Public Service Announcement

On the subject of a certain very popular entertainment blog posting a photo of Rihanna after she was allegedly assaulted by Chris Brown: Not Fucking Cool.

On the subject of reposting said photo on other blogs: Not Fucking Cool.

On the subject of linking to said photo on other blogs: Not Fucking Cool.

On the subject of TV stations also running said photo: Not Fucking Cool.

On the subject of the LAPD’s “oopsie!” letter (pdf) in response to the leaking of the photo, as though it makes a difference now: Not Fucking Cool.

And yes, on the subject of people who have not seen the photo on their own now actively seeking it out, due to this post or one like it?  Even as I understand that our most base instincts can get the best of us?  Please, just don’t.  If you haven’t already, just don’t.  Because that’s not fucking cool either.

On the subject of all of this: Just Stop It.

It’s bad enough that her name was released, when it should not have been.  This woman was clearly attacked, in what is very strongly believed to be an intimate partner violence incident.  She is dealing with more than enough, and more than she or any other woman should ever have to deal with.  Every woman deserves some sense of privacy in a situation like this, no matter how famous she is.  Every woman in this situation deserves our support.

And every woman in this situation should get to decide for herself how public she wants to be about it, and whether or not she is portrayed in this way.  Not you.  Not me.  Not some stupid entertainment website that clearly just wants to make a profit.  Just her.  Her, and only her.

Also see Frau Sally Benz.


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51 comments for “Public Service Announcement

  1. February 20, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Wow. Right on.

  2. February 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Sites like TMZ and PerezHilton make me want to hurl to begin with. Assholes.

  3. Amanda Huettner
    February 20, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I have to agree – not fucking cool.

    BUT

    I have to wonder who is really propelling all this information “leaking”? I was shocked when I saw that picture last night on that infamous celebrity blogger’s site, but my first thought was that Rhianna’s camp let this photo slip.

    This is not your typical domestic dispute – these are not normal citizens. This business is perpetuated by controlling and releasing information for publicity…

    Considering this is a serious legal issue – I heard that there are debates about whether an attempted murder charge should be added to Brown’s list of offences – this information COULD HAVE BEEN controlled.

    I was horrified to see that photo. Absolutely horrified. But I was even more horrified at the thought that some sleezy manager thought that it would get Rhianna more public sympathy and increase her popularity if everyone saw how horrific her injuries were.

    They capitalize on everything. Perez and every other blogger was fed information that I’m am positive Rhianna’s management team wanted you to see.

    I suppose the positive that could come of everyone seeing this picture is that it isn’t turning a blind eye to violence against women. This type of in your face image of someone who you thought “had it all” shows how persistent violence is at every level of our society.

    Violence is linked to poverty, class, etc… maybe this’ll shed a little more light and get even more people talking about how real it is.

  4. February 20, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    damn straight.

  5. Sarah TX
    February 20, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    I didn’t hear about it until Jezebel posted that they would not be linking to the photo or even posting where one could find it, although for the sake of other threads they would allow comments.

    I’m glad they’ve warned me because, after an intial bout of curiosity, I decided not to search it out. Even though she’s a celebrity, Rihanna has a right to privacy that has been horribly violated. I’ve long suspected that TMZ and Perez were little better than Star or the National Enquirer, and now it’s been confirmed.

  6. February 20, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Amanda, until we know for sure that Rihanna and/or her management team had anything to do with this photo getting out, I think it’s wrong to make assumptions like the ones above. If she did indeed want the photo released, I think that’s a valid choice on her part to say “I want people do see the horror of what was done to me.”

    But we have no information whatsoever, and no reason other than gossip and ideas about “how these things work” to believe that this is the case.

  7. emrez49
    February 20, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    thank you for posting on this. i intern at a dv agency and was horrified when one of my co-workers e-mailed it out. i still actually haven’t decided how to respond, or even if i should.

  8. umami
    February 20, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I was horrified to see that photo. Absolutely horrified. But I was even more horrified at the thought that some sleezy manager thought that it would get Rhianna more public sympathy and increase her popularity if everyone saw how horrific her injuries were.

    Even more horrified? You were more horrified by a hypothetical supposition than by the actual violence that really verifiably happened? You were more horrified by telling the truth about the crime than by the crime itself?

    Those are interesting priorities you’ve got there.

    And no, of course the photo should not have been released against her will. I don’t see how it’s worse coming from her management than from any other source.

