I understand that Christopher Maurice Brown isn’t the most charming man in America, but at one point does a person say, “I should give this guy a break when I’m reading his interview about essentially being sexually assaulted before the age of 10?”
Some media outlets paused, others not so much—and the key difference in coverage was clear. As repugnant as Chris Brown may often be, I can’t help but feel somewhat protective of him in this instance and accept that his paranoia about the media isn’t completely unfounded.
If Chris Brown were White, or more specifically, a White woman, I highly doubt that the interviewer, Decca Aitkenhead, would’ve swept Chris Brown’s declaration that he had sex at the age of eight so swiftly as she did in his now infamous interview with The Guardian. As Colorlines editor Akiba Solomon explained, “To disarm someone—particularly someone as troubled as Brown—without sanctuary feels unethical to me.”
To use his revelation to further vilify him is reprehensible.
Enter Jezebel’s Doug Barry, who wrote the following about the Brown interview: “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.”
Empathy does not always have to be contingent on the behavior of another. I respect the mission of Jezebel, but find it troubling that in the context of statutory rape, Brown is being vilified for the way he internalized his sexual exploitation. It is inexcusable when done to a woman and the same attitude should be applied to a man no matter how annoying they may seem. Brown could literally take a piss on my computer, but that doesn’t alter how disgusting it was for someone to exploit him sexually him at such an early period in his life.
Chris Brown losing his virginity at the age of eight to a 14-year-old teenage girl is not a “vaguely traumatic incident,” it is rape. Yes, the singer sounded quite boastful about the experience, but that speaks to the way boys are often socialized into believing there is no such thing as rape for them. His attitude about the matter speaks just as much to a societal ill as it does his overinflated ego.
We know how dangerous that mindset, so we needn’t further perpetuate it simply over a personal disdain.