Beyond Chris Brown and Rihanna

February 14, 2009


[Update below about the stats mentioned in the video]

A conversation with Elizabeth Mendez Berry, who wrote the Vibe magazine's 2005 Love Hurts feature about domestic violence within (and without) hip-hop. She recommended these resources for more on the issue:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
  • Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community
  • National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence
  • Incite: Women of Color against Violence
  • Men Stopping Violence

    If you have any other recommendations please leave 'em in the comments! Thanks to Racialicious, What Tami Said and Afrobella for inspiration.

    --------
    Update: Elizabeth wrote to clarify that she misspoke at the end when she said it's the leading cause for all women 15-45, and she sent over more info about where she got the statistics referenced in the video, see below.


    "Intimate partner violence is the leading cause of death for
    African-American women ages 15 to 45 and the seventh leading cause of
    premature death for U.S. women overall." SOURCE: National Institute of
    Justice (division of the Bureau of Justice),
    www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/jr000250e.pdf

    MORE INFO:

    Intimate partner deaths have decreased most dramatically among black men. From 1976-1985, black men were more likely than black women to be a victim of domestic homicide; by 2005, black women were three times more likely than a black male to be murdered by their partners. SOURCE: Bureau of Justice:
    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/intimates.htm

    Black women make up 8% of the U.S. population but in 2005 accounted for 42% of all female victims of intimate partner homicide. SOURCE: Bureau of Justice: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/intimates.htm

    The rate of death by intimate partner homicide for black women is about three times the rate of death by intimate partner homicide for white women. SOURCE, Bureau of Justice:
    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/tables/intgreltab.htm

    Also, on a slight tangent: DJ Just Dizle from Paris just sent over this two-part mixtape dedicated to female voices in hip-hop, hosted by Jazzy Joyce and MC Lyte. Just Dizle, Ladies First Pt. 1 and 2 ..looks worth checking out!

    Posted by jsmooth995 at February 14, 2009 7:13 AM
    Comments

    For the most part sexism and domestic violence is usually presented in one dimension.
    However the truth is completely different from what is presented by lawmakers and media pundits but it is not popular. Domestic violence is 50-50, committed by men and women. This is not my opinion.

    You seem like a level headed guy and I'm sure you're not going to take my word for it. I provided links from credible sources.Check out the work of psychology professor Don Dutton, he's acknowledged by his peers as a world expert on (IPV) Intimate Partner Violence. Erin Pizzey's story is something you check out. She opened one of the first shelters for battered women.

    It is good to see many thoughtful people looking beyond Chris and Rihanna and dealing with domestic violence in a much larger scale. It is much needed. But please understand that the popular themes and discussion concerning domestic violence is outdated, based on myths and ruled by those with political agendas and financial gain.

    So yeah bro, do a little journalism then do a little bit more. :-)

    --------
    The Truth No One Wants To Hear:
    http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/story.html?id=a41532d6-d4df-46a2-a784-f6499938f3b0&k=49786

    http://drhelen.blogspot.com/2008/02/truth-about-domestic-violence.html

    MotherJones.com article hitting the wall.
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1999/05/hitting-wall

    Posted by: VEe at February 14, 2009 9:15 AM

    There's a really, really, really simple solution to this.

    Women: STOP SHAKING YOUR ASS TO VIOLENT/MISOGYNIST MUSIC AND THEY'LL STOP MAKING IT.

    Listen to any "request line" show on a Clear Channel radio station and peep how many "round the way girls" call in on some "yo that's mah song" whenever an explicitly anti-woman song is popular.

    Go to any club around midnight and watch the reaction when a decidedly sexist hit record is thrown on.

    'Nuff said.

    Posted by: Thun at February 14, 2009 9:22 AM

    bravo, illdoc.
    bravo for giving Elizabeth the platform to reiterate her 2005 message.
    Hoping that people are listening.

    Posted by: Judih Weinstein Haggai at February 14, 2009 9:45 AM

    holy shit, the number-one cause of death?

    I enjoyed this, technically & substantively, creatively. nice!

    Posted by: lala at February 14, 2009 10:22 AM

    i didn't think i needed my eyes opened, but this was an eye-opener. #1 cause?

    Posted by: giles at February 14, 2009 10:57 AM

    Excellent interview, Jay! These are the types of conversations we should be having more on our hip hop/gossip blogs. Thanks for contacting Elizabeth Mendez Berry and posting this.

    Posted by: j. brotherlove at February 14, 2009 12:13 PM

    Thanks a lot jay, this was amazing. And thanks a lot for pdf-ing the original article, I can't wait to read it.

