You can’t be a ‘Barbz’ and a feminist

Illustration by Jeffrey Belfield.

Brianna Scott, Opinions Editor

“Surviving R. Kelly” has stimulated conversation across communities about rape culture and how sexual predators seemingly get away with anything if they’re in the right tax bracket.

The documentary has made me think about the “R. Kellys” of the world who can’t hide behind money and die-hard fans.

Making buzz-worthy headlines of her own, Nicki Minaj is disappointing a lot of people for being romantically involved with someone similar to R. Kelly.

Minaj made an Instagram post back in December that insinuated her and 40-year-old Kenneth Petty are dating — the post’s comments have been disabled. There have been a few posts on Minaj’s social media account that have comments disabled due to people questioning Petty’s past.

On the December post, a fan commented, “Wait y’all calling this man a rapist but it happened in 1994, meaning he was 16 or 17 & the girl was a 16 year old.”

Minaj responded, “he was 15, she was 16…in a relationship. But go awf, Internet. Y’all can’t run my life. Y’all can’t even run y’all own life. Thank you boo.”

These aren’t trolls or haters making up fallacies, Minaj.

Statistics from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network show that eight out of 10 rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Roughly 33 percent of rapes are committed by a current or former partner.

With this in mind, Minaj’s response is quite unsettling. There’s no correlation between age or being in a relationship negating the fact that someone can be raped or commit rape. It is ingrained in rape culture that being in a relationship must mean automatic consent. But that’s not true. Consent is a consistent factor that must be respected at all times, in a relationship or not. Minaj’s point is null and void.

It is on public record that Petty was charged with first degree attempted rape. Convicted in 1995, a knife or cutting instrument was used during the assault, public record states. Petty is registered on the sex offender registry in New York and will be for life. Petty also served time in prison for manslaughter.

This wouldn’t be the first time Minaj has surrounded herself with troubling company. Minaj’s brother, Jelani Maraj, was convicted of predatory sexual assault against a child, his stepdaughter, and endangering the welfare of a child in 2017. It can be difficult to believe your family member could commit such a horrendous crime. But Minaj’s support of her brother is despicable considering Maraj’s DNA evidence was recovered from his stepdaughter’s pants.

Minaj has also collaborated with Tekashi 6ix9ine, who was sentenced to four years probation after he was arrested in 2015 for use of a child in a sexual performance.

These aren’t skeletons lying in the dark, Minaj.

The normalization of supporting and working with sex offenders in pop culture is toxic and lessens the credibility of narratives from victims of assault and abuse.

Trying to rape someone at knifepoint isn’t a mistake.

Minaj wasn’t the one who committed these crimes, but she chooses to be involved with people who have committed horrific acts and defend them valiantly.

Minaj has used her platform to validate and normalize sexual predators when the #MeToo movement, that was created by a black woman, Tarana Burke, is prominent currently. How can anyone regard Minaj as a feminist icon when her choices hurt women?

We don’t know Minaj, but her actions — and tweets — speak louder.

In 2012, Minaj tweeted, “And for the record on sum serious shit, I believe people who abuse children should be stoned to death in public. The end.”

Minaj isn’t keeping this same energy in 2019 unfortunately.

We need to hold all people, including those in the spotlight, to the same standard. Stan and cancel culture needs to be done away with because it decreases people’s willingness to hold their favorites accountable for their actions.

Calling out Minaj doesn’t lessen any impact she’s had on the music industry. However, nobody should feel indebted to Minaj. As a black woman, I don’t feel obligated to support Minaj just because she’s a black woman herself. Minaj doesn’t seem to care about the black women who have been victims of assault by the men she chooses to support.

Minaj’s “Barbz,” her fans, need to understand that it is completely up to them to keep listening to her music. That doesn’t make you a terrible person. My friends and I were in the car driving to Waffle House listening to “Shanghai” while sharing our feelings about Minaj.

If you can’t see what is wrong with Minaj dating a convicted rapist, supporting her convicted rapist brother and collaborating with a convicted pedophile — and then regarding yourself or her as a feminist — then we have a long way to go before the “R. Kellys” of the world ever suffer any consequences.

Keep the same energy you have for R. Kelly as you would for anyone who sexually assaults a person.


  1. This is a stupid article and you literally do not know what you are talking about. If you actually did your research you would know damn well she has not supported her brother since his conviction.

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