. kelly polyamory bdsm sex cult

R Kelly, Polyamory & BDSM

Can we talk about R Kelly for a moment?

I know it’s probably an uncomfortable conversation to have. Many people really enjoy his music and have followed his career over the past 25 years. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of R Kelly, (I enjoy some R&B, but I’m a metal head at heart). I do remember some of his bigger hits, you couldn’t escape them if you existed where there were also radios.

Over the years, R Kelly has popped up in the new cycle for various “unusual” sexual practices. He had a “pee pee tape” before his buddy Trump, with that story surfacing in 2002. While it was one of the bigger headline grabbers, for obvious reasons, it wasn’t the first time that R Kelly had been accused of non-consensual behaviour, or of having sexual encounters (read: rape) with minors.

A Quick(ish) Timeline of R Kelly Allegations

What follows here are allegations. Police have investigated many of these and he has stood trial for some of them.

1994

The first accusations arose in 1994 with R Kelly’s quickly annulled marriage to Aaliyah, when she was just 15 years old. Her birth certificate was forged to say she was 18. Aaliyah and her family had the marriage struck from the record in 1997. She later died in a plane crash in 2001.

1996

r kelly bdsmIn 1996, a woman by the name of Tiffany Hawkins sued Kelly, alleging a four-year relationship that began when she was 15. While she claimed that he never forced her to have sex, she did so under the impression that he would help advance her career – a theme that pops up consistently among accusers. She initially sued for $10 million and the case was settled out of court for $250,000.

2001

In 2001, Jim DeRogatis, a reporter received a videotape from an anonymous source showing R Kelly having sex with an underage girl. Editors of the Sun-Times (where De Rogatis was employed) handed the tape over to the Chicago Police Department, who began an investigation. Police were not able to identify the young woman or her age at the time the tape was made.

Later in 2001, a woman named Tracy Sampson sued R Kelly, alleging a coercive sexual relationship that began when she was 17. She claimed that he pressured her into sex with other women, treated her as a sexual object, and tried to control every aspect of her life. The suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money.

2002

In 2002, DeRogatis was given another tape, showing sex with an underage girl, this time including Kelly urinating in her mouth. Many of the details are a common theme throughout accusations, including R Kelly insisting that the girl call him “Daddy”. The tape was again shared with the police and this time the aunt of the girl in question came forward to identify her. The unnamed girl was alleged to be 14 at the time the tape was made. Kelly’s lawyer claimed that the tape was a forgery.

2002 was a bad year for R Kelly. In the spring, two women sued him for sexual misconduct in separate lawsuits. The first, Patrice Jones, claimed that Kelly pressured her into a sexual relationship when she was 16 years old and coerced her into having an abortion when she became pregnant. She claims that Kelly had promised to help her music career in exchange for the relationship. Jones is under psychological care, suffering from the damage done to her during the relationship.

r kelly bdsmMontina Woods was the second lawsuit that spring,  upset that Kelly had recorded their sexual encounters without knowledge or consent. That video was part of a “R Kelly Tripple X” tape sold by bootleggers.

Both lawsuits were settled out of court for an undisclosed amount and no admission of guilt by Kelly.

In the summer of 2002, R Kelly was charged with 21 counts of manufacturing child pornography. When he was arrested in Florida, 12 more child porn charges were added, based on evidence the police found. The Florida charges were later dropped since a judge ruled that the evidence was collected without probable cause for a search warrant. Seven of the Chicago charges were also dropped.

2008

We don’t hear much from Kelly for a few years, until in 2008 when he was acquitted by a jury of the remaining child pornography charges. Despite witnesses testifying about the identity of the victim in a number of the tapes, and experts assuring the jury that the tapes were not forged, without the testimony of the victim, the jury found reasonable doubt.

2013

Things are quiet again, until 2013, as more allegations surface when it is announced that R Kelly will be performing at that year’s Pitchfork Festival. DeRogatis condemned the festival, saying that it was a shame that so many young black women’s allegations are ignored.

2017

In 2016, Kelly shocked fans by acknowledging his relationship with 19-year-old Halle Calhoun. Many people noted that with so many allegations in the past, no one should be surprised at a 49-year-old man dating a teenaged singer.

A more detailed timeline can be found on the Spin website.

Why are We Talking About R Kelly Now?