    Posted by: cat m. at February 14, 2009 12:50 PM

    Here's a few more links to add to your list, more in the "what next for allies" and "analysis" categories.

    http://differentkindofdudefest.dead-city.org/links.html

    http://www.paulkivel.com/articles.php

    http://colours.mahost.org/article.html#gender

    Posted by: andrew at February 14, 2009 1:49 PM

    I didn't know the statistic for women dying from domestic violence was that grave. I thought AIDS was the number on cause of death for women. She was right by the way; if were to get into argument with my wife or girlfriend(hypothetically speaking, I'm single) and she was shorter than me it wouldn't be an eqaul fight. Men are usually taller than thier female partners and naturally stronger. If I were to fight back(I wouldn't) she would recieve the brunt of the violence not me. Just walk away fellas, you're still a man if you walk away. Probably more of a man if you walk away.

    Posted by: brownhornet at February 14, 2009 2:30 PM

    "There's a really, really, really simple solution to this.

    Women: STOP SHAKING YOUR ASS TO VIOLENT/MISOGYNIST MUSIC AND THEY'LL STOP MAKING IT."

    Wow, talk about blaming the victims.

    Not to mention factually inaccurate: this is Chris Brown we're talking about here, not Eminem or Akinyele.

    He's not someone that acquired female fans by bragging about how he mistreats women.

    Your solution isn't simple; it's simpleminded.

    Posted by: Joe Grossberg at February 14, 2009 3:10 PM

    @ VEe - and the cause of Israeli attacks on Palestine with tanks is kids throwing rocks... I'm not saying that women don't hit/attack men ever or even that they don't contribute to bad situations they find themselves in but... testosterone is a hell of a drug. We all need to learn how to calm the eff down and solve our issues with words.

    Posted by: 21510akland at February 14, 2009 3:13 PM

    Jay, thank you for this. This was an excellent post. By the way, have you heard of the white ribbon campaign? I'm a member of it, and you should check it out. Here's the one in Canada (where I am)...

    http://www.whiteribbon.ca

    Posted by: Michel Fortin at February 14, 2009 4:11 PM


    Thanks for this, Jay. Best commentary I've seen so far. Ms. Mendez Berry's comment that Big Pun was a hero but also had a complicated identity is a hugely important and powerful antidote to the polemic that always surrounds domestic violence. This can't be about demonizing men.

    Posted by: kmd at February 14, 2009 6:25 PM

    Another post, about time!!! Love your work man.Very good attempt at being "journalistic" as it WAS a journalistic piece. So give yourself a pat on the back.

    As for domestic violence, this is a shared thing. Perhaps when society moves beyond it's dualities or labels we can have discussions about how violence is just a destructive force all around.

    Namaste!

    Posted by: Namahottie at February 14, 2009 11:51 PM

    To remove the gender roles for moment: almost all abuse is about the powerful person abusing the less powerful. Abuse is not just a physically action, it also often involves a systematic reinforcement of an imbalanced power dynamic, contrived to make the abused party feel responsible for the abusive events and whatever aftermath occurs. There is an intense shame cycle that abuse victims become lost in, and it takes an incredibly strong person to overcome it and talk about it.

    To add the gender roles back in:

    "For the most part sexism and domestic violence is usually presented in one dimension.
    However the truth is completely different from what is presented by lawmakers and media pundits but it is not popular. Domestic violence is 50-50, committed by men and women. This is not my opinion"

    That is like saying that racism is 50-50, implying that black folks need to quit portraying themselves as hapless victims, that they commit an equal amount of racism against white people and that it carries an equal amount of personal and societal effect.

    While it is true that violence and abusive behavior exists within both genders just as racist thoughts and actions exist in both black and white folks) there is such an enormous power differential that a "50/50" measurement is ludicrous, erroneous, and misleading.

    While it certainly occurs, shelters are not overflowing with men who are systemically abused by their wives and girlfriends. While some women do instigate fights, the biggest excuse for a man to abuse a woman is that she "made" him do it by provoking him with her behavior, a flimsy excuse for his own esteem issues, lack of self control, lack of ability to master his childhood programming, and ultimately his lack of more appropriate coping mechanisms.

    I commend this poster's achievement in finding "radical" feminism's apologists to cite, presenting parent/child abuse, which is common among mothers as well as fathers, as the same as intimate partner violence is intentionally misleading. Saying that since mothers are often abusers to their children, that wives then are also often abusers to their husbands, is an erroneous leap that illustrates a profound lack of understanding of domestic abuse dynamics.

    I understand that men who are not abusers often get upset by statistics and stories about men who do, but denying real data about it is the same as denying real data about racism. I'm sorry that this man is so riled up about men being presented as big bad abusers in our society, and I hope that he can find it in his own heart to separate his perception of himself as a victim of bad press with his perception of women as equal partners in the abuse cycle.

