Pumla Gqola
Pumla Gqola

Woman beater Chris Brown not welcome in SA

Many South African music lovers will flock to see R&B star Chris Brown perform in December. A man who assaulted pop superstar Rihanna in 2009, she was his girlfriend at the time. Unless you’ve been living under a rock these last few years, you know a few vivid details about the assault. You may have seen pictures of Rihanna’s bruised face, read about blood in her mouth as he continued to beat, strangle and threaten her while driving. Pictures and the details of the charge sheet made their rounds through mainstream media outlets and went viral on social media. For a quick summary you can read this. Or you just google the whole ugly saga.

Since then we’ve been subjected to suggestions that Rihanna may have taken him back as boyfriend/lover/friend after forgiving him. She was on Oprah recently and it was widely circulated that even her father felt warmth and sympathy for Brown. We’ve been told of how Brown grew up in a violent home and that his own violence is explained by this past. After all, violated children sometimes turn into violent people, right?

This means Brown’s South African fans are supporting him with full knowledge of his record. Indeed, many who are vocal about their support to end gender-based violence in South Africa, will buy tickets as part of the partying that characterises the “festive season”. South Africans are not renowned for their healthy sense of irony. Nor do we hold violent men accountable. We simply like to march against violence against women but we are generally loathe to intervene and condemn it when it actually happens. We don’t really like to denounce men who beat and/or rape women. We do often judge and badmouth abused women. So much commentary has focused on what Rihanna and her family feel or do not feel. If I had a rand for every time I heard “but women are their worst enemies in such cases” I would be a rich woman.

Feminists, gender activists and people opposed to violence elsewhere in the world have not found this such a complicated issue. In Guyana, several women’s rights activists made it very clear that Brown was not welcome in Georgetown to perform on December 26. The Code Red for Gender Justice website outlined that although there was disagreement over the Guyanese government’s decision to welcome Brown to Guyana in order to boost tourism to the Caribbean country, those critical of Brown’s tour and the Guyanese government’s insensitivity did not mince their words. It quoted Guyanese feminist columnist Stella Ramsaroop saying that the “decision to bring Chris Brown to entertain Guyana is a slap in the face to every single victim of domestic violence in the country”. Sukree Boodram of the Caribbean American Domestic Violence Awareness said “as the grim situation on domestic violence has become a staple part of Guyana’s everyday life and landscape, I believe that having a known abuser perform, gives credit to him and sends an unspoken message that it is okay to beat up on your wife or girlfriend and still stay popular and famous”.

Vidyaratha Kisson wrote a much publicised letter in which he suggested what he saw as more useful options to the Brown tour. His solution is similar to that proposed by Nicole Cole from the Guyanese Women and Gender Equality Commission.

I am not convinced that there is a good way in which a woman beater can be supported. We simply cannot have it both ways: claim we want to end violence against women at the same time that we swoon over men who violate women. We should make Chris Brown unwelcome in South Africa if we are serious about ending the siege under which women live.

I share Boodram’s stance where she says: “The fact that we are allowing a publicly known abuser to enter our country is blatant disregard and disrespect to our people and the cause we claim to want to eradicate. That cause is domestic violence. What kind of signal does this send? It says that ‘bringing wealth into Guyana’ is more important than the safety of the nation’s women. It says that talking out of both sides of your mouth concerning violence against women is justified so long as everyone can dance.” (Emphasis added)

And although there have been suggestions that Brown and his team did not cancel the Guyanese concert because of the outrage from women’s rights activists, there is no convincing alternative explanation. South African feminists would do well to emulate our Caribbean feminist counterparts in telling Chris Brown that he is not welcome here. If we succeed in keeping him from performing, or even cut his trip short, it does not matter who gets the credit.

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    • Wildcat

      besides the violence of the miscreant, I don’t see the appeal at all…..he is nothing to look at and the music is utter [email protected]….. or maybe I’m just getting too old for that…

      and right, some women are their own enemies…. ordinary people should stop putting such faith and hope in so called stars…. there is absolutely nothing to admire…

    • Mr. Direct

      I do not support violence against women, and I do not particularly like Chris Brown (less so since the media reports of his actions it has to be said).

      You are well within your rights to boycott his shows, and to call for a ban. Even if I were interested in his music, I would most likely support you in this call.

      There is a “but” here.

      To suggest that a person is forever judged on a deed or action is very harsh. To believe that people cannot be rehabilitated leads to a very dark society. And if, someday, you make an error that causes pain or death, you may realise the enormity of what you have supported.

      You do not need to like him, or support him, but one day you may need to forgive him. This action would be for your own piece of mind however…

    • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/pumlagqola Pumla Gqola

      Mr Direct, quite the contrary. I do believe in rehabilitation. But I am not aware of Mr Brown claiming that he has been rehabilitated. Certainly if his recent bevaviour on social media as well as news reports of his rage are anything to go by, not only is he clearly not rehabilitated, he may not even consider himself in need of rehabilitation.

    • Will Bishop

      Ms Gqola,

      There is not enough being done to prevent Chris Brown touring!

