Saturday: Rihanna, MAC, and Hillary (Fighting Sexual Violence)

Vintage cafe postcard, circa 1920

Note: I got the postcard above from here, which
seems to have originated from a site that’s now defunct,
but there’s another (slightly grainier) scan on flickr.

Morning, news junkies. You know the drill. Grab a cuppa something (like the French Flappers are doing to the right) and read on…

(Oh and if you were one of the 18 million who voted for Hillary, don’t miss today’s historical trivia at the end!)

Rihanna’s “Man Down”: What Do You Think?

Here’s a link to the youtube if you haven’t seen the video yet, and also be sure to check out Rihanna firing back at her critics.

I’ll say upfront as a general disclaimer that I’m a firm believer in nonviolence (cases of self-defense being the obvious exception). Nonetheless, I find it disturbing that comparatively speaking Rihanna has caught more flack, judgment, and reproach— for depicting a character whose constant lyrical refrains pointedly ask how could she take the life of somebody’s son, even though that “somebody’s son” has just sexually assaulted her– as opposed to Eminem, who rose to fame largely on the popularity of songs where he fantasizes about brutally killing his wife for infidelity. Of course Eminem’s songs always draw controversy too, but that has only ever seemed to fuel his star power. In Rihanna’s case, a female enterainment reporter has written a post on Huffpo declaring Rihanna the falling star of the week. At any rate, I don’t think Rihanna’s video or lyrics are even saying that violence is the answer (which is what her critics are charging), but I’ll let you judge for yourself and have at it in the comments. The other angle to this I’d like to put out there for discussion is that Rihanna’s character in the video embraces the sensual human being she is rather than covering it up in a burka (as the Crunk Feminist Collective discusses at the link.)


Click to Go Viva Glam!

Continuing on the theme of confronting the problem of violence against women… On Thursday, Madame Secretary announced A New Public-Private Partnership With the MAC AIDS Fund to Combat Gender-Based Violence in South Africa. Here is a link to the Mac Aids Fund website.

Ahead of the live stream of Hillary’s remarks on the site, MTV Act’s Caroline Walker previewed Hillary’s announcement — Hillary Clinton Goes Viva Glam, Teams Up With M•A•C AIDS Fund:

Since 1994, the M•A•C AIDS Fund has been raising money to combat AIDS and its large scale effects, both domestically and abroad. Let’s think for a moment where the world’s sociocultural temperature fell around perceptions of the causes and prevention of HIV/AIDS in the early ’90s: not so informed, not so solution-focused. M•A•C truly did and continues to trailblaze by crushing stigma and engaging consumers.

Celebrities–including inaugural ambassador RuPaul–have been lining up for 26 years to endorse Viva Glam lipsticks, products that have raised $200+ million by putting 100 of sale proceeds toward the foundation. Lady Gaga’s shade is the latest installment, officially described as “light, warm beige,” best visualized as matching her condom-inspired flesh-toned Latex power suit of ’10. Safe sex is all the rage.

But back to Hillary. In a fierce effort to connect the public and private sector in global solutions to combating AIDS, the U.S. government is joining forces with the M•A•C AIDS Fund to provide much needed money and support to victims of rape, sexual violence and infection in South Africa. In addition to the expected health care and educational services, the partnership will empower these women to stand strong by providing psychological counseling and legal services as recourse for assault.

Walker ends her post on a lighthearted note: “If Hill shows up in the original ‘intense brownish-blue red (matte)’ Viva Glam I, she’s getting my vote for any and all future endeavors.”

I’m not sure what shade of lipstick Hillary was wearing, but for what it’s worth, she WAS wearing an intensely brown jacket that is reminiscent of the design she and Amy Poehler wore on SNL. Not exactly the same jacket though as far as I can tell.

You can see the video of Hill’s announcement for yourself–lipstick, foreign policy, pantsuit and all–at Dipnote. From the transcript:

The partnership we are announcing today is part of that wide-ranging approach, because when a woman is raped or if she cannot negotiate with her partner for safe sex, she risks being exposed to HIV. We cannot stop the epidemic of HIV unless we also address the epidemic of violence against women.

I’m going to tie in a couple items specifically about AIDS awareness in a moment, but a few more Hillary links first:

(Slideshow via Cooliris, h/t Still4Hill.)

(This is the kind of response we need to the war on women on the domestic stage here in the US.)

