More than five years after she collaborated with R. Kelly on a song titled “Do What U Want (With My Body),” Lady Gaga has issued an apology on her decision to work with Kelly, after hearing the “absolutely horrifying and indefensible” allegations against him. She also reiterated her support of all survivors of sexual assault.
“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,” she wrote in a statement on Twitter. “What I’m hearing about the allegations against R. Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible.”
She then explained her rationale behind “Do What U Want”:
As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and video at a dark time in my life, 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 Want U Want (With My Body), I think it’s clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time.
Gaga’s statement comes after the release of Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly docuseries, which delves into his child pornography trial and later, the allegations he imprisoned women in a “cult,” and which has renewed criticism of Gaga’s decision to collaborate with Kelly in 2013. But the allegations against Kelly of sexual abuse, especially of underage girls, have been public since his 1994 marriage to Aaliyah, when she was 15 and Kelly was 27. Although it’s reassuring to hear Gaga stand with survivors and criticize Kelly, it would be genuinely surprising if this month were the first time she’d heard about these allegations.
In her statement, Gaga says she “intend[s] to remove this song off of iTunes and other streaming platforms and will not be working with him again.” That, in any case, is welcome news.