As you all know, we hate Chris Brown. Really, we do. Just as we do not like any man who unapologetically commits violent acts against women and taunts others with threatening words, we do not like Chris Brown. But when Brown told The Guardian that he had lost his virginity at age 8 to a teenage girl “who was 14 or 15,” that hatred should not cloud judgment regarding a crime. The quote in question:
He lost his virginity when he was eight years old, to a local girl who was 14 or 15. Seriously? “Yeah, really. Uh-huh.” He grins and chuckles. “It’s different in the country.” Brown grew up with a great gang of boy cousins, and they watched so much porn that he was raring to go. “By that point, we were already kind of like hot to trot, you know what I’m saying? Like, girls, we weren’t afraid to talk to them; I wasn’t afraid. So, at eight, being able to do it, it kind of preps you for the long run, so you can be a beast at it. You can be the best at it.”
See, this is super messed up. 8-year-olds are not able to consent to sexual contact. Sure, there’s the whole “experimenting” thing kids do, but playing doctor with your peers is completely different than a female 6 – 7 years older sexually assaulting a third grader. This behavior doesn’t get covered by Romeo & Juliet exemptions.
However, Jezebel writer Doug Barry wrote an article the blames Brown for what happened to him and jokes about how he’s just bragging:
Of all the pop stars milling about the culture landscape these days, Chris Brown has a singular talent for making it impossible to sympathize with him even if he’s recounting a vaguely traumatic incident from his childhood. You know, like that time he lost his virginity to teenage girl. When he was eight. …
Maybe this is just a boast-gone-awry, or a story that Brown’s told to his friends one too many times, shaving another year or six months off his age with each iteration to make himself sound like some sort of mythical sex Jesus. It’s like a reverse Methuselah, who, sure, might have been some really old dude, but definitely did not live for 969 years. Some legends can get a little out of hand after enough retellings. Then again, if this is true, then congratulations to Brown…for turning a personal confession into yet another opportunity to showcase how unpleasant he seems.
Uh, I don’t think telling people you were sexually abused as a child by a significantly older individual is worthy of the “mythical sex Jesus” comment. Regardless of how Brown views his experience, and regardless of the awful, obviously reprehensible things he’s done, this was wrong. Just because a middle school student whose teacher had sex with her is under the impression that it was consensual doesn’t inherently make that notion true.
While I would be appalled at any website insinuating that an 8-year-old child having sexual experiences with somebody in their teen years is anything but abuse, I am especially saddened that Jezebel posted this. They’re usually one of the most empathetic, anti-victim-blaming sites out there. It’s also a bummer because Barry is one of the only men who writes for Jezebel these days (that I know of, but please correct me if I’m wrong!), so it sucks that he could have given a strong voice to this story and instead did…this.
As many of their commenters pointed out, this would have been a great opportunity to discuss the cycle of violence that plagues our culture. Obviously, not everybody who is abused goes on to harm other people (most, in fact, do not), but some do. When one person is abused, they often internalize that abuse and, in order to deal with their victimhood, go on to harm other human beings. This obviously doesn’t give anybody the right to abuse others, but it is a hugely important factor to examine and understand. Instead, we have an adult blaming a child for something that wasn’t his fault.
As I’ve said many times, it is not okay to permit or wish violence on those who are violent. We need to open up more of a dialogue on this issue rather than writing off some people as complicit in their abuse while others are labeled victims.
Photo: Getty Images