Margaret Cho Discusses Her Sexual Assaults, Her New Song “I Want to Kill My Rapist”

Margaret Cho Discusses Her Sexual Assaults, Her New Song "I Want to Kill My Rapist"

A week after being cast as Ken Jeong’s sister in the upcoming ABC sitcom “Dr. Ken,” Margaret Cho has been profiled by Billboard in a wrenching, inspirational and stunningly candid interview about sexual assault, rape culture and the comedian’s burgeoning musical career. 

Cho spent much of the interview discussing the molestations she endured as a child and the rapes she survived as a teenager. She found few sympathetic ears during her youth and seems to continue working through her pain today through songwriting (one of the tracks on her untitled sophomore musical album is titled “I Want to Kill My Rapist”). The conversation with journalist Danielle Bacher is full of excruciating manifestations of rape culture, as well as Cho’s hope of reaching catharsis and a connection with other victims through performance. 

Here are the highlights from the interview. 

Cho on the molestation she suffered from ages 5-12: “I had a very long-term relationship with this abuser, which is a horrible thing to say. I didn’t even understand it was abuse, because I was too young to know. … I endured it so many times, especially because I was alone a lot.”

Unfortunately, she continued to suffer sexual violence throughout her adolescence: “I was raped continuously through my teenage years [by a person other than her molester], and I didn’t know how to stop it. It was also an era where young girls were being sexualized. For me, I think I had been sexually abused so much in my life that it was hard for me to let go of anger, forgive or understand what happened.”

Because of her long history of abuse, Cho found it difficult to reclaim her sexual identity and independence later in life: “My sexuality is hard because I had to fight through so many circumstances and figure out how to enjoy myself, because I was used by so many people. … My abuse set me up for trying to discover what I liked. There were many instances when I went on a date and didn’t want to be sexual at all, but then I felt like I had to, because it was unpleasant to say no. It was like I could get it over faster, so I would say, ‘Fine, fine.’”

Her family would prefer that Cho “forget” the sexual violence that has marked her life. “They don’t really want to talk about it, because that would make it real somehow. I think Asian culture often is in denial about such things. Like, if they don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist. So it makes me unwelcome in some ways.” 

On being rejected after speaking out about what had happened to her: “When I was raped in high school, it was the first time I had sex that was penetrative, so it was different and weird. I told someone that I was raped, and the kids at school found out and said, ‘You are so ugly and fat that the only way anybody would have sex with you is if they were crazy and raped you. So don’t act like you are hot and somebody wanted to fuck you.'” 

To somehow make matters spectacularly worse, one of Cho’s few sympathizers, her English teacher, was killed: “The same kids who told me I got raped because I was disgusting also told me that he was murdered because he was a faggot. … That’s why I ended up leaving school. I didn’t want to be around people that were so cruel.”

Rape culture isn’t just in our homes and schools, but in the media, too: “People sexualized young girls like Brooke Shields. Men had so much control and entitlement over women. … I think Bill Cosby and Woody Allen and all these men are so disgusting. It’s gross. This song I made is a rejection of all that. The rage women have against abusers is real. We have the power to come forward and say ‘This happened to me.’”

She added, “I think having a song to perform live will allow others to talk about it. It’s a huge issue, and this was cathartic for me.”

In addition to co-starring in “Dr. Ken,” Cho will appear in a comedy special on Showtime (to be recorded live in NY on September 25) and start her “psyCHO” comedy and music tour on October 2.

[via Billboard]

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