Sisterhood Blog

On the 'Redemption' of Chris Brown

By Sarah Seltzer

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images
Chris Brown

Like Elana, I was riveted by the Grammys Sunday. There were so many narratives, from the tragic passing of Whitney Houston to the triumph of Adele. But also like Elana, there was one narrative I could seriously have done without: the “redemption” of Chris Brown a mere three years, and zero signs of genuine contrition, since the night he seriously beat his then-girlfriend, Rihanna.

Since then Brown has worked hard to advance the narrative that he has been somehow victimized — and childishly trashed his dressing room at “Good Morning America” when the host dared to ask him about the incident.

But then he sold a lot of records, and he was welcomed back with open arms.

Now let me be clear: I do believe that we are all human, that it is possible to make up for past mistakes, even grave ones. I also note that other known abusers — many of them — have showed up on that Grammy stage (or similar Oscar and Emmy and ESPY stages) and been feted, some deservedly at the end of their careers, some ill-advisedly.

But what so disturbed DV advocates and women, I think, was how unquestionably, how uncritically and how soon Chris Brown was asked back to that stage.

Redemption for an act of violence is not the same as redemption for a drug problem or any other celebrity slip-up or scandal. Making up for an act of violence is not done by working hard on oneself and focusing on music or sports. Instead, Brown’s act could only be atoned for by his addressing the problem of intimate-partner violence and working to end it in a larger way, by his recognizing that this mistake wasn’t a personal failing but an aggressive act towards a whole segment of humanity, part of a societal plague.

So women’s advocates have every right to be upset by the message that Brown’s apparent absolution shows to young women — a number of them, as Elana noted, disturbingly posted on Twitter that they’d be fine with a beating because Brown is so dreamy.

This problem isn’t isolated to pop culture: Just recently in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the GOP refused to back a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act. They objected to its including the undocumented and members of the LGBT community, you see, so threw all women under the bus to be true to their bigotry. The New York Times reports:

The law’s renewal has strong backing from law enforcement and groups that work with victims, and earlier reauthorizations of the law, in 2000 and 2005, passed Congress with strong support from both sides of the aisle.

Yet not a single Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor last week when the committee approved a well-crafted reauthorization bill …

In 2012, violence against women, which affects so many of us, is still a partisan issue, apparently.

And that’s why Chris Brown’s “triumphant” return, so soon and without an apology, is deeply problematic: a highly visible symptom of a deep disease.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Rihanna, Chris Brown, Domestic Violence

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.