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MARGARET CHO

Margaret Cho Says She ‘Doesn’t Believe in Forgiveness’ for Sexual Predators 

April 19, 2016

Margaret Cho is a comedian, singer-songwriter and author.

When I was a young, words like “date rape” or “child molestation” weren’t commonly used. I didn’t understand that these experiences happening to me were something designed, codified. And then we decided to put a label on these incidents that have affected so many women. We’ve evolved in this way, but we’ve also failed to evolve in other ways. Sexual abuse is such a mysterious topic—it’s an issue that affects all people, not just women—and that’s why I think we have to be more forward in talking about it.

When you become a victim of sexual abuse, it makes you feel so lonely—like you’re the only one this has happened to. That’s one of the tragedies. It isolates you from society in that it’s this unthinkable act that’s happened to you, so you feel like it must be a solitary act. You think, “It must be just me.” The way to get to some sort of peace around it is to know that others have been through it. That’s a big part of why I just don’t shut up about my experiences with sexual assault—I want other people who’ve suffered to know they aren’t alone.

 

I realize that some people who come forward about their experiences face backlash because of it. But the backlash is just another way to keep you silent. When people shame survivors, it’s really another attempt to reenact abuse and to keep abusers abusing. Their need to keep us silent is their need for predators to still exist. It’s a vicious cycle that stops with the ones who are vocal. It stops with the survivor who says, “I’m not going to stay silent, and I’m going to say what happened.”

Ultimately, if you refuse to stop talking about your experience, the people who criticize you can’t do anything—and also the abusers become the ones who are shamed. At a certain point, it becomes almost fun to just keep going. When you’re speaking out about rape or sexual assault, you have the stand. You have the floor. You have all the power. When I realized that, I felt better. I realized that I have control. All of this is about loss of control, loss of body autonomy. But if you can wrest that control back for yourself, it’s incredibly healing.