Tag Archives: Rape

Modern Griots Reviews: Jaded the Musical

Hillary Hawkins as Jade Source: Jaded the Musical

Black women’s mental and physical health are often not at the forefront of news and studies, especially with the continuation of the myth of the strong black woman or medical professionals and the public who make light of our conditions.

A few days ago, I attended Jaded the Musical at The Secret Theatre in Queens, New York. Written and directed by and starring Hillary Hawkins, who also starred in Futurology, Jaded is about a troubled young girl, named Jade, who is keeping a dark secret from her family while also having to take care of a physically sick and depressed mother, Contessa, played by Nicole Renee.

The musical begins with a kind of levity to it, especially in the first few songs, but what stands out is the relationship between the mother and daughter and how each others’ pain is affecting one another. Contessa, who suffers from fibromyalgia, arthritis and a number of other physical ailments, self-medicates not only with a variety of drugs, but also alcohol, and her pain causes her to forgo showing affection for her daughter, Jade. Jade, on the other hand, has a strong attachment to her mother, as in the song she sings to her mother, “I’m Your Legs,” but a less attachment to the outside world. She is technically an adult, but acts like a child afraid of the world out there and as the musical goes, we find out just how much she is in despair, despite not having the same physical ailments as her mother.

Her mother does not readily understand what is wrong with Jade because her pain is not visible, a common perception of mental health issues. The poignant parts of the show was the two songs, “The Rap” and “Keep Getting Up” that show the tug and pull between Contessa and Jade’s ailments and a crumbling of the mask Jade holds up before finding out the sexual trauma that Jade was keeping a secret. We find out in the musical that Jade has PTSD, which was significant because how many time is that diagnosis mentioned with rape survivors or black women. Although the musical needed some smoother transitions to a few of the songs,  a little more training for Hawkin’s dramatic singing voice, and to be a little less obvious in certain places in the script, what was at the heart of it was that it showed black women and their vulnerability, that we, too, are human.

The last showing at The Secret Theatre is tomorrow at 8pm.


Black Girls/Black Women Are From the Future: Something Men Like Rick Ross Need to Know

Via Clutch Magazine

As you may have heard, Rick Ross came out with the controversial line from his latest song, “U.O.E.N.O.” : “Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.” A few days later, he addressed the lyrics with an “apology” that made me give him one of the biggest side-eyes ever. The kind of side-eye equal to smacking him (hey Ross rapping about murder, it is always clear that it is about murder. however when you rap about rape, you tend to excuse it like you are doing now). This incident with Ross comes on top of others like Lil’ Wayne‘s lyrics about beating a woman’s vagina like Emmett Till was beaten, reactions to the Steubenville Case, tech developer Adria Richards receiving death and rape threats and was fired after reporting sexual harassment, and the countless rapes of people all over the world. The war against women and control over their bodies continues, even in Women’s History Month, and so I am giving a loud and clear message to all out there:

You do not have the right to give me any substances especially if they may be harmful to my body without me knowing it. You do not have the right to do anything to my body without my permission. You do not have a right to do what you want with my body because of my own personal choices with my body. You do not have the right to disrespect my body and my mind, and call me out by a name or a statement that I do want addressed to me. You do not have the right to patronize me when I call you out on your bullshit. You do not have the right to define rape for me. Rape is when I do not give you absolute consent. It does not need to be said as rape for it to a disgusting action in which you take advantage and use your power over someone’s body. If I say no, if I am unconscious and cannot consent, or if I look scared or uncomfortable, do not touch me; do not enter my body with force! If you really think I am a queen and the greatest gift to man, you would know that. So here is a message from the future (and not the rapper Future who decided to cosign that mess); now you know it.

For more information on how to respect Black women, their minds, their bodies and their bodies, take a look at Black Girls Are From The Future website.

