Rihanna's New Video Celebrates Ball-Gags, Whips & Latex

RiRi frolics with blow-up dolls and sings, "Sex in the air. I don't care. I love the smell of it. Sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me." BDSM enthusiast, or attempting to be edgy?

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Perhaps both. Who knows? It's notable, though, following her assault by Chris Brown, that in the video for "S&M," she's interested in exploring consensual acts of violence and aggression, and finding pleasure in pain. Although she does appear bound in the video (as well as literally restrained by the media), mostly she plays the role of a dominant, perhaps to prove (or remind us) that she's the one in control. (We previously saw her asserting herself as dangerous and in charge in the video for "Hard.") Is this the desire of one who's been called a victim? To recast oneself as authoritative and commanding? (As for Perez Hilton as a submissive, let us not speak of this.)

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Of course, in the age of Gaga and Ke$ha, it's possible Rihanna just wanted to do something "shocking." But of all the topics she could have chosen, a fetish associated with injury and hurt is an interesting choice. Or maybe that's just reaching. Something to ponder as you watch her fellate a banana!

Rihanna: 'S&M' Video Premiere! [Just Jared]

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DISCUSSION

I think she's trying to be edgy.

I haven't fully thought this out yet, but... it's sort of a pet peeve of mine that "strong feminist women" are expected to be sexually dominant. And, there's something about Rhianna's new domme image that bothers me. As if her PR people are trying to tell us is, yes, she was once abused, but look! Now she is in charge! Now she is the one beating up on people!

And maybe that is for real and exploring BDSM as a domme has truly been part of her working through her personal stuff. If so, that's all well and good. But, this image does further this sort of reductive black and white view of S&M - that the dominant person is powerful/in control/etc. And I think that bothers me if it's not "true" and only a sex sells image thing. Or if it's supposed to be an image in opposition to her being a victim.

Like I said, this isn't really a fully formed thought yet...