Setting the standard for women in music

The music industry is populated with all kinds of successful women from a wide, wide variety of genres. Think about it.

You have Lady Gaga, Adele, Lana Del Rey, Alexis Krauss (of Sleigh Bells), Katy Perry, St. Vincent, Carrie Underwood, Rihanna, Zola Jesus, Zooey Deschanel, Nicki Minaj, Pink… the list goes on and on and on, as you can tell.

Don’t believe me? Concrete evidence exists! Right now (as of February 25), nine of the top 10 songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart are by female artists or feature a female artist. Don’t believe me? Here it is:

1. “Part of Me,” Katy Perry

2. “Set Fire to the Rain,” Adele

3. “I Will Always Love You,” Whitney Houston

4. “Stronger,” Kelly Clarkson

5. “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele

6. “We Are Young,” fun. featuring Janelle Monae

7. “Someone Like You,” Adele

8. “We Found Love,” Rihnna featuring Calvin Harris

9. “Starships,” Nicki Minaj

Rihanna performs live in the UK in 2011.

So you get the idea. Women are just as active in this industry, if not more active at this point, than all of the men artists who have always dominated. Two of these songs are chart debuts: “Part of Me” and “Starships” both just came out and jumped right into the top 10. Adele has three in the top seven, not even just the top 10. Jessie J, Selena Gomez, Christina Perri, Madonna, Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum all make appearances in the top 50, as well as repeat appearances from Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry and Rihanna. Adele has the number one and four albums on the Billboard 200 albums chart; Whitney Houston posthumously has the number two.

So I guess what is disappointing is when you have an artist like Rihanna – who is talented, can sing, entertain and put on a show – lose focus of her music and allow others to lose focus on her music, all by getting caught up in what appears to be some sort of rebellion act. And what makes it worse is that in doing this, she’s making domestic violence seem like a pretty okay option if you get mad at your girlfriend for scoping out your cell phone and if you’re a famous enough guy.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, let me get you up to speed! If you don’t remember, Chris Brown and Rihanna were the hot couple three years ago – until they got into a fight on their way to the Grammys, and, instead of working things out in their car, Brown ended up beating Rihanna. He beat her until she was just about unconscious. He threw her phone out of the window so she couldn’t call for help. Not exactly the most stable of men in this situation. Following this, there was a whole courtroom appearance, probation and community service happened, and then it seemed like it was all done. The two were separated, Rihanna was spotted dating others as well as releasing a number of hit songs, and Brown went back to making music.

But it wasn’t the end, apparently.

First, Chris Brown received a massive “welcome back” from the Grammys – as if they forgot he nearly beat his

Rihanna live, again in the United Kingdom.

girlfriend into unconsciousness. Apparently, that’s something we can all just get past. Moving on is fun. Then, instead of being grateful for his Grammy appearance and win, Brown took to Twitter and let loose a barrage of tweets that basically said, “Haters gon hate but I got a Grammy so I win!” Seriously.

On top of all of this, though, many in the public came to Brown’s aid! Numerous girls tweeted during the Grammy ceremony things like, “Chris Brown can beat me anytime” or “I would love it if Chris Brown beat me.” Uh, yeah. These aren’t even his famous friends. These are young girls who one would hope would know better.

Then Rihanna came to Chris Brown’s support.

Yep, go ahead and reread that.

Take it in.

Rihanna and Breezy are some kind of “thing” once more.

The two announced this past week that they are releasing music together again, featuring one another on remixes of their songs. “Birthday Cake (Remix),” by Rihanna featuring Brown, and Rihanna on the remix of Brown’s “Turn Up the Music,” one of the songs he performed at the Grammys, both came out on Monday (February 20). February 20 just happens to be Rihanna’s birthday. Convenient. Of course, they couldn’t handle this maturely, either. Instead of simply announcing they were working together again, they both took to Twitter – noticing a damning trend? – and announced it with lots of exclamation points and more of that “haters gon hate” attitude. (See picture below, to the side.)

Chris Brown and Rihanna tweet at each other to "promote" the release of the "Birthday Cake" and "Turn Up the Music" remixes.

