"Good" boys raised by the wrong men: revisiting the Chris Brown/Rihanna saga

Kingsley Obom-Egbulem
Posted September 6, 2010 from Nigeria

By Kingsley Obom-Egbulem

I watched American R&B artiste, Chris Brown in company of his mother and attorney on Larry King Live in the wake of his crisis with his estranged girl friend and fellow R&B singer, Rihanna. That outing was Brown's first TV interview after the court decided on charges placed against him by Rihanna.

Those following the international music scene would recall that Chris Brown, 20 had on February 8, 2009 assaulted Rihanna leaving her with visible facial injuries, including a bloody nose and bite marks on her arms. Both stars were initially billed to appear together at the Grammy awards, but it was cancelled after Brown voluntarily turned himself in to the Los Angeles police.

He was charged with felony assault against Rihanna to which he pleaded guilty. In August 2009, Brown was sentenced to five years(5) probation, six months of community labor in his home state of Virginia and a year of domestic violence counseling.

While on Larry King Live, the whole world saw a guy wishing he could turn back the hand of the clock. But I saw a "man" who suddenly realized he was actually a kid and needed time to grow up. Most importantly, I saw the seed or better still the result of poor mentoring from father to son. I saw the price the whole world would soon be paying if we don't make out time to raise boys who would not only respect women (when they eventually become men and husbands) but also take time to pass on good legacies and values to their own children.

It turned out that as at the age of 10, Chris Brown-whose real name is-Robyn Fenty had watched his dad beat his mother assaulting her even sexually. His mom, Joyce Hawkins had thought that her boy would never grow up to hit a woman. Unknown to her ,the seed of gender-based violence has been sown in the boy by no less a person than his dad- unarguably his first definition of who and what a man should be.

The father by default had shown him what to do to a woman-at least to get her back to her senses whenever you feel she's going too far or getting out of line. That is the cross we all have to bear as we grapple with the wrong socialization of our boys and men.

Tupac Shakur was another star whose dysfunctional childhood had a great impact on his life as a man. His father was a felon of the grandest order. Of course, Tupac ended his life in a most tragic manner. He was indeed a dream that eventually became a nightmare. William Garland , Tupac's biological father did little to raise his boy. He was reported to have confessed to only seeing Tupac about two times up till he was five. The next time he saw Tupac was in a movie "Juice" in 1992.Then the boy had become "another man".

No doubt, Tupac was a "musical success" as he is recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest-selling rap artist, with over 75,000,000 albums sold worldwide. But he died with a major vacuum-a vacuum only good fathering could have filled. Little wonder most of his songs were about growing up amid violence and hardship in ghettos, racism, problems in society and conflicts with other rappers.

Suffice to say, that fatherhood is fast becoming one of the most abused callings today and those not living up to this calling are contributing to cases of gender-based violence. But we can chose to make a difference and make the best out of it.

For Chris Brown,it is still not too late to find a man who will represent and play the true father and mentor he never had. The American system may have taken him through a corrective process. But would a five months programme erase his concept of manhood and masculinity? Did that process inculcate in him the fact that respect for women and girls is the ultimate parameter for determining who a real man is?

Unless we are certain about these posers, Brown may just be another disaster heading somewhere to happen. And one thing we can guarantee is that he would not only add more women to the global list of victims of partner abuse but he would have reproduced after his own kind; yes indeed, a son who will abuse all the women in his life. God forbid!

Comments 4

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Natasha Leite
Sep 06, 2010
Sep 06, 2010

The problem, I agree, in many cases, is how we teach boys how to deal with their feelings - which, OF COURSE, doesn't exempt personal responsibility. We (as a society) don't teach boys how to deal with their feelings in an external and positive way. They have to keep it in. Be "strong". Show that they are "real" men. At the same time, we, as a society, are saying that women have a secondary role, that we should be submissive. And then, with have an abusive childhood that changes one's psyche by it sending the message "I hit you because I love you and I want you to be good". So violence becomes attached with love. Mixed all that in a melting pot and you have some explanations for why domestic violence is such a huge problem - and we are not even discussing the stereotypes that particular violence has and the difficulties to be accepted as a criminal activity. I don't know if 5 months were enough, but at least this case was an exemplary case. It sent the message that is not okay to hit you partner. And we do need the good signs to balance all the bad ones.

Kingsley Obom-Egbulem
Sep 07, 2010
Sep 07, 2010

Thanks so much Natasha for this illuminating perspective to this subject.It was just straight on point.Your take goes to show the role of parenting and appropriate socialization in ending violence against women.We need to give our boys the right perspective of masculinity and let them to know that respect for women- is a fundamental aspect of being a man

Thanks once more for your take on this.


Sep 13, 2010
Sep 13, 2010

Thanks Kingsley for this insightful and well written piece. I appreciate Natasha' s comments too. Allow me to share the thoughts that have come to mind reading this piece:

I do sometimes feel sorry for men. Society and culture expect a man to be strong and act as a wall of defense. "Show no weakness!" is the mantra. This concept of masculinity is everywhere you look, so much so that even boys who grow up in homes with available fathers are not spared. Interactions with peers at school introduce the concept of masculinity, and most boys are hard pressed to fit in and belong.

We all know that the whole concept of what it is to be "a man" needs to be toned down. We talk about it, and preach about it. But in the same breath, we are horrified when young men show emotion or say that they are afraid. In the villages (and cities too), we still whisper about men with 'strong' wives,and detect anomaly when a man gives so much leeway to a woman in running family and business affairs.In this kind of atmosphere, even good men are toppled over to the other side by social pressure.

The social order is changing. I appreciate the Oedipus complex theory/idea, but mothers need to be aware that boys should not be raised in any special way that makes them assume they are small kings at the expense of their sisters. This kind of upbringing eventually leads to a sense of entitlement by men- (A case of "good" boys raised by mothers who dot on them too much). Women/Wives/Girlfriends on the other hand need to accept that is is okay for a man to show feelings, and admit to being weak sometimes. Feelings after all are an expression of being human, not being weak.

I guess all I am trying to say is, we are in this together (men and women), in ensuring proper socialization to end gender based violence.

Once again, I appreciate your article.

Jul 30, 2013
Jul 30, 2013

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