Robert Sylvester Kelly, better known to the world as R. Kelly, may have dodged prosecution on 14 child pornography charges after “allegedly” filming himself having sex and urinating on a 13-year-old girl; he may have even managed to hold on to die-hard fans after he married late “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number” singer Aaliyah when she was just 15-years-old.
But Black women, at least those with any sense of solidarity and consciousness, have refused to forgive him—which is why Jezebel’s ode to the most famous statutory rapist since Roman Polanski is one huge, White feminist slap in the face and caused instantaneous and fierce online backlash.
Had Kelly’s young victims been White, Black feminists argued on Twitter, Jezebel would not dismiss their trauma in the name of “satire.” Had the victims been White, there would by no country for Kelly in any so-called feminist publication.
Mikki Kendall and Jamie Nesbitt Golden of @HoodFeminism, who tweet individually as @Karnythia and @thewayoftheid, launched the #FastTailGirls tag on Twitter, and the painful responses of Black women who recalled their own victimization and the accepted response —“You asked for it, you little fast-tail girl”—perfectly segued into Jezebel’s piece because that is the rationalization for Kelly’s continued popularity: The 13-year-old girl must have asked for it. She must have seduced him. You know how these little fast-tail girls are; they think they’re grown.
“Kelly’s ability to avoid consequences is unsurprising, Kendall wrote in a piece on RHRealityCheck.org. “Often it is easier for communities to focus on the girls in such cases than on potential predators.”
Sadly, these “fast-tail” accusations extend far beyond the R. Kelly controversy and often come from older women—our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, older sisters—who would rather shame young girls than challenge a patriarchy that victimizes us all.
The tweet below is a perfect example:
That’s why when these fasttail little girls come up missing I barely shake my head Young whores the lot of’em gonna come up dead or missing
— Mogul in the Making© (@MsPhoenixRising) January 25, 2012
But Jezebel can’t be bothered with entrenched racial stereotypes and the perpetuation of rape culture, not when “everyone’s favorite masterful weaver of stories” has a new album coming out.
MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry weighed in on Jezebel writer Isha Aran’s album review on Twitter:
— Melissa @ MSNBC (@MHPshow) December 3, 2013
Colorlines Managing Editor Akiba Solomon also addressed it. Read excerpt below:
Aran certainly captures the guilty pleasure that one can derive from Robert Kelly and even provides the release date for “Black Panties.” What she doesn’t figure out is how is how to tell the truth about R. Kelly and still be funny. She skips over the part where there’s visual evidence that R. Kelly has raped at least one black girl. (Yes, rape. Pubescent girls aren’t old enough to consent.) I challenge any hipster to put that image in the frame and still come out chuckling. I’m also asking Lady Gaga, who simulated soft porn in the Oval Office with Kelly during this year’s American Music Awards, to explain how any of this is OK.
Read Solomon’s entire piece here.
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