Is the Rihanna-Eminem Video Pre- or Post-’90s Feminist Awakening?

Feministing is not feeling the Rihanna-Eminem song “Love the Way You Lie,” which is #1 on Billboard right now. Nor is Broadsheet. A tween feminist I’m friends with on Facebook posted about how pissed off she was that Eminem got to sing on the radio about tying a woman to the bed and setting her on fire and I was like, she is totally right.

Now I don’t know, though. The video is starting to make me think there’s more going on here. Rihanna (post-Chris Brown attack and subsequent awesome interviews about domestic violence) and Eminem (post-songs about throwing the mother of his child into a trunk and subsequent awesome interviews about how gay marriage should be legal) stand outside a burning house contemplating this hot couple (Megan Fox!) trapped in a cycle of violence.

People say it makes beating women up seem sexy, and that teenagers will see it and think violence is cool. But I think it really makes it seem sexy to be Eminem and Rihanna, who are on the other side of the intense, scary, abusive relationship and now are like, “Yep, that’s what it feels like. It was super hot at times and super awful and totally destructive. Glad we’re not in that burning house anymore.”

Domestic-violence-as-sexy-true-love has a long, gross history in pop culture. This seems like it might be kinda self-conscious and next-level, and not, like, a Doris Day movie where she’s kidnapped and screaming for help and it’s supposed to be adorable.


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