Over the summer, DeRogatis published an article on the Buzzfeed website, detailing some of the horrific alleged abuse perpetrated by R Kelly against his various victims. In the article, we learn that Kelly’s lawyers have negotiated “numerous” settlements with accusers over the years, many more than have made the news. Of course, when settlements are made, the victim signs a non-disclosure agreement and we never hear about it. While many of these settlements include women who were underage at the time of the alleged abuse, there are some which include women over the age of consent as well.

r kelly bdsmThe article tells the story of a young, unnamed woman from Georgia who became involved with Kelly when she was 19. Her parents were aware of the allegations against Kelly but believed that they could keep her safe while getting a boost for her music career. Things quickly spiralled out of control and they now claim that their daughter is living in a cult-like situation with Kelly and are desperately trying to get her back home. There is a litany of now-familiar accusations; Kelly isolating her by taking away her cell phone and requiring she ask before talking to anyone but him; Kelly keeping her confined to one of his homes; Kelly requiring her to look and dress a certain way; the list goes on.

Another mother fighting to get her daughter back from Kelly’s grasp believed that because he was acquitted of the charges in 2008, that meant he was innocent. The promise of help with her music career and the confidence of parents who believed they could protect their daughter has become a nightmare for another family. Soon enough, the young woman from Florida was living with Kelly and her family are desperate to get her back home.

I strongly suggest you read the article, it is heartwrenching and deeply disturbing at various points. It makes you wonder how law enforcement and the justice system could have failed so many young women and girls (until you remember that it pretty much always does).

Polyamory & the BDSM Defence

We should be familiar with the BDSM defence by now. Enough high profile men accused of impropriety have used consensual kink as an explanation. “They’re just jilted lovers” has been used for as long as most of us can remember, now it’s morphed into “They’re just jilted submissives”.

'They're just jilted lovers' has morphed into 'They're just jilted submissives'. Click To Tweet

It goes like this: a woman comes forward, alleging abuse in her relationship with a man. Man claims that it was all just some kinky fun. Woman points out that there was no negotiation and no consent. Media buys the BDSM defence anyway because they don’t understand how D/s relationships or kink work. They never seem to bother talking to someone who is an expert in the area (like someone who actually practices consensual BDSM).

I can’t even count how many times I’ve told people that consent is the thing that divides BDSM and abuse. How many times I’ve stressed to a packed, standing room only crowd at various shows that you need to talk about BDSM before doing it. That you absolutely, positively need to get consent before you do anything. That if you don’t have consent, it’s assault. Without consent it’s rape. Consent. Consent. Consent.

Consent is the thing that divides BDSM and abuse Click To Tweet

Sometimes I feel like a broken record. I don’t care. If saying it a million times will help just one person understand the importance of consent, I will lose my voice saying it.

I am disgusted by the BDSM defence. I hate that my lifestyle, this thing that I am obviously very passionate about, is used to defend the indefensible. So you can imagine my dismay when I open my Google News Alerts email to find an article excusing the things that R Kelly has done, in the name of BDSM.

The Rollingout Article

The article focuses on Kitti Jones, a former radio DJ who had a relationship with R Kelly. She talks about many things that should be familiar if you’ve been following the accusations over the years. She says that she was slapped and hit by Kelly, forced to wear baggy clothes, and denied contact with her family.

The article then goes on to say that if the women can be believed – you know the dozen or so that we are aware of and how many that we aren’t -that it’s a Domination and submission relationship. The article claims that the women allow this to happen because they get sexual satisfaction from it. They link to another article on their platform, that describes a rape ‘inspired by 50 shades’. The perpetrator, in that case, was arrested and held in jail until his trial, where a judge said there was not enough evidence to convict. He was soon after charged for posting pictures he took during the encounter without consent on Facebook. What a great example!

r kelly polyamory bdsm

The whole victim blaming screed ends with the line

The question must be asked whether these consenting adult women are disgruntled submissives or actual victims of sexual abuse.

Not once in the article do they mention the word consent, except in the above quote, to question the alleged victims. They choose to ignore the allegations of underage girls in R Kelly’s past, focusing on his current companions, all of whom are above the legal age of consent, some of them just barely above the limit.

BDSM vs Abuse

r kelly bdsmThere is no indication, not a single one of the women who have accused Kelly of assault have talked about any sort of negotiation or agreement about what they were getting into. In the actual BDSM world, when a person has a string of submissives who all have the same story, accusing them of consent violation, they get called out and ostracised (or venerated as a rope teacher, but that’s another story).

Understanding this story is hard unless you also understand the patterns of abuse and the tactics abusers use to control their victims. With that framework in mind, this story is yet another tragic one in a long line of tragic stories of abuse.

A man that the alleged victims look up to takes interest in them. He is significantly older than they are, a grown adult, while many of them are teenagers and barely adults. He is both rich and powerful. He has a successful music career, the source of his wealth and power, that they want to experience as well. He offers to help them, to mentor them. He convinces them (and their parents in many cases) that he can help them achieve success too.

