What do (battered) women really want?

Rihanna’s on-again, off-again post-assault relationship with fellow hip-hop star Chris Brown —I guess technically it’s still an alleged assault—has set off a deluge of commentary about why women stay with violent men. Some feminists think one shouldn’t even ask the question: Battered women already know people think they’re weird and complicit; what they need is non-judgmental support. Moreover, focusing on the victim masks the more important question, Why do men abuse women? Indeed, there have been plenty of articles expressing horror at teenage girls who blame Rihanna for “provoking” Brown—but none that I’ve seen looks closely at their male classmates (or parents). Leaving aside those who claim women abusing men is just as big a problem, sure, men will hit, so it’s up to women to run away.

Pictured: R&B Soul singer Rihanna attends the 2009 GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons honoring Clive Davis at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 7, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)