Does All Dirty Laundry Need To Be Aired?

by Yesha Callahan

Does All Dirty Laundry Need To Be Aired


Over the last week, Kelly Rowland has received so much praise after voicing her trials and tribulations in her new single, Dirty Laundry You’ve probably heard the song by now, but if not, here’s a recap:

A) Kelly talks about her abusive relationship:

“Hitting the window like it was me / And still it shattered / He pulled me out and said, ‘Don’t nobody love you but me / Not your mama / Not your daddy / and especially not Bey.’”

B) Kelly also sings about being in the shadows of Beyoncé, post-Destiny’s Child:

“When my sister was onstage / killing it like a … / I was enraged / feeling it like a ….,” she sings. “Went our separate ways but I was happy that she was killing it / Bittersweet, she was up and I was down / No lie, I feel good for her but what do I do now?”

Although news about being in an abusive relationship shocked many people, one could say the jealousy between Kelly and Beyoncé was something that people already assumed existed. The gossip blogs long speculated a rift between Kelly and Beyoncé’s friendship, but with Dirty Laundry Kelly proved at least some of the assumptions to be true.

In a recent Billboard interview, Kelly explained why she felt the need to vent on her song. Her goal was to inspire fans, not bring them down.

“It was very emotional. It took me days to record,” she told the magazine. “I had to get past being so upset and actually sing the song, not sob through it. I always hope that my music can inspire someone, the same way other artists inspire me.

Kelly isn’t the first artist to air her dirty laundry through song, and it’s not only being done by women. In Rihanna’s song Cold Case, which was released shortly after the infamous beating at the hands of Chris Brown, she sings:

“What you did to me was a crime/Cold Case Love/And I let you reach me one more time/But that’s enough/Your love was breaking the law/But I needed a witness/ So wake me up when it’s over/It don’t make any difference.”

Even one of hip-hop’s G.O.A.T’s, Nas, waxes poetic about his divorce from Kelis in his song, Strong Will Continue:

“How in the hell am I supposed to stay comfy/When I pay child support, alimony monthly” (…) “So I’ve stuck with some married women so fine/cheating while their husband rushing on the 40-yard line/Wonder if this is what my ex did the whole time.”

Sure, get it off your chest. When people vent, a weight feels as though it’s been lifted, but is there a type of person that vents?

According to Dr. Carla Rhodes, a D.C based psychologist, there is. She says, “A person who feels the need to vent and air their dirty laundry may have a high need for approval from others, and they also feel as if they should be accepted for their shortcomings and forgiven for their transgressions regardless of how dissonant they are with the personal values of their audience.”

We all know it’s good to vent at times, but does airing your dirt leave you open to even more criticism? There are tons of people who get joy out of knowing others are in pain and having a tough time emotionally.

Schadenfreude is real.

If you’re not familiar with the term schadenfreude, it’s pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced people who get a cheap thrill out of seeing someone’s downward spiral, or even to have their assumptions confirmed when someone vents about the issues going on in their life.

Sometimes maybe it’s better to keep things to yourself and not vent publicly.  People will always assume things about another person, no one ever said a person has to prove them right.

What’s your opinion on venting and airing your dirty laundry? 

  • Sasha

    Misery loves company. While it certainly is good and necessary to vent, I’m always midnful of who I’m sharing issues with and what issues I’m sharing. Some things are good to write down on a piece of paper and throw away. Celebrities share certain issues, I believe mostly to make themselves look relatable and like “eveyone else” but really all it does it maybe gain that person a fan and put money back in the celebrities pockets. I haven’t heard Kelly’s song or Rihanna’s for that matter and don’t care to listen to either of them. Their problems are not my business.

  • Chacha1

    Maybe it helps people feel better in some ways, but I don’t air my business to the public. I’ve always felt like my issues were for me to deal with privately.

    There was a time in my life when my dirty laundry was aired–but not by me–and all it did was garner nosiness, and people speculating without knowing the real me. I don’t need random people looking at and discussing my life like it’s The Young and the Restless.

    I will sometimes vent to a couple of people who are very close to me like my spouse (naturally) and also my sister.

    I think some people feel a little lighter when they ‘share’…not me, though.

  • O’Phylia

    With the exception of my sister, I try not to talk to people about what’s bad in my life unless it’s absolutely necessary.

    Still related: why is everyone harping on the fact that Kelly admitted to being jealous at ONE POINT IN TIME, but no one is talking about the abuse????

  • Jessi Jess

    #SpeakOnIt…. All I have been thinking is whoever that guy is PRAYING that she never utters his name. He would be crucified (as he should.)

