We Don’t Want You Chris Brown
Written By Maddy Crehan
Trigger warning: this article contains descriptions of domestic violence.
US singer Chris Brown has been issued a notice of intent to refuse him an Australian visa, one day before his concert tickets were due to go on sale. This notice was based on his history of domestic violence, specifically towards ex-girlfriend pop star Rihanna. Brown has exactly 28 days to decide to either challenge the notice or withdraw his application to visit Australia for his One Hell of a Nite tour in December.
Activist group GetUp! launched an online campaign calling for the banning of Brown’s tour to enforce Australia’s zero tolerance policy when it comes to domestic violence. The petition has already reached over 10,000 signatures. Posters for his concert have also been anonymously defaced with ‘I Beat Women’ stickers (round of applause for the champ that did that).
Campaigner Sally Rugg says the petition is not just about Brown, but about the alarming number of men who have been convicted of violence against women yet still retain high profile careers in the entertainment business. Rugg suggests that the tour sends the message that “if you brutally beat a woman, in a short amount of time you will be forgiven, or even celebrated”. However, fame should not be a reason for blind forgiveness.
The Australian Migration Act states that anyone with a “substantial criminal record” (involving a prison sentence of 12 months or more, including a suspended sentence) can be refused a visa. The singer was convicted in 2009 of assaulting and threatening to kill Rihanna and sentenced to 5 years probation. Minister for Women Michaelia Cash spoke on the issue stating Brown is “not of the character we expect in Australia” and that “this is a government that’s not afraid to say ‘no'”.
Fans of Chris Brown have launched their own petition to allow him into Australia, claiming that the decision is not consistent with all music genres and that this legislation should apply to other celebrities in the industry, not just Brown. Though this idea was used in an attempt to argue that the ban was unfair and should be revoked, I actually agree with this notion that the criminal history of all celebrities should be considered when applying for visas.
However, the concept that ‘he gets away with it so I should too’ is ludicrous. In keeping with illogical arguments, fans are also claiming that ‘he’s been to Aus twice since his conviction, so why not now?’. Just because we have tolerated violent celebrities in the past, it does not mean we are obliged to do so in the future. If we adopt this ‘this is how it’s always been so this is how it must always be’ idea the future for women in Australia would look very bleak.
On Tuesday Brown tweeted “I would be more than grateful to come to Australia to raise awareness about domestic violence”. Something tells me that a man with a notorious history of aggression is not the best spokesperson for preventing violence against women. Although his assault against Rihanna was the most infamous, it was not the only violent incident. In 2011 Brown flew into a rage and broke a window at the Good Morning America studios after being asked about Rihanna.
Two years ago Brown publicly stated “what I did was wrong and never doing it again” – however soon after he was photographed aggressively arguing with ex-girlfriend Karrueche Tran, and screaming outside her house at 3:30am. At one of his concerts, Brown later referred to Tran by shouting “f**k that b*tch”. These actions do not strike me as the work of women’ rights activist.
Brown has been previously banned from entering Britain and Canada, and Australia is wise to do the same. Showing little sign of remorse the singer stated “I’m not sure how long one person should be punished for their sins when they’ve taken the necessary steps to redeem themselves”. This form of abuse is commonly pattern behaviour, meaning it is likely to happen again, and again. The fact that Brown has such a high status does not excuse his behaviour, but rather makes it even more essential that it is publicly recognised as unacceptable. When it comes to violence against women, once is one too many times. This notice against Brown follows the government’s recent announcement of $100 million funding to combat domestic violence. With violence against women now at a crisis point in Australia, this could not come soon enough.
GetUp! have recently revoked their campaign against Chris Brown after they were accused of supporting the targeting and stereotyping of coloured men in the discussion of gendered violence. They offered a formal apology in which they stated “We all should stand up to any man who commits violence against women, but Australia has a history of arbitrary executive decisions and disproportionate exclusion of non-white people at its borders and upon reflection our approach contributed to this”.
The banning of Chris Brown from Australia shows how seriously we take domestic violence. But this must be a consistent policy applying to people of every race. Motley Crue recently toured Australia, despite both Tommy Lee and Vince Niel having domestic violence records. Similarly Black Sabbath toured Australia in 2013, and plan to again in 2016, regardless of Ozzy Osborne’s attempted murder charge. Instead of labeling Brown’s visa ban as purely race-motivated and therefore unsubstantial, we should consider the banning of ALL perpetrators of abuse, regardless of colour or race.
For more information on recognising and dealing with domestic violence visit our page on Abusive Relationships.
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