Continue reading Black Girls/Black Women Are From the Future: Something Men Like Rick Ross Need to Know

In the Future, We Kill Our Attackers: Rihanna’s “Man Down” as Afrofuturist Text (via Nuñez Daughter)

This is an interesting post from Kismet Nuñez placing Rihanna’s “Man Down” video in an Afrofuturist context. Kismet Nuñez is one of the Skillsharers of the of the 3rd Annual INCITE! Shawty Got Skillz workshop at the 2011 Allied Media Conference! Go to her blog to find out how you can help them get to Detroit.

In the Future, We Kill Our Attackers:  Rihanna's "Man Down" as Afrofuturist Text Rihanna’s video for “Man Down”  dropped last week and set the web on fire.  The way justice and rape, innocence and violence work in the video–and the non-sensical responses to it–have already been outlined by better writers than me. I’m writing this post to take the video to its logical conclusion: In the future, do we kill our attackers?  ~*~*~ This description of the plot is by Akiba Solomon, writing for Colorlines: “The video begins with a … Read More

via Nuñez Daughter

Revenge Killing In Music Is Nothing New!

Rihanna’s new video for her single “Man Down” is developing a lot of controversy because of her portrayal of killing a man after he sexually assaults her. While on Tumblr, I read some conversations that I find interesting and agree with, so I decided to post them here instead of posting my argument, which can be found at my other blog, Reese’s Ear Candy.

Before reading this, to clarify, I do not support murder, but I do think it is interesting that people tend to criticize the violence of the murder and not the violence of the sexual abuse and sexual assault in which someone’s body is violated. His murder became a consequence of his actions, even if she was wrong in doing it. Also, I question why many are criticizing Rihanna, and a song in which the main character is obviously showing remorse for her actions, so much, when they may like these other songs and artists (ex. Tim Mcgraw’s Between The River and Me).




All this backlash about Rihanna’s Man Down video sounds a lot like “Think of the Poor Rapist” with a side of “How Dare She?” and it highlights (for the nth time) the influence of racism in rape culture. If this video had featured a dainty young white woman it would probably be getting hailed as a anthem by everyone from the NRA to Sarah Palin for showing a woman fighting back because she was empowered by owning a gun. Don’t believe me? Think about Independence Day & Goodbye Earl.

But a black woman who both enjoys sex and thinks she has the right to say no? Pfft, rape culture already thinks women in general can ask to be assaulted, but for WOC there’s the extra layer that claims that we never say no. We’re not just sluts for wearing tight clothes, we’re supposed to be sluts on demand for anyone that wants us and once we are in our “proper position” we can only redeemed by becoming Mammy. Sexual agency is never an option for us.

Goodbye Earl celebrates the murder of an abusive husband, and Independence Day is all about a woman remembering her mother freeing her through a murder suicide. The lyrics & the tempo of both songs is upbeat, catchy, with no sign of remorse or grief. In stark contrast Man Down focuses on her regret and highlights that having acted in the heat of the moment Rihanna regrets taking the life of her rapist. Yet, it is her song that is blasted for promoting violence. And for added…something, her abuser’s name is brought up as though his actual violence against women is less important than the fictionalized revenge of a rape victim. Interesting how the message after all these years is still one of “You don’t own your body, so how dare you try to defend it?”

ETA: A friend on Twitter hipped me to the fact that there was some backlash against Goodbye Earl for encouraging women to resort to murder in order to escape domestic violence. I tried to find links, but the song is old enough that all I can find is the stuff about the Chicks being Anti-American and some references to their being some complaints about the song. Anyone remember the size & shape of the uproar against Goodbye Earl?

Yup to all of that.  I do remember a bit of the uproar around Goodbye Earl; if I remember correctly I think it was more about the celebration surrounding the murder.  So there was definitely some hand-wringing.

That said, I think you are spot on about the dynamics involved in the Rihanna video. The uproar makes no sense to me; the woman does not take joy in what happened, she expresses regret all the way through.  This is why we see the whole story.  This is not an“enticement to turn to violence.”  I think you are right – if this video had not shown R dancing in the club and enjoying herself people would feel differently.  In Goodbye Earl, sweet little Wanda “behaved” herself.

