheers on guys like Chris Brown isn’t helping.

  61. I can even get past him winning an award for his music if people wouldn’t clap fanatically for him like he’s some kind of hero. I certainly didn’t forget him beating the shit out of Rihanna. People who defend him based on his tough upbringing are making excuses for him as far as I’m concerned. My father had a very difficult upbringing and he has managed to treat my mother with love and respect during all 27 years (and going strong) of their marriage.

  62. Why was my comment deleted? Did I write something wrong?? Was it the bible verse and the fact that you don’t believe in God? I read your blog a lot so I thought that I was allowed to post a comment about what I think but I thought wrong.

    Thanks for the the info that I read so far on your blog but this will be the last time I see it. I’m sure it is no big deal to you since you have many followers because of the Parenting Magazine.

    Good luck and God Bless

    1. Hi Marisela. I welcome thoughtful discussion, dissent and opinions–in your own words. I tend to delete pure bible verses without any personal opinion attached to it if I don’t know the commenter (sorry, I don’t recognize your name and I clicked your IP and you haven’t commented here before) because it reads like spam. And more so, it keeps other readers from jumping on the commenter and hijacking the post and turning it into a referendum on religion. It’s happened before and I hate it. In any case, tell me what you think and I–and we all–would really love to hear it.


    There’s a bad undercurrent swirling out there, of crap like this. This … mentality. A vacuous, bullshit, permissive subculture that’s getting bigger every day.

    That, or it’s just teenagers being idiots and they will grow up one day.

    Man I hope it’s the latter.

  64. Do you think there’s some connection with the access to very violent and disturbing porn and this “beat me hard, baby” mentality?

    The music industry seems to have more of a problem with Kelly Clarkson’s weight than Chris Brown’s beating a woman. It trickles down.

  65. He should not have won the award. This guy has issues and I seriously doubt he has worked on these issues. He probably thinks he’s been treated unfairly. It’s important for all of us to teach our daughters that his behavior towards women is ok. It never is!

    And as for Rihanna forgiving him: get a brain!

    1. I’m going to defend her a bit. Abused women have lots of emotional reasons for forgiving their abusers–or maybe it’s a religious one. I don’t think it’s that she’s not smart. I think it’s very, very hard.

  66. i saw that list of reactions, and was sickened by it.

    i’ll have to send you the link ’cause it’s on my facebook page and i don’t have that right now, but i read a very interesting blog post the other day from a woman with a daughter. her rant was about her daughter coming home crying because some boy had taken her bracelets at school and most people’s response was that it was because he liked her. her take was that that was NOT an okay response. it is not okay to teach your boys to basically abuse someone to show affection, and it is not okay to teach your girls to accept that abuse AS affection. (i’m trying to remember now, but the boy apparently grabbed her arm and held her pinned while he removed the bracelets. they were those shaped rubber band things that were the rage a while ago.)

    she made excellent points about how we can’t really be surprised to see women tolerate that behavior from men when they’ve been brainwashed from childhood that aggressive, potentially abusive behavior from males was really love or affection.

    however, i have come to the conclusion that my friend was very wise many years ago. he was a drummer, and a very good one and then he went and got a “real” job to provide for his wife and baby. his theory was that the very personality traits that make someone truly exceptional in one arena (politics, musician, artist, actor, etc), serve to – in most cases – make them a pretty miserable human being in most other areas. admire the talent, and the fruits of that talent certainly, but ignore the asshat-edness at your peril.

    btw, i’ll creep out of the closet a bit and say this: i tend to be kinkier than a cheap garden hose. things that are fun and awesome in the bedroom are a whole different ball of wax than an abusive relationship. while your commentor may not have meant harm, as a someone who is at least a visitor to the bdsm community, i very much resent the implication that there is ANY correlation between chris brown’s assault on his girlfriend and the SSC (safe, sane and consentual) behavior that we INSIST upon in our world. our world is almost always a much safer place to play than the vanilla one.

  67. Wow! Those are some crazy tweets. It’s horrible to see those girls saying that Chris Brown could beat them up. I don’t think they really understand that kind of violence. Or on the unfortunate flip-side, maybe they are all too comfortable with it.

    Personally, I was upset to see him take the stage. In the celebrity music world, “hitting” is obviously not as important as the next “hit.”

  68. I’m sure lots of people wrote about this. I didn’t notice—I think on purpose. That buzz feed thing, which I saw on the night of the grammy’s, had a real (kinda crazy) emotional impact on me. It made me cry when I first saw it, when I looked at it second time (b/c I couldn’t believe it was real) and now, again, when I read those horrifyingly sad and upsetting tweets. I don’t care if CB is “rehabilitated” (though, for the record, he’s clearly not)—he is a public figure who (constantly) seeks out the spotlight. That comes with public accountability—call it the price of fame and fortune. Until Chris Brown is out there as a positive, active and *authentic* anti-domestic violence and anger management advocate (no clue what that looks like, but…) , then he should not be validated by the “establishment,” even for his musical accomplishments. Yea, I said it. Cause, sorry, dude is an entertainer. It’s not of paramount importance to our cultural progress and preservation that effing Chris Brown be recognized for his work.

  69. I would like to play devil’s advocate. While I by no means condone Chris Brown’s actions, I couldn’t help but to think: We credit abusers each and every single day for thier work. Artists, Managers, CEO’s, Construction workers… any one. Whether it is known to the public or not. Im sure these people, if even remotely professional, attempt to hide their actions. But somebody knows. And we still enjoy, respect, and take advantage of thier work.

    Here’s my own rebuttal. An abuser acting as CEO of a high class company may dance in the public eye from time to time, but thier work has a credibility seperate from personality. Chris Brown “recovered” from his obcenities and came back on the scene with more music that can be dissected to reflect a continuation of condescention towards women.

    1. Thanks Allie. I would also add that public figures that are publicly lauded and honored, are necessarily held to a higher moral standard than construction workers. I don’t begrudge his right to make music–just for him personally to be so hugely celebrated.

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