Why I Still Can't Forgive Lady Gaga Over Her Past With R. Kelly

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It’s been well over a month since Lady Gaga officially apologized for working with R. Kelly, but I still just can’t forgive her.

A reminder: Gaga worked with R. Kelly back in 2013 when they released the song “Do What You Want.” The song, music video, and subsequent performances can only be described as “rapey.”

There was their AMA performance in which the two role-played a Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky situation in which “President” Kelly took advantage of Gaga, who played a lowly intern. Then, of course, there was their infamous music video in which Kelly gyrated over a sedated Gaga. There was also an SNL performance, during which Kelly climbed on top of Gaga while she lay on the ground.

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R. Kelly and Lady Gaga at the AMAs / Source: New York Post via Twitter

The entire thing was controversial at the time, not only for its content but also because R. Kelly was already a well-known sexual predator.

Kelly has been known as a rapist for years and years so by the time 2013 rolled around, Gaga had already known about his reputation for taking advantage of young girls. And yet, she defended him. At the time, she told reporters,

“R. Kelly and I have sometimes very untrue things written about us, so in a way, this was a bond between us.”

Cue to six years later when the Lifetime docuseries Surviving R. Kelly drops. Although the public had been well aware of his proclivity for underage girls, the series really forced many people to confront it.

Lady Gaga and R. Kelly on SNL / Source: Billboard via Twitter

And after pressure from the public, Lady Gaga decided it was finally time to reconcile with her past. So, she apologized.

To be fair, it really was a great apology (especially as far as celebrity apologies go). As far as I could tell, it was earnest and well-thought-out. She wrote on Twitter,

“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.

“As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and the video at a dark time in my life.

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“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.”

That’s all well and good, but this song and video happened six years ago. That’s six years that Gaga had to think about her actions and to apologize. And yet, she didn’t. She even had the chance to speak out on the documentary but she allegedly declined the offer (John Legend was the only musician to agree to appear on the docuseries).

Lady Gaga and R. Kelly at the AMAs / Source: Variety via Twitter

So, why now? Public pressure, that’s why. Essentially, Gaga apologized because she got caught. And that’s why I just can’t forgive her.

If Gaga were truly sorry for what had happened, she would have apologized before now. Or she even could have spoken out against R. Kelly on the docuseries. But she chose to do neither of these.

The old saying is true: actions speak louder than words. And right now, her actions have made it clear that she’s just not that sorry.

Since her public apology, all remnants of the song, music video, and public performances have been scrubbed from YouTube. The song has also been removed from iTunes.

Lady Gaga has been a great advocate for people suffering from mental health so I can only hope that, from now on, she does a lot better when it comes to speaking up for victims of sexual abuse.


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Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her hanging out with her tuxedo cat Tom.