  • sojourner4truth

    I agree with you. The focus is misdirected

  • Jessi Jess

    Honestly, I love this track. Music is at it’s best when it comes from a real place. (See MJB, Drake, Lauryn, etc.) Kelly was open and raw and emotional. I could picture everything happening and I felt her pain. The big take-away was that she fell and got back up. #ClassicAmericanStory
    She made a fan out of me. I plan on getting the album.

  • Echo

    In the case of Kelly Rowland, Nas, and Rihanna, they’re artists, musicians. What draws us to them–what often draws us to any artists and their work–is their ability and willingness to be vulnerable and to verbalize through song what we’re experiencing. Music artists not only sell us the fantasy of fabulosity, sex, and partyin’ til the break of dawn, but also use that platform to share personal stories–theirs or someone else’s–about matters of the heart, mind, and spirit.

  • Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    I”m very mindful who I talk to and about what. Everyone is not privy to my private thoughts and emotions, venting etc. I certainly would not be one to do that in public even as an artist it would be filtered.

    When it comes to art, a certain amount of truth, vulnerability and authenticity makes the art resonate but even with that one must be mindful of when and how much to share.

  • Ms Write

    Why not? She is an artist, this is what artists do, they come from a very real and vulnerable place that the average person is not always able to do or artiuclate properly. I love that she is able to speak her truth and come to terms with everything that happened, even her relationship with Bey. That’s better than harboring feelings of negativity and bitterness, or coming off in interviews as a “hater” (I really don’t like that term but for lack of better words at the momeet…)

  • Ms Write

    What if we could all be so free?

  • Simone L

    There’s a thin line between airing dirty laundry and honestly expressing ones self. She didn’t say names, she didn’t throw shade, she was honest. I think that she made her peace with those mentioned in the song long before the song came out, whether it was internal or she spoke about it. I believe she spoke to Beyonce before this song came out. Airing dirty laundry is… and hip hop.

  • Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    Love an hip hop is fiction, as in soap opera-ish!

  • Glennisha Morgan (@GlennishaMorgan)

    So because people will assume things about you and criticize you, you’re supposed to be silent?… As Audre Lorde said, “Your silence will not protect you.” This sends a very dangerous message. Many survivors of abuse, rape victims, etc. are often quiet because they are afraid of criticism. This plays into “rape culture” and the blaming of victims.

    Anyway, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Kelly telling her story. In fact, it’s about time she brings some depth to her music. Also there is nothing wrong with admitting that she was, at one point, jealous of her friend. As human beings, it happens. I am never here for shaming people, hushing people and discouraging others from sharing their stories, especially on account of what people have to say.

  • Camryn

    Kelly Rowland is not Audrey Lorde…

    This was done for publicity….

    And the article is mainly abt gossip…

    I don’t see Kelly standing up for abuse victims..etc..or discussing it any more than trying to sell a record…

  • dbsm

    @glennisha i can appreciate your sentiment

  • Ms Write

    I agree! Well said.

  • LN

    I respected Kelly for telling her story! And I love how she said that people don’t know the half of what happens in the music industry. I think schadenfreude is the backlash to the images of perfection we are constantly force fed. We are made to believe that celebrity women are better than us, more beautiful, with perfect relationships and tons of money. People want to see the real behind the fantasy, what’s behind the veil and Kelly gave that to us. I value her honesty and I respect it.

    This song humanized her and made me more of a fan.

  • greendoondoon

    There are some artists that resonate with me because of the sheer pathos and pain they sing with. Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday… you feel every single bit of their music. As fine as a singer that Adele is, she does not move me. Amy Winehouse, who bared her entire soul in her music, stirs me in a way that few artists can. It’s great to feel the beat, as I do in a Beyonce song, but when I need to feel the words, I go for Nina, Amy, Billie or even Mary J.

  • Orange Starr Happy Hunting

    Sade and Esthero for me too in addition to the artists you already named esp Amy Winehouse.
    Most of these Pop stars are not soul baring “artists” they are contrived images and brands nothing more or less.

  • Marisa

    What I found interesting is when Kelly and Tamar Braxton opened up about their past abusive relationships, from what I saw they were praised by many now when K.Michelle did it, it was met with she’s a liar and she needs to show proof of her allegations. Also how K.Michelle should just get over it if it did happen since it was awhile ago. My thing is isn’t music suppose to be a way to bare the soul and isn’t R&B stands for Rhythm and BLUES. A lot of these songs since the beginning were not just about telling the artist lives but, those around them through observation. When rappers started telling about the hood and what was going on it opened a window into lives plenty didn’t care to know about. That was before folks started faking like they were all dope dealing, pimping, drive by committing felons. Bottom line is if Taylor Swift can have an entire music collection derived from ALL of her 8 minute relationships, that she treats like the worst break ups of all time, everybody else should have the same creative freedoms.

