By MELISSA WELLHAM
Meet hip hop artist Danny Brown.
Originally born Daniel Dewan Sewell, he’s a rapper from Michigan and has been described by MTV as “one of rap’s most unique figures in recent memory.”
And recently, when performing on stage in Minneapolis, a female fan pulled down Brown’s pants and attempted to perform oral sex on him.
(You can see the photo – NSFW – here)
Everyone had a great laugh at this young woman’s audacity and the internet erupted with blokes congratulating Brown on the ultimate pop star achievement. The chorus got louder as more and more joined in the commentary.
Largely Brown was labelled either a womaniser, who had used a poor girl to reinforce his ‘rep’, or as the coolest guy ever, for getting a blowjob on stage and not even missing a beat.
Music websites that wrote about the incident used congratulatory language, saying things like ‘he brought a twist to a recent concert by receiving a blowjob on stage’. News Ltd reported that Brown had “outraged fans by allegedly receiving oral sex from an audience member while performing”.
Another rapper, Kendrick Lamar, tweeted Brown asking “U really just got the h— on stage stanny???” Brown reportedly replied, “didn’t miss one bar” – but the tweet has since been deleted.
But, um, hold on a second.
Danny Brown backed away the moment he was approached by the woman.
He did not look welcoming, he looked a bit shocked and confused.
He did not consent.
So wasn’t Danny Brown sexually assaulted?
Danny Brown is currently touring with a female rapper who goes by the name ‘Kitty Pryde’ – her real name is Kathryn Beckwith. Pryde wrote a piece for Vice magazine after the incident, in which she outright called what happened to Brown sexual assault. She wrote:
I’m mad that a person thought it was okay to pull another person’s pants down during their performance in front of about 700 other people.
I’m mad that a person thought it was a good idea to perform a sex act on another person without their consent. I’m mad that nobody made her leave. I’m mad that Danny had to actually wonder what he was supposed to do at that point.
What is Danny supposed to do? The girl was at mouth-to-d**k level already and to push her away, he would’ve had to either push her face or kick her, and even the most gentle of either motion would immediately be labeled “abuse” by anyone watching.
Pryde says that the reaction on the internet is an example of double standards, where the public is inclined to side with women when they are sexually assaulted – but not with men. Pryde continued, “It’s obvious that the reason nobody cares is because a girl did it to a boy… Everyone wants the option of blaming it on Danny, because people can’t accept the fact that a white girl raped a black dude in front of a bunch of people.”
The fact that Brown has retweeted his defence by Kitty Pryde a number of times since it was published, suggests that he agrees with her point of view. The most important argument that Pryde makes, it that Brown’s assault is much like any other. It’s just that people aren’t calling it that.
Sexual assaults often occur when the victim is vulnerable or otherwise distracted – as Brown probably would have been while performing on stage.
But there are conflicting reports of the evening.
One audience member who saw the incident, described the night on website Reddit:
I was right behind the girl and saw everything it was scaring edit: Okay so this is how it all went down, I was near the front row and all night Danny had been going up to the crowd and having random girls touch his d*ck through his pants. Then this girl in front of me starts flashing him and he goes up to her and grabs her t*ts.
Then all of a sudden gets up close pulls his shirt up a little and she start blowing him. Then I’m behind her and I start getting pushed against her by the crowd shifting. It’s horrible and I hope you guys will be donating to my future therapy sessions but also i came back with a story. He rapped the entire time during too.
The verdict by social media has come down to a “he said, she said” situation. And sadly, many cases of sexual assault often do amount to this.
Brown has, to some extent, been blamed for being the victim. People have claimed that Brown was “walking around the stage getting girls to grab his dick” before the incident.
Some online commentators have mentioned that Brown raps frequently about sex, and his lyrics are highly sexualized. Both of these facts have been used to ‘explain away’ what happened to Brown on stage.
This line of reasoning bares striking similarities to claiming girls are ‘asking for it’ if they wear revealing clothing, or are flirting with boys, before they are sexually assaulted.
Brown is also unlikely to speak out about the incident – another hallmark of sexual assault cases – for fear of appearing emasculated or ‘uncool’.
Victims of sexual assault often feel pressure not to report the incident. Women, because they fear being blamed or having their behaviour questioned, and the backlash that comes with speaking out. Men, because they fear that people won’t believe a man could be assaulted, or because they don’t want to appear ‘weak’.
As Pryde points out, if Brown were to admit that he didn’t enjoy having oral sex forced upon him, that could actually be damaging for his career. She writes that even if Brown has extricated himself more swiftly from the situation, he’d be “faced with attacks on his masculinity by every douchebro in the building. ‘Yo dude, you don’t want your dick sucked, bro? Are you gay? Haha you’re gay you don’t want girls to suck your dick haha gay dude bro man swag!’ And that’s a rapper’s literal nightmare.”
It’s impossible to know all the details of this case. The YouTube footage of the incident lasts for barely 30 seconds, and the blurry photographs from the performance are unclear and unverified.
Maybe Brown was sexually assaulted, and maybe he wasn’t.
But he seems to feel he that was.
Do you think we’re more ready to label something as an assault just because it happens to a woman?