Everyone's favorite social media platform in 2016 is rightfully under fire today after the company ran a “Would You Rather?” ad in which the options presented were “Slap Rihanna” or “Punch Chris Brown.” To make matters even more insulting, the advert also paints this as an “Impossible Choice.”
Impossible for who, exactly?
In response to this tone-deaf advertisement, Rihanna posted an admirably measured rebuttal on her Instagram story.
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Though she was the center of the ad, Rihanna thoughtfully decentered herself and exposed the situation for what it was: an infantilization of domestic violence. The trauma she and thousands of other women and men experience has no business being reduced to a game you play between Snapchat stories.
When companies so ignorantly make light of tragic situations, they inadvertently embolden everyday people to do the same, diminishing the voices of victims and survivors and normalizing domestic violence. In the era of #MeToo, this level of carelessness sends a message that women and men aren’t being ignored so much as they are being listened to and then promptly mocked.
Rihanna delivering such a composed response speaks to the underlying respectability politics women in her position must navigate in order to be heard. Were Rihanna to have made an angry series of Instagram videos, to which she is more than entitled, headlines would be more interested in her anger than in her greater message.
The only obvious bright side to this situation is the potential for this wave of outrage to spark a subsequent wave of education, because, as we know, we will never progress as a society unless we are willing to educate ourselves and do better.