  9. February 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Cara, I’m totally with you, but I want to know, what is the problem with the LAPD statement? It seems like there was someone in the department who leaked the picture, for monetary gain I am sure, and they are investigating and trying to find out who did it so they can punish the person. Right? The letter could have been more strongly worded, sure, but it sounds like they are taking the right actions (and I expect will fire the person who did it, because if they don’t they will be subject to a massive PR backlash).

  10. February 20, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    I whole heartedly agree that the photo should not have been released, nor should it continue to be pursued. We need to stand strong against the further exploitation of victims of domestic violence!

  11. February 20, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Also, I think the notion that it was released by someone in her camp is a ridiculous slander, given that it is overwhelmingly unlikely that she agreed to this (she is, after all, still in hiding). These are clearly police photos, taken as part of an investigation. By the police. Which means they would be in the custody of the police. Not in the custody of Rihanna’s PR agent or whatever.

  12. brooklynbound
    February 20, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    The image of the individual was the cover of today’s New York Post. As if that “newspaper” hadn’t done enough damage this week.

  13. February 20, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    M. Leblanc, I should have been more clear. I’m just really sick of the LAPD fucking up. I’m sick of the corruption, violence, discrimination, untest rape kits, etc. always come out of there. Like Abbey Jean says here, why couldn’t they have just done something right for once?

    And on a note that has nothing to do with the LAPD specifically, I’m really, really sick of seeing constant fuck ups and then half-assed apologies and “well work on thats” when it shouldn’t have happened in the first place, and there’s nothing that can be done to fix it now. Because women, POC, and other marginalized and oppressed groups are always paying the price.

  14. February 20, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Got it. Yeah, the LAPD is pretty awful. Chicago PD (where I live) isn’t much better. At least someone is finally doing something about the fact that they tortured people. Twenty fucking years ago.

  15. Daomadan
    February 20, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I was horrified to see that photo. Absolutely horrified. But I was even more horrified at the thought that some sleezy manager thought that it would get Rhianna more public sympathy and increase her popularity if everyone saw how horrific her injuries were.”

    You were less horrified at the violence against her and more horrified that, hypothetically speaking, her manager might have wanted those photos out to gain sympathy for her?

    Seriously. Get your priorities straight. It just goes to show how violence against women has been normalized in our culture.

    Cara: This victim/survivor of DV thanks you for this. It’s been tough listening to the same old backlash we have to deal with, i.e. “Why didn’t she leave?” And “It’s her fault too!”

  16. Daomadan
    February 20, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    And, wow…I fail at block quoting. Can someone help me out and fix it?

  17. February 20, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Oh please, the LAPD has more leaks than a sieve. There are more than a few employees there who are more than capable of leaking out evidence for monetary gain.

    LE in L.A. County isn’t particularly women-friendly even when women are victims, what with the LAPD (and LASD)lagging on rape kits and the LASD being found to have hired convicted criminals including officers who abused women to fill out its deputy ranks.

  18. February 20, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    The image of the individual was the cover of today’s New York Post. As if that “newspaper” hadn’t done enough damage this week.

    Ok, really?! It’s as if you think to yourself “well, guess the NYP can’t sink any lower than that…” and then they race to outdo themselves.

    It’s bad enough to keep finding people linking to the pic everywhere & posting it, but now I’ve seen two people post it to Facebook, and it’s really starting to unnerve me.

    And to the possibility that Rihanna’s camp leaked the picture, I find the speculation disgusting and even if it was her camp, I highly doubt that it was HER. Again, are people not understanding that this is HER pain and HER life? Until she comes out, on her own, and tells us what she has to say, I refuse to make the assumption that she’s actually the person at fault in this entire situation. Everyone who keeps insinuating that she is, should take a long hard look at themselves and ask why.

  19. February 20, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    I threw a shitfit when I heard this last night. I haven’t cursed that much in a long time. I’m still not any calmer. If she had released it personally, I would assume there would be some sort of press release along with it. It doesn’t matter at this point who leaked it – it’s out there, and it does not seem like it was her choice at all.

    So few people are asking about Rihanna, only focusing on Chris Brown. It should have been about HER dignity. There are people saying that “on one hand it’s AWFUL that the picture has been leaked, but on the other hand, now people will see the truth of domestic violence and will no longer support or defend Chris Brown.”

    THIS ISN’T ABOUT OUR EDUCATION, RAISING AWARENESS, CURIOSITY, OR ENTERTAINMENT. This should be about HER.

  20. February 20, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    I hope she’s going alright emotionally despite all this. As if it’s not horrible enough to find yourself the victim of assault (and by someone who’s supposed to care for you) Rihanna also has to deal with the stupid, senseless response of the media. What ever happened to compassion?

