Man Down, Yeah Rhianna! Good for you! You go girl!
If celebrating the execution of a man surprises some coming from a womanist preacherwoman who espouses love and no harm; and who, rather than squash a basement bug captures it with a damp paper towel and releases it back into nature, repels some, oh well.
But, if you take a second look at the video and listen intimately to her lyrics, Rhianna more than appropriately responds to her own murder of safety, soul, and sensuality when she was, we were, raped. The only difference between this simulated tragedy and its consequences, and the realistic trauma and its residual impact, is that the perpetrator gets off easy in death whereas the survivor of rape lives with a bit of death, hers, haunting her body, mind and spirit long after the perpetrator is buried and forgotten by others. We never forget.
What grieves me so and stirs the longing for me to volunteer to re-mother darling Rhianna is her self-blaming! I want to tell her that she is not the criminal. I want to tell her that his premeditation warranted a penalty suitable to his crime. I want to tell her that self-defense is a stepping stone to self-esteem. I want to tell her that the village of brothers who appreciates her beauty are populated with more friends than foes. I want to tell her he may have been some mother's son, but she too is somebody's daughter. I want to tell her to not run or be run out of town by her displaced shame and blame. I want to tell her to not be afraid of her passions – to smile, to embrace, to dance, to sweat, to resist and to murder. I want to assure her that it was not her fault.
“Not your fault,” is what I longed to hear when I was raped, twice by the time I was Rhiana's age; and continue to be sexually assaulted with diabolical psychological abuse, each described as justified efforts to “change me” and prove that I was too cute to be a lesbian. What the hell!!! I just wanted someone to say to me “It's not your fault: that you are feminine with a predilection for glossy lips, breezy dresses, and women who gladly let you lick them and who are delighted that you love them!”
Tears welled up in my eyes, and a few broke free of my dammed resolve to not shed another, as I watched Rhianna sit in the river under the water fall. I am transported back to the moment and aftermath that inspired me to pen this stanza of my poem,
It's Just Water Ya'll
by RevSisRaedorah (c)2010
on the occasion of the "Third Wave Womanist" Conference and Installation Lecture
of The Reverend Dr. Monica Coleman at Claremont School of Theology
Take me to the water
To be baptized
I know, I know, I know -- it's just water ya'll
But that didnt stop me from
trying to baptize my shame
in the scalding hot shower
I never should have gone on that date
I never should have left the office late
I never should have worn that dress
I never should have NO! expressed
I never should have
Take me to the water
But the water wasnt hard enough or hot enough
even the fruity body wash seem to set the stains
Was there to be no exfoliating his fingerprints
from over my mouth and around my neck
Was there no balm to sooth welts where he
ripped away my delicate lady things from the seams
And all they could say was 'I never should have...'
I doubt that Rhiana's Man Down will cause a rise in rapist executions – oh darn. I do hope it catches momentum to arrest misogynistic power, posturing, and profit in the same medium she so excellently uses – hip-hop, popular music. Instead of heralding her regrets, fear and self-loathing, I write this codicil for all the women healing from this hurting – this shyt stops now! If that is too strong of a retort for some, I say watch the highly acclaimed NO: The Rape Documentary by Aishah Shahidah Simmons Cultural Worker. There is after-all, more than one way to skin a cat or kill a rapist.
As for the Bible thumpers out there... the Bible says, "But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die.26"But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. 27"When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her," (Deut. 22:25-28).
Praying, Lord have mercy, give us strength to say everytime, “No means NO! And, I really mean, NO!”
Praying, Lord have mercy, open their ears to hear you say again, "But you shall do nothing to the girl..."
Praying, Lord have mercy, hear our prayer, heal humanity.
Postscript – I like the redemptive power of this video more than the superfluous power of Beyonce's Girls Who Run the World. Actually her If I Were a Boy is a better esteem-building, womanist, feminist, liberating lyre for young women. Just saying...