This Barbados-born beauty began her musical career at only fifteen years of age. She jumped right into professional recording without almost no training or music theory background. It is certainly admirable that, since then, she has risen to the challenge of proving one of the most versatile and prolific talents in the pop music industry today.
This talented singer’s personal life has been mired in controversy. In February of 2009, her boyfriend Chris Brown assaulted Rihanna over the latter’s allegations of romantic text messages that Brown had sent somebody else. Photographic evidence of Rihanna’s injuries as well as her identity had been made public, which was neither usual nor recommended in media reports of domestic violence.
Rihanna’s subsequent professional collaborations with her ex-boyfriend and ex-abuser over the past few years have sparked heated debates and discussions about the dynamics of abusive relationships. While criticized for prioritizing her personal life over becoming a role model for her fans, especially encouraging young girl to leave abusive relationships with her example, Rihanna might also serve as a reminder that real human beings, even those who are pop stars, aren’t ideas. Her weaknesses or failings in continuing to work with her abuser could be seen as reminders that human relationships are complex, especially when it comes to the nature of forgiveness or enabling harmful behavior.
Through the problematic aspects that Rihanna shows of her relationships under public scrutiny, it becomes more difficult to deny that there is more than one way for a woman to be empowered and make her own decisions. While examination of such personal details might be a controversy in and of itself, the discussions surrounding these actions have sometimes brought to light an additional layer to this controversial issue. That is: the morality of entertainment media that can reward an unrepentant abuser of women.
Recently, Rihanna has featured in Shakira’s new single, “Can’t Remember To Forget You”, the video of which is quite suggestive of lesbianism between the featured stars. Opinions about whether this is a boon or a bane to LGBT representation remain mixed.