      I had expected more activism from gender groups, as Chris Brown’s behaviour and lack of remorse are a ‘perfect’ example of what the gender groups and activists are fighting against! He is a bad example to SA ‘wannabe bling’ society.

      As he has a criminal conviction in the Rihanna assault case and a pending probation violation hearing for failing a drug test in Virginia, groups in SA should be forcing our government to deny him a visa to visit SA. Our visa law says people with a criminal conviction or pending criminal proceedings should NOT be granted a visa.

    • disappointed but not surprised

      It seems our society loves bad boys. And defends them even when it appears that they abuse their social status in order to get away with violent behaviour. We even go further in order to protect them by calling their (mostly) female victims unreliable, erratic, jealous sluts. It happens in high school and university with the jocks, in politics and business with the Big Men. The ANCWL is not a feminist organisation. It is a bunch of cheerleaders for an increasingly shamelessly chauvinist ANC. DJ Euphonik still gets gigs and public support from his mentor (another Big DJ) after his assault of his ex-girlfriend. How did young men and women react to that? They called Bonang irrational, jealous, crazy, spiteful.. Euphonik is still one of the highest paid DJs in the country. The story fizzled out, leaving a trail of ‘she’s crazy’ in its wake. That Chris Brown hasn’t faced much outcry from SA fans comes as no surprise. South Africa is a rogue’s paradise.

    • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/sarahbritten Sarah Britten

      I would support a boycott of Chris Brown, and some kind of campaign to make it clear that you do not abuse with impunity. The debacle involving Jenny Johnson was a reminder that he hasn’t changed. The fact the #TeamBreezySA is all over Twitter – promoted by YFM (!) – is an absolute disgrace. We need something to counterbalance it. Even if we can’t stop his fans from cheering for him, we can rejig the social context. The more stars and celebrities get treated with kid gloves, the more less famous abusers think it’s ok to clap their girlfriends because hey, she asked for it.

    • http://www.xen.co.za Hugh Robinson

      Right on Will Bishop. How do we ban the ANC supporters club that make rape and spousal beating SA’s number one sport?

      Here’s a thought, how about sweeping our own doorstep before we cast doubt on others?

    • Max

      “Woman beater Chris Brown not welcome in SA”

      Huh? No, the woman beater is very welcome in South Africa.

      It’s the Dalai Lama who is not welcome.

      Sometimes it’s really embarrassing being a South African.

    • Hope

      I don’t support Chris Brown for what he did; the women around me are bothering me that they want to go for the show.

      As a person, who has witnessed domestic violence growing up (woman on man), and as a man who later did abuse a woman; I find that the conversations around this issue – do not help the people who get abused, nor do they help rehabilitate the abuser. I take responsibility for what I did and am deeply regretful. I have only myself to blame. I accept the title woman beater. Besides apologising and making sure the young people around me know that any from of violence and treating a woman bad is unacceptable, I cannot even explain what I did.

      Perhaps telling boys that women are beatiful creatures deserving only of flowers is part of the problem. Boys should also know that women can be monsters, but even when it seems they are, lifting or not lifting your hand is your responsibility. And that no amount of anger justifies that; and that they will go to jail; but also they can be helped.

      Chris brown is going to have a successful show. It’s a good thing for you to call for a boycott. But. I hope to hear also conversations that acknowledge how men and women enable child behaviuor that breeds violence; how men can actually change & what role these can play in helping violent men; how women can be empowered to walk away.

    • Richard

      But then what about imams and conservative Muslims who support wife-beating as it is permissable in Islam under certain circumstances? Such imams enjoy much support, and tour the world visiting Islamic communities. One such was invited to London by its erstwhile mayor, Ken Livingstone, for example. Surely banning contravenes Chris Brown’s right to live by a different ethical code to you or me? Does this not also apply to animal slaughter in modern South Africa, that it constitutes the rights of people to follow modes of behaviour that I may find personally offensive, but to which they are entitled? Moral relativism of this sort is what modern South Africa is surely all about?

    • Lesego

      I wonder what do you people actually wanna see happen in order to be satisfied that well this is it, we’ve punished him enough. Do you wanna see him dead or something? I mean even after the guy has been punished legally and even after his victim forgiven him and taken him back. This is really over kill, childish and ignorant.

      Richard #

      “But then what about imams and conservative Muslims who support wife-beating as it is permissable in Islam under certain circumstances?”

      And listen here Richard, if you have ever read your bible you would know that also the bible supports stoning to dead of women, abuse and and also killing of them. I dont understand why you people like to single out Islam as if they havent ever come across the bible.

    • Richard

      @Lesego, I have not heard such incidents happening within the Christian community for many years, whereas such things happen all the time whithin the Islamic community. Which vicar you know defends beating of women in 2012? And, do you think such a call would be tolerated. I am not talking about the past, I am talking about the present.

    • Rubens

      I do not condone what Chris Brown did… but…I do feel that our treatment of wrong-doers of whatever sought ought to reflect the kind of society we want to create. I’m sure the boy (which is what he is and was at the time of the incident) has learnt and I’m certain that if the thousands (the majority of whom will be females, based on my extremely rough analysis of his fanbase) who will attend his concerts are capable of forgiving him, you could* too.

