But there has been so much discussion about her comments about Chris Brown that I decided to find out what everyone was talking about.
One of the overarching questions I was left with was, was Rihanna’s grandmother’s advice about finding a man who loves you that little bit more than you love them good advice, as Oprah declared? The conclusion I came to was that it was pragmatic but pessimistic and ultimately self-destructive advice.
The rational for this advice was that if you wanted a man to meet you halfway he had to love you more than you love him because women have a tendency to give due to their maternal instincts.
I can’t say I agree.
I can’t agree because I understand Jesus to have come not only to show us who God was but also to show us how to be human and his definition was regardless of gender and his life certainly displaced any expectation that all Christians – including men – should put others before themselves and be generous givers.
The other problems this advice throws up is: can you measure the amount someone loves you? And what is love anyway? Is love an emotion or an action?
It’s probably both but when talking about romantic love we usually concentrate only on the emotion – to our great loss.
One of my favourite ways to respond to difficult questions is to ask a question. I am often asked ‘but what about if he loves me?’ My response is to ask how we can tell if someone loves us.
Usually we come to the conclusion that we know not because of what they say but how they treat us, that both the absence of abuse and the presence of service are important. So if the way we know that someone loves us is how they treat us then for someone to meet us halfway they must by definition love us as much as we love them.
So I don’t think men not meeting halfway is about how much they love us as individuals but about how much they respect women in general as human beings. And there are a great many men who do and who give equal reciprocation to the loving actions of their partners and family, but there is also a lot of societal permission which allows men to get away with abuse and demands that women give without question.
The discussions that resulted from the allegations against Julian Assange about what rape is seem to also be confused by the expectation that men are entitled to take without question.
After activists pointed out that in any situation where there is not consent it is a sexual assault many people returned by asking if they would have to get written agreement before any sexual activity, displaying complete misunderstanding of the nature of consensual, respectful relationships.
So what does that mean for Rihanna’s statement that she and Chris Brown still love each other? If love is more than just an emotion but is a conscious decision that results in action, does Chris Brown love Rihanna?
Whatever his emotion or feeling, do his actions imply he loves her? And again all those who have told me that 50 Shades of Grey is ok because they love each other I’d ask the same: what actions can you point to on the character Christian Grey’s part that would suggest he loves Ana?
So in a fallen world Rihanna’s grandmother’s advice may be pragmatic, but it is not very hopeful or very trusting in the transformative power of the gospel. I think men deserve a greater vision and a greater hope and are most blessed by women not through their tolerance but by their challenge.
Is Rihanna’s grandmother’s advice right? Should men love more than women in relationships? How do we know what love is? Feel free to comment…