Why Do Celebrities Get Away With Sexual Assault?

Singer R.Kelly at a Pre-Grammy party.

Singer R.Kelly at a Pre-Grammy party.

Robert Kukla, Arts & Life Editor

After Lifetime aired “Surviving R. Kelly,” a docuseries focusing on years of abuse, sexual assault and assault on minors performed by the famous singer, national outrage sparked. That anger has many people chanting and preaching “Mute R. Kelly.” But why was nothing done when allegations surfaced years ago?

We live in a society where, if you are in the right position, you can essentially get away with whatever you want. Depending on your fame, you will either be ostracized or given a free pass for a sex scandal.

According to an article on the news website, Life Site, writer Jonathan Van Maren wrote, “It’s been pointed out that the decision of progressives to give Bill Clinton a pass on credible rape allegations may have emboldened dozens of predators everywhere, since it gave them a simple, toxic message: If you hold the right positions on progressive issues, then you can do whatever you want.”

In 2017, many male celebrities were outed for the atrocities they committed, and rightfully so, were shunned from Hollywood. But even so, celebrity sex scandals have been occurring for years and these men were given free passes.

When the former President Bill Clinton’s sex scandal broke out in 1998, Monica Lewinsky, an intern at the White House during Clinton’s administration, was the one who faced scrutiny over her sexual affair that occured with President Clinton. A lot of people were quick to blame her, rather than place blame on President Clinton for what should have been viewed as sexual harassment. It is sexual harassment, in the sense that Clinton abused his power and took advantage of Lewinski’s vulnerability.

In an article by the National Review, Jonathan S. Tobin wrote, “Monica Lewinsky is entitled to hold a grudge. No one, especially no one in their early 20s, should be subjected to the sort of scrutiny she faced as her affair with President Clinton exploded into a scandal of unprecedented proportions…She committed the sort of mistake that many young people have made, getting involved with a predatory employer. And since the man who exploited her foolishness happened to be the president of the United States, she became the focal point of an investigation into the moral abyss that was Bill Clinton’s White House.”

So why do we pick and choose whose side to take when a sex scandal breaks out? I think it has a lot to do with the rape culture of our country. Society likes to victim blame whenever a scandal occurs. We hear it all the time with phrases like “she should have known better” or “she shouldn’t have been wearing that.”

In regards to R. Kelly, people all over social media are targeting the victims saying that they are just making allegations to receive money from the singer. It is this victim blaming mentality that causes victims to be fearful of coming forward and speaking out against their predators. According to RAINN Rape, Assault and Incest National Network (RAINN) out of 1000 sexual assaults, only 235 are reported and one of the top three reasons a victim doesn’t come forward is due to fear that the police wont do anything about it.

As a society we need to change how we view celebrity sex scandals. They need to be taken more seriously. After news breaks regarding celebrity sex scandals people soon forget and move on to whatever the next big news story is. Now that the allegations have resurfaced regarding R.Kelly  after all these years, we need to listen to the victims and actually do something about their reports, let them know we stand with them. Don’t just let it blow over like we did before. Don’t mute the victims, “Mute R. Kelly.”

Singer R.Kelly at a Pre-Grammy party.