Last night, America watched known abuser Chris Brown perform at the Grammys and, just like in the real world, no one said a thing about the fact that he once beat Rihanna. And sadly, this is why so many of us are still shocked that one in four women is the victim of domestic violence: When we all choose to ignore it in favor of lighter entertainment, it just keeps happening in silence. Giving Chris Brown a free pass is not only infuriating, it’s also a missed opportunity to talk about domestic violence…and stop it.
Sasha Pasulka at HelloGiggles wrote this amazing article yesterday, which does a great job of summing up why it’s extremely disappointing to see the lack of outrage about Chris Brown’s performance (and career as a whole). She also pretty accurately documented the absence of real consequences–which, I think, is the real thrust. Because from the first day that the images of Rihanna’s brutalized face went public, Hollywood’s elite have acted like domestic violence enabling neighbors and friends across America, shrugging it off and stating that it wasn’t their relationship to comment on, to last night when Brown took to the stage and received applause, we have continued to (sorry to use this turn of phrase) turn the other cheek.
But how can we be that upset about that reaction, when it’s the exact same reaction that many, many people have toward domestic violence and its victims? That reaction is the standard model–and by continuing to let Chris Brown perform, Hollywood and the music industry is upholding the standard.
That is to say, the response by the collective public, by much of the media, and by Hollywood to Chris Brown’s actions toward the woman he was in a relationship with was essentially identical to the reactions of law enforcement officials, community members, relatives, and even friends of domestic violence victims in every corner of the country. Even when it is a known fact that a woman is being bounced off the walls in the privacy of her home, those around her often turn away, unsure how to handle the situation, knowing full well the consequences of intervening. Knowing how hard it will be for the woman in question to escape and start a new life. Isn’t it easier for her to just forgive him?
I’m not sure why anyone expected anything different from Hollywood. It’s just disappointing, and a lost chance to correct centuries of crimes against women–and centuries of people looking away from them and pretending they don’t exist.