AIDS Anniversary

Sunday marks 30 years since the first AIDS cases were reported. Since then, H.I.V. science has been translated into prevention and treatment breakthroughs, one of the greatest being the antiretroviral treatment that has ensured that millions of H.I.V.-positive people can lead healthy lives.


A cure will require funding commitments, strong community engagement, rigorous and innovative scientific endeavor and, above all, further collaborative multidisciplinary science with a better connection between basic and clinical research — in short, all the same ingredients that got us where we are today with the global antiretroviral treatment.

Thirty years is a long time and yes, we still do not have a cure. But if we do not seriously start looking for one, now that the science is telling us that perhaps we should be, do we want to be here in another 30 years regretting that we did not try?

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi is director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and president-elect of the International AIDS Society. With Luc Montagnier, she was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of H.I.V.

HIV Infections Dropped 25 Percent in Last Decade…But the health gains are unevenly distributed and fall short of international targets.

Wapo’s Monica Hesse: Listen up, fellas: Naked man-parts? Not so sexy.

Not the best segue way from discussing AIDS awareness and research, but I just had to include this. It’s in reference to all the crotch shots that have been in the news in recent years. Teaser:

We polled some women. Really, they would like to see . . .

“I would like a photo of a made bed,” says Kathryn Roberts, who works at a law firm in Washington. “I would take rose petals, but I want them on top of a made bed.” And not that fake kind of made, either, where the comforter is smooth but the sheets are a jumbled mess.

“Or laundry,” adds her friend Andrea Neurohr.

“Folded laundry,” elaborates Roberts. “Maybe in a wicker basket.”

Preferably laundry not folded by the maid he had a love child with.

That “wicker basket” add-on is a hoot.

Incidentally, on the topic of what men can do to seduce women, I saw a classic King of Queens rerun the other day–the episode where Kevin James shows Leah Remini how to pole dance. I’m embedding it here for anyone who could use the extra laugh today.

The Identity Politics of This Season’s Top Chef Masters

If Bravo bores the daylights out of you, then just skip this… but what did I tell you the other week? They’ve totally made it obvious that their season 3 gimmick/hook is whether or not a woman will finally win. So after a crazy science fair episode where the chefs were cooking with beakers and bunsen burners and serving their food in petri dishes, we’re down to the last four: Traci, Naomi, and Mary Sue–three strong female contestants who have all racked up wins in the quickfire and elimination rounds–and Floyd, who god love him ’cause he’s Indian and he can pull off serving Buffalo burger with paneer. But, he hasn’t won any quickfire yet–and the only elimination round he’s won is the buffalo and paneer. Then again last season’s winner didn’t start racking up wins until the penultimate episode either… so who knows. Either way, whether it’s a girl chef or a Desi chef who wins, Bravo managed to cover both my demographics this time, Lol. I’m really pulling for all the girls, though, especially Traci.

Alice Paul sewing the suffrage flag.

June 4-7 in History

“I always feel … the movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end.”

Alice Stokes Paul, suffragist; U.S. Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment on June 4, 1919 (ratified on August 18, 1920).

Shirley Chisholm, 1972

“I am a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. I make that statement proudly, in the full knowledge that, as a black person and as a female person, I do not have a chance of actually gaining that office in this election year. I make that statement seriously, knowing that my candidacy itself can change the face and future of American politics — that it will be important to the needs and hopes of every one of you — even though, in the conventional sense, I will not win.”

— Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm, June 4, 1972.

Hillary wins New Hampshire

“You can be so proud that, from now on, it will be unremarkable for a woman to win primary state victories, unremarkable to have a woman in a close race to be our nominee, unremarkable to think that a woman can be the President of the United States. And that is truly remarkable.”

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, June 7, 2008

The real deal ran in 2008, but the Democrats passed up on her, so if it’s a tea partier who happens to put her one little stone in this time, the thanks for that can be laid just as much at the DNC’s doorstep as it can be at the RNC’s.

Besides, the Ds and/or Rs will have to put a woman at the top of one of their tickets before I’ll believe they’re capable.

And if you’re already tired of the Palin bus-to-nowhere, here’s a contrast from the other side: Roseanne Barr’s double campaign for President of the United States/Prime Minister of Israel. Her “Green Tea Party” platform is a wild, albeit hyperbolic, glimpse into what a populist left corollary to the tea party would like if there was a national figure who they could rally around right now. Then again, if it’s going to be an equal and opposite reaction to the lunatic right, it needs to be hyperbolic. Obligatory disclaimer: Roseanne runs her mouth with no filter on her as usual, so you know…filter out the stuff that works as brilliant social satire and/or commentary, and for the parts that don’t…just use brain bleach as needed! I skipped most of the “re-education camp” paragraphs, but I did smile at her “people-ism” hybrid of socialism and capitalism and the “Change the demographics of government” section. Those two were keepers.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. What are you reading and blogging about this Saturday?

