Imagine being a young woman in your mid-20s revealing in an interview that you lost your virginity at 8-years-old to a much older teenaged group of sexual partners. You would then justify those actions by saying it “kind of preps you for the long run” and also noting your regional location in the country as being another explanation for the behavior.
Many would be concerned about you falling victim to potential child abuse and might even consider reaching out. But change the gender and the notoriety of the individual and you can now expect misguided criticism and judgment placed on the victim. And that victim is R&B superstar Chris Brown. Do your sentiments change now? Do you care even less now? You shouldn’t, and if so, perhaps you should reevaluate your bias on victims of sexual abuse.
In Chris Brown’s latest interview with The Guardian, he is amused at his admissions of growing up watching porn and being sexually active at a young age. “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,” Brown says during the interview. But perhaps even more detailing is that he feels as though he was in control of the matter by mentioning that the early experience prepared him to “be a beast at it,” and how now “most women won’t have any complaints if they’ve been with me” as a result.
Can you now see the real problem, here?
On a very myopic and basic level, many would take the time out to consider Brown’s sexual exploitation as a way to boost his own personal provocative reputation. And yes, many publications have already done the foolish task of ignoring the underlining problem of his admission and rather attack him.
Of course, Chris Brown is an easy target and scapegoat for other issues pertaining to his recent run-ins with the law and that of the infamous Rihanna assault. However, regardless of how much you hate his music or his current lifestyle, one cannot ignore that he was once a victim of child sexual abuse (that regardless of how he tries to shape it, was not fully of his consent as a minor).
The larger issue with this narrative is how very often gender bias allows for males to feel as though they cannot be victims of sexual abuse, especially as a child. What is even more alarming is how pop culture and our expectations of masculinity in general shapes how these narratives are being told.
If Chris Brown were to admit that he was sexually abused without showing any level of self-perceived control of the situation, where would the narrative have went? How would his heavy female fan base have taken this? Instead, he attempts to turn this situation around as a way to reclaim the socially constructed stereotype that fuels such provocative male pop stars such as him. And that isn’t his fault.
Culturally, we have not been willing to accept even the most appealing young male musical artists to have a career after such admission. Anyone remember Raz-B of the famed R&B group B2K and his revelation that he was sexually molested during his tenure with the group? Perhaps not, because you probably don’t hear much of him on the airways now compared to a few of his other co-members.
Unfortunately, because Chris Brown is a polarizing figure, it is now easier to find anything to criticize him about regardless of the account. Although I am not much of a fan of his antics, when it comes to him being a victim of abuse (regardless of how he wants to shift the narrative or not) I think its best that the rest of us not attempt to spin this into another tabloid of attacks.
Child abuse is a very sensitive topic and those involved have various ways of coping and coming to terms with it. Even if we do not agree with how Brown interprets his situation, it is not our place to bash him for it. We should also recognize the disappointing social norms of gender roles and how those perhaps influence such responses.
What Chris Brown really revealed in that interview was not how bold or sexually experienced he was, but how often society has put pressure into what it means to be masculine and a man living up to those warped expectations.
If there is anyone who should be criticized for their actions, it should be society’s failings to create an open space for a man to feel as though sexual abuse can be a discussion they can also be mature about.