This morning, Buzzfeed broke quite the story: R&B singer R. Kelly has a sex cult and is keeping young girls in his homes in Chicago and an Atlanta suburb. He’s promising to give them music careers.
To absolutely no one’s surprise, we haven’t heard of or listened to any music from the women currently under his wing, which includes a “den mother” and a 19-year-old Florida woman that Kelly is supposedly enthralled with because he does things like cook for her.
Everything about this situation is messed up. Truly. It’s coercive, abusive and I’m struggling to see how it isn’t considered illegal in the eyes of law enforcement (if you haven’t read Buzzfeed’s article, you may want to do so now).
When I first saw the headline this morning, I ignored it. Of course R. Kelly is abusive, of course. Kelly has a very well documented past that proves how problematic he is. He married Aliyah when she was just 15, then named her album Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number (her parents later got the marriage annulled) he went to trial for child pornography and per Buzzfeed reporting, paid off many women who alleged that Kelly used his position to take sexual advantage of women trying to work with him.
After reading the story and knowing his history I scrolled through the comments, then down my own personal social media timelines and was (not so) shocked to see people making excuses for the 50–yes fifty–year old singer.
“Well, those moms should’ve known better.”
I’m not a mom, but I have one and I am 100 percent sure that she would support me in a multitude of ways if it meant my dreams would come true. Letting me train under a world renowned superstar would probably seem like the least harmless. It was and still is Kelly’s responsibility to keep his promise and be a decent human being. Don’t demonize the mothers for wanting to make their daughters dreams come true.
“He was acquitted years ago, this is just another distraction from all his hard work.”
Uhhhh no. Acquitted doesn’t mean a person is innocent, it means that the judge and the jury don’t have enough evidence to charge a person. His acquittal in 2008 doesn’t mean he’s absolved of the aforementioned child porn.
“Those sources are just lying for money.”
Buzzfeed is not a tabloid. Yes, they have questionable, clickbait-esque content, but they also have a very hardworking news team that has broken numerous stories over the years. These are very real accounts, three of which came from sources who spoke on the record and worked closely with Kelly for years. Why would anyone willingly divulge false information and give their real name and history with Kelly? It certainly wouldn’t be for positive reasons.
“Whatever, I still love me some R. Kelly.”
Therein lies the problem. When people show us who they are, we need to believe them the first time. Kelly has proved multiple times that he is, at best, abusive to the women in his life.
At what point are we going to hold abusers accountable for their actions? R. Kelly, Chris Brown, Casey Affleck, Johnny Depp and so many others have histories of abuse. Still, Chris Brown was able to perform at the BET awards last month, while his most recent ex (who had a restraining order against him) sat in the crowd; Johnny Depp just starred in the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie empire and Casey Affleck starred in Manchester By the Sea, which he won an Oscar for earlier this year.
It’s odd to me how quickly women who make mistakes are demonized and “cancelled” for saying the wrong thing (blogger Luvvie was shunned after comments on her Facebook about mixed race activists and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was rendered irrelevant for her views on trans individuals), but famous men can repeat their deplorable actions time and time again, showing us they’ve learning nothing (looking at you, CB) and still receive invites to perform on some of the biggest award show stages.
Frankly, it’s fucked up.
I have a question for everyone “on the fence” about R. Kelly’s treatment of these women: when did the lives and safety of women and girls become less important and a grown man’s career?
If Kelly is willing to coerce women into sex, marriage and other types of situations, completely disregarding the harm he is causing, he doesn’t deserve a prosperous career. He deserves to be called out and shunned. He doesn’t deserve multi-million dollar deals with brands like Alexander Wang or to record songs with artists like Lady Gaga.
Those women and their families deserve justice. They don’t deserve to be victim blamed, slut shamed or anything else I’ve seen transpire over the last few hour since the story broke. They deserve the careers they were promised. They deserve to see their friends and family that they haven’t spoken to in months. They deserve to get their lives back, not the warped life Kelly has selfishly created for them in order to keep them to himself.
Kelly and his “inner circle” should be ashamed.
What do you make of the R. Kelly story? Share your thoughts with me below in the comments.