A Weird and Confusing Lesson

Douches Aren’t Born… 

The internet made me feel something I never thought I’d feel: sympathy and pity for pitch-corrector-driven, Rihanna-beating, Frank-Ocean-and- Drake-punching, helluva dancer and pop sensation Chris Brown. I’m not real big into celebrity gossip, but Brown’s seemingly inexhaustible stream of arrogant, offensive, and obtuse statements appeared often enough on my Facebook page and in my Twitter feed that it was not difficult for me to form an opinion of him as a colossal douche.

Well it turns out the lesson is that douches are made, not born. Brown gave an interview recently in which he disclosed the fact that he lost his virginity at the age of eight. Eight. Of course he couched it in the language of the macho, sex-driven stud. First he downplayed it, saying “things are different out in the country,” and then went on to explain that his early start in the world of adult sexual contact is what allowed him to flourish and to blossom into the self-described sexual god he is today.

No. Eight years old. What is that—second, maybe the third grade? I don’t know what I was doing when I was eight. I was probably playing with Legos or Lincoln Logs, maybe playing freeze tag or four square. I sure as hell know what I was not doing, and that was watching pornography or having sex.

And so now I have to view all of Brown’s behavior—which I continue to feel falls somewhere along a spectrum running from tasteless and misogynistic to reprehensible—through a lens of heart-wrenching dismay for a confused young man who had been taught from a far too early age that he is valued primarily for his sexuality.

You know, if Brown were a woman in her middle twenties, she would have no problem looking back at the teenager who took her virginity when she was a child in elementary school, and saying unequivocally that she was raped. Then she could move forward and process the events and understand that she was not in control.

Brown lives in a world where he has to justify and rationalize his own rape, and turn it into a twisted, perverted, and positive aspect of his development. I can’t even begin to imagine how that shapes someone’s worldview—except I can, because I can look at Chris Brown. What do I see? Anger, confusion, contradictions. I see someone who lashes out violently, who shifts responsibility away from himself; someone who cares deeply what others think of him, but tries desperately to hide that fact behind an exterior of hardness and callousness. I see a terrifically flawed human being, and I see someone whom I wish could somehow gain the self-awareness to realize he is psychologically contorted, and could find the strength to reach out and ask for help.

Celebrities don’t often work that way though. Their fame draws the leeches, and the leeches tell them they are perfect.

I don’t know what will become of Chris Brown, but I know I can learn to be kinder.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.