I’d also love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve blogged about…

  • What do you think of that Rihanna video? Hit or Miss?
  • Will we ever find a cure to AIDS?
  • Will a woman run in 2012?
  • What’s the “folded laundry in a wicker basket” scenario that you’d rather see?
  • And, most importantly of course, who is going to win Top Chef Masters?

P.S. Just saw on yahoo that Pink gave birth to a baby girl! Isn’t that sweet? Pink is one female pop artist of my generation who just ROCKS, plain and simple. Raising my glass to Pink and little Willow Sage Hart.

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Taylor Marsh and Liberal Rapture]

35 Comments on “Saturday: Rihanna, MAC, and Hillary (Fighting Sexual Violence)”

  1. Saudi womens’s Open Letter to Secretary Clinton petitioning her support on their right to drive:

    From twitter:

    campbabs Barbara Wortman
    These courageous womenR smart enough 2realize they also need the voices of women like #HillaryClinton 2speak 4them

    • Woman Voter says:

      Darn right, and I posted the Women’s Rights are Human Rights speech, but couldn’t find the long one, with the subtitles.

    • paper doll says:

      campbabs Barbara Wortman
      These courageous womenR smart enough 2realize they also need the voices of women like #HillaryClinton 2speak 4them

      shit yeah….any woman invovled in fighting for rights, needs a open letter to Hill on their person, 24/7. You never know when you’ll need it….she is the last court of appeal in our Mad Max Thunder Dome world

      • 🙂

        The reason they need the voices of women like Hillary Clinton is that Hillary really understands the ultimate goal is for women to free themselves and speak for themselves. She knows she’s got the power base and platform from which to bring attention to their voices, but in the end it’s got to be their voices. Being able to write an open letter to a SecState, sister to sister, is a channel/vehicle for political expression for women across the world on a level that I think is different from even petitioning past female secretaries. There’s just an extra sense of urgency to it. Just look at the closing:

        Secretary Clinton, you are a friend. Indeed, some of us have met you personally during your decades-long journey as a champion of women’s rights all over the world. Now, as we build the largest Saudi women’s protest movement in decades, we need your help.

        God bless you.

        Saudi Women for Driving (سعوديات يطالبن بالقيادة)

        Hillary’s the fierce advocate (that Obama never even wanted to be). For women, LGBT, people of all walks of life.

  2. Woman Voter says:

    Rihanna video? I would love to See NineteenPercent’s view on it. He Beyonce (Run The World) lies video is well past 300,000 and the most viewed by education institutions.

    • Amber’s got a fanfrickintastic followup now that she’s got a “shitload of followers” who signed up after her Beyonce vid! Who’s that Lady (Human):

      • Woman Voter says:

        She has so many young fans, and schools are using her reply in lessons around the world. Wow. Thanks for introducing us to her.

    • Seriously says:

      Rhianna’s caught more flack, judgment, and reproach for this video than Chris Brown, the entertainment industry’s favorite son, ever has for brutally beating the hell out of her, too. I don’t think she’s the one who needs to prove her non-violent bona fides, and Eminem’s also no stranger to felony assault.

      • The whole “If Chris Brown shot a woman in his new video, the world would stop. Rihanna should not get a pass” line of criticism is so inane that I didn’t even want to give it that much credence (as that Crunk Feminist Collective link points out/suggests). Because what is the comparison? There is none that I can see. Chris Brown beat up his girlfriend, so if he played someone shooting a woman in a video, the entertainment world should stop…and drop Chris Brown (though it probably wouldn’t, judging by the rehab Chris Brown’s image movement). Rihanna did not shoot Chris Brown after he beat her up, so if the character she played shot a man who assaulted her, so what? It’s sad things like this have to be spelled out (to people who still won’t understand it).

      • Branjor says:

        Yes, real double standard there. With so much violence against women totally accepted in videos, why get the vapors over one rapist shot dead?

      • Seriously says:

        Exactly. The only reason there might be *mild* controversy over a Chris Brown video where he beats a woman up is because he should still be rotting in prison for what he did to Rhianna, instead of crying his mistreatment on his comeback tour. And everyone on Earth would fall all over themselves to defend him–and blame Rhianna for persecuting him. Yeah, it’s Rhianna who made our culture so violent and ugly.

