Does Rihanna’s new video ‘empower’ women or promote murder?

Rape is a terrible experience for anyone to endure, but is murder the answer? R&B superstar Rihanna released her latest single, ‘Man Down,’ by suggesting that premeditated murder is the answer to rape. The edgy video features Rihanna’s character shooting the perpetrator to death in the middle of a crowded street. The video premièred on Black Entertainment Television (BET) and the network received criticism from the Parents Television Council.

“BET’s justification for airing Rihanna’s video is beyond inadequate. If BET is serious that the video ‘complied’ with its standards, we would like to know just what those ‘standards’ are. In the interest of full disclosure, we call on BET to issue a public explanation of its programming guidelines and urge MTV to keep the video off its network. This video offers a gunshot to the back of the head as a way out of abuse and assault. Victims deserve better,” said Melissa Henson, director of communications and public education for the Parents Television Council.

In an attempt to defend the controversial video that portrays her shooting a man in the back of the head, Rihanna suggests that this is a message that empowers women. Many argue that this message will encourage women to turn to violence and revenge to address the topic of rape. Others believe this is the superstar’s way of addressing her 2009 domestic violence attack by ex-boyfriend Chris Brown and encouraging women to fight back. “Rape is happening all over the world and we continue to cover it up and pretend it doesn’t happen,” Rihanna told BET. “Girls are empowered by this … I’m just really impressed that my fans get it,” she said. “That was really important to me. This is a story for them.”

Although we understand entertainers are given liberty to express their creativity with freedom, Rihanna’s contemplated act of murder is no way to address the horrific experience of rape. So, what are other options for victims of rape?


What to do?

  1. Get medical attention immediately. Go to a hospital emergency room or your own physician. If you need transportation, call 911.  It is necessary to treat wounds and receive treatment for pregnancy, HIV and/or STI’s.
  2. Avoid bathing, showering, or douching. The victim should also refrain from eating, smoking, drinking, or changing clothes. Wait until after the medical examination and police investigation/questioning. Physical evidence may be helpful if charges are pressed at a later date.
  3. Do not blame yourself. The victim is just that; a victim.
  4. Seek therapeutic counseling. Fear, anxiety, and depression may follow this horrific event. It is important to find a trusted counselor that can help process the trauma.

Mental Health Diagnoses and Symptoms

3 common diagnoses for rape victims are:

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety
  3. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

10 Symptoms to look for are:

  1. Consistent headaches
  2. Changes in sleeping patterns/Nightmares
  3. Nausea
  4. Changes appetite
  5. Eating disorder develops
  6. Menstrual pain intensifies
  7. Suicide attempts or ideation
  8. Denial of event or reality
  9. Guilt and self-blame
  10. Reliving the event

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, or PTSD due to a rape incident, please contact a counselor for assistance.

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jim west james counselor coach mentor adolescent family expert seminar presenter gaming addiction orlando floridaCo-Written and Edited by Adolescent Expert Jim West, MA, LMHC, NCC