As Surviving R. Kelly continued to be a watershed moment in finally bringing the alleged child rapist to justice, Lady Gaga faced mounting public pressure to condemn the R&B singer and explain why she collaborated with Kelly in 2013 for a song and video that was essentially described as “literally an ad for rape” thanks to it also being directed by Terry Richardson. The situation reached a crescendo when Surviving R. Kelly producer dream hampton dragged Gaga for refusing to participate in the docuseries despite being a supposed advocate for sexual abuse survivors.
But while the conventional wisdom assumed Gaga would remain silent to avoid risking her chances of an Oscar for A Star is Born, she tweeted a late night statement condemning Kelly and apologizing for working with him.
I stand behind these women 1000%, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and feel strongly that their voices should be heard and taken seriously. What I am hearing about the allegations against 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. The song is called “Do What U Want (With My Body)”, I think it’s clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time. If I could go back and have a talk with my younger self I’d tell her to go through the therapy I have since then, so that I could understand the confused post-traumatic state that I was in— or if therapy was not available to me or anyone in my situation—to seek help, and speak as openly and honestly as possible about what we’ve been through. I can’t go back, but I can go forward and continue to support women, men, and people of all sexual identities, and of all races, who are victims of sexual assault. I have demonstrated my stance on this issue and others many times throughout my career. 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. I intend to remove this song off of iTunes and other streaming platforms and will not be working him again. I’m sorry, both for my poor judgment when I was young, and for not speaking out sooner. I love you.
As a dude it is absolutely not my place to question how Lady Gaga processes the trauma of being sexually assaulted even if that involves making a song with goddamn R. Kelly. Also, it’s commendable that she essentially admits she was on some troll shit back in the day. When I was 27, I had just started working on a snarky gossip blog and wrote some spectacularly dumbass things for attention before growing as a person. It happens. That said, as someone who’s such a fierce advocate for survivors, it’s pretty disingenuous for Gaga to act like the allegations against R. Kelly are brand new information when that is demonstrably not true. She not only knew he was accused of some heinous shit back in 2013, she leaned into it.
On top of that, as others have pointed out, Gaga had numerous opportunities to say, “You know what? I really should not have worked with R. Kelly. That was a mistake,” and she would’ve been golden. Instead, she waited until even CNN was going, “Yo, lady, are you going to say something or what?” So that raises serious questions about why she tried to ride this thing out, and it’s a cloud over her apology that’s not going away anytime soon.
However, Gaga gets points in my book for at least saying something because her Little Monsters would probably let her get away with full-blown genocide. They’re that devoted. If you check out her apology tweet, they’re already swarming in to say she has “nothing to apologize for” despite the fact that she made a song about rape with an actual alleged rapist. That’s not something advocates do. But again, Lady Gaga could eat a baby in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose a stan. (Was that too subtle? Because I can make a crack about her building a wall, too. I’ve got time.)
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