Rihanna as a role model? I think not!

Excited students from Barrington High School had an opportunity to meet pop-singer Rihanna when she stopped by their school.  The students won this visit – hours before Rihanna was to perform at the United Center – after winning a contest she sponsored inviting schools to make a video highlighting her song “Diamonds” and show their charitable work.  Produced by the high school television class (BHS-TV), their submission highlighted the school’s philanthropic work with tornado victims in Joplin, MO and Native Americans who live on a reservation in South Dakota, just to name a few.

While I admire the context of the contest – and that these kids busted their butts to win – I question whether the school should have been participating in this contest at all, given Rihanna’s reputation.

She is very talented.  There’s no questioning that.  What’s sad is that she apparently has very little if any self-respect and self-esteem.  Her lyrics consistently brag about her being an object to men’s sexual needs.  This doesn’t appear to be about owning your own sexuality – but instead about being a plaything for boys.  Here’s a sample – from her song “What’s My Name” sung with the rapper Drake:

[Drake]
“I heard you good with them soft lips
Yeah you know word of mouth
the square root of 69 is 8 something
cuz I’ve been tryna work it out, oooow
good weed, white wine
I come alive in the night time
okay, away we go
only thing we have on is the radio
ooooh, let it play, say you gotta leave
but I know you wanna stay
you just waiting on the traffic jam to finish girl
the things we could do in twenty minutes girl
say my name, say my name
wear it out, its getting hot, crack a window, air it out
I can get you through a mighty long day
soon as I go the text you gon right is gon say…

[Rihanna]
Not everybody knows how to work my body
knows how to make me want it
boy you stay up on it
you got that something that keeps me so off balance
baby you’re a challenge, lets explore your talent

[Chorus]
hey boy I really wanna see if you can go downtown with a girl like me
hey boy, I really wanna be with you
cause you just my type
ooh na na na na
I need a boy to really take it over
looking for a girl to put you over
oooooh, oooooh”

And from the hit “S&M

“Oh, I love the feeling you bring to me, oh, you turn me on

It’s exactly what I’ve been yearning for, give it to me strong

And meet me in my boudoir, make my body say ah ah ahI like it-like it

Cause I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it

Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it

Sticks and stones may break my bones

But chains and whips excite me”

And let us please not forget that she was the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her boyfriend . . . and eventually went back to him.

What kind of message is this sending to teens?  That is ok to drink, do drugs, and have as much sex as you want because Rihanna does?   That if your boyfriend beats the crap out of you, it’s ok to go back to him because he’s really, really sorry?

Why was she glorified and glamorized by this school in the first place?  To have some one who makes the life choices that Rihanna has held up as a role-model at a sanctioned school event is a little questionable.   Isn’t there another athlete/singer/actor that the students could have focused on that has a more positive message?

Too add insult on top of the whole thing, she was FOUR AND A HALF HOURS LATE to the appearance.  No, that’s not a type-o.  Her appearance at Barrington High School was supposed to start at 1pm.  Some students lined up as early as 9am – 2500 students in total were waiting for her to show up so that they could meet her, talk to her, and revel in the hard work that resulted in winning this prize.  Rihanna herself didn’t even start heading to the school (from I’m assuming either the airport or her hotel) until 4pm, arriving just after 5:30pm.  She stayed between 15-20 minutes, never apologized to the kids who stuck around to see her, took some pictures, handed out more tickets to her concert, and left.  No accountability, no excuses, no owning how her choices effected the lives of thousands of kids (as well as their parents).

Is this really who we want influencing our children?  I say a resounding HELL NO!

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