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Danny Brown: Unsolicited Oral Sex On Rapper Was Rape

If you’re not tuned in to #raptwitter, you may have missed rapper Danny Brown’s on-stage forced oral sex during a recent show in Minneapolis.

You may also have missed the news because no one, other than Brown’s opening act and protege Kitty Pryde, is calling what happened forced oral sex, or what it really should be called — rape. 

Vanessa Quilantan, a columnist at the Dallas Observer’s DC9 At Night music blog has determined, even though she wasn’t at the concert in Minneapolis, that there’s no way that Danny Brown’s on-stage sexual assault wasn’t consensual, and her reasoning is exactly why men don’t report their sexual assaults — because the media, police, and the people in their lives don’t believe them.

Brown, a rapper whose discography contains plenty of sexually explicit material, apparently couldn’t have been sexually assaulted because of a Twitter exchange between him and fellow rapper Kendrick Lamar, which you can read in Quilantan’s original piece.

In the exchange, Lamar asks Danny Brown if he “got head onstage last night,” to which Brown replies, “and didn’t miss one bar bruh bruh.” To clarify, he didn’t stop rapping, even while being assaulted. In Quilantan’s measure, that’s the only thing necessary to blame Brown for what happened to him that night.

In her piece about the incident, Kitty Pryde makes the compelling argument that Brown really didn’t have much of a choice other than to stand there and be assaulted — if he’d pushed her away, she could’ve hurt herself and then he’d be known forever as the guy who beat up the girl who was trying to blow him. If he’d pushed her away, he’d have legions of hip-hop fans calling him the only “f*ggot” in hip-hop who doesn’t want his dick sucked by groupies.

These are the same arguments that are thrown at women and that we find completely repulsive. If a woman doesn’t physically overpower her attacker, it is repulsive to suggest that she wanted the sexual contact. We should be equally repulsed that because Brown went along with it, supposedly by putting his hand on the back of her head to express his “enjoyment.”

Quilantan claims that Pryde’s argument is an attempt to “martyr Brown as a defendant of his masculinity is appalling, and only perpetuates the seriously tainted ideology through which men define their masculinity in hip-hop culture.”

Unfortunately, though, Pryde is right. Of course Brown could have reacted differently to his assault by this unknown “groupie,” but there is no textbook way that victims of sexual assault are supposed to act. Some people who are raped orgasm during their assaults, but it doesn’t mean that the rape didn’t occur. Arguing that a victim doesn’t act the way that you think a victim is “supposed” to is repugnant and blames the victim, particularly when you consider where Brown was and what was going on.

Sexualized masculinity is obviously a large component of hip hop. The fact that the vast majority of songs contain explicit descriptions of sex acts, consensual or otherwise, makes it difficult for Danny Brown to step away from a woman who is not offering, but is forcing, oral sex on him.

When Quilantan makes the contrast between Danny Brown’s lyrics and who he is in “real life,” a quiet and somewhat sensitive guy, it seems like he would personally be deeply affected by such an invasive act. The fact that he deleted the tweet exchange with Kendrick Lamar and hasn’t made a public statement would also suggest that he may not be comfortable with what happened.

Even if he did LOVE it, what happened was still non-consensual. This girl didn’t ask, and he never consented. Putting his hand on the back of the girl’s head doesn’t equal consent, and neither does “looking like he enjoyed it.”

More problematic, I think, is Quilantan’s insistence on keeping the identity of the attacker (called in Quilantan’s piece as “the groupie”) anonymous. Quilantan doesn’t want to ruin “the groupie’s” life. Didn’t we hear those same arguments about why the vile rapists in Steubenville shouldn’t be named?

Don’t we hear that argument all of the time? That rape accusations ruin the lives of rapists? We heard it in Steubenville, Ohio, when a group of boys raped, humiliated, and urinated on a classmate. What about the victim? Especially in this case, where thousands of fans got a front-row seat to Brown’s assault. If the victim had been a woman, I don't think people would be quite so cavalier. 

Quilantan calls much of the discussion pointed toward the woman who assaulted Brown slut-shaming. I’m sure much of it does use very misogynistic language that would shame anyone who was performing a consensual act. Slut-shaming, though, doesn’t apply to rapists. If you’re forcing oral sex on someone, you’re a rapist, not a slut.

Rape and sexual assault are one of the legal areas where men and women both aren’t going to get any credibility, whether you’re a woman or a man, you’re going to be doubted and blamed. That’s a part of rape culture. When you have professional journalists entrenching this disgusting facet of rape culture, though, we’ve got a serious problem.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), somewhere around 10% of rape victims in the United States are men and boys. Most rape victims of any gender identity don’t report their sexual assaults, but men are even less likely to report what happens to them, and articles like Quilantan’s are exactly why.

If he had reported what happened as a sexual assault, he likely would be the first male rap artist to do so. I’m going to highly doubt that he’s the first male rapper that this has ever happened to, but Brown would be the first to report a sexual assault.

He’d have to deal with Twitter, bloggers, other rappers, and even his own fans calling him gay, or telling him that nothing happened. He’d have to deal with investigating officers refusing to believe his story. If female rape victims experience these barriers and stigma, why wouldn’t we expect men to receive the same treatment?

Kitty Pryde’s point about the racial power dynamics in this case also matters. When Pryde makes the argument that people care less about what happened to Danny Brown because he is a black man and the woman who forced oral sex on him is white, she’s pointing out a distinct power inequity.

Historically, black men have disproportionately gone to prison and died for the rapes of white women, so there is a certain reluctance to believe that a white woman could sexually assault a black man. On the other hand, why wouldn't Brown want a blowjob from an attractive, young white woman?

Because he didn’t ask for it. He didn’t say yes. He didn’t consent to having a fan jump out of the crowd, pull his penis from his pants, and begin performing oral sex. I live in Texas, and wondered exactly what the wording of the sexual assault statute was. Sure enough, Section 22.011 of the Texas Penal Code defines this exact act as forcible sexual assault:

§ 22.011. SEXUAL ASSAULT. (a) A person

commits an offense if the person:

(1) intentionally or knowingly:

(A) causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person's consent.

(B) causes the penetration of the mouth of

another person by the sexual organ of the actor, without that person's consent; or

(C) causes the sexual organ of another person, without that person's consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor.

Whether Danny Brown writes disgusting, misogynistic lyrics isn’t the point. Whether or not he looked like he was enjoying what was happening on stage, Danny Brown was still raped. Whether or not he sent out a stupid tweet after what happened doesn’t matter either.

What matters is that writers like Quilantan, who only tangentially know Danny Brown and weren’t even at the show, flatly refuse to believe that what could happen to him was rape. It matters that people won’t name the woman who chose to assault him publicly. It all matters because we live in a culture that can find any way to excuse rape.

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