Since 1996, accusations over sexual conduct with girls and young women have followed the self-styled Pied Piper of R&B. Now reports denied by the singer claim he is running an abusive sex cult
Give me that toot toot and give me that beep beep: in a remix of contrition, R Kelly has denied allegations he is a disgusting creep.
On Monday, BuzzFeed published an investigation claiming that the R&B singer runs a sadistic sex cult. According to the report, the 50-year-old keeps a number of young women sequestered at properties he rents in Atlanta and Chicago and submits them to regular physical, verbal and psychological abuse. Kelly rapidly denied these claims, stating via his lawyer that he was alarmed and disturbed at the recent revelations attributed to him.
If Kelly really was alarmed at these allegations, he clearly hasnt been paying attention to his own press coverage. The sex cult allegations seem to be business as usual for the singer, who has faced regular accusations of sexual impropriety over the past few decades. Take, for example, the whole illegally marrying a child thing. In 1994, Kelly, then 27, secretly married the late R&B singer Aaliyah; she was just 15 years old. Kelly worked with Aaliyah on her first album Age Aint Nothing But a Number. When it comes to US law, however, age aint nothing but a number with serious statutory significance; the marriage was quickly annulled.
In 1996, shortly after unlawfully wedding a child, Kelly was hit by a lawsuit accusing him of having sex with teenage girls. Tiffany Hawkins sued Kelly, alleging he had sex with her when she was 15 and he was 24 and pushed her to engage in group sex with other minors. Then, in 2001, Tracy Sampson accused Kelly of pressing her into a sexual relationship when she was 17. In 2002, Patrice Jones filed a suit alleging Kelly started a relationship with her when she was 16 and forced her to have an abortion after impregnating her at 17. I could go on: a mountain of court documents suggest Kelly is a predator who should be behind bars rather than spitting them. He has never been convicted of sexual assault, however, and cases against him have been settled out of court.
Not that any of this has damaged his career. He is one of the most successful R&B artists in history, selling 40m albums worldwide. Sexual assault accusations havent stopped him headlining festivals and garnering media accolades. In 2013, for example, Kelly performed at Coachella; Vice called his performance with headliners Phoenix the highlight of the festival. Around the same time, Kelly collaborated with Lady Gaga (who calls herself a feminist and has bemoaned misogyny in the industry) for the song Do What U Want, the lyrics of which are basically Do what you want, what you want with my body over and over again. Kelly has also collaborated with Justin Bieber, Jennifer Hudson, Chance the Rapper and Jay-Z. Furthermore, he has appeared on high-profile TV shows such as Jimmy Fallon numerous times to promote his albums. Far from being treated like a pariah by the entertainment establishment, Kelly has been treated like a prince. Marrying a teenager and being hit with numerous sexual assault allegations should be a career killer. So why has he continued to prosper?
Well, first and foremost, Kellys (alleged) victims have been black women. And nobody cares about black women. As Malcolm X said: The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman. In a 2013 interview with the Village Voice, journalist Jim DeRogatis who wrote the Buzzfeed investigation and has been reporting on Kellys behaviour for more than 15 years echoed this. DeRogatis stated the saddest fact he had learned from his reporting on Kelly is that nobody matters less to our society than youngblack women. Nobody.
More generally, powerful men seem to be granted carte blanche by society with womens bodies. Just look at Donald Trump. The man who was elected US president has been accused of sexual assault and harassment by at least 24 women. He has boasted about grabbing women by the pussy and bragged about how: When youre a star [women] let you do it. You can do anything.
Women let men do it. Women who are sexually assaulted are asking for it. Women looking to get ahead are expected to give head. When youre a star, you can do anything. They want it. Theyre lucky to get it. That is the message we are fed again and again in various forms. Thats the message that means it takes an extraordinary amount of overwhelming evidence for victims of sexual assault to be believed and powerful men to be brought to justice.
Sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, for example, span four decades and nearly 60 women have come forward. Yet, the criminal case against him ended in mistrial last month after jurors failed to reach a unanimous decision.
Cosby was in his late 70s when people finally started to investigate a long history of sexual assault allegations. Lets hope its not another 20 years before the entertainment industry gets to the truth of the R Kelly claims. The man calls himself the Pied Piper of R&B, for Gods sake, and the volume of accusations against him is becoming fartoo loud to tune out.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us