Quote of the Day: The “Stomach-Churning” Sexual Assault Allegations Against “Monster” R. Kelly Can Now Be Read In Full

FILED TO: Media and Entertainment

“The saddest fact I’ve learned is nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody.

— Jim DeRogatis, formerly of the Chicago Sun-Times, who first broke the story of allegations against R. Kelly that included multiple rapes and being a sexual predator who targeted underage girls

Right now over at the Village Voice, you can read for yourself every detail of the accusations made in court against R. Kelly in 2002 as well as a harrowing interview with Jim DeRogatis. This is the first time this much raw information about the case has been made public.

Since Kelly’s acquittal on substantially reduced charges, DeRogatis has been one of the few carrying the torch in the name of the singer’s accusers and alleged victims. He has extensive first-hand knowledge of exactly what the very young women who were coaxed into relationships with Kelly apparently went through, and what he has to say, I promise, will lay you out flat and infuriate the hell out of you.

Read, and remember that the girl on the tape that initially got R. Kelly into legal trouble was just out of the eighth grade:

I think in the history of rock & roll, rock-music or pop-culture people misbehaving and behaving badly sexually with young women, rare is the amount of evidence compiled against anyone apart from R. Kelly. Dozens of girls — not one, not two, dozens — with harrowing lawsuits. The videotapes — and not just one videotape, numerous videotapes. And not Tommy Lee/Pam Anderson, Kardashian fun video. You watch the video for which he was indicted and there is the disembodied look of the rape victim. He orders her to call him Daddy. He urinates in her mouth and instructs her at great length on how to position herself to receive his “gift.” It’s a rape that you’re watching. So we’re not talking about rock-star misbehavior, which men or women can do. We’re talking about predatory behavior. Their lives were ruined.

There have been plenty of artists throughout history — self-styled, legitimate, or somewhere in-between — who’ve done terrible things, but what puts Kelly into a select group is that his artistic oeuvre has always been tied directly to what’s apparently most reprehensible about him in the real world: his worship of sex and kink and his prowess in the bedroom. To a large extent he’s always telegraphed his pathology right into our faces and we’ve praised him for it and allowed him to make millions off of it, either being ignorant or willfully blinding ourselves to the reality that there are flesh and blood girls who’ve suffered at the hands of this ethos.

In other words, no, you can’t separate the art from the artist in this case because the two are inextricably linked:

I can still listen to Led Zeppelin and take joy in Led Zeppelin or James Brown. I condemn the things they did. I’m not reminded constantly in the art, because the art is not about it. But if you’re listening to “I want to marry you, pussy,” and not realizing that he said that to Aaliyah, who was 14, and making an album he named ‘Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number’ — I had Aaliyah’s mother cry on my shoulder and say her daughter’s life was ruined, Aaliyah’s life was never the same after that. That’s not an experience you’ve had. I’m not expecting you to feel the same way I do. But you can look at this body of evidence.

As for what we’ll find if we look at that evidence:

It is on record. Rapes in the dozen. So stop hedging your words and when you tell me what a brilliant ode to pussy Black Panties is, then realize that the next sentence should say: “This, from a man who has committed numerous rapes.” The guy was a monster! Just say it! We do have a justice system and he was acquitted. OK, fine. And these other women took the civil-lawsuit route. He was tried on very narrow grounds. He was tried on a 29-minute, 36-second videotape. He was tried on trading child pornography. He was not tried for rape. He was acquitted of making child pornography. He’s never been tried in court for rape, but look at the statistics. The numbers of rapes that happened, the numbers of rapes that were reported, the numbers of rapes that make it to court and then the conviction rate. I mean, it comes down to something minuscule. He’s never had his day in court as a rapist. It’s 15 years in the past now, but this record exists. You have to make a choice, as a listener, if music matters to you as more than mere entertainment. And you and I have spent our entire lives with that conviction. This is not just entertainment, this is our lifeblood. This matters.

His comment about Black Panties being a brilliant ode to pussy, by the way, is pegged off of a Jezebel review praising, as so many have, R. Kelly’s new record. Let me repeat that: Jezebel, a site which traffics in every volume of furious outrage against every kind of perceived slight against women and feminism, lets R. Kelly completely off the hook for his 100% real offenses against very real women and girls, up to and including, very likely, rape. It’s sickening to think that, for whatever reason, Jezebel’s supposedly bulletproof feminism doesn’t extend to young women of color. As DeRogatis says, nobody matters less in our society than young black women. Nobody gives a shit about them.