  21. everybodyever
    February 20, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Overheard on the subway this morning, conversation between the middle-aged male conductor and a young male passenger holding a copy of the Post:

    Conductor: [in the tone of a stand-up comic, like he wants attention] Hey, did you see on the Post what Chris Brown did to Rihanna?

    [Passenger says nothing but laughs heartily and long.]

    Conductor: What would make him do that?

    [Passenger only laughs again.]

    Conductor: No, seriously. He’s 19, a millionaire. Why would he do that? He’s an idiot. First he’s gonna be convicted. He’s gonna spend it all on lawyers. Then she’s gonna sue him.

    Passenger: [still laughing] Yeah, he’s stupid.

    Conductor: I mean, he could’ve had any girl he wanted.

    It went on like that. I gave them the ugliest look I possibly could and put on headphones thereafter, though. What. The. Fuck. Is this really how random men on the subway think of egregious DV?

  22. Jennifer
    February 20, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I did NOT want to see this photo, but when I went to the MySpace login page today, there it was. TMZ has a big ad on the front page and they used the ad to post Rihanna’s picture. I sent MySpace a complaint, but I doubt I’ll hear anything back.

    It’s disgusting that this picture is being distributed. Just further victimization of someone who deserves privacy, space to heal, and the power to control her own story. No “we’re helping people understand how bad DV can be,” excuse is valid. It’s up to Rihanna to decide if she wants to be that kind of spokesperson, it’s not up to other people who want to profit off of her pain and pretend they are anything other than disgusting vultures.

  23. February 20, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Excellent points.

    So much is not fucking cool.

  24. February 20, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    I agree with everyone else, it was right there on my local newspaper’s online site when I logged in this morning. I clicked on it to send my complaint and there were 4 comments. 2 complaining that it was inappropriate to post the picture, 1 blaming her for hangin out with thugs and 1 saying she was glad the picture was posted because it makes HER feel grateful she has a good guy and doesn’t have to worry abou tthis happening to her (this comment pissed me off more than the victim blaming.)

    I sent my newspaper a message that it was entirely disrespectful and sensationalistic and not high class journalism as well as posted a comment on the article saying the same hting. Thankfully the article has been removed.

  25. Henry
    February 20, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    I fee sorry for her if she didn’t want this stuff released, but I think it’s a good thing that people can see the picture. The ass who did this to her is an entertainer, who’s livelihood relies on public approval. People should know what he actually did to her; seeing the evidence is way more powerful than just hearing about it.

    Maybe if people get a good look at this the comments floating around about how she provoked him or how she deserved it will diminish, and hopefully a lot less people will buy his records.

  26. February 20, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    This isn’t about his record sales or ending public approval of his actions, Henry. This is about her privacy, her rights and her life.

  27. Henry
    February 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Well sure. I’m sure if she had her way no one would have ever seen her like that, be it the police or anyone else. But is that a good thing? She probably feels ashamed, but she shouldn’t be. There’s no shame in getting beaten up by someone stronger than you. It’s that feeling of shame and embarrassment that lets scumbags get away with shit like this so often.

    If the police aren’t going to lock this dickhead up, at the very least he should be publicly shamed and his career ruined.

  28. February 20, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    It doesn’t matter if it’s a good or bad fucking thing, Henry. Now is not the time for you or anyone else to go around saying what victims SHOULD and SHOULDN’T do and what they SHOULD and SHOULDN’T be ashamed of.

    No, there is no reason to be ashamed in getting beaten up (by anyone, by the way) — except that our society makes women feel ashamed every step of the way.

    If there was something that I could do for her or any woman to make her not ashamed, I’d do it in an instant. But guess what? She has a right to her fucking feelings. No matter what you think about them. And if all you’re here to do is say that you’re glad that Rihanna’s photos were released without her consent, and to say that she SHOULD and SHOULDN’T do, you can get off the blog right this moment.

  29. February 20, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Henry, NO.

  30. February 20, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Henry, I’m sorry, but while I understand that you probably have good intentions in what you’re saying, you are sorta missing the point.

    Yes, she shouldn’t feel ashamed, but how is releasing this picture helping her? Really, how is doing ANYTHING that might be against her wishes and/or she does not personally say/do helping her deal with this on her terms? Putting this picture out there doesn’t help anybody anybody. It only hurts her and the people close to her who are trying to get through this ordeal.

