This week women of color within the Times Up movement announced their support of the campaign to mute R. Kelly, demanding that Apple Music and Spotify stop monetizing the artist’s music and that Ticketmaster refuse to sell tickets for his upcoming show.
Several months after the beginning of a movement which has taken aim at countless famous abusers, TimesUp and the celebrities backing it are finally going after a man who has gotten away with abusing young girls for over 20 years.
Starting in 1991, R. Kelly’s history is littered with accusations of child pornography, coercion, abuse, and assault. Among the most highly-publicized examples are his 1994 marriage to then 15-year-old singer Aaliyah or the 2002 video recorded of him having sex with a girl who was reportedly 14-years-old. In 2017 Buzzfeed reported that Kelly was holding young women in a sex “cult,” requiring them to call him “daddy” and controlling their every move.
His actions have been documented for years, so why didn’t mainstream feminism respond as they did to accusations against Harvey Weinstein? Black feminists like Feministing alumni Sesali Bowen argue it’s because Kelly’s victims are not wealthy white celebrities, but low-income black girls with less power to call out their abuser and less cultural capital to be believed.
In her Refinery29 piece on the topic last fall, Sesali wrote,
“R. Kelly is a solemn reminder of what feels like a total unwillingness to protect or defend Black women. Until we respond to the claims of his alleged victims with the same tenacity that we did for Weinstein’s accusers, men like him will continue to prey on women in their own communities.”
Header photo credit: Rex/Shutterstock via Variety
Powered by WPeMatico