    All that said, I am still amazed that anyone is even arguing against the idea that the prevalent misogyny in hip-hop might be a factor in domestic abuse. The objectification and subjugation of women in hip hop imagery is a huge part of the gangsta lifestyle product as it is sold to kids by record companies and the media.

    Why *wouldn't* they continue to buy into it, as they do the stereotypes of bling-flinging gangstas and money-grubbing hos? It reinforces real-life choices, attitudes, and behaviors that are all about making yourself feel powerful at the expense of others.

    Posted by: Nicole Maron at February 15, 2009 12:05 AM

    Wow - please do some fact checking before promulgating such horrifically wrong propaganda!

    For the record, the last study done by the CDC regarding causes of death for women (2004) put HEART DISEASE as the leading cause of death for Black Women of all ages!

    For the age range Ms.Berry specified, CANCER is the leading cause!!

    Please - before enabling ignorance, do a LITTLE fact checking!!

    Sources:

    Causes of Death - Black Women by Age

    Causes of Death - Black Women

    Posted by: Najirama at February 15, 2009 3:53 AM

    Super post, Jay.
    Your articulate delving into things is always appreciated. Thanks for giving a stronger voice to that sense of rationality and intelligence that sometimes gets swept under the rug.

    Posted by: Joe at February 15, 2009 7:25 AM

    ^21510akland . . . I have no clue what your point is. I should add that this involves domestic violence cases in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

    ^Nicole Maron:
    Power differential, yes. Misleading and erroneous? I don't know about that. I'm talking about years of research particularly concerning how DV is defined and reported.**
    http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20071027/OPINION03/710270016/-1/OPINION

    In some instances where there are female aggressors, the word domestic violence is not used, nor used by police officers filing reports.
    Here's an example:
    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/local_news/epaper/2008/10/29/1029bbdeaths.html?imw=Y

    Please note, there is a wealth of information by highly credible sources out there that supports the 50-50 assertion. I have no problem reading information that refutes that data. **Check out the story concerning Warren Moon and David Lettermen.

    ------ For the record it is DEFINITELY crazy that people are still using the argument "STOP SHAKING YOUR ASS TO VIOLENT/MISOGYNIST MUSIC AND THEY'LL STOP MAKING IT." Honestly I used that argument when I was around 15 or 16 years old. It does not hold any weight, nor backed by logic. Period.

    Posted by: VEe! at February 15, 2009 9:16 AM

    To VEe: Actually Donald Dutton is not considered a leading world expert on IPV, he's the laughing stock of Canadian studies on the issue. The research (Statistics Canada. General Social Survey data) he uses that shows that women and men experience equal rates of violence ignores other important variables, especially that women are much more likely to suffer ongoing violence, that is more serious (ie. requires medical attention) and that women are more likely to actually be killed by their male partners. And your National Post editorial article is a joke too...try reading the response by an actual expert on the matter, Walter DeKeseredy.

    Studies have found that women's shelters don't decrease women experiences of violence but actually decrease men's. Meaning that women instead of killing their abusive partners in self-defense actually save their partners' lives by fleeing to underfunded band-aid solution battered women's shelters. It looks like you need to do your own research on the subject beyond a couple of widely discredited sources who support your own ideological and misogynist position.

    Posted by: kstar at February 15, 2009 10:57 AM

    No man should hit a woman ever… I believe this 99.99%. Given the argument this lady gives, what if a man is 105lbs and 5′3, with his wife being 6′4. It happens. Should he then proceed to attempt to lay her a beating if she hits him first?

    Also.. what says you on the prospect that Rihanna may have given him an STD. Which mean that she chose to have unprotected sex with him knowing she was infected with something nasty. Maybe just maybe i can understand him giving her a beating for that shit.

    But no. Hitting a woman is wrong. 99.99% of the time. This might just have been the 00.01%, lol.

    Word.

    M

    Posted by: M.Fantu at February 15, 2009 1:32 PM

    I don't think that type of mediatakeout gossip even deserves to be mentioned.. but in the scenario you describe, it sounds like the man is carrying out a premeditated assault based on a grudge for something that happened previously in the relationship, which seems to me like the wrongest kind of wrong.

    Posted by: Jay Smooth at February 15, 2009 3:52 PM

    "No man should ever hit a woman". On what planet are you living, have you ever had a butcher knife pulled on you? I have have. Her suspicions were correct, I cheated on her. So what, leave me, don't try to kill me. I was able to grab her but I'm not every dude. And those bogus statistics don't help either. She was just lying and making stuff up.