    And as far as his career and fame, the people who have supported him throughout all of this are likely still supporting him now. It doesn’t matter that the picture was released, because there will still be speculations made to defend him. I mentioned a couple of these in my post: 1) it wasn’t him who did that, it was somebody else; 2) it was him acting in self defense.

    So, really, I don’t see anything about your comments that I can really stand behind.

  31. February 20, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    It’s that feeling of shame and embarrassment that lets scumbags get away with shit like this so often.

    What? So it’s survivors’ fault that abusers get away with abuse, because they are feeling the wrong feelings? Does that really make sense to you?

    You think that Chris Brown should be “publicly shamed and his career ruined” for abusing Rihanna, but you’re willing to see her privacy violated and photographs of her in an injured, vulnerable state be released against her consent to achieve that? How is that not just an additional assault on her?

  32. Henry
    February 20, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    “What? So it’s survivors’ fault that abusers get away with abuse, because they are feeling the wrong feelings? Does that really make sense to you?”

    I can’t make a value judgment on what are the right and wrong feelings, obviously. Who am I to say? I’m not trying to “blame the victim”, I was just making an observation that the shame of their victims makes it easier for abusers to escape punishment or consequences.

    And I’m not saying it’s a good thing that these photos were released without her consent (hence the “I feel sorry for her… line). I didn’t think it needed to be said that her wishes should be paramount. I was just saying that now that it has happened, perhaps there can be some positive result from it.

    I do have to admit thought that I don’t really understand. I’m not trying to be an ass, I just don’t get it in some fundamental way. How can society make progress on something like this if the default reaction to stuff like this isn’t anger but embarrassment?

    Sorry if I offended anyone.

  33. February 20, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Henry,

    We’re not saying she should be embarassed of the photo. The arguement is that it was released without her consent and that it’s being used as shock value. Yes it may help people fe3el sorry for her but that doens’t mean it’s right. If she made the decision to release the photos that is one thing but this seems to be going on without her consent which again victimizes her because she had her power taken away by him and now my others who are exposing her personal life.

    There should be anger for domestic violence but it should not be based on the fact that the victims look viciously beaten, it should be because it happened and the masses shouldnt’ need photographic evidence to feel angry about what happened to her

  34. February 20, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    So I thought that if I went to the AP website, surely I could get some reputable news about this situation without the sensationalistic spin. Nope, even the Associated Press had the leaked photo plastered alongside the article, no warning, boom there it was. I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but still.

  35. Phe
    February 20, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Though I TOTALLY agree with you that her identity should have been protected the truth is that as an international celebrity she was lucky to have had as much privacy as she had for as long as she had it. Things started really leaking out when her parents and fmaily started talking to the press about it. The fact that it happened was VERY public as it happened OUTSIDE in someone’s neighborhood. That of course isn’t her fault and is in my opinion part of her assault; the humiliation of a public physical fight in which she very clearly lost, and lost horribly. Her boyfriend being just as famous means that even more press would be ready to pounce on the story. ESPECIALLY since he was the victim of domestic violence himself not so long ago. This, like all domestic abuse, is easily avoided by the abuser seeking the help he or she so desperately needs and the abused leaving the relationship and REPORTING the very first instance of abuse or the first big fat red flag.

  36. dkb
    February 21, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Not really on topic but here it goes. Just wondering why being “potty mouthed” is considered acceptable discourse. Oops, better get into the flow of things if I want to be “cool”. Fuck, shit, piss. There, I am now cool?

  37. February 21, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Not really on topic but here it goes. Just wondering why being “potty mouthed” is considered acceptable discourse. Oops, better get into the flow of things if I want to be “cool”. Fuck, shit, piss. There, I am now cool?

    I’m just wondering why someone ridiculous enough to use the phrase “potty mouthed” with seeming seriousness feels that they have the right to tell me which words I should and shouldn’t be using.

    Oh, sorry. Should I have, like, cried or something over being called out for being far too unladylike with my use of dirty, dirty words? *sniffles*

  38. February 21, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Yeah, I wouldn’t say Cara’s swearing to be cool. She was making a point about the wild inappropriateness of this and she made it using strong language.

    I mean, we should only be upset about horrific things by using the Queen’s English?

    I say, that was jolly rough, all that unpleasant business with the violence and whatnot.