      Have a day off, Pumla.

    • http://mg Dontjudge Me

      Pumla,we are all aware that he is a woman beater but we are not “supporting” or endorsing what he did to Rihanna we just love his art,he is a performer after all.You say we must not welcome him in SA, which is a developing country and someone comes here to perform (and be taxed), a country that believes in the spirit of forgiveness and ubuntu.He is a businessman with artist who might want to come to South Africa and perform but he might refuse them as we refused him.A successfull Chris Brown concert with no “unnecessary” drama is good for SA’s tourism unlike the drama free people we let in and they come and kill each other in SA.The Rihanna that got hurt said she has forgiven him but us as a country must not,we have forgiven people who do not show any remorse but the person who asked for forgiveness must be punished.If you want to stand for something charity starts at home,fight the battles closer to home first once our domestic violence rate is close to none then we can spread the ubuntu,lets stop trying to fight other people’s battles and look at our own first let the American countries boycott his concerts for the same reason.Looking at our neighbours windows and bickering among ourselve is not good for the country either.

    • Lesego

      Richard #

      The scriptures that support stoning and hanging of people who have committed sin or crime in the Koran are exactly the same as those you find in the bible. So why are you trying to act like only islam and not christianity condones such acts.

    • lerato

      It is so funny that alot of femimst hypocrites have joined the media bandwagon in critizing chris, Everybody wants to be heard and seen so as to create a name for themeslevs. What have you done to help women in Domestic violent situation in S.A. Have you picketed or boycotted DJ Equnik or whatever after what he did to Bonage. I hate the fact that you all have decided to use this boy as a poster child for DV. Forgetting the terrible men in SA that have done worse things. I really dont care about Chris but I hate when people reduce important issues to self serving shamless self promotion.We need to teach our kids forgiveness and belief in the good in others. Why should what he did at 19 define him today, are u God, get off ur judgemental high horseIf you have done an extensive research on CB you will find out that he has done more for DV than all of you put together, he has raised more than twenty million dollars thru his Symphonic Love Charity and has positively influenced alot of abused women and children by hs art school and programmes. He is a loose canon that has to work on his anger and the way he handles issues, but it is difficult to stay positive if all people see about you is a mistake committed four years ago and not you redemption progress. If he was your brother you will think differently. I am not a fan of Chris brown, but a fan of change, positivity, belief in ability to change and not judgmental self righteous hypocritical bigots.


    • Hapzito

      Everybody hate Chris.
      u South Africans are so uptight. i never had you say you are going to boycot Euphonik shows and music. to further show that Chris is apologetic, he always refuses to perform in countries where people protests against him. we want to see Chris Brown, dont spoil it for us

    • http://lennymaysay.wordpress.com Lenny Appadoo

      The attitude of Lesego speaks volumes about South African men (I apologise in advance for generalising) who use cultures, traditions and religions as a shield for their disgusting behaviour towards women.

      Even if I did like Chris Brown’s music (which I don’t) I wouldn’t support this bigot on his tour of SA. Break a leg Chris, no really…

    • Lesego

      @Lenny Appadoo, you dont have to apologise for typing nonsense as i still wont forgive you.

    • http://lennymaysay.wordpress.com Lenny Appadoo

      Ah yes Lesego, you are quite comfortable with nonsense, aren’t you? Like condoning the nonsense found in one religious text because it is common in an earlier one.

      “The scriptures that support stoning and hanging of people who have committed sin or crime in the Koran are exactly the same as those you find in the bible.”

    • Richard

      @Lesego, in parts of Africa slavery is still in existence. In all cases it is Muslims enslaving black African animists or Christians. Stonings occur in Islamic societies, as does the dismemberment of hands, feet, etc. Wife-beating is officially sanctioned by imams. Capital punishment as practised by certain countries is an entirely different thing.

    • Anti-Bitterness

      It is soo sad to realise that women lack forgiveness so much to an extent that they will kick a dead snake flat. No man or woman just wakes up with intentions of harming a fellow human being without a reason. As much as we all should condemn violence against women, we should also condemn provocative tendencies by women and the bitterness prevailing in most feminine hearts of the current era..

    • shelly

      is this for real? really? wow. guys may we talk about current issues, we have a huge problem currently taking place, children are being stolen and used as slaves. human trafficking is a terrible problem.
      oh yes domestic abuse is awful, and by the by my dad hit my mom once and Never did it again so yes people do learn from their mistakes, they are happily married and in their 70s now and still very much in love. i think this whole ‘lets use chris brown’ thing is so stupid what about other famous people who have hit someone else why not use them hummm i wonder why.??? these so called activist clearly dont have time to deal with current real domestic abuse cases so they want to look like they are working by using a person whose offense is so old and so forgiven. catch a wake up activists, there is Thabo beating up his wife everyday and yet you guys are the same people who are doing nothing to help the lady but yet you have time to picket against