    Posted by: Jody at February 15, 2009 4:44 PM

    Im glad people are having a non gossip filled discussion here, But what i find troubling as always is the idea that domestic abuse is something that men do to women and not a problem that both genders deal with.

    I lost a good friend of mine 5 years ago when his girlfriend set him on fire in the middle of the street. He had just left her after 2 years of being smacked and some times beaten by this women that was half his size. He left their home and moved in with his sister and she was not happy that he had the nerve to leave her. He felt trapped and like he had no place to turn. When he called the police twice he was treated as the aggressor and other times he was told by a few officers to quote man up.
    This is way more common then people think and it goes unheard of because almost no man will admit to or seek help for being abused.
    Be cause as my friend said when he finally told his boys He was afraid that we would think he was less of a man.

    If Chris Brown is guilty he derserves to be punished and this is a good time for parents to talk to their children about abuse.

    Posted by: dj hyjak at February 15, 2009 5:26 PM

    Here is the link from the University of Minnesota that sites the study that gives the leading cause of death for black women between 15-45 as Domestic Violence.

    http://www.dvinstitute.org/press/factsheet.html

    look to the left side bar in yellow....

    Posted by: browne at February 15, 2009 5:32 PM

    ^kstar,
    I'm just presenting information, that's it. Like I mentioned there is a whole lot more information than Dutton's research. Whether it is the commenter Jody, Warren Moon or many others, their stories are largely ignored and dismissed as non-existent. DJ Hyjak, yeah, man up pretty much describes the situation when involving police officers.

    I'm checking out Walter DeKeseredy right now and may pick up one of his books. (Please link an article) I'm not trying to hold the flag or promote the fight the cause for men's rights. If there's information that clearly refutes the 50-50 claim, I'll check it out. If it is misinformation, then I'll fall back and check myself.

    Ideological or misogynist position? Erin Pizzey? I'm sure sharing information, why go there? Hitting women is wrong. Hitting men is wrong. That sums it up.

    Posted by: VEe! at February 15, 2009 6:46 PM

    I, for one am very satisfied to what I saw today. As a man that caries very much for his girlfriend i would never lay a finger on her. I find it said that in the african american and latino community that we have men that are PUNKS that rather hit there woman then another man. It sad that our youth are like this, being 21 and african american i find that this world, is just getting worse and it sucks becasue there just few and between of good men that actually set a great example for children. This Generation of men are the generation of missing fathers, broken families and in the lack for a father figure they find themselves lost of that father figure to tell them how to conduct themselvs as a "man". Strenght can never be conducted in a violent blow, when the most powerfull thing you can do is express yourself with fellings and strike a blow of emotion that both can recongnize. We need that emotion to drive the way we communicate and react, to our significant others. Rather then a strike that will show nothing but un necessary action for something that can be settled in a simple talk. We need to show our youth somthing diffrent so our children can learn to love and win, then fight and lose.

    I love this blog Doctor keep doing you.

    Posted by: Nathaniel Arnold iv at February 15, 2009 9:28 PM

    Since no on here has mentioned the Fiebert bibliography, I will:

    This bibliography examines 246 scholarly investigations: 187 empirical studies and 59 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 237,750.

    http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm

    Posted by: pn6 at February 15, 2009 9:39 PM

    Good Work, as usual. Interesting to have an interview-style video for illdoctrine. I'll be interested to see where the conversation goes from here. :)

    Posted by: bill c. at February 16, 2009 11:14 AM

    ok VEe, I'll give you a fair shake, but you really must be more critical of the sources you are using. You may not be the champion of men's rights or hold the ideological right-wing anti-feminist position that your comments might initially have suggested to me. But, you also need to understand when you cite a National Post article (a notoriously right-wing anti-woman publication), Donald Dutton (the mortal foe of violence researchers), and others like Pizzey uncritically you are going to be lumped in with them. And trust me their work is not dismissed as "nonexistent" it's dismissed as seriously methodologically and theoretically flawed. These "studies" have been discredited as lacking in validity and reliability, over and over again and not just by so-called feminist researchers! And yet the 50-50 "finding" still gets taken up as "factual" by folks like you. This does not sit well with me.

    I have a number of sources you should check out. I hope these will open your eyes to the reality of violence against women in intimate relationships and force you to rethink what you think you know on the topic.

    Please check out:
    Walter DeKeseredy & Molly Dragiewicz. (2007). 'Understanding the complexities of feminist perspectives on woman abuse: A commentary on Dutton’s Rethinking Domestic Violence'. Violence Against Women, Vol 13, No. 8, pp. 874-884.

