Whether David Choe made up a rape story or not, the bottom line is it’s disgustingly egregious either way
OPINION: A resurfaced video in which artist David Choe graphically describes sexually assaulting a Black woman has been the topic of discussion for the last few days on Twitter. The issue isn’t whether or not the story is true; the issue is why use Black women as your punching bag?
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Content warning: This story discusses sexual assault and rape.
Have you watched “Beef” on Netflix yet?
I have not. I had previously planned to, but I hadn’t gotten around to it yet because between writing multiple paid pieces at once, spending 10 hours getting my hair braided Friday and trying to stay on top of the latest season of “Love Is Blind” before Netflix’s epic fail of a live broadcast this past weekend, I just hadn’t found the time to watch it.
It’s now highly unlikely that I will watch it because one of its stars, David Choe, is embroiled in the nastiest scandal involving an alleged rape (fantasy?) of a Black woman.
Please read that again because either way this washes out, it is entirely disgusting and out of pocket no matter how you look at it.
Allow me to catch you up.
In 2014, Choe had a podcast called “DVDASA,” which, in case you were wondering, stands for “Double Vaginal, Double Anal, Sensitive Artist.” The story I just linked to contains a press release from Choe about the podcast in which he graphically describes “forcibly” shoving his penis down a woman’s throat. You need that context for this next part.
During one episode of “DVDASA,” Choe described — again, in graphic detail — forcing a Black woman masseuse into sexual activity during a massage session.
He gleefully described coercing the Black woman into committing sexual acts even after she repeatedly told him “No.” Gawker reported on it at the time and details the disgusting story with a graphic transcription.
When his cohosts on the podcast openly called him out and told him that what he did was rape, he said, “The thrill of possibly going to jail is what achieved the erection quest.”
He also claimed the woman “said yes with her eyes” and then added, “I just want to make it clear that I admit that that’s rapey behavior, but I am not a rapist.”
After receiving some pushback on the episode, Choe released a statement on his blog that said the following, according to Gawker:
I never thought I’d wake up one late afternoon and hear myself called a rapist. It sucks. Especially because I am not one. I am not a rapist. I hate rapists, I think rapists should be raped and murdered.
I am an artist and a storyteller and I view my show DVDASA as a complete extension of my art.
If I am guilty of anything, it’s bad storytelling in the style of douche. Just like many of my paintings are often misinterpreted, the same goes with my show. … It’s not a news show. It’s not a representation of my reality. It’s not the place to come for reliable information about me or my life. It’s my version of reality, it’s art that sometimes offends people. I’m sorry if anyone believed that the stories were fact. They were not!
In a world full of horrible people, thank god for us.
In what world is describing a rape scenario considered “art”? In whose mind is any of this OK?
It doesn’t escape my notice that the woman in this “fantasy” is Black, and I have to question why, if this is indeed a madeup story, he chose a Black woman as the target of his depraved sexual fantasy.
Why are we always the punchline? Why are we always the punching bag? Why are we always the object against which people beat their sticks when they want to debase or degrade something?
“In a 2014 episode of [“DVDASA,”] I relayed a story simply for shock value that made it seem as if I had sexually violated a woman. Though I said those words, I did not commit those actions. It did not happen,” he said. “I am deeply sorry for any hurt I’ve brought to anyone through my past words. Non-consensual sex is rape and it is never funny or appropriate to joke about.”
Let’s not forget that during the actual podcast episode, Choe pointedly said that he was of the belief that he should do the thing first and face the backlash for it later. He knew he would receive some sort of negative feedback for the things he said in that episode, but he said them anyway. He knew he could face some trouble for telling the story, but he told it anyway. And again, the person he allegedly abused in the story was a Black woman, and as we know, Black women are the last to be protected in any situation. How heavily did that weigh into his choice to tell the story in the first place? Did he think it wouldn’t be taken as seriously because the woman was Black and Black women historically have been portrayed as overly sexualized?
I won’t armchair diagnose or pretend to be in Choe’s head. I will say that there were several points where he could have decided not to do this. There were several points at which he could have admitted he was seriously wrong, that this was a disgusting story to tell, and that true or not, you have to be a depraved individual to even think this kind of “shock-value storytelling” is OK.
Choe has referred to himself as a narcissist and a liar. He has admitted to having issues with sex addiction and rage.
And fine. You’re a liar. You have a sex addiction and weird sexual fantasies.
It still needs to be said that even telling this big of a whopper in this particular way and following up by saying it was “rapey” diminishes both sexual assault and the impact it has on victims.
And that, David Choe, is not OK.
You don’t get to detail a rape fantasy and try to minimize it by calling it “rapey.” What you describe is rape through coercion, and that, no matter what time of day it is, is rape, plain and simple.
As I type this, there are rumors going around Twitter that Choe is using DCMA to get tweets that share the video of him telling the story taken down.
Indeed, if you look at two tweets from two prominent Twitter accounts, Twitter has now inserted a message saying the tweets have been removed due to a request from the copyright holder.
This gives the appearance that instead of addressing this directly, Choe is simply trying to squelch the conversation by hiding the video from view.
Unfortunately for him — if it even is him that is having the videos taken down — that’s not going to stop the discussion. In fact, it’s having the opposite effect.
Be as loud and as proud in your response to this as you were in telling that sick story, David.
Let’s openly discuss all the ways in which this was wrong. Let’s have a dialogue about why rape in any context is not fodder for your podcast audience. Let’s talk about how problematic normalizing rape and sexual assault is.
In other words, now that we all know you are a sexually depraved lunatic, let’s not add coward to the mix.
Own your stuff, sir. You said it. You put it out there. It’s up to you to address this in an open and honest way.
You owe victims of sexual assault an apology. You owe “Rose” an apology. You owe every woman who has ever been afraid to come forward with the story of her sexual assault an apology.
You owe Black women an apology.
Let’s get to it, David Choe.
You on the clock, homey.
Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at moniquejudge.com.
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