  3. The Rock says:

    I love Dak’s writing because I learn so much, and Minx and BB cover SO MUCH when they write that its like one stop news shopping. But you give me Hillary in abundance. THANK YOU!!!

    What do you think of that Rihanna video? Hit or Miss? Hit
    Will we ever find a cure to AIDS? Yes
    Will a woman run in 2012? Not just a woman, Hillary (still holding out hope)
    What’s the “folded laundry in a wicker basket” scenario that you’d rather see? A Real Madrid jersey with my name on the back (that’s about as g-rated as I’ll go for that answer)
    And, most importantly of course, who is going to win Top Chef Masters? Even though Naomi can cook, I’m pulling hard for Traci. She seems to be the most together chef.

    It’s funny about the uproar over Rihanna lyrics. I’m not saying that they are tame, but MUCH MUCH worse is on regular play on the radio. And MUCH MUCH more graphic videos are played everydayon all the music channels.

    Have a great day all!! 🙂

    Hillary 2012

    • Seriously says:

      I was totally wrong about Jerky Guy, but I really think it’ll be Floyd now. The sweet, nice guy who gets nervous before challenges because he so badly wants to do well and as they showed 93 clips of him repeating, all he wants to do, all he wants to do, all he wants to do just once is beat Mary Sue. 😉 Anvil, anvil, I think he’s gonna get the chance.

    • Yay! Answers.

      I was confused when the talk of Rihanna needing to redo her video started. Cartoons are more violent?

      If anything, the “new ending” to Man Down needs to be just to cut from the assault scene to NineteenPercent and she could take it from there and explain in her kickass way that assault, rape, and/or other forms of abuse is the damn “inappropriate response” to anything a woman says, does, or wears.

      For my part, I’ll say–As long as a woman’s rights remain more taboo than a man’s violence against her, that’s the damn “perpetuation of violence.” Basically women breathing seems to be more taboo than a man’s violence against her.

      • dakinikat says:

        I was watching this unfold on CNN some yesterday. Rihanna is a role model. If she can get mad at men and fight back, then it’s curtains for a lot of crap they get away with these days. She seems to be sticking to her vision and I hope she does. I can imagine after what she’s been through she does have some vengeance fantasies. Any human would.

      • paper doll says:

        For my part, I’ll say–As long as a woman’s rights remain more taboo than a man’s violence against her, that’s the damn “perpetuation of violence.”.

        well said

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Okay, I can answer some of these questions:

      What do you think of that Rihanna video? Hit or Miss?
      Hit, sort of a new take on the whole Thelma and Louise thing…(The part where Louise shoots the asshole rapist dead.)

      Will we ever find a cure to AIDS?
      Yes, but the powers that be will keep it secret…Just like cures for cancer. Don’t want to cure someone when all that money for medicines and treatment that’s just keeping them alive is available.

      Will a woman run in 2012? Yes, but this kind of woman: Michelle Bachmann brands Planned Parenthood a criminal enterprise – Chicago Sun-Times

      What’s the “folded laundry in a wicker basket” scenario that you’d rather see?
      All these damn dip cups he leaves around the house…I want to see them gone! It is worse then when he leaves the toilet seat up!

      And, most importantly of course, who is going to win Top Chef Masters?
      Sorry, can’t answer this one…if it ain’t a old movie, or Seinfeld…I just don’t watch it.

      • Yay, more answers 🙂

        Re: Bachmann. The woman-hating, woman-crushing, woman-abusing system that Palin, Bachmann, et al. are aiding and abetting is the criminal enterprise.

        Will we ever find a cure to AIDS?
        Yes, but the powers that be will keep it secret…Just like cures for cancer. Don’t want to cure someone when all that money for medicines and treatment that’s just keeping them alive is available.

        I fear the same. Profits over people, again and again.

        The picture of your house free of dip cups sounds…hawt (Lol).

        I’d like picture of a desi guy holding up a sign saying he’ll do a reverse karva chauth and fast for his girlfriend/wife while she gets the day off to eat whatever she wants… I frickin’ hate the message that this “festival” sends to young girls/women. Ugh.

  4. dakinikat says:

    Ex-Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger dies

  5. Minkoff Minx says:

    Great post Wonk, look forward to reading the comments.

