Chris Brown claims he “lost his virginity” at age 8 to a teenage girl, but this is not so much about his well-established inability to interview in a favorable light or his horribleness as a person (as some sites claim), and more so about our society’s insensitive approach to female-assailant-on-male-victim rape.
In an interview with The Guardian, Brown said he had already been watching lots of pornographic movies with his cousins by the ripe old age of 8 when he “lost his virginity” to a teenage girl and he related the following story:
“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.”
Brown chalked up the experience to being a child born and raised in the country. If the interviewer asked any further questions about that incident, it was not included in the published version of the interview. Rest assured if Brown were a woman claiming to have lost her virginity at 8 years old to a neighborhood teenage boy, she would have been asked about consent. But since Brown is a man and framed his story as one of a willful act of a “hot to trot” young boy, he wasn’t questioned.
Let’s be clear. An 8-year-old cannot consent to sex and especially not to a teenager, no matter the gender or how “grown up” the 8-year-old is. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, men and boys account for approximately 10 percent of sexual crimes.
Is it possible that Brown exaggerated his age or the exact circumstances of the incident in some twisted attempt to present himself as a chest-thumping manly man? Sure, but regardless if the story is completely factual or contains fudged details, the point is that his telling of the story and the interviewer’s (lack of) response to it are problematic. Brown is the epitome of a man-child. He is handsome, talented, reckless and slow to assume full responsibility for anything. And since Brown is the anti media darling, most publications were more likely to finger wag at Brown rather than The Guardian.
But really, The Guardian fell short by not probing into the “lost virginity” claim and essentially allowing Brown to frame the narrative.
Even if the younger person in a situation like that has a Y chromosome, it doesn’t make him a truly willful participant. The fact that Brown seems to believe that there are circumstances when an eight-year-old boy can consent to sex is more of the issue than whether Brown’s recollections of that incident are 100 percent accurate. The story might be completely true, made-up or contain a few exaggerations here and there, but whichever scenario, the sentiment is disturbing.
Now we know that Brown witnessed domestic violence against his mom at a young age and according to Brown also was exposed to (probably terribly misogynistic) pornography and statutory rape as a child. Add to that the fact that he was a multi-platinum-selling artist as a teenager with a lot of yes-men around and you have the perfect storm brewing to produce a tantrum-having, lack-of-respect-showing man-child.
That is not to excuse Brown’s behavior as an adult, but to offer possible explanations and contributing factors for it. Watching pornography and having sex while in elementary school do not prepare one to be a “beast” later on at sexual intercourse. It makes one more likely to have a skewed sense of how to recognize and engage in a healthy sexual relationship. What’s the media’s rationale for so readily packaging that quote in that way?
The black man as a rapacious, woman-lusting buck and the black woman as an always-ready Jezebel are stereotypes that are hundreds of years old. To put out such a story about a black man and let it go without context or question further promotes the stereotype of black people as hyper-sexualized creatures. The Guardian is a British publication and maybe some phrases or words were lost in the cultural translation, but those demeaning stereotypes are not just limited to the United States. The journalist asked multiple follow-up questions about Brown’s tattoos. Surely a few more questions about him being a porn-watching, sex-having eight-year-old would have been warranted.
There are a lot of reasons to give Chris Brown a side-eye. That quote about “losing his virginity” at eight years old is not one of them.
He needs support and education on that subject and a host of others. Additionally, the media should be more aware of appropriately presenting serious topics even when the celebrity subject is not the most beloved. Rape is rape regardless of gender, especially when children are involved.