    Walter DeKeseredy (1999) 'Tactics of the Antifeminist Backlash Against Canadian National Woman Abuse Surveys', Violence Against Women, Vol. 5, No. 11, pp. 1258-1276

    Dr. Yasmin Jiwani's (2000) 3 part report on the so-called "50-50" GSS survey findings is also really good. Here are the links:
    http://www.harbour.sfu.ca/freda/reports/gss01.htm [analysis of GSS findings, has some statistical jargon in it]
    http://www.harbour.sfu.ca/freda/reports/gss02.htm [a fact sheet; super straightforward]
    http://www.harbour.sfu.ca/freda/reports/gss03.htm [this one is a pretty straightforward Q&A if you aren't into academic jargon]

    Also please see this book review done by Professor Amanda Burgess-Proctor (of Michigan State) about Donald Dutton's deeply flawed research, theories, politics, and practice. Here is the link:
    http://www.ccja-acjp.ca/en/cjcr200/cjcr295.html

    There are so many more links/sources, so if you want them too I'll post more.

    ~~Kstar, PhD student in Sociology, Ottawa, Canada~~

    Posted by: kstar at February 16, 2009 11:49 AM

    Appreciate the links.

    It is safe to say that both sides have written more than their share of papers backing their claims. How they reach their conclusions is another matter altogether. The commenter 'pn6' provided a link to a bibliography that demonstrate the alternative to popular opinion.

    I have no problem with the academic jargon, there's always the dictionary. It's refreshing to see that the sources you provided acknowledges male victims of domestic violence because the general consensus often discusses it like the cases do not exist. I see a problem when the discussion is generally one-sided especially because of the way most cases are policed. In the end, like many others, I have a lot to learn.

    Hopefully this incident will make recording artist reconsider the material that they produce, particularly Mr. "Big Pimpin" Jay-Z.

    Posted by: VEe! at February 16, 2009 7:14 PM

    This is an eye opening video, thank you so much for putting this up. I enjoyed this new approach you took.

    Mrs.Mendez really scared me, I did not know so many women are dying because of intimate partner abuse. This is so sad. To put it in perspective that stat means that AIDS, Cancer, and all other inhuman non sentient causes of death are less deadly than the person we love.

    I grew up in a so so neighborhood, I know the code of silence that surrounds this. People are afraid to talk about it. More than that people feel guilty to talk about it.

    We need to help those who cannot help themselves. Mrs. Mendez put it right, I could not care less about this particular case. The danger is in keeping it a secret, Chris Brown and his girl have gotten so much attention just because they are celebrities. Not because of what actually occurred.

    We need to take a minute and think about this. There has to be a way to help those women that the stat is reffering to. There has to be a way to, get to them before they die. There has to be a way to stop the abuse. There has to be a way to help the children, who are learning it is okay to hit your spouse. We have to find some sort of solution. This is so sad.

    Posted by: Belsarius at February 16, 2009 9:46 PM

    Thank you for this piece. I come from a line of domestic violence victims. My mother had to literally clock my dad with a cast iron skillet in order to get him to finally stop hitting her. (She packed up her children and left him shortly afterwards). I ended up in two violent relationships and the last final one (spouse), I left him after retaliating physically to let him know, I WILL fight back and we BOTH might end up in the hospital. But growing and maturing I see violence is NEVER the way. I teach my sons to respect others, never raise a hand to anyone and if a situation starts to escalate, RUN FORREST, RUN!!!
    Hopefully, the cycle breaks with them. Thanks again for the positive message.

    Posted by: dori at February 17, 2009 9:55 AM

    I was with a few girls that hit me. I brushed it off. it made me mad, but I walked away. One lil spicy PR girl I was with made it a habit. One day she tried to choke me, so I snapped, and started choking her back. Luckily my brother was there. I quickly shifted my anger and wanted to fight him(him being a man, my size, and more of a fair match). People as a whole(in America)retarded. Hopefully FEMA won't take me. I want to be president. If a black man can do it, a felon can too. Ron Paul will support me once I get heard.

    Posted by: Jon Dough at February 17, 2009 1:31 PM

    thanks jay. i have been upset by news reports that focus on how this affects chris brown's future career, rather than how this affects a relationship, the victim, and the offender. thanks for bringing it to the community level too.

    Posted by: anne at February 17, 2009 3:16 PM

    cool beans for the correction she made but i coulda sword she specified race when i listened to it


    also grabbing ladies first 1 & 2 (assuming the csulb internet allows me to finish a downloading of what itll probably shut down as illegally downloaded music)

    and jus wanted to note you probably wont notice this comment cuz you have so many people replying to your videos

    keep it uppppp

    Posted by: colin at February 17, 2009 6:46 PM

    wow, ive spent more time reading the discussion in the comment section than i have doing reading for my class

    VEe! is wrong, kstar is right, and ooooh a phd student

    moreover i think its pointless to fight the fight the 50/50 claimers are fighting. what gain do they see in making everyone understand that violence is 50/50? are women gaining anything by having it the way it is now? no, they're still getting beaten so instead of fighting over who gets beat more, we fight against battery on the whole

    Posted by: colin at February 17, 2009 7:02 PM

    Hey Smooth: Thanking you and your guest for this true Valentine's Day posting.

