I’ve been watching the Surviving R. Kelly documentaries the last few weeks. At the time all of his abuses were coming to light, I was sort of out of touch with it. My life was always kind of nuts in the early 2000s. I do recall hearing some of it and that no one believed the victims.
I was never a huge R. Kelly fan anyway. I liked a couple of his songs, but not listening to his music wasn’t hard for me. Around 2016 I think, I deleted whatever songs I had and moved on. I was in the middle of my own reckoning with my past assaults and had no patience for his crap. All these women say he assaulted them, I believe them.
What strikes me the most is how terrible these beautiful women were treated by him, his staff, other non-believing women, and the entire music production industry. Why did it take decades for someone to actually prosecute R. Kelly? These women spoke out and tried to get people to believe them. Most of these women were CHILDREN at the time. How can anyone not believe this huge number of women with similar stories?
As many of the women and psychologists said, it was about the victims being young, Black women. And the world looks at them as though they have no worth. Many said that there are aspects of the culture they grew up that enabled the abuse and also the disbelief. Quite frankly, I don’t know how anyone can look at this one situation with this one celebrity and think that it’s a one off situation. Girls and women of all races are subjected to men gawking from the time they start puberty and it’s noticeable.
There was the Millie Bobby Brown countdown until she was 18. Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Kristen Stewart, etc etc etc. The list goes on and it’s not a modern invention. Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13 year old cousin and Priscilla Presley was underage when she married Elvis. I have seen and heard grown men actually staring at teenage girls. I have heard grown men say things like “Just wait until she’s 18…” It’s not “just a joke” or I am misunderstanding. I have always been able to roll with the guys just fine and this shit is real. Some men gawk at underage girls and think it’s perfectly fine to “just look.” IT IS NOT FINE TO JUST LOOK. And thinking it is fine is the lowest level of rape culture. Teenage girls can tell they’re being gawked at. Teenage girls don’t wear sexy clothes to attract older men because they like it or that’s what they want. They do it either for themselves or because that’s what they’ve been taught. They should always make themselves attractive to men.
When I was in high school in the 90s, we had this fucking terrible thing called “The Slut List.” On it were the top 10 “sluts” who were supposedly easy, hot, or somehow wronged one of the popular guys who made the list. I don’t exactly remember this for sure, but some girls may have been part of making the list. My senior year it made the news because someone’s mom found out and made a fuss about it. But up until that point, it had been going on for years. And everyone knew about it. It was taped up on a specific wall at a specific time on a specific day. I can’t remember any of that data, but I do remember seeing it on the wall. No one took it down. Did a teacher ever walk by it? Did they just ignore it? Were they somehow involved and/or thought it was ok?
Even though it had been on the news and the administration vowed to end the “tradition” permanently, my brother told me about it when he got to the high school. Apparently the girls in his era retaliated with a top ten male slut list, which my brother made at least one of those years. Ironically, he wasn’t all that easy. There was just one girl he dated who wanted to have sex with him all the time and often coerced him, but that’s another story for another day.
My point in all of this is the rape culture starts with gawking at girls who are still children. Excusing that means you’re compromised. Telling yourself that they are dressing for attention is just another excuse for this sick perversion. Not wanting to ruin a guy’s life because he raped ONE girl/women or thinking that’s fair is another level. Thinking that SO MANY girls/women falsely report rape is another level. Acting like it’s so easy to have your life ruined as a guy is yet another level. Don’t be a douchebag, ok? If you ask someone on a date and they say no, fucking let it go. Don’t hassle, don’t ask repeatedly, don’t think she’s playing hard to get. No stranger is dressing herself for you. Your wife or girlfriend, maybe. But not strangers. They do not exist for your gaze.
Lastly, Black girls and women are people, not objects. They don’t exist for you to use and cast aside like they were nothing. They are just trying to live their lives too, not sitting there waiting for some man to destroy them. THEY ARE NOT DISPOSABLE. I have heard stupid stereotypes like Black girls and women are easy, love sex, and will do whatever you want. Black girls are children and Black women are autonomous human beings, not disposable objects.
What R. Kelly’s victims are saying is true. They aren’t trying to sell books, get money, or smear him. He did these things to them. He is the problem here, not the ones who told their story and “cost him his career.” The only person he can blame is himself because he did those things. There’s videos, his former staff who verified that what these women have said is true. He was allowed to abuse so many young girls, pay his way out of trouble with settlements, and delay justice because everyone wanted to believe in the myth that was R. Kelly.
Believe victims. Ask yourself what this person stands to gain (and lose) by coming forward. The tiny percentage that do make up sexual assault/abuse do not represent the majority of victims. I’d rather see a handful of wrongly accused men have to deal with the bullshit of that false accusation that the thousands of women suffer because they are too scared to speak up. Right now the balance is shifted the wrong way. We protect perpetrators and leave victims out in the cold.
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