As the horrific accusations against R. Kelly continue to mount up, a noticeably silent ally was missing from the conversation. And that ally would be white women in Hollywood who supported the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
One person in particular is superstar Lady Gaga. Several critics have urged Gaga to speak up to condemn R. Kelly in light of the six-part Liftetime series, Surviving R. Kelly. But, for the past few days after the documentary aired, Gaga remained silent.
On Thursday the newly minted Golden Globe winner wrote a lengthy post which she shared with her millions of followers apologizing for working with Kelly and announced she would remove their 2013 collaboration, awkwardly titled, Do What You Want (With My Body), from all streaming outlets. She also vowed to never work with Kelly again.
“I stand behind these women 1000%, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and feel strongly that their focus should be heard and taken seriously,” she wrote.
I stand by anyone who has ever been the victim of sexual assault: pic.twitter.com/67sz4WpV3i
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) January 10, 2019
Gaga was not only taken to task about her silence surrounding the trauma of Kelly’s accusers who are mostly Black women, but was also asked to atone for the song she recorded with the Kelly. At the time, Kelly still faced serious allegations surrounding his conduct with underage women, sexual assault and abuse.
In the disturbing music video, Gaga acts as some sort of willing patient, while Dr. Kelly examines her naked body on an examination table.
“What I am hearing about R Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible. As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and video at a dark time in my life, my intention was to create something extremely defiant and provocative because I was angry and still hadn’t processed the trauma that had occurred in my own life,” Gaga continued.
Gaga’s position is layered with complexity. A a victim of sexual assault herself, those who pass judgement want to believe that she would know better. As a powerful person in the entertainment industry, its difficult to understand how Kelly’s past slipped past Gaga’s awareness.
But within the cycle of abuse, the position of victim and abuser is so interlocked and at times bleeds into the lines of one another. This is evident in Kelly’s story itself, how he as a victim of sexual abuse at a young age, turned into the alleged monster we have read and envisioned for decades.
Gaga’s statement shows that she is working on the ramifications of her actions, but it does not specifically name Black women as the intended targets of Kelly’s reported predatory behavior. Her apology also does little to acknowledge the fact that if the accusers were white, Kelly’s career would be over and the women would be believed.
Gaga said that with the help of therapy, she was able to work through her trauma to arrive at her current state of enlightenment.
“I share this not to make excuses for myself, but to explain. Til it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels. But I do know how I feel now” she wrote.
“I’m sorry, both for my poor judgment when I was young, and for not speaking out sooner. I love you.”
What do we do with these apologies? On one hand we accept and move on, but one cannot help but acknowledge that if the docuseries never come out, would Gaga remain silent or would she speak out?
While Gaga adds to the list of other celebrities and past collaborators of Kelly’s who have denounced their prior affiliations, the list still remains long for those who have yet to distance themselves from the embattled singer.