As for gender – Hey JoePapa loved MamaBohemian Rhapsodyanyone?

re: how race/gender plays into the reaction, i would use Aerosmith’sJanie’s Got A Gun (link goes to original music video on YouTube) as exhibit A. i may be mistaken, but i don’t know that it created any controversy. (unfortunately, it also failed to raise the kind of awareness they intended it to. but i also think that people see incestuous and presumed-pedophilia rape very differently than the kind where a woman “chose” to be with an abuser.) i am quite sure that has something to do with: 1) Janie being white, 2) Aerosmith being white, 3) Aerosmith being men.


Janie’s got a gun
Janie’s got a gun
Whole world’s come undone
Looking straight at the sun

What did her daddy do?
What did he put you through?

They say when Janie was arrested they found him underneath a chair
But man he had it comin’, now that Janie’s got a gun
She ain’t never gonna be the same

Janie’s got a gun
Janie’s got a gun
Dog day just begun
Everybody is on the run

Tell me now it’s untrue
What did her daddy do?

He jacked a little bitty baby the man has got to be insane
They say the spell that he was under the lighting and the thunder
Knew that someone had to stop the pain

Run away, run away from the pain, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Run away,run away from the pain, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Run away, run away, run run away

Janie’s got a gun
Janie’s got a gun
Dog day’s just begun
Now everybody is on the run

What did her daddy do
It’s Janie’s last I.O.U.

She had to take him down easy and put a bullet in his brain
She said ‘cause nobody believes me, the man was such a sleaze
He ain’t never gonna be the same

Run away, run away from the pain, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Run away, run away from the pain, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Run away, run away, run run away

oh, and hey, who knew that Pink also has done Janie’s Got a Gun? (link goes to video on YouTube of Pink performing the song live.) i bet no one made a big deal about her singing it either.

full disclosure: i happen to love Aerosmith and Pink.

First, I enjoyed this song. I’m not a Ri fan by any means, but I enjoyed the song as a good quality song. I like seeing her get back to her roots. I appreciate her bringing attention to rape and intimate partner violence. I appreciate it especially because of what it going on in countries where rape is being used as a weapon of war.

Second, I don’t recall uproar against Eve’s “Love Is Blind”. In fact, I remember her being praised for bringing the issues of DV in the Black Community to hip-hop. However, I agree with the assessment that Black women are the most likely to be “slut-shamed” because the assumption is that we’re hypersexual. I just read an article that said Black teens are more likely to be tested for STDs at routine doctor’s appointments than White girls, without asking for them, even when they say they’ve never had sex. There is just a general assumption that we’re all whores. There is an assumption that our bodies are up for grabs, literally. this is why street harassment is so rampant andwhy girls get shot for not giving out their phone numbers

There is also an idea that we’re too strong to succumb to violence. Black women are often seen as strong, almost animal-like… workhorses even. We are so strong that we should be able to fend off rape and if we say we were raped, we’re probably lying.

Update: Here is an article from Ms. Magazine’s blog also discussing the Rihanna video in relation to violence in Rihanna’s past videos and media in general, and sexual assault cases in recent news. The writer also mentions Rihanna referencing of early 90s dancehall culture in the Caribbean and the femme fatale type in the video. This is why these things to be discussed in context because if it is not, we will get response like this, as Jen on Tumblr mentioned:

This quote from the Fox News article is my particular favorite:

“She sings that she killed a man when she ‘lost her cool’ because ‘he was playing her for a fool.’ This garbage from the same woman who publicly bragged to Rolling Stone recently that she likes to be spanked and tied up,” he told FOX411’s Pop Tarts. “Rihanna gets to have it both ways – accuse Chris Brown of domestic violence and be violent herself – because she’s a woman.”

Yes, because obviously if you are into anything remotely “kinky” you must also like to be beaten and/or raped.  It makes me so angry that in his entire argument, he never mentions consent.  He just implies that if you give consent to do one thing that could be considered violent, then you are giving consent to be attacked.  Just because I enjoy being handcuffed does NOT mean that I can no longer say no.