Courtesy Billboard Magazine
Margaret Cho is one of the funniest comediennes around, but much of her humor stems from a dark, dark place.
In an interview with Billboard magazine, Cho opens up about her dismal childhood that was overwhelmed with bullying, sexual abuse and rape. Throughout her young and teenage years, Cho endured several instances of sexual assault but admits that she didn't quite realize what was going on at the time.
"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," she says of the abuse that took place between the ages of 5 and 12. "I endured it so many times, especially because I was alone a lot."
Another acquaintance, she says, raped her at age 14. "I was raped continuously through my teenage years, and I didn't know how to stop it. It was also an era where young girls were being sexualized," she explains.
Courtesy Billboard Magazine
"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."
Reflecting further, Cho realizes that she grew up in a time that was "unsafe for women," and even specifies two people for whom she has no respect.
"People sexualized young girls like Brooke Shields. Men had so much control and entitlement over women," adds Cho, who began therapy at 27 and turned to comedy and music to help cope. She even wrote a song titled, "I Want to Kill My Rapist."
"I think Bill Cosby and Woody Allen and all these men are so disgusting. It's gross," she says of allegations lodged against the men. "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.'"
Her powerful song features lyrics such as, "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 adds that singing about her survival makes it easier to discuss with others. "But really, we want to kill the rapists. I'm a victim and now a survivor of sexual abuse and rape, and I think it's really hard to talk about it," she admits. "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."
But when she first told people of her rape in high school, she received terrible backlash.
"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,'" she recalls. "'It's because you are disgusting, and you deserve to be raped.'"
The ensuing bullying caused Cho to ultimately drop out of a couple of different high schools. "I didn't want to be around people that were so cruel," she says.