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We are not allowed to hold someone emotionally hostage until they give us what we want, forcing them to swallow their own feelings, desires, and needs in order to satisfy our own. That's not romance. That's abuse.

This year, Vulture declared that the grand romantic gesture will never die. It's become such a popular trope in “chick flicks” and the like, including John Cusack and his boom box. Movies like Say Anything (1989) gave rise to Ted Mosby, who grated on our nerves throughout nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother with this type of dramatic display to win the hearts of several women, none of whom turned out to be the mother. As an industry staple, I don't see it disappearing from rom-coms and related narratives any time soon, but these sort of public pity parties that play on people's empathy in order to achieve an end are not as romantic as television, movies, and music would have us believe. In fact, they are more akin to abuse. Many of the tunes that we consider to be our favorite love songs have lyrics that are nothing short of harassment and stalking. I happen to be a big fan of The Script’s “The Man Who Can't Be Moved” and I listen to it often, fully aware of its implications and its failures. The song intends to tell a story about a lost love and what one man is willing to do to have this woman back in his life, but the story that it ends up telling is about an attempt to manipulate her into rekindling a relationship with a very public display because he cannot handle their separation.
Related: WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT ABUSE IN QUEER RELATIONSHIPS

The latest news about R. Kelly illustrates how we are failing Black girls, we are failing Black women.

A new chapter in the R. Kelly saga broke yesterday when Buzzfeed published an investigative piece about the artist. The article details accusations of the singer/sexual predator having a ‘cult’ or harem of young women whom he houses in various properties. Kelly allegedly dictates how they dress, controls what they eat, confiscates their cell phones and limits their contact with the outside world. According to sources, he also records their sexual encounters and shares them with the men in his circle. Journalist Jim DeRogatis, who has been writing about Kelly’s exploits and misdeeds for decades, spoke to several victims and their families, including the parents of a 22-year-old girl (now identified as Joycelyn Savage) who was absorbed into Kelly’s entourage when she was 19. Savage’s mother, who went by J in the article, was quoted as saying that she was "really impressed" by Kelly when she met in at a 2015 concert in California. Money and power in the hands of masculinity IS impressive, aint it? J is in her 40s, so this mother, who was an adult when Kelly's 2008 trial occurredwas STILL a fan despite evidence of his abusive history. The only thing that can describe the horror of this is internalized misogynoir. She was willing to sell out her daughter’s existence to a known predator because he was acquitted–despite the video evidence circulated widely of him urinating on a 14-year-old girl.
Related: THE U.S. STILL HAS A CHILD BRIDE PROBLEM

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