    Posted by: audiodramatist at February 17, 2009 11:13 PM

    Worst part, for me, in all this, is when people start arguing about the "facts". I don't even know...Too drained/sad to really say anything.

    Dope post still (Good look out on the links).

    Posted by: The Galley at February 18, 2009 2:25 PM

    About the update -

    The study from the National Institute of
    Justice references another study for that stat, "Intimate partner violence is the leading cause of death for African-American women ages 15 to 45".

    However, when you read that study, "Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by
    Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends" THERE IS NO SUCH STAT!

    Actually, the FBI stats on cause of death lists homicide in general as the second and sometimes third cause of death for young Black women.

    It's confusing, I know, but I think you have to be very careful when reporting this.

    Posted by: Hashim Warren at February 18, 2009 7:48 PM

    Fantastic video, Jay. Great interview, and it was great, both for her opinions on the issue and for her account on the VIBE story.

    There's no justification for beating a woman. In this country, when you hit a woman, you suffer the consequences: jail and/or prison, and exile from your community. That's universally understood, so whatever happens to Chris Brown, it makes perfect sense.

    But with that being said, I still wonder what happened to make Chris act the way that he did. This is pure speculation, but the police said there were bite marks on Rihanna, and a scratch mark on Brown's neck? This raises the possibility that Rihanna had put hands on Chris Brown first, and that Chris Brown had initially defended himself, and then just went overboard in retaliating. Like I said, it seems clear that he went overboard - but we also don't know how it started.

    And *if* Rihanna assaulted him first, she shouldn't get off scotch-free. Like Berry said, no one should hit anyone, regardless of sex/gender. There's a double-standard in this country when it comes to domestic abuse: women hitting or slapping guys is socially accepted (check movies, esp. those with black relationships, for proof), while a man hitting a woman back is unacceptable. Think about it: if a man hits a woman, and she even goes as far as killing him, then she's looked at as protecting herself or retaliating until she feels safe. If a woman physically approaches a guy and he simply hits her back, then he's labeled as not being a real man. It's fact that *some* women use these social standards to their advantage when dealing with their men: they'll physically assault them, knowing that the men won't retaliate because of the aforementioned consequences. Or they'll intentionally push them past their threshold, just so she can watch him break (I've seen this happen).

    Men should definitely be held accountable for their actions. BUT women should also. And I know that people are going to say that women have to battle all types of double-standards, so to give them this one as a pass. But I believe that all double-standards should be battled equally. I speak out against sexual exploitation in rap and unfair wages for women just as passionately as I do about this, so don't get it confused.

    I go into more detail about this on my blog. Check it out when you can: http://speechismyhammer. com/2009/02/15/a-conversation-about-chris-brown-rihanna-and-double-standards-in-domestic-abuse/

    And again, thanks for the video, Jay.

    Posted by: Ketchums at February 19, 2009 3:00 PM

    Dear Hashim et al,

    Just got off the phone with Jackie Campbell, the lead researcher who wrote the 2003 report (I originally found the quote at the Institute for Domestic Violence in the African American Community site). She got to the statement I quoted from the 2003 article by combining the 1998 report she footnoted (that Hashim looked at) with the CDC report on US Causes of Death. So that's where that stat comes from. But it is out of date. So:

    I just went through the most recent numbers (2005) with her to get an update, will send links when I have time. For black women ages 15-29, homicide is the second cause of death, a close second to accidents. If I have time I'll try to get a specific breakdown of how many of those homicides are intimate partner--most homicides against women are, according to Campbell (though the stats apparently don't include exes in their intimate partner homicide counts).

    Posted by: Elizabeth at February 19, 2009 5:26 PM

    I think that a more intelligent discussion can be had once we can all agree on the full, comprehensive meaning of 'violence':

    http://nononsenseselfdefense.com/violence.htm

    "...Violence vs. Force
    Let's start with the fact that there is a difference between violence and force.

    While the connotations of violence are almost always negative, force can have positive, negative or neutral implications.

