R. Kelly vs. Anthony Weiner: A Tale of Two Sexual Deviants

by Stephanie J. Gates NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner is in the news again for sending sexua...

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by Stephanie J. Gates

NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner is in the news again for sending sexually explicit texts and photos to women other than his wife, and a writer from the Grio believes that Weiner could learn a lesson or two from disgraced R&B superstar, Robert Kelly, better known as R. Kelly.

In an opinion piece, What Anthony Weiner can learn from R. Kelly, Imani A. Dawson, asks, “What do these very different men have in common?” Both have come under scrutiny twice (three times for Kelly) for inappropriate sexual behavior.” Comparing Weiner to Kelly is not like apples and apples, or apples and bananas even. No! It’s more like apples and broccoli—it may all be food, but it doesn’t belong in the same group. Weiner was sending messages to consenting women, where as Kelly was seducing under-aged girls. Comparing the two, trivializes the seriousness of Kelly’s actions.

Kelly the self-proclaimed Pied Piper of R & B lived up to his moniker and lured the children away. He tried to make us believe that ain’t nothing wrong with a little bump and grind, and maybe it ain’t. But he was a grown man sticking his key into the ignition of girls not even old enough to have a driver’s license not banging out explicit messages on a keyboard. The comparison reminds me of how little we value Black women and girls in our society.

The rumors about Kelly had been floating around for years, and anyone who knew him didn’t deny that he had a fetish for young girls. So, when charges were brought against him, I was as happy as Kim Kardashian when she thought she hit the Kanye jackpot! He was the anti-Christ to my born-again Christianity and I don’t even go to church! I was a One Woman anti-everything R. Kelly Movement. When his songs came on in my car, much to my teenage niece’s dismay, I turned the station. When he was performing in the midst of the allegations against him, I had another niece (who was grown) ask me to charge her tickets to the concert if she gave me cash. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha—I laughed in her face. It was no secret to anyone who knew me how I felt.

I would go to verbal blows with anyone who blamed R. Kelly’s situation on anyone but Mr. Kelly himself. I couldn’t believe how many people who told me it was the girl’s fault, her parents’ fault, his entourage’s fault—anybody and everybody except him! I made crude jokes. A friend of mine is friends with Kelly, and he told me they were going to hang out to celebrate Kelly’s birthday, and I asked them if they were going to Chuck E. Cheese. A co-worker said something sideways about my anti R. Kelly stance, and I told her unless she put her hair in two ponytails and sucked her thumb, she was out of his league.

Kelly’s case was personal to me. I lived in Chicago and worked in the area where he was known to be cruising for girls. My students used to confide in me that they didn’t like him years before the story hit the news because they would see him riding around the neighborhood talking to girls at the elementary schools in the area. The two girls who filed suits against him and were settled out of court, both went to Kelly’s old high school. It was the secret that wasn’t a secret.

As a Black woman, I have seen my share of Black girls and women thrown under the bus to save face when the perpetrator of a sexual assault is a Black boy or man. I bear witness to their broken bodies, their broken hearts, and their broken spirits crushed by our silence and complicity in the crimes against them. And while I understand to a limited degree, the reasoning behind it—the Black bodies of boys and men swinging from trees convicted on hear say—I get it. But it does not erase the crime against Black women and girls by perpetrators who look like them.

I prayed that the jury would find him guilty and send a message not only to celebrities who thought they were above the law, but also to Black men who preyed on Black girls. I was hoping that the case would shed light on the twisted sense of loyalty to Black men and boys that exists in the Black community when it comes to Black women and girls.

By the time the verdict was announced, I had made my peace with the situation by strengthening my resolve to continue speaking out against sexual assault committed against Black women and girls. Though I would have been happy if Kelly had served jail time, I wonder if it would have done anything to alter the widely-held misperceptions of the sexuality of Black females. Look what happened with Anita Hill and Desiree Washington. Clarence Thomas was selected to the highest court, and Mike Tyson received a hero’s homecoming. I couldn’t continue to vilify R. Kelly without acknowledging that his actions were symptomatic of a larger problem. He wasn’t the first person to piss on a Black girl, and he wouldn’t be the last.

And while I get the gist of the article about working for forgiveness vs. demanding it, I disagree with it based on the actions of both men. Their crimes might both warrant public forgiveness, but I think that Kelly needs to take a bigger bite out humble pie to work his way back. Dawson believes that Kelly has been “rebuilding his reputation from the ground up.” But what I think he has been rebuilding is his career. I haven’t seen any stories on Kelly doing any type of community service around sexual assault awareness. The author admits to still having issues with the 2002 Kelly video incident, but she respects the fact that unlike Weiner, Kelly isn’t demanding forgiveness.

There is nothing for Weiner to learn from Kelly. Weiner is an arrogant adulterer and pervert. But Kelly was a predator—apples and broccoli.


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