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Arts and Entertainment

Chris Brown's Description Of Losing His Virginity At 8 Years Old Definitely Sounds Like Abuse

Singer Chris Brown performs at iHeartRadio Music Festival last month. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Clear Channel)
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Chris Brown recently gave an interview with The Guardian, and the part that has received the most attention is his story of losing his virginity as an 8-year-old. So far very few of the outlets who picked up on the interview have pointed out that an 8-year-old having sex at all—much less with a high-schooler—definitely sounds abusive.Brown tells the story to his interviewer who asks him about his first time. He explains that as a kid, he used to hang out with a bunch of his male cousins and watch porn. He says that by the time he was 8 he was "kind of like hot to trot, you know what I'm saying?"

He says he had sex with a local girl who was 14 or 15. He doesn't say how he really felt about it or offer any more details about that first time, but he frames it as an experience that helped make him a beast in the sack. Yes, he used the word "beast": "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. But most women won't have any complaints if they've been with me. They can't really complain. It's all good."

Part of the reason no one is calling it straight-up rape or abuse may have to do with the way Brown talks about his experience. The Guardian says that Brown seems to warm to his interviewer when asked him about his first time. He smiles and laughs and says: "It's different in the country."

Age of consent laws are tricky, and they vary widely not just from culture to culture but from state to state within the US. Recently, in Florida, there was a debate about changing its laws when 18-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt found herself sentenced to jail time for having sex with a 14-year-old high school classmate.

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Having sex with a fellow high school student might be one thing, but a high-schooler having sex with an 8-year-old? That's another. Brown grew up in Virginia where he wasn't even close to the age of consent, which is 13 years old. It's also against the law for minors more than three years apart to have sex—about double the age difference in Brown's case. We're gonna go out on a limb and suggest this case would be pretty easy to prosecute in any state (or Western country, really).

It sounds like abuse, but people tend to look at men's stories of statutory rape in a different light—and that may be doubly true for Chris Brown, who isn't exactly a sympathetic character to begin with. Even Jezebel, a website that typically wouldn't question the story of an alleged child abuse victim, suggested Brown was bending the truth to "make himself sound like some sort of mythical sex Jesus." The site wrote that Brown turned the "personal confession into yet another opportunity to showcase how unpleasant he seems."

It's true that Brown is not entirely pleasant in the interview, though it's an interesting read. There are moments where it feels like Brown's life could have been an inspiring story instead of a cautionary tale. His tale of "losing his virginity" aside, he had a difficult childhood. He's told stories in the past about listening to his stepfather beat his mother. But Brown was ambitious from a young age, and he was discovered by a record company at the age of 13. He tells The Guardian that he doesn't regret having to grow up fast in the music industry because it was better than sticking around the small town where he grew up.

A part of Brown desperately wants to be a sympathetic, inspiring character, but he can't even manage to play the part during the course of a single interview. One minute he proclaims, "I don't want to be the decay of society, I'd like to be the uplifting part." And the next moment, he says, "My favorite line is, 'Fuck you.' I like giving the world a big fuck you."

It doesn't get any better when he talks about "the incident with Rihanna." Brown says that he's learned his lesson after beating Rihanna the night of the Grammys in 2009. He doesn't want to be viewed as "this mad black guy, this angry, young, troubled kid." But then he goes on to do the last thing you want to hear in a redemption narrative: he complains about his punishment. The anger management class was "sexist," and he didn't like doing community service: "that shit is a bitch." The DA was a "motherfucker" on a "power trip."

But maybe a redemption narrative isn't what he's going for. It's hard to tell exactly what's going on in Brown's head. He speaks lovingly of his fans who were fiercely devoted to him at his low point and says he wanted to come back after 2009 just to prove everyone else wrong. Now he is still aiming to make music for the masses with his upcoming album, but if it turns out the masses don't like it (or equally likely: they don't like it because of him), he has some strong words: "Just make music. If they like it, they like it. If they don't, fuck you."

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