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Time’s Up: should I delete R. Kelly’s music from my playlist?

Since the shocking reveal of Bill Cosby's sexual misconduct in 2015, the numerous accusations against Harvey Weinstein, and closer to home, the case running against long time Flemish television favourite Bart De Pauw, it has become increasingly tricky to navigate through media. People feel like they have to tread lightly. Can we still watch what used to be one of our favourite shows? Is it still okay to blast R. Kelly's tracks in your car? Do we have to boycott Souffiane Eddyani’s concerts because he defended a convicted pimp? We'll just tell you up front: there is no straight answer. But we can try to look at different angles here, after which you can decide for yourself.

Written by Nadia Hanssens

We’re definitely living in trying times, an era in which we're finding out more and more about men (and the odd woman) who have crossed boundaries in one way or another. Victims are speaking up around the world, and rightfully so. Not only are the #MeToo and TimesUp movements empowering victims to let their voices be heard, we're also seeing more and more people standing as one against sexual misconduct. But where is this coming from? Why haven't these women spoken before? What took so long? Why now?

The answer to this is much more complex than you might think. It's not just about these men behaving inappropriately on one or multiple occasions. It's also about the way we, as a society, view women's bodies, the way we look at consent, and the way we look at the legacy these people may have created. Power and influence tie everything together.

First, we need to look at the way we portray women and men. In the West, we've been living in a patriarchal society for thousands of years, which has had its influence on how media were created. Women didn't even have a voice at first, it took decades before women were even allowed to be more than something pretty to look at. There's no denying that in hip hop, for example, women have basically been props for a long time. It's been a part of pop culture as a whole to see women as sexual beings that simply desire to please. Shaking that ass in front of a camera implied consent.

Saturday Night Live sketch song about consent

So if that's the starting position women have to climb up from, it's not that long of a stretch to realize that consent means nothing to some. It's not easy to draw a line and keep to it when it comes to human interaction. But boundaries are to be respected, and that's where things get a little misty for someone that's in a much more powerful position. They might think they're within right to do whatever they want.

As a society in which media plays a huge role, we've built people up to be larger than life. That makes it harder to just drop someone you've admired for their creativity, musicality, or for the media they have produced. However, when you look at their actions, it feels wrong to keep listening to music by someone who's had multiple women go on record against them.

Recently, as more and more cases become known and some of them are under investigation or have been convicted, some people are calling out for boycotts. Others try to separate the person from their body of work. Jada Pinket Smith raised questions about how R. Kelly's streaming numbers actually went up instead of down.

There are many cases in which the testimonies of victims have actually lead to convictions: Cosby was one of them. As for R. Kelly, the miniseries 'Surviving R. Kelly' sheds tons of light on allegations that have been circulating for years. We need to realise that what comes to surface might be hard to digest, but it's necessary to hear and see them. It's a fact that the wildly popular rapper Soufiane Eddyani made a song about a convicted felon, his friend Moreno. Just think for yourself: during an Instagram Stories poll we found out 66 procent of our readers would drop this friend immediately. But does that also mean you can never listen to his music again? That's your choice. What's important here, is to educate yourself. Try to find out the whole story, or at least as much as you can, so you can make your own decision.

After reading this, will you still watch programmes by Bart De Pauw? Will you still listen to Soufiane Eddyani or R. Kelly? Join the discussion on our Insta or Facebook!

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