    • Thanks, Mink. Re: the comments. Glad to see everyone here thought Rihanna’s song was a Hit… not that I’m all that surprised 😉

    • That is hilarious and priceless. I especially loved where the homeowners’ attorney saying “They’ve ignored our calls, ignored our letters, legally this is the next step to get my clients compensated.” Heh! Karma is a funny, beautiful, intelligent woman 🙂

  6. babama says:

    Re: Rihanna, what keeps going through my head is Carrie Underwood singing:
    “I dug my key into the side of his
    pretty little souped up 4 wheel drive,
    carved my name into his leather seats…
    I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights,
    slashed a hole in all 4 tires…
    Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats.”
    Where was all the fuss about that? It was a way more crazy and angry song imho.

    I think you have it exactly right when you say “As long as a woman’s rights remain more taboo than a man’s violence against her, that’s the damn “perpetuation of violence.” It just keeps on being normal to portray rape, torture and murder of women in film, tv, and video, its only a big scary threat to society when women start to represent fighting back. I would love to be able to look back and say that this video marked a turning point in the fight back against the war on women. I can dream.

    • Ah, I’m catching up backwards. I saw your comment after lahana’s making the same point about country music. Yes, I think it’s the genre in combination with her gender+race. That and the Chris Brown apologia.

      It just keeps on being normal to portray rape, torture and murder of women in film, tv, and video, its only a big scary threat to society when women start to represent fighting back.

      Exactly. I think it’s women refusing to take it, refusing to suffer inwardly, and refusing to just “get over it.”

      I actually saw something online, can’t remember if it was an article or a blog post or what, that on first blush seemed to be *complaining* that (in this author/commenter’s odd interpretation) Rihanna has been trying to act like she’s “moved on” but she’s still “bitter” or something. Those may not have been the exact words, but whatever they were, my eyes glazed over.

      I know I should be used to the twisted attitudes toward women, but good grief, society really needs to shift already. First of all, Rihanna’s not even behaving in a revengeful way at all, she’s carried herself in a way that’s totally opposite to that. But just saying–If a woman who’s survived physical abuse and had to endure that publicly while the Chris Brown fan club rushed to redeem him, like it was _nothing_, doesn’t have a right to be bitter, than who does?

    • I would love to be able to look back and say that this video marked a turning point in the fight back against the war on women. I can dream.

      I’m dreaming with you on that, babama.

      Thanks for chiming in, btw. I’m not all that familiar with Carrie Underwood’s lyrical content, so it was helpful to see the lyrics… the thing of it is, is that her song isn’t even payback for assault, it’s payback for *infidelity.* People seem more ready to accept violent reactions to being cheated on than they are ready to accept violent responses to being violently attacked. I’m NOT minimizing the betrayal and the pain of being cheated on, but still. It’s not the same thing as being attacked.

      (And, thanks everyone for the discussion too!)

  7. lahana says:

    I think that Rihanna’s song being put down has to do with the tyep of music that she sings (hip hop?). If she sang country, the song would be a big hit, and no one would think anything about it. In addition to the Carrie Underwood lyrics listed above, anyone remember the Dixie Chick’s hit “Earl Must Die”? Women singing “payback” songs are nothing new in country music.

    • Rihanna sings R&B/reggae, and you make an interesting and important point. There is a layer to this that does feel it is about her being a woman, and moreover a black woman and abuse survivor. It’s really interesting to watch this come on the heels of that disgusting pseudo-psychology article disparaging the appearance of black women.

      For me this whole reaction to her latest track coming after one of her other recent releases, S&M, just adds another layer of subversiveness to the already subversive “chains and whips excite me” lyrics and the way they were depicted in the video. Rihanna’s really clever and mature for her age. I think what she is doing is completely going over people’s heads.

  8. Sweet Sue says:

    I think that Rihanna is getting all kinds of flack because, culturally speaking, the only good woman is a dead woman.
    If you resist or fight back, or God forbid, seek revenge, you’re not a real woman.
    A real woman would rely on her man to take revenge or, ideally, would never, never be assaulted ’cause only women who “are asking for it” get raped.
    Hence, the honor killing.

    • Yep, victim-blaming. It’s just pathetic. I don’t feel like half the critics are even watching the video and listening to the lyrics. She didn’t glorify anything. It’s depressing that so many people are trying to shame her for portraying a woman who is…_troubled_ by the fact that she shot down her assailant.

  9. Branjor says:

    Nice news for women in physics –

    Aussie student finds universe’s “missing mass.