Once he has them ensnared, he starts pushing for a sexual relationship. These young women agree, either because they have the romantic delusions that most young people have, or because they feel it’s a fair trade for his influence.

He becomes controlling, taking away their cell phones and limiting their access to social media. He starts issuing rules. No contact with anyone without his permission. No flirting with other men (although his definition of flirting seems to be any interaction with another man where she is polite or friendly). He demands they dress in baggy clothing to hide their figures. They must face the wall when there are other men in the room.

If they break his rules? They are punished. Slapped and spanked, humiliated in public. In consensual BDSM, slapping, spanking and humiliation are usually considered rewards (if you’re into those things).

If they want to leave? He is influential in their chosen field of work, perhaps there were threats of retaliation? He owns the homes where they live. The things they have, he gave to them. He has so much power and they have so little.

There is little to no evidence that he has actually helped any of these young women progress in the music industry, so at the very least, he hasn’t fulfilled his side of the bargain. His accusers have said that when they tried to bring up music or their careers, he changed the subject or seemed disinterested.

Negotiation? Consent?

r kelly bdsmNot one has talked about an agreement to live this way. Not one has said a word about knowing what she was getting into. What R Kelly has been accused of doing is not cool with most, if not all, kinksters. I mean, we don’t care if someone wants to engage in some watersports. Hell, in the class I teach on the subject, I emphasise negotiation and consent.

Under the Age of Consent

The problem is with the allegedly underage girls. I have been vocal on that front too, calling out community members who don’t seem to understand how evil and disgusting it is to involve children in our kink. Many years ago, I fired a former friend when I found out that his girlfriend was underage – I didn’t want to be associated in any way with a person who thought it was “no big deal”.

Most kink communities are like this. We have very strict standards on the ethics of dating young people. I will admit that I am somewhat uncomfortable with some of the age gap relationships I see, but those involved are all adults. I may feel it’s inappropriate for a person to consistently and only date people 25+ years their junior, but if they’re adults, it’s YKINMK territory (although I will avoid those people and not allow them to gain positions of power in my endeavours).

I don’t think that all age gap relationships are problematic. I subscribe to Dan Savage’s Campsite Rule – leave the younger partner in better condition than when you met. It’s patterns and an inability to date anyone your own age that sends up red flags for me.

Micromanaging

While some Dominants can be quite controlling, it’s rare to hear of the level of control that R Kelly is said to have exerted. Some Dominants enjoy micromanaging their submissives, but it rarely lasts for too long. A Dom who chooses clothing for the sub every day will often find it’s too much work. They then move to “wear what you like from clothing I have approved of” and often end up with “you know what I like, wear those things”.

Polyamoury & Jealousy

A Dominant who exhibits jealously – especially one who is in any sort of poly arrangement – is looked upon with suspicion. Part of Dominance is confidence and extreme jealousy belies insecurity. Polyamourous relationships are partially based on compersion, the emotion you feel when you are happy that your partner is happy, a shared joy in someone else’s happiness.

There are some “poly” relationships that operate with a “One Penis Policy” or OPP, but they rarely last. It all comes down to insecurity.

Social Isolation

Finally, cutting off communication with friends and family is a classic sign of abuse. That is the same, whether you are vanilla or kinky. I’ve advised many people to get out of relationships where the “Dom” wanted to cut off such contact. I’ve begged friends to look at their relationships when this sort of thing has become obvious. I’ve done my best to be there for them in the aftermath too.

Anyone who tries to limit your contact with family or friends should be looked at with suspicion. It is not a part of BDSM.  Almost every circumstance that I can think of where a partner wants to limit your contact with family is a bad one.

Anyone who tries to limit your contact with family or friends should be looked at with suspicion. It is not a part of #BDSM. Click To Tweet

Cutting his partners off from social media, especially young people in this day and age, is a huge problem. I can understand that he is famous and needs to control what gets put out about him, but to be cut off entirely is unreasonable. A rule about not sharing info about him would suffice. Social media, like it or not, is an important communication tool for many people now. Especially young people.

Ugh.

Well, nearly 3,000 words later, I’m still pissed off.

What R Kelly does (according to the allegations against him), is not BDSM. People may want to believe that it is, because of their own misunderstandings of BDSM or some pathological need to defend (alleged) rapists, but that does not make it true. BDSM requires consent. BDSM requires informed consent. BDSM requires affirmative, informed consent. None of these stories come close to meeting that standard.

I really hope that the media will consult experts on BDSM, instead of just making it up as they go. I am always happy to answer questions for people, as are many, many other kinksters I  know.

I’m also sick of typing “alleged”. If you ask me, where there is this much smoke, you assume there is fire.

Leave a Reply