Why Rihanna's “Fuck you” to CBS and the NFL Was Right

Last week, in the midst of everyone being forced to repeatedly watch Ray Rice knocking out his now-wife in an elevator, it was deemed right and sensible by the NFL and CBS to not play Rihanna's “Run This Town” at the start of Thursday Night Football, as had been previously planned. The decision to pull it came after rumblings on Twitter that having one of the most famous domestic abuse survivors on earth soundtracking the first Baltimore Ravens game to take place since Ray Rice's suspension was in poor taste.

[jump] Then yesterday, Rihanna hit her Twitter account, incensed that the NFL and CBS were apparently considering using “Run This Town” this week. “CBS you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday?” she wrote. “NO, Fuck you! Y'all are sad for penalizing me for this… The audacity…” 
Very shortly afterwards, New York Times journalist Bill Carter took to his Twitter to report: “After Rihanna protest, CBS will drop her song from opening of Thu Night Football thos [sic] week.”

Problem solved, right? Well, no. Not really. Because what no one is saying here — even that bastion of lady-love, Jezebel, declared the initial Rihanna-removal “wise” — is that CBS and the NFL are essentially punishing a female star for getting beaten up by her boyfriend a few years ago. It's totally backwards. Had a Chris Brown song been pulled from Thursday Night Football in the midst of this horrendous situation, we'd have probably attempted to high-five our own televisions, but Rihanna isn't a domestic abuser, she's a victim of the exact behavior that the NFL was so slow to punish in Ray Rice's case. Now, the NFL, in partnership with CBS, is trying to prove how much it cares, by punishing, not a perpetrator, but a different woman who also suffered at the hands of her famous partner.  

To make matters worse (and more ironic), last week, on the very same night that Rihanna's song was pulled by CBS, Chris Brown performed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on NBC, which speaks volumes about how much TV stations actually care about domestic violence. If it's too awkward to hear a song before a football game, performed by a woman who was hospitalized by her partner a few years ago, it surely should be deemed too awkward to have the man that attacked her shimmying away for our entertainment a couple of channels away. 

Rihanna was right to send out a “Fuck you” to CBS. She was right to publicly call them out for penalizing her for something that wasn't her doing in the first place. There are people who will argue that, since she reconciled with Chris Brown after the attack, that she deserves nobody's sympathy here. But this isn't about sympathy. It's not even about the psychology involved in domestic violence that sees victims repeatedly return to their attackers. This is about double standards and assigning blame to the wrong person. Chris Brown is the only person that should be punished professionally for what he did before the 2009 Grammy's — not Rihanna. 

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