Margaret Cho Reveals Rape & Past Sexual Abuse In New Interview

Photo: Henry Lamb/Photowire/BEImages.
Author Danielle Bacher writes a column for Billboard called "Wild Night." One might expect this column to contain the debaucherous chronicles of a musician's night out, but Bacher's time with Margaret Cho took a much more serious turn. "I don't know why San Francisco-born comedian and musician Cho decided to spend most of our 'Wild Night' for this column talking about being bullied, sexually abused, and raped as a young girl, but I'm glad she did," Bacher writes. "I presume this is why she is so funny: the humor of her work comes from addressing her deep-seated pain."

Cho brought up her past sexual abuse almost immediately — 12 minutes into her and Bacher's on-the-record conversation, to be precise. Bacher reports that "Cho was sexually molested by a family friend from age 5 to 12." Cho said that she "didn't even understand it was abuse, because I was too young to know."

Cho knows her abuser is still alive, and that her family is aware that the molestation occurred. However, Bacher notes, "She says that sexual molestation is an excusable offense in her traditional Korean family's eyes... Her family believes that people shouldn't make a fuss about things that have happened to them in the past." Cho doesn't agree with this part of Asian culture. "It makes me unwelcome in some ways... Like, if they don't talk about it, it doesn't exist."

Then, at 14, another acquaintance sexually assaulted Cho. "I was raped continuously through my teenage years, and I didn't know how to stop it. It was an era where young girls were being Brooke Shields. Men had so much control and entitlement over women."

She continued, "When I was raped in high school, it was the first time I had sex that was penetrative, so it was different and weird." When Cho reported her rape, it became public knowledge among the other students at her school. They bullied her, saying, "You are so ugly and fat that the only way anyone 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. It's because you are disgusting, and you deserve to be raped."

A teacher encouraged Cho to keep a journal of her feelings, and writing helped her find her voice. Unfortunately, this teacher was later killed. Cho says he was murdered because he was gay, and his death prompted her to leave high school. "I didn't want to be around people that were so cruel," she told Bacher.

Cho admitted that she has, on occasion, searched for her former bullies on Facebook, thinking it might "be funny to abuse-shame them," Bacher writes. Although Cho seems to hold malice toward them — "I hope these people are dead," she said — she also doesn't want to stoop to their level. "I have to watch myself because I don't want to be a bully."

Instead, Cho deals with her past through therapy and her creative endeavors. Her new album features a song called "I Want to Kill My Rapist." Some of the lyrics include, "I thought I forgave you, but I'd mistake you. I'll shake you and I'll bake you. You better run now while I'm having fun now. Here comes the sun now, and you'll be done now. I see clearly and sincerely, you'll pay dearly."

Cho hopes the song will also help other sexual assault survivors open up about their abuse. "It's a huge issue, and [writing this song] was cathartic for me," she told Bacher. It's not only a call to action; Cho isn't afraid to name names, either. "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.'"

Margaret Cho's revelations to Billboard are chilling, but they're words that need to be spoken. (Billboard)

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