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“Horrifying and indefensible”: Lady Gaga pulls song with R. Kelly from streaming services

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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The singer has apologized to all victims of assault. 

In October 2013 Lady Gaga released the second single from her third album Artpop. It was called Do What U Want (With My Body), an uncomfortably titled pop-synth jam featuring the warbling guest vocals of R. Kelly.

Today, Lady Gaga has apologized unreservedly for the release of the song and has promised that she will remove the single from all streaming services. The announcement comes in the wake of the release of Surviving R. Kelly, the Lifetime docuseries sharing the stories of the many women accusing the RnB artist of systemic sexual abuse, including the assault of underage girls. (Kelly denies all allegations.)

“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,” Lady Gaga shared on Twitter today.

“What I am hearing about the allegations against R Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible. 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’s title, she added, was indicative of “how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time.” Lady Gaga also said that she is not making excuses for herself or her behavior at the time, but rather wants to explain why such a song, with such a message, came about.

The single’s cover image – Lady Gaga’s bare bum in a thong bikini – was lensed by Terry Richardson, who also shot the video for the single. In 2017 the photographer was discredited and accused of decades of sexual assault by more than 15 different women, with several magazines and publishers refusing to work with him going forward. In an anonymous letter to Jezebel, a New York stylist alleged that Richardson’s “semi-hard penis was plunged into the outside of my cheek and he was jabbing it into my face,” while working with the photographer on a photoshoot.

Terry Richardson and Lady Gaga in 2013

“If I could go back and have a talk with my younger self I’d tell her to go through the therapy I have since then, so that I could understand the confused post-traumatic state that I was in,” Lady Gaga said today of the single.

“I can’t go back, but I can go forward and continue to support women, men, and people of all sexual identities, and of all races who are victims of sexual assault. I have demonstrated my stance on this issue and others many times throughout my career.”

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When Lady Gaga was 19, she was sexually assaulted by an older man in the music industry and suffered horrific post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the abuse. “No one else knew. It was almost like I tried to erase it from my brain,” Lady Gaga told Vogue earlier this year. “And when it finally came out, it was like a big, ugly monster. And you have to face the monster to heal.”

Surviving R. Kelly bills itself as the first documentary to bring together a number of Kelly’s victims, as well as those in his “inner circle”, to discuss further allegations of abuse against the artist. Produced by dream hampton, the docuseries aired on Lifetime in the US last week, and has prompted a renewed police investigation into the artist in the state of Georgia. 

One couple interviewed in the docuseries, Timothy and Jonjelyn Savage, believe that the singer is keeping their daughter Joycelyn against her will and hope that the new investigation in Fulton County, Georgia, will find Kelly guilty.

“We hope that it will turn into a fruitful investigation and it will result in the return of Joycelyn Savage to her family or, at the very least, that she start opening continuous conversations and interactions with her family like she had before she met Mr. Robert Sylvester Kelly,” Gerald A. Griggs, lawyer for the Savage family, told People magazine.

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer, podcaster and recent Australian transplant in London. You can find her on the internet talking about pop culture, food and travel. Follow her on Twitter

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