Honestly, read both the interview and the details of the case published over at the Village Voice. You’re not likely to forget it anytime soon — and that’s good.

Update: To her credit, Jezebel’s Madeleine Davies has responded to the DeRogatis story with a somber and thoughtful piece titled “What We Absolutely Must Talk About When We Talk About R. Kelly.” It dispenses with the snark and says what always needed to be said:

While this is a shameful thing to admit, I think that somehow it was easier to like R. Kelly if you were ever able to kid yourself that the number of his victims were limited to the two most famous ones. In the case of statutory rape, a lot of people are able to convince themselves that the rape isn’t real or that “maybe she really did want it.”

But that already weak excuse grows even weaker when you realize that R. Kelly’s victims are not just two teenage girls who possibly consented to having sex with an older man (if that was even legal — which it isn’t). The victims were dozens of girls who were manipulated, exploited and pressured into a sexual relationship that they legally, mentally and emotionally could not be prepared for and R. Kelly did not — R. Kelly does not — care one bit…

So it’s time we ask ourselves (if you haven’t done so already), is the right to guiltlessly enjoy Trapped in the Closet, Black Panties or “Ignition (Remix)” really more important than the bodies, minds and rights of the dozens of black girls victimized by Kelly? What you listen to is a personal choice, but one thing is for certain. It’s time to stop ignoring the facts and face and face the ugly, grim truth: R. Kelly is a serial sexual abuser of teen girls and there’s no “she probably wanted it” about it.

Davies, it should be said, wasn’t the writer of the “magnificent ode to pussy” piece — that was Isha Aran — but what she has to say is worth reading and taking to heart. This guy isn’t funny. Not one bit.


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  • courtbt

    Jezebel is certainly questionable sometimes, but I got the impression that the review was more poorly executed sarcasm than a positive review.

    • Chez Pazienza

      It was definitely tongue-in-cheek. But given Kelly’s past offenses against women, I’m not sure that kind of thing was what was called for from a site that regularly flips its shit over all manner of relatively harmless perceived threats to feminism. The writers of Jezebel make a living finding misogyny under every rock and around every corner, and here they are being presented with a very real case of it — one that’s left a lot of young women shattered — and the best they can do is make the usual jokes about how R. Kelly is obsessed with pussy. Yeah, he is — that’s the fucking problem.

      • Jenny
        • Chez Pazienza

          Totally fair. That’s a really good piece. Thanks for the tip.

      • kfreed

        Oddly enough, “Nobody gives a shit about black women” is exactly the complaint I’ve heard coming from black feminists. I can’t say I can refute it as it seems the perceived slights are more outrage inducing than the real ones. Not the first time I’ve mentioned it.

        P.S. Last time we exchanged comments on a different topic, you assumed I was a guy. I’m not:) You’re getting a female perspective and this time I agree with you.

  • That River Gal

    These monsters are getting away with this all the time. I can’t comment on the racial aspect because my own experience is narrowed to the white monster getting away with it. I appreciate your coverage, Chez.

  • Victor_the_Crab

    R.Kelly sickens me. So does Jezebel for not standing up on behalf of his victims, fucking hypocrites.

  • QuadCityPat

    Nice work here Chez, although I won’t take your advice and read the whole thing at the Voice. My work puts me face to face with people just like R Kelly and his victims. I’ve heard their stories 1st hand.

    I am glad that this is now in the public forum. Too many children, especially young black girls never get their stories shared, because as DeRogatis says nobody gives a fuck.

    To your readers I’ll say this:

    If you find these things abhorrent, as any right thinking person should, do something to help abused and neglected kids. Support your version of Child Protective Services. Find a Children’s Advocacy Center and make a donation. It may sound trite, but if you help one kid, you’ve done something worthy.

  • 624LC .

    R.Kelly just grosses me out – he has a fine voice, but every time I look at him, I think underage child rapist. And thank god I do not need clearance from the likes of Jezebel to know what to be outraged by.

  • Aaron Litz

    The feminist movement has always been fairly notorious for being mostly made up of rather well off white women who were ambivalent-to-unconcerned about the plight of poor black women, instead focused on white, upper middle class female yuppies. Especially the more radical voices.