    The Random House Unabridged dictionary gives the following as definitions of violence:

    Violence:
    1) Swift and intense force: the violence of a storm.
    2) Rough or injurious physical force, action, treatment: to die by violence.
    3) An unjust or unwarranted exertion of force or power, as against rights, laws, etc.: To take over a government by violence.
    4) A violent act or proceeding.
    5) Rough or immoderate vehemence as of feeling or language: the violence of his hatred.
    6) Injury, as in distortion of meaning or fact: to do violence to a translation.

    If you're like most people, your 'working' definition of violence is number two. However, points four and five include a screaming temper tantrum or a raging argument as violence! And number is three is a can of worms.

    Because what one person thinks is just and warranted (usually the doer), someone else (usually the receiver) thinks it is can be miles apart. This is why we say a person's definition of violence can be subjective. This is especially true when we look at the definitions of force:

    Force:
    1) strength; energy; power; intensity: a personality of great force.
    2) efficacious power; power to influence, affect or control: the force of circumstances, a force for law and order.
    3) Physical power or strength possessed by a living being: He used all his force in opening the window.
    4) Strength or power exerted on an object; physical coercion, violence: to use force to open the window; to use force on a person.
    5) Law. Violence offered to persons or things, as in the use of force breaking into a house,
    6) Persuasive power; power to convince: They felt the force of his argument.
    7) Mental or moral strength: The force of one’s mind, intellect or will
    8) Might, as of ruler or realm; strength for war.

    So basically force is deemed good or bad by how you use it. And commonly when when the use is deemed bad, then it is called 'violence.'..."

    Posted by: Jelani at February 19, 2009 10:06 PM

    Thank you for posting this and opening this discussion, Jay. Too often, I see conversations around intimate partner violence spiral into "well, why didn't she leave?" or "it's the fault of rap music!"

    We are products of our society. Chris Brown and Rhianna do not stand outside of a society where gendered violence is overwhelming, where men are largely the perpetrators and women are largely those experiencing violence. They also do not stand outside of a racist society that tells black men what black maleness looks like.

    I appreciate, particularly, that you interviewed a woman who has done some research and taken a lot of damn flack for the information she has shared. There's something damn aware in that.

    Posted by: Krista at February 19, 2009 10:56 PM

    Jay, this is a terrific vlog. I've been so disturbed by the whole media discussion around this case; your take is by far the most useful I've found.

    Posted by: Exurban Mom at February 20, 2009 9:25 AM

    after seeing her pic here http://tinyurl.com/RihannaFacePhoto, i just felt really bad for her. at such a young age she got a taste of domestic violence. why couldn't he just hit a wall or something?? and doing all that infront of the spotlight is such a bad decision....words are just as painful....it would've been a better alternative...this situation shows that Chris Brown needs to learn how to control his anger.

    Posted by: Trisha at February 20, 2009 5:46 PM

    Rihanna looks terribly battered in that photo, poor girl; there's no way this is justifiable

    Posted by: coffee at February 21, 2009 6:41 PM

    Why are people talking about Hip Hop music like that's what this video is about? Violence against women was a part of society long BEFORE Hip Hop was created, so I wish u people would stop acting like Hip Hop is the reason it still exists today! Hip Hop is a verbal expression of the realities that exist from the perspective artist’s point of view. Hip Hop is not supposed to be a savior to the world, ITS ENTERTAINMENT PEOPLE REMEMBER?? Just like all the other forms! Hip Hop has always taken the blame for what’s going on and that’s not fair!
    What about some of the other genres? Rock, Heavy Metal, heck even some of the Blues! Groups like AC/DC, Metallica, & Marilyn Manson just to name a few has disrespected women in every way possible while glorifying the use of drugs, violence & sex but no one says anything about them or any of the others, why is that? If we’re going to point a finger of blame at something then let’s be unbiased about it and blame “ALL” music forms & entertainment as a whole! Hip Hop seems to be a scapegoat for the world’s problems because people hate looking into the mirror seeing truth for what it is! We’re never going to see any real change as long as this continues!!
    Every person is different, with different tolerance levels, just because one person is strong enough to walk away if his woman hits him does not mean everyone else will!

    I think any man that abuses women or children is a low life coward and needs to be severely punished & thrown under the prison, because there is NO excuse 4 it!
    But if a woman hits a man FIRST & he in return hits her back in defense then I'm sorry to say is NOT the same thing as blatant abuse! A woman should never put herself in a man’s shoes! And that's just what she is doing when she hits a man first!
    Yes I agree that every man “should” be strong enough to turn the other cheek if she's weaponless & only strikes him once or twice, but that's too much like right, that's in a perfect world which as we all know does NOT exist!
    If a woman does not want to be struck by her man then she should honor him with that same respect bottom line!!
    It all starts at home; if we as a society treat & teach our children better in their youth then they will/should act and do better in life/society as adults! Abuse within its self is not the problem, our Society is!

