Last Friday, the Guardian published an exclusive interview with r&b pop star Chris Brown, who is best known as the violent abusive boyfriend in the Chris Brown & Rihanna ‘show’ from February 2009. This article shows a personal side of Chris Brown, and explores some of his childhood. In particular, the article reveals a significant milestone in Chris Brown’s life:
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.” (Now 24, he doesn’t want to say how many women he’s slept with: “But you know how Prince had a lot of girls back in the day? Prince was, like, the guy. I’m just that, today. But most women won’t have any complaints if they’ve been with me. They can’t really complain. It’s all good.”)
However, the article does not point out what many others have: That Chris Brown was in fact raped.
It does not seem as though Chris Brown sees it that way, but Virginia law is pretty clear about the definition of rape, where the age of consent is 18. And although his confession was an admission of victimization, this fact seems to be overlooked, possibly because so many people dislike him.
What is interesting is that Chris Brown uses this experience as a way to demonstrate his sexual prowess, rather than a way to gain sympathy or understanding. Which is maybe exactly what he needs. The truth is that men can be sexually assaulted, and raped by women, as is described in a thoughtful article posted on CNN. I am not by any means saying that Chris Brown be let off the hook for his previous acts of violence, but maybe he could use some support. I’m not sure that his court-ordered anger management program really provided that…
He says his court-ordered 52-week programme of anger management helped him learn to keep his temper. But then he adds, “I think the actual class I went to was a little bit sexist.” What does he mean? “It was beneficial because it made me cater more to a woman’s thoughts and a woman’s needs, and how to handle situations. But the class itself, no disrespect to the class, but the class itself only tells you you’re wrong, you’re wrong, you’re wrong.”
So what does this freak out, or non-freak out according to many, remind sexuality educators to do?
-Be gender neutral in your discussions of sexual assault when talking about both victims and perpetrators because anyone can be affected.
-Emphasize the definition of consent- both the legal definition and what it means in a sexual encounter.
-Encourage the examination of all sides of the story without getting into a debate.
-Focus on behaviors, which can be changed, rather than putting down a person.
-Be compassionate towards all individuals, even if it’s someone you dislike or disapprove of their actions.
If we are too preoccupied hatin’ on Chris Brown, we’ll overlook the support and understanding he needs. And we might miss some wise words that can be an important lesson…
“No, I’m not going to walk around every day of my life depending on the opinions of other people. Because if I do that, I’ll just be trying to please everybody and that’s not what I’m here for.”