Belfast Telegraph

How Rihanna has become a victim of her sleazy s-excess

By Jane Graham

I never thought I’d say this but I’ve grown tired of Rihanna’s backside. Another week, another Rihanna sex scandal.

This week it’s Hustler magazine’s claiming they’ve got hold of a ‘leaked’ sex tape. As is the norm in leaked sex tape controversies, Rihanna has denied the tape’s existence. But the story ensures that when anyone types ‘sex’ into Google (and I hear a few folk do), the chances of Rihanna’s name popping up on page one are even higher than last week.

Last week it was the V Festival in which Rihanna came onstage in fishnets and knickers and crawled along the ground licking her lips. And then there were those pictures from the Crop Over Festival in Barbados of her simulating sex with some gleeful chap, her modesty protected by a sadly moth-eaten bikini that, judging by its size, she’d borrowed from Barbie.

In fact the year has been a blur of Rihanna sex stories. The BRITS, the Grammys, The Billboard Awards, The X Factor — a person could get dizzy, breathless even, trying to keep up. How many responsible parents have been physically harmed as a result of panicked leaps across the room upon hearing the opening chords of a Rihanna track I wonder?

Certainly those who don’t must have been caught short once or twice — perhaps by the juicy video for recent hit S&M in which she dons a PVC gimp costume, slowly licks a banana and performs some, um, gymnastic floor exercises.

Now don’t get me wrong. At the risk of sounding like Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel, I like seeing sexy women being sexy. My previous columns regarding Beyonce, Nigella Lawson (!) and yes, Rihanna, are testament to that.

And there’s no denying that |Ri-ri is extremely bootylicious, beautiful and bountiful. But I’m beginning to think she isn’t quite the in-control Queen of Pop she keeps telling us she is. More and more, it strikes me this is a troubled, insecure woman who knows no way of communicating other than sexually.

And calling what she does in-your-face feminism is like gift-wrapping your tits and ass and offering them to the first lusty man who walks past. He doesn’t have to earn your respect first, he gets the whole package thrown at him and if he feels a nip of guilt, the political jargon of female empowerment lets him entirely off the hook.

Unlike, say, Beyonce, who has spent her career celebrating women who make demands on their men and drop them like disease-ridden vermin if they don’t shape up, Rihanna’s songs regularly present her as being trapped by men who treat her badly. Sado-masochism is a favourite theme but she seems particularly drawn to the masochism element, most obviously in her Eminem duet Love The Way You Lie, in which she sings of enjoying ‘the way it hurts’.

This is obviously unsettling in light of her famously abusive relationship with rapper Chris Brownbut what’s more worrying is the total absence of suggestion that there is any other way to relate to men. There is only sex — and, if that goes wrong, maybe murder (as seen in her Man Down video.)

She’s ridiculously talented and makes great records but Rihanna is looking increasingly like a victim with a limited notion of how a woman might show her strength. Maybe it’s time she put her booty away for a bit to find out if there’s anything else worth seeing.

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