  39. William
    February 21, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Henry:

    You’re right, we should see these pictures if they’re going to help us shame the perpetrator. After all, she’s just a woman who has chosen to make herself a piece of public property to be ridiculed, masturbated to, cheered on, or used in whatever other way the public has decided to use here. Right? Her feelings, needs, or wants shouldn’t matter because she made herself a public figure. Right? Theres more important issues here than her autonomy or privacy. Right? Why should she get to choose whether or not the image from a terrible incident in her life is used to spearhead a cause or humiliate a man? We’re not voyeurs, we’re good people who just want to see the word be made a better place. We’re looking for the silver lining in a very dark cloud. Right?

    /sarcasm.

  40. Nia
    February 21, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    I came accross the picture accidentally, on a supposedly serious Spanish newspaper. I have to admit that what I thought about it, apart from the fact that it would probably be illegal to post those pictures here (so the newpaper was breaking the law), because it’s an unacceptable breaking of her privacy, it’s that it keeps sending the message that gender violence consists of beating women beyond recognition. So, if you’re not turned into a mass of bruises, you’re not truly, really abused and deserving of help.

  41. umami
    February 21, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    So, if you’re not turned into a mass of bruises, you’re not truly, really abused and deserving of help.

    This. I admit to reading comments on this in ohnotheydidn’t as I’d seen the picture anyway; pretty much the consensus there was “well, now we’ve seen this no one can possibly defend him.” Which was actually not as bad as I had feared; there weren’t any defenders at least.

    I didn’t look at any posts about it before, but apparently a lot of people were sticking up for him on the grounds that she might have provoked him/brought it on herself/given him herpes. So apparently it would have been OK if he’d only beat her up her a little bit, but now they’ve seen the picture what he did is beyond the pale.

  42. umami
    February 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    This, like all domestic abuse, is easily avoided

    Bzuh? I don’t care what the rest of your sentence says; if it starts off like this you’re oversimplifying, and in a dangerous way that tends to lead to victim blaming. (I don’t think you’re victim blaming, yourself; just that this kind of oversimplification is the starting point for a lot of victim blaming arguments.)

  43. Bonn
    February 21, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I really don’t know who Rhianna or Chris Brown are (musicians? I assume so), but this situation is still terrible and it’s a horrible thing that a police photo would be leaked.

    That said. I get this:

    I was horrified to see that photo. Absolutely horrified. But I was even more horrified at the thought that some sleezy manager thought that it would get Rhianna more public sympathy and increase her popularity if everyone saw how horrific her injuries were.”

    I don’t know the author’s intentions here, and maybe I’m reading this a different way than those who jumped down the throat of this poster, but I can understand. You see something horrifying and it’s horrifying, and then your mind starts turning and you come up with scenarios or thoughts that compound on the … er … horrification. Emotions are fluid. If I’m already horrified by something, I don’t immediately stop being so and then start over when I think of something else. If someone yells at me and I get angry, then 30 minutes later (still angry) someone accidentally steps on my foot and I get MORE angry, that doesn’t mean that stepping on my foot on accident is worse than yelling at me.

    So I feel like this poster is being attacked unfairly for expressing their train of thought. (They never said that the manager DID leak photos, just that their brain “went there” so to speak.)

    Of course, now someone is going to skim this comment and claim I’m comparing DV to having my foot stepped on.

  44. February 21, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Would it be better for anyone but Brown if this whole incident stayed secret? If Brown could do something like this with no penalty whatever in the court of public opinion?

    And dkb, why are you tryingh to derail the discussion? What is it about the topic of domestic violence that makes you uncomfortable.

  45. Chameleonpixie
    February 21, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    As much as I usually get frustrated with the channel E! I was proud of them when they took a stand and said they decided not to show the picture. They talked about it, but repeated multiple times that there were not going to share it because of privacy issues.

  46. February 21, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    *If* Rihanna’s people leaked it, they have every right. It’s baffling that someone would be outraged that she’s trying to get public sympathy. Fuck, man, the only reason to feel like you need to get it is because the dumb fuck public doesn’t get that Every Single Victim Does *Not* Deserve It.

  47. February 21, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    BTW, the LAPD has been rife with corruption that would put a picture-leaking to shame. I don’t see why it’s so hard to believe this one.

  48. February 21, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    In a thread about DV and privacy, complaining about word choice is true obscenity.

  49. February 22, 2009 at 12:41 am

    This, like all domestic abuse, is easily avoided by the abuser seeking the help he or she so desperately needs and the abused leaving the relationship and REPORTING the very first instance of abuse or the first big fat red flag.

    Someone please tell me that Phe is (bad) satire.

  50. Catherine
    February 22, 2009 at 7:25 am

    Oh, the old, she did it to herself for attention, meme. Sigh.

    And here, on Femiste. Sigh.

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