We need more people to say no to Rihanna’s video

It has the making of a great comedy. A global celebrity arrives on a rural farm to film her latest music video, but her choice of attire (namely, a fancy red bra, and then apparently no bra at all) is too much for his countrified, prudish sensibilities. So he kicks her, and her glamorous associates, off his field.

In the film version, the pop star would return and convince the small-minded country folk that her modern city ways are no cause for controversy. Ultimately, he’d come round and probably even make a cameo appearance in the video.

In reality, it didn’t end that way. When Alan Graham, 61, of Clandeboye in Northern Ireland, saw just how risqué Rihanna’s video shout was, he asked her to pack up her things. Reports the Telegraph:

“If someone wants to borrow my field and things become inappropriate, then I say, ‘Enough is enough. I wish no ill will against Rihanna and her friends. Perhaps they could acquaint themselves with a greater G-d.”

Here’s the thing. Mr Graham should not be painted as the villain of this piece. He might have said no for religious reasons, but that’s beside the point.

Precisely what is it about Rihanna’s lyrics – or Beyonce’s, or Katy Perry’s or any other female pop star de jour – that requires them to be sung without clothes on?

I’m no prude – a bikini is fine on the beach or by a pool – but I’m also not of the school that this represents any kind of female empowerment. And I can’t imagine the video director or her record company are thinking “down with sexism” when they encourage her to make these videos.

When did we get to the stage that a video like this was acceptable from a mainstream artist?

Rihanna has fans all over the world, and plenty of them are young girls (and indeed young boys, being taught that this is what women should look like and how they should behave). What’s her message? That her music isn’t good enough on its own, so she needs to cavort-around half naked to make up for it?

Or that she’s so multi-talented she can sing, dance and act like a pole dancer?

Telling young girls that it’s OK – desirable, even – to sell your talent with your body? Not exactly a Suffragette hunger strike, now.

My teachers always said everything men could do, women could do too. But I don’t think they meant taking our shirts off in public.


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