It doesn’t even get better after this. The lyrics are graphic, especially on “Birthday Cake,” including the things Brown would like to do to Rihanna that I can’t quite mention on here. Not only that, on “Turn Up the Music,” Rihanna just talks that talk about “I love you” quite a few times. Such good examples are being set.

Plus, Perez Hilton jumped on the bandwagon! While a number of celebrities wished Rihanna happy birthday, and quite a few of them quoted “Birthday Cake” to her, only Perez blatantly embraced the “awesomeness” of what was the Breezy-Rihanna reunion.

Chris Brown, who has yet to openly apologize for the beating he inflicted three years ago.

So here’s the thing about this. Chris Brown never apologized for what happened. He served his time, sure, and his probation officer has consistently given him high marks. But you know, he never publicly came out and said, “I’m sorry. Beating women isn’t okay.” Michael Vick apologized for the whole dog-fighting incident, and people are still mad at him for it. Not only that, he served 21 months in prison. How many did Brown serve? NADA. Vick not only apologized and did prison time; he lost his spot as quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons and had to work to become part of another team – the Philadelphia Eagles. Throughout this whole thing, Vick had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

I would like to believe that we live in a world where women are of at least equal importance to dogs, if not, you know, maybe a few notches higher. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask, not in 2012 and not in the United States.

I would further like to think we live in a world where women realize the example they are setting as their visibility grows. I am in no way blaming Rihanna for what happened to her, and I definitely don’t think she deserved it or needs it to happen again (and you would be appalled if you saw the tweets on Twitter claiming she needs beat again… it’s concerning, to say the least). However, Rihanna has not only herself to consider in this reunion. She has over 14 million Twitter followers that make up her Rihanna Navy, the name she’s given to her fan base. It’s fine if she wants to get back with Chris Brown, as this is ultimately Rihanna’s personal life – but it would have been nice if we had a Brown apology and then an actual Rihanna forgiveness, especially since we’re conducting all of this in the public’s view. This is a situation with a lot of potential to teach a lot of lessons, and instead of jumping on an opportunity, these two have handled themselves in the least commendable of ways. The example it sets is horrifying, especially when both are directly influencing teen girls – many who are just beginning to enter the dating world. Will they know that they can get help if a boyfriend beats them?

Not all hope is lost, though. Some women are realizing that doing the right thing isn’t that hard. Earlier this week, Taylor Swift did something truly admirable. After hearing about a fan facing a leukemia relapse that wanted Swift to be his date to prom, Swift politely declined the invitation on her Facebook page – and then invited him to be her date to the Academy of Country Music Awards in April instead. This after a weeklong Facebook campaign started by Kevin McGuire’s sister and cousin, who only wanted to be sure that their ailing relative had a date to prom.

It took Taylor Swift one week to make a decision for a good cause. So what if it’s great press for her? (I’m sure

Taylor Swift, who will be taking one of her fans as her date to this year's ACM Awards in April.

there are those who will argue it’s simply a publicity stunt.) It’s also probably going to be one of the happiest nights Kevin McGuire has experienced in a long time. Plus, there has to be a shout-out to his sister, Victoria McGuire, and cousin, Nicole Durand, who organized this whole thing – and managed to reach over 108,000 people in such a short time and for someone they cared about.

Being a strong woman today is not impossible. Making a good decision or setting a good example is not unheard of and is something all of us should look to do.

Rihanna had an opportunity to make what was a terrible situation into something much more. She could have made it a lesson on forgiveness, on moving on, on acceptance, on being a bigger person, on any number of things. Instead, she took to social media and flippantly told all of us that she doesn’t care what we think – even though we all seemed to care when Chris Brown was beating the shit out of her.

Instead of growing up, Rihanna just became more immature. Instead of showing forgiveness, instead of shedding a positive light, she just jumped right on the bandwagon that Brown himself is leading.

Her country counterpart did more good in one week than Rihanna did in the three years since her incident. And while it was a personal tragedy, we all followed it and supported her – and this is the thanks we get:

A disgusting slice of birthday cake.



Rihanna photos courtesy MiKeARB
Chris Brown photo courtesy O.M.Gee!
Taylor Swift photo courtesy [SCRIBBLESOFLOVE]

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