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Image / Editorial

Rihanna sues father for trying to ‘make millions’ by exploiting her success


by Jennifer McShane
16th Jan 2019
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When this story broke, that Rihanna was allegedly forced into suing her father for exploiting their surname to make millions off his daughter’s hard work and career, what became apparent was which side much of the media was on. “Rihanna sues her OWN father!” shouted one headline. “Rihanna sues her own dad for using their last name!” screamed another. But, it’s not really about the fact that they are related or that they are related and thus, have the same surname. Or even that it’s his surname.

Related: Celine Dion’s duet with R Kelly has been pulled
from streaming services

It’s about the fact that the singer’s own father is exploiting his daughter for his own personal gain.

Multiple outlets report that Rihanna is suing her dad, Ronald Fenty, for using her Fenty brand and name for his own financial gain. According to the lawsuit, her father and his business partner, Moses Joktan Perkins, started a talent development company called Fenty Entertainment in 2017, and after she’d already trademarked the name “Fenty” for her beauty empire and other business ventures.

Rihanna claims her father is falsely promoting his business as affiliated with her and is authorised to act on her behalf, going so far as to pose as her rep and fraudulently book her for 15 shows in Latin America, without her consent, for $15 million. The reports also say that she has sent her dad multiple cease-and-desist orders but he hasn’t complied, so she’s now taking legal action to get an injunction to stop his use of the name Fenty to make profits.

 

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In some outlets, this isn’t mentioned for a few paragraphs in, giving the impression that Rihanna is acting well out of bounds.

How dare she, read the TMZ comments, for example, sue her own father for using the name that is rightfully his? The name that he gave her?

“What of Rihanna’s trauma and distress? That her own father treats her with such obvious disregard is scarcely mentioned”

Abusive behaviour

Their relationship has always been tempestuous; she opened up in the past to Oprah about how his abusive behaviour toward her mother and issues with addiction broke up her parents’ marriage, and the years of work it took to reconcile with him.

And in behaviour eerily reminiscent of Meghan Markle’s estranged father, she also recalled to Vogue in 2011 that she felt “betrayed” when her father went to tabloids following her Chris Brown assault and sold them information – instead of coming to her first.

The impression from many seems to be that she is sacrificing her family relationship for her business; this is heartless of her. But what of Rihanna’s trauma and distress that her own father treats her with such disregard?

Related: Rihanna appointed as an official ambassador
for Barbados 

We’ve seen it before with the Duchess of Sussex’s decision to sever ties with family members. Some were appalled and had no problem saying so. How it was unnatural and “narcissistic.” “I think less of Meghan now than I did initially. I think the way she shooted her family is appalling,” said Lady Colin Campbell while Piers Morgan gleefully nodded in agreement.

Because the decision to cut ties with a family member or, as many public figures have had to do, take legal action against them, is so against the grain, people almost automatically resort to judgement. The basis of it being you simply must not be a very nice person. Less thought is spared for the person that must take this action, Rihanna, after what appears to be months of trying to be reasonable and opt for a less severe alternative.

Rihanna has taken steps to protect herself as well as all that she’s worked so hard to achieve. It isn’t narcissism.

Sometimes, and regardless of the heartbreak, it’s just what is very necessary.

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