Okay, if you haven’t been keeping up with the latest Chris Brown controversy, congratulations! I envy you because it isn’t a pretty one. Like all of his controversies, this one is very sexist, very gross, and very much a reason to question why we allow this dude to stay famous.
Here’s what happened, though, just so you can get caught up:
See, Nia Guzman, the mother of Chris Brown’s two-year-old daughter, posted a photo of little Royalty in dance class wearing a tutu and some leg warmers. Since that’s basic dance attire, this photo should have caused absolutely no drama, but because we live in a rape culture and this kid is Chris Brown’s, here we are.
Brown commented on the photo that he was outraged that their daughter was dressed like she was 16. Guzman responded that anyone who saw an issue with a child dressed for dance class was the real problem. Naturally, this made some major headlines and it was even addressed on ABC’s The View. Panelist Sunny Hostin said that she appreciates her husband being there to let her know how men perceive the outfits she dresses their daughter in. She told the audience that her husband has taken a hard stance on tinted lip gloss.
The other panelists all agreed that it’s important to remember how men see outfits.
None of them thought that there was anything strange about believing that every man in America will think sexual thoughts upon seeing a two-year-old at dance class or a middle schooler wearing tinted lip gloss. They all accepted that as fact and moved on, deciding that policing their daughters’ attire was the best way to handle the whole situation.
Of course, that is not only wildly unfair to the young girls of the world, but is also just as unfair to all of the men who don’t sexualize children in leg warmers or lip gloss. That gives no credit to those men and it gives no free will to those girls. That attitude is dangerous. It implies that we will never change the supposed inherently predatory nature of men, so girls must make all the adjustments.
Whoopi Goldberg chimed in that she thought any man who would look at Royalty’s photo and think even a remotely sexual thought was the real issue, and that a true pedophile would have those thoughts whether the child was in a tutu or not.
It’s wonderful that there was at least one person on the panel who has some sense and doesn’t fall in line with the victim blaming, but sadly, most people seem to agree with Chris Brown. As a society, we would prefer to question mothers and toddlers than the adults who would sexualize those children - and that much is very clear in the Instagram comments that flooded in after Brown came for Guzman.
Is it too late to reach people like Chris Brown and Sunny Hostin, who believe that young girls should pay the price for men’s lack of education, control, and accountability? Maybe not, but they are already raising kids who may very well internalize those same ideas, which is why it is vital that we continue educating as many people as possible about consent. If you hear your friends or colleagues talking about Royalty’s dance outfit, jump in and tell them she looked cute, innocent, and ready to boogie. Tell them she did not look at all like a 16-year-old and that even 16-year-olds should not be sexualized.
Keep advocating online, keep sharing articles, and keep being vocal when stories like this pop up again in the news cycle, because we all know they will. Do it so that when Sunny Hostin’s kid goes online one day, she will see that it isn’t up to her not to wear tinted lip gloss so much as it is up to her teachers and classmates and friends’ parents to respect her even when she does.
We may never reach Chris Brown, but we can surely reach almost everyone else.