I can say to myself that I would never make such an obviously silly choice, but then, it’s only “obviously silly” to me because I’m not in that situation. However, what I do know of Rihanna’s situation, and why I feel that her decision is more complicated than people assume that it is, is this: much of the rest of the world seems to have forgiven Chris Brown his trespasses, if they ever held him accountable in the first place. So why is it the sole responsibility of Rihanna to withhold her forgiveness and force his accountability? Why should she be anymore forceful than a legal system that apparently felt that his domestic violence merited no jail time? Or a fan base that apparently feels his talent far outweighs a little thing like beating his girlfriend?

Yes, she is his victim. Yet she is no less his victim than she is the victim of a society who so cavalierly and quite systematically ignores, dismisses, and erases the violence enacted by the day, the hour, the minute against black girls and women. Chris Brown violated her. But she has since been continually violated ideologically and discursively by an excessively self-centered consumer public who has never demonstrated a sustained outrage against Chris Brown long enough to stop buying his albums, but has enough outrage to go around for Rihanna that she would ever choose to collaborate with him.