  • Anon

    Anything to go gold, huh?

    As far as the author suggests, some ppl should keep certain things to themselves (outside of issues of rape, etc..)…why give people ammunition to use against you?

    Not everyone should be privy about your private life.

  • The Artist

    Does all dirty laundry need to be aired? Not all the time, but in this case I feel it came off as therapeutic, not “I’m angry” or “I’m doing this to get back at so and so”. On another note, I’m upset the news is taking the whole Beyonce rift to another level, without even a concern to the abuse she faced. It’s only natural she may have some feeling towards Bey’s career seeing as though she was always in her shadow, but to “hype it up” and take a blind eye to the abuse is pretty dirty. *Sigh* All for clicks I suppose….

  • Marisa

    You pretty much summed it up all many saw was the Beyoncé reference and that’s all that was needed to run with, totally ignoring the Kelly spent time getting beat down by some dude angle. Why focus on that when we can run in the ground the Destiny Child’s Dysfunction episode #27385385019646

  • MimiLuvs

    IMO, the topic of the abuse is not discuss because it is a ‘can of worms’ that can cause some trouble.
    I know Roy Williams (Kelly’s ex-fiancee) had to address some people from his Twitter page after some accused him of being the man who abused her.

  • J

    I love me some beyonce however, WHY do all of these media sites reporting on the song act like the ENTIRE THING was about beyonce? IT WASN’T. that was like 3 lines of the song. but all these headlines like “Kelly’s new song: talks being in Beyonce’s shadow”
    Making it seem like she secretly hates her and the whole song is a bitter jealousy filled rant about bey.

  • jcross

    Exactly; isn’t there also a line where Kelly says she missed Beyonce? I think people just like focusing on the negative because it’s more entertaining to speculate and gossip about…

  • The Comment

    Not anymore. By now everyone has/is coming out the closet. Everyone has been molested and everyone has suffered from bullying or abused by an spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend etc. All bases are covered and there is a face for every horrible misdeed done to mankind is now accounted for.

    If I were a black celebrity I would closely guard my past and say nothing to no one unless they did up Ed Bradley and then and ONLY then would you know anything about me outside my glamours career. People can only tear you down when they know facts about you.Why feed the haters? Keep them guessing and keep them speculating.

  • solfresh

    As long as it’s done sincerely and used as a tool for growth, venting is natural. In regards to other people, you’re damned if you do damned if you don’t. I’d rather vent and get the weight off of my chest than hold it in because other people derive pleasure from my misfortune or are waiting to criticize me. You make it seem as though the people who cherish seeing others struggle are more normal than those who vent.

    At the end of day if you can vent properly, learn from it and come out on top, you’re the winner not your audience.

    In Nas’s Bye Baby, he addressed the people who spoke about his misfortune and how it was dumb of him to even get married/trust kelis and his response:
    “you live with your baby moms and scared to make an honest women out of her….at least I can say I tried plus enjoyed the ride, plus we got our little boy…next go round I hope I pick the truest type and watch me do it all again it’s a beautiful life.”

    You can’t move forward holding onto past hurts. Let it out, grow, and keep living. At least you’re living, forget people who enjoy your misery and want to critique you. Shoot send them the counselor you used they’re the ones who are sick.

  • greendoondoon

    My grandmother had a saying– “even tongue and teeth fall out with each other,” meaning that no matter how close you are, rifts happen. It’s how you handle them that matter. They both handled it like grown women and moved on. Good for both of them. I’m so sorry Kelly went through such abuse. The shame lies with the abuser, not Kelly for telling it. She’s better than I am because I would’ve sang his name, birthday, address and SSN.

  • J

    Yup she said it was bittersweet that bey blew up more than her like once and the rest of Bey’s cameos was about how the man turned kelly against her
    she calls Bey her sister throughout the whole thing so i’m pretty sure they’re alright.
    smh people love concocting drama

  • dirtychai

    “Destiny Child’s Dysfunction episode #27385385019646″

    *rolls eyes They will carry this mess well into their 40s.

    I love Kelly though.

  • Chonilla

    OMGoodness my sentiment exactly! Damn you media leeches.

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