    I am a feminist, defining feminism as the belief that women are the absolute equals of men and deserving of all the same rights and privileges. But the problem comes with those people who try to view the entire world and all facets of its history through a lense of “feminism.” Feminist history. Feminist politics. Feminist Marxism, etc. If one only looks at the world through a single, narrowly focused lense, ones view of the world will be distorted. This is what leads to the kind of thinking that called Valerie Solamas a “hero” for shooting Andy Warhol (as much as I dislike Warhol for being a professional poseur and conning the world into calling it “art”, shooting him wasn’t heroic in any kind of twisted definition of the word.)

    R. Kelly and his music has always been disgusting. Seriously, a “beautiful ode to pussy?” Give me a break. I wouldn’t want to hear that any more than I would want to hear a “beautiful ode to cock”, and the only reason Sir Mixalot’s “beautiful ode to butts” is fairly enjoyable is because it’s humorously tongue-in-cheek. I realy liked how that guy clarified that it was a “beautiful ode to pussy from a rapist.”

    By the way, I would have used the name of the person instead of just saying “that guy”, but the new site format won’t allow me to read the column while I’m viewing and writing comments now. I really don’t like the new format at all.

    • Christopher Foxx

      but the new site format won’t allow me to read the column while I’m viewing and writing comments now

      Really? I don’t have the problem. I see a ready-to-be-typed-into comment box at the bottom of the article, above the already-posted comments. I can scroll up or down to re them all as I type my comment. Ditto if, like now, I’m typing a reply.

      What browser are you using?

      • Razor

        Not displaying well in Chrome on my Nexus 7 at all. Small sliver of an article on the left, huge ad on the right. Like making the site mobile friendly, but definitely buggy on my end.

        • Christopher Foxx

          Ah, site not optimized for tablet, I guess.

          • Aaron Litz

            Yeah, that’s definately it. I’m stuck using a tablet for now, and the Internet stilll doesn’t like Android all that much; I saved up a year to buy this thing, and a month after I did my laptop died. Now I’ve saved up six months and will be getting a new little laptop next month, and I’ll finally be able to browse websites without being stuck with their “mobile” versions or a thousand popups making my tablet vomit all over my lap Hopefully the trend won’t repeat itself and leave me with a bricked 7 month old Asus Transformer.

    • That River Gal

      Very well stated, thank you.

      • Aaron Litz

        Wow, thanks. I was half sure I was going to piss off at least a few people with that comment and get all kinds of nasty replies; I was kind of cringing at the thought of coming back to check on what everyone else had to say. I suffer from fairly awful persistent insomnia, and people may have noticed that some of my posts tend to get a bit wild sometimes; that’s because I’m often writing on 30 hours without sleep and my mind is globe of static, but so often I read things here that I feel so passionately about that I just have to try to say something. I’m just glad my point came across without being too garbled by sleep deprivation. :)

        • kfreed

          No need to worry, some of us gals clearly see what you describe as the focus of the modern feminist “movement” so it’s not like it’s news to us:)

    • JozefAL

      Actually, Mix-a-Lot’s song was pretty empowering when you read (or listen closely to) the lyrics. At a time when young women were largely being presented with images of skinny girls and women–not only in magazines but in videos–here comes a song praising the “full-figured gal.” The line “36-24-36?/Only if she’s 5-3” pretty much summed it all up. (Of course, some of the lines were a little less endearing–“LA face with an Oakland booty”–suggested the woman still needed to be good-looking, even if she had a big butt.)

  • JMAshby

    Jezebel, a site which traffics in every volume of furious outrage against every kind of perceived slight against women and feminism..

    The thing is, you wouldn’t find many women of color who see it that way. And this just goes to show you.

    In other recent and somewhat-related events, a lengthy piece at Jezebel suggested that people were being too hard on the town of Steubenville, Ohio and said that it was time to let the story go. A couple weeks later the superintendent, a coach, and the school’s tech director were charged for trying to cover up multiple rapes.

    Point being their track record is increasingly dubious. I used to read them from time to time myself until I realized how unequal their outrage and writing can be.

    • That River Gal

      Great points. I have recently come to the conclusion that Jezebel is a site for women who relate to Sex and the City as if it were a scientific documentary on their “culture”.

      • Aaron Litz

        HA! Nice.


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