In what parallel universe can anyone ever defend Chris Brown? This one.

Chris Brown.


The blogosphere is rarely kind to Chris Brown.

This is not without reason.

In the eight years since he hit the big time, the singer has been convicted of assaulting his girlfriend, Rihanna. When questioned about the incident on Good Morning America in 2011, he reportedly became violent backstage and tweeted this: “I’m so over people bring this past s**t up!! Yet we praise Charlie Sheen and other celebs for there bullshit [sic].”

In 2012, he got a tattoo that very closely resembles a battered woman. In January this year, he allegedly punched and threatened to shoot rapper, Frank Ocean, over a parking space. At around the same time Chris Brown got back together with Rihanna. They have since broken up again.

All of these events have been well-documented by the media, in particular, women’s outlets. And, as you can imagine, not in a positive light.

Last Saturday, there was a Chris Brown interview in The Guardian. The interview revealed that Chris Brown “lost his virginity” at age eight. (Read: was raped at age eight. Because he was eight.):

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.”

Pretty full on, right?

Jezebel and The Gloss are two of the biggest women’s blogs on the inter webs. They’re progressive, with a strong stance against victim-blaming in rape cases. And, to be honest, a relatively strong stance against Chris Brown.

This week, both of those things were in the news.

And Jezebel and The Gloss reacted very differently.

In response to the interview, Jezebel staff writer, Doug Barry (one of the site’s few male writers), wrote an article titled: ‘Chris Brown brags about losing his virginity when he was eight.’

We’re sure you can imagine what followed, but here is the particularly unsettling paragraph that everyone’s talking about:


Maybe this is just a boast-gone-awry, or a story that Brown’s told to his friends one too many times, shaving another year or six months off his age with each iteration to make himself sound like some sort of mythical sex Jesus. It’s like a reverse Methuselah, who, sure, might have been some really old dude, but definitely did not live for 969 years. Some legends can get a little out of hand after enough retellings. Then again, if this is true, then congratulations to Brown…for turning a personal confession into yet another opportunity to showcase how unpleasant he seems.

The Gloss’ response came from Samantha Escobar and was titled: ‘Jezebel writes incredibly messed up article about Chris Brown’s virginity loss.’

Escobar critiqued the Jezebel article, saying that just because someone is abusive, it doesn’t negate the abuse they have suffered themselves:

Uh, I don’t think telling people you were sexually abused as a child by a significantly older individual is worthy of the “mythical sex Jesus” comment. Regardless of how Brown views his experience, and regardless of the awful, obviously reprehensible things he’s done, this was wrong.

She then went on to say that the article was particularly uncharacteristic of Jezebel:

I am especially saddened that Jezebel posted this. They’re usually one of the most empathetic, anti-victim-blaming sites out there.

On Wednesday, Jezebel responded. This time with an article from Erin Gloria Ryan, titled: ‘Chris Brown didn’t “lose his virginity” at age 8. He was raped.’

Ryan acknowledged that the media has a tendency to try and frame everything the Chris Brown does through a prism of douchebaggery. She said that she found herself influenced by that frame in her initial reaction to the story:

I wanted it to be a brag. I wanted it to fit neatly in with the “Chris Brown is an asshole” narrative the media I consume spouts, that I’ve been complicit in spouting. Before I realized what I was doing, I’d questioned and blamed a victim of sex abuse.

The extent to which the article was actually an apology was actively questioned in its reader comments section.

Chris Brown and Rihanna.

Some readers questioned why Doug hadn’t written the ‘apology’ himself . Others called for him to be sacked. And some just sat back in their confusion and tried to figure out what the hell had happened.

Because, while we (or at least the target audience of Jezebel and The Gloss) can all agree that Chris Brown has made some bad decisions, and done some horrible things, that doesn’t mean that he should be robbed of our sympathy when we hear about traumatic events in his past or, worse, have the legitimacy of his claims disputed, as occurred in the original Jezebel article.

In her piece for The Gloss, Samantha Escobar wroteL “It is not okay to permit or wish violence on those who are violent.” And it’s not. We can’t dichotomise people into goodies and baddies.

Because, even though Chris Brown is the blogosphere’s punching bag, the eight-year-old boy who was raped by a teenage girl in rural Virginia shouldn’t be.


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