Taraji P. Henson Sparks Outrage By Comparing "Mute R. Kelly" To "Mute Weinstein"

Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.
While most celebrity responses to the powerful documentary series, Surviving R. Kelly, was to offer support to survivors of the alleged abuse and disavow the artist publicly, Taraji P. Henson went in a different direction. The actress posted a series of videos on her Instagram Stories on Tuesday intended to convey how the hashtag #MuteRKelly, which cropped up after allegations against him were resurfaced in 2017 as a call to take him off streaming services, was a double-standard, point out that there's no #MuteHarveyWeinstein or #MuteWeinstein.
Twitter users, as well as Surviving R. Kelly director Dream Hampton, immediately called out the actress for missing the point. First off, the concept of "muting" applies strictly to R. Kelly because of his position in the music industry, whereas the allegations against Harvey Weinstein reintroduced the #MeToo hashtag, intended to capture the widespread problem of abuse against women in the entertainment industry. But also, as Hampton writes, to imply R. Kelly is getting unbalanced scrutiny in comparison to Weinstein is untrue.
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"No idea why Taraji Henson wouldn't know that there are not one, but two projects abt Harvey Weinstein. But this is an oft-invoked deflection. While I care abt the Hollywood stars Weinstein abused, I care more abt Asante, Kitty, Jerhona, Lisette, Azriel & Joy & others, even more," she wrote, adding, "Plus Weinstein is on trial. For rape."
Hampton attributes Henson's attitude to their similar backgrounds, "Taraji, like me, is from the generation whose job it was to deal with R. Kelly 20 years ago. We didn't and countless girls were harmed because of our inaction. So I made #SurvivingRKellly."
While there is a comparison to be made between the two accused men, it's not that R. Kelly is getting undue scrutiny. Instead it's that the voices of the young Black women who accused R. Kelly of sexual abuse aren't given the same weight and respect as the voices of the majority-white women who took down the Weinstein. R. Kelly's accusers are the ones getting treated unfairly during this moment — not R. Kelly.
Reps for Henson and Hampton did not immediately return Refinery29's request for comment, and Henson has deleted her controversial videos.
"LET ME BE CLEAR R. KELLY IS GUILTY AND WRONG AND SHOULD BE MUTED PERIOD!!!!!" she wrote. *
Watch Henson's now-deleted story below:
*This story was originally published at 6:00 pm, additional reporting was added.
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