    Posted by: Soldier Of Truth at February 23, 2009 9:41 AM

    "Violence against women was a part of society long BEFORE Hip Hop was created, so I wish u people would stop acting like Hip Hop is the reason it still exists today! Hip Hop is a verbal expression of the realities that exist from the perspective artist’s point of view. Hip Hop is not supposed to be a savior to the world, ITS ENTERTAINMENT PEOPLE REMEMBER??"

    To Soldier of Truth:
    Hip-Hop is not just a form of entertainment, for me. That's a mainstream/popular model. Hip-Hop culture, for me, is a way to better the self, to be your self, to tap into your individual creativity. As much as I agree that we cannot necessarily blame Hip-Hop music or other genre's for whatever it is they claim to portray; I still think we ALL have a responsibility because we are the ones that make up society (inner city, outer city, ghetto city, whatever). Whether or not we choose to accept such responsibility, well....

    "A woman should never put herself in a man’s shoes! And that's just what she is doing when she hits a man first!" No disrespect, but that's a careless statement. At least, why don't you tell that to Muammar Al-Gaddafi, the de facto leader of Libya whose bodyguards are all female? Because if you think Gaddafi is stupid or a "sissy", well....I mean...whatever.

    Posted by: The Galley at February 25, 2009 2:50 PM

    To: The Gallery

    "Hip-Hop is not just a form of entertainment, for me. That's a mainstream/popular model. Hip-Hop culture, for me, is a way to better the self, to be your self, to tap into your individual creativity. As much as I agree that we cannot necessarily blame Hip-Hop music or other genre's for whatever it is they claim to portray; I still think we ALL have a responsibility because we are the ones that make up society (inner city, outer city, ghetto city, whatever). Whether or not we choose to accept such responsibility, well...."

    Ok that's what Hip Hop is to "YOU", not society as a whole! When u go to pick up a Hip/Hop album from a store u go into the "ENTERTAINMENT" section of that store..

    Being one’s self does not mean all that comes from a person is going to be positive.. There are mean, careless, heartless, violent people in this world, so if these same people turn around & make a Hip Hop song u mean to tell me it's supposed to be positive "just" because it's the moral thing to do? NO I'm sorry that's not going to happen, that as I stated is a fantasy world that does not/will never exist!
    "A woman should never put herself in a man’s shoes! And that's just what she is doing when she hits a man first!"

    "No disrespect, but that's a careless statement. At least, why don't you tell that to Muammar Al-Gaddafi, the de facto leader of Libya whose bodyguards are all female? Because if you think Gaddafi is stupid or a "sissy", well....I mean...whatever."

    How is that a careless statement? Careless to whom? I never said women were any less than a man in terms of being human beings. While u are jumping defensive for no reason do u even know why he uses women oppose to men??.... “In ancient times, they believed that the best guards were either virgins or lesbians, the underlying belief being that they could sense threats, the so-called “wind of death.” The girls were even sterilized to make them more aggressive toward men.” By nature men are generally stronger than women that’s a fact & if u don’t know this as truth well..then… I implore u to do your research on them both!!

    Males are told at a very early age to never hit a female, so on that same token my point was a female should give that same RESPECT if she expects to receive it! Otherwise society should not complain about a woman being beaten up by a man in a fight when she threw the first punch!
    I love women I’ve never hit or abused one in any shape form or fashion & “I” NEVER will but in this life we live in a lot of males don’t see it that way… So a woman should protect herself by never giving a male “ANY” excuse to hit her especially hitting him first! That’s all I’m saying!!!

    Posted by: Soldier Of Truth at March 6, 2009 10:38 PM

    That's

    TO: The Galley... Not Gallery my mistake..

    Posted by: Soldier Of Truth at March 6, 2009 10:41 PM

    To Soldier of Truth: THANK YOU!! It's wayyyyyy past time someone said it unfortunately though I think your words will fall on deaf ears to the fake moral holier thans.

    Posted by: Lavern Merriweather at March 23, 2009 6:44 PM

    And another thing if rap and hip-hop are 'responsible' for domestic violence in the black community then are Hollywood and rock music responsible for violence against women in the WHITE community?!! Contrary to what some of you think that does actually happen.

    Posted by: Lavern Merriweather at March 23, 2009 6:47 PM

    I agree with The Gallery and Soldier of Truth, except:

    Marilyn Manson was blamed for the Columbine shooting and what are a "man's" shoes? Because sometimes I buy shoes in men's sizes at Footlocker.

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    Big Pun, Biggie, Jay Z, Busta ryhmes, Kool G rap etc are all women abusers just like Marvic gaye, james brown, Jimi hendrix etc.

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