Rihanna: reluctant “role model”
In the previous post, Kathleen mentioned the Black Girls Rock event that aired last night. Rihanna was presented with the Rock Star Award. During her acceptance speech, she made a sassy comment about how “You know, role model is not the… title they like to give me, you know”. And, in the past, it’s not a title she’s wanted, felt comfortable with. But you’ll hear in the video below it sounds like she’s growing to accept it – on her terms, always on her terms.
I do understand her reluctance though to take that on. It’s hard enough to live with yourself, to “do you” as they say, let alone having to live UP to the expectations you carry around when you’re deemed a role model. And there’s a long list of problems you can attach to assigning role model status to celebrities. What I like about Rihanna is that in – up to this point – declining that responsibility, what she’s been saying is that she has needed her own time to figure her sh-t out…which is what most people in their 20s are doing too.
What she’s figured out so far is sex positivity, a prevailing anthem on her new album ANTI. Some may argue that sexual assertiveness does not necessarily illuminate the road to equality but there can be no doubt that women have been conditioned to be hesitant in sexual intimacy, their needs simply an extension of male desire. When Rihanna repeats, over and over again, that her pleasure is paramount, and that her pleasure exists individually – essentially that she comes FIRST – it’s an independence that can be extended beyond the bedroom, even though, ironically, her sexual expression is what some hold against her as the opposite of a role model.
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