Only the bad gyal could do this : Rihanna, rape-revenge narratives, and the cultural politics of White Feminism

Ferreday, Debra Jane (2017) Only the bad gyal could do this : Rihanna, rape-revenge narratives, and the cultural politics of White Feminism. Feminist Theory, 18 (3). pp. 263-280. ISSN 1464-7001

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In July 2015, Rihanna released a seven-minute long video for her new single, entitled Bitch Better Have My Money (more widely known as BBHMM), whose violent imagery would divide feminist media commentators for its representation of graphic and sexualised violence against a white couple. The resulting commentary would become the focus of much popular and academic feminist debate over the intersectional gendered and racialised politics of popular culture, in particular coming to define what has been termed ‘White Feminism’, in particular intersecting with debates about rape culture and the extent to which celebrity culture operates to secure consent to social relations of violence and inequality. BBHMM is not the first time Rihanna’s work has been considered in relation to these debates: not only has she herself been very publicly outed as a survivor of male violence, she has previously dealt with themes of rape and revenge in an earlier video, 2010’s Man Down, and in her lyrics. In this article, I read these two videos through the lens of feminist film theory, in particular focussing on the ways in which Rihanna’s output fits in a wider history of the figure of the ‘angry girl’ in rape-revenge cinema. In doing so, I explore how such representations mobilise affective responses of shame, identification and complicity that are played out in feminist responses to her work, and how these reproduce themes of surveillance and victim-blaming that potentially operate to silence women of colour’s experience of violence.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Feminist Theory
Additional Information:
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Feminist Theory, 18 (3), 2017, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Feminist Theory page:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? rihannacelebrityrape culturesurveillanceshamerevengeintersectionalitygender studies ??
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Deposited On:
06 Oct 2017 19:20
Last Modified:
30 May 2024 00:48