- (Photo: Reuters / Brendan McDermid)
Rihanna's music and videos are under heavy fire as Christian leaders, anti-violence groups, and some music fans fear that her suggestive lyrics and themes are damaging young women's thinking.
"We Found Love" is Rihanna’s newest video and it is taking heat from anti-rape activists.
The point of the music video is to allegedly show how love can be like a drug, and does so using images driven by sex and drugs as Rihanna goes through the motions with a Chris Brown look-a-like.
"Rihanna's new video is a disgrace. It sends the message that she is an object to be possessed by men, which is disturbingly what we see in real violence cases," said Eileen Kelly of the Rape Crisis Center in England.
"Man Down" is a music video that allegedly glorifies murder in certain situations, and "S&M" is a music video that is banned in 11 countries due to its explicit sexual nature.
Youth Pastor of Oasis Christian Center in Staten Island Brandon Ward said Rihanna is damaging the moral and self-worth of young impressionable teens.
"The real issue is that it moves the moral center more towards the obscene. That it becomes more normal to be more sexually promiscuous, because they are bombarded with imagery that is loaded with innuendo, and that is seen as normal, even preferred," said Pastor Ward.
"If girls and women find their identity and self-worth in the approval of people, they will do whatever it takes to become popular and loved. When stars like Rihanna, who blast sexuality, are thrust into the limelight, girls tend to think that is the way for them to be valuable. God tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully mad…bearing His image. Rihanna is selling a lie."
John Colonnello, another youth pastor hailing from Athens, AL, said he knows all too well the struggles people have with body image and feeling accepted.
"I believe the image that Rihanna portrays in her videos is not good for young girls and for teens that look up to her. She is promoting that it is all about your physical body and how you look and she is promoting (unhealthy) sex," said Pastor Colonnello. "The message should be that it's about who you are on the inside and your character. That you should be honest, trustworthy, faithful, kind, loving, compassionate and more."
Sarah Baldini, a 22-year-old singer and make-up artist, said Rihanna strays people from “God's appointed plan for the body and sex,” and thinks the celebrity is wrong when she claims sexuality empowers women.
"Most real women are not beautiful like Rihanna. They do not have the same bodies. They are not as sexually open. ‘Empowering’ women by doing these things actually causes harm in many woman, especially young ones about their self-worth," said Baldini.
"These are woman that are not in the category of what many of you feel is too young to be looking at such things. These are pretty much adults. There is no benefit to Rihanna's sexual exploitation of herself, spiritually or secularly,” Baldini added.
Baldini then quoted 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 as a source of moral support for women that feel conflicted with their body image: "Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you cannot live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body."
Pastor Colonnello recently became a father and said the experience of fatherhood has helped him to realize his daughter should not watch videos that display explicit or implied sexual gestures.
"She is putting false ideas in girls minds," Colonnello explained. "I believe that girls need to learn the lesson that modest wear is O.K. and that men should be attracted to who you are …not just the way we look."