Last week Lady Gaga released a statement condemning the actions of R. Kelly and shared her thoughts on the topic of sexual assault in general. In that statement she announced that she would be removing her song “Do What U Want (With My Body)," a collaboration she did with R. Kelly, from all streaming platforms and said that she would not work with R. Kelly any time in the future.
In case you aren’t aware of this whole R. Kelly situation, here are the basics: he has been accused of sexual misconduct for decades, including relations with a minor and has even been accused of holding women against their will in a “cult like situation." In April of last year, the Women of Color group (WOC), which was associated with the Time’s Up movement, called for the entertainment industry to cut all ties with Kelly. These accusations did not really gain any traction in the eyes of the public until December of 2018 when a docuseries called “Surviving R. Kelly” premiered. This series shed light on numerous accounts of abuse and sexual misconduct committed by Kelly through the years. Other musicians and celebrities began publicly condemning Kelly for his actions and showing their support for the survivors. One of these public figures was Lady Gaga.
On Jan. 10 she released a statement on twitter which has been met with both praise and criticism, as most things on the internet are. Many saw this public act as brave and inspiring, commending her for being so transparent about the situation and thanking her for giving hope to other survivors of sexual assault. Despite these overwhelming positive comments, I also saw a large amount of people who were disappointed and even angry at Lady Gaga.
Because of Kelly’s long history of sexual misconduct, many feel that Lady Gaga knew about his malicious behavior and still chose to do a song with him and that she is just now speaking up about it because of the recent public attention this situation is getting.
Apparently, his actions were well known in the music industry, which is the reason many people are citing for why Lady Gaga is in the wrong here as well. This may or may not be true, but I don’t think it’s really up to any of us to say how she should have handled this situation differently.
I recently watched the Netflix documentary about her, “Gaga: Five Foot Two”, in which she spoke about how controlled she used to be by her management. She mentioned that she didn’t really have a say on the type of music she created, which probably means that she was also told who she would be collaborating with as well. None of us know how she was being controlled or even if she was aware of the allegations against Kelly.
I think the most important thing about Gaga’s statement is the fact that she made one at all. It would have been easy for her to ignore this situation completely, but she knowingly put herself in the position for criticism by publicly addressing it. I know this is a sensitive topic and everyone has a different idea about the right way Lady Gaga should have handled things, but as long as we are keeping the discussion open and shedding light on these horrible actions, it can only be a positive thing.