Every once in a not-so-long while, social media assembles to unpack – with a bit of schadenfreude – the lives of celebrities. Neither fact nor rumour will keep the Twitterati from discoursing a celebrity’s personal life. Once it’s out, be sure that Black Twitter will unpack it. There simply are no sacred cows.
As with many rumours that have the luck of landing on the relevant platforms on a slow gossip news week, last week saw us being treated to some tittle-tattle about Rihanna’s ‘alleged’ romantic shambles.
Forget the fact that she is Rihanna, cheating on a woman pregnant with your kid is insane lowkey— ͏layi (@layi_olusanya) April 14, 2022
As always, only a handful of people cared enough to ascertain whether what we were being fed was fact or fiction. The rest of us were only too happy to be reminded, once again, that no one is exempt from being cheated on, whether rich or poor, conventionally beautiful or not.
As embarrassing, and quite frankly evil as it may be to admit whenever a celebrity cheating scandal rocks social media that some of us enjoy a schadenfreude that comes with knowing that not even celebrity status can protect one from treachery, it is God’s truth. And maybe this is why such rumours often spread like wildfire – there is a level of satisfaction we derive, consciously or otherwise, from the humiliation of those society has deemed superior to the rest of us.
Somebody started a rumour that Rihanna’s partner and father to their unborn child, ASAP Rocky cheated on her, and like clockwork, the ‘dissertations’ soon followed. Within seconds, Twitter was abuzz with a variety of think pieces, with some men even hypothetically availing themselves as potential stepfathers to the unborn baby and calling for Drake, who is rumoured to have a longstanding crush on Riri, to stand up.
It isn’t so much that celebrities get cheated on that drives the ill will from ordinary people, rather the perspective that conventionally beautiful and successful women do not deserve to be cheated on, the idea that romantic heartbreak is only reserved for a certain kind of woman – a woman who doesn’t meet the beauty standards imposed by society.
Silly, childlike ranking systems used – ironically enough – by unattractive and unintelligent men to determine what renders a woman beautiful or worthy of being loved faithfully.
Not only do these ideas seek to pin women against each other, they are also a deliberate, calculated endeavour to shift the blame of cheating to the woman being cheated on.
If you tell someone that they’re ugly and unworthy long enough, it is usually only a matter of time before they start believing it, a matter of time before they internalise the malice and carry the burden of someone else’s shameful behaviour. This is exactly the goal of those men who go around asking insidious questions such as “who dare cheats on Rihanna?”
Faithfulness is a matter of integrity. It has nothing to do with the other person; how they look, their social capital or financial standing. A person who cheats does so because they are disgraceful and the shame of it belongs solely to them.
While these utterances may seem harmless at surface-level, they are quite harmful and their purpose is to gnaw at the self-esteem of women who are not regarded as conventionally beautiful – to make them feel that on the basis of their looks they deserve to be cheated on.
It is no wonder then, that whenever cheating allegations about celebrities like Beyonce, Gabrielle Union and Rihanna make headlines, it isn’t solidarity that some women feel, but a deep-seated satisfaction that comes from the knowledge that at the end of the day, we are all vulnerable to deceit.