Imagine you’re 18 years old, and you land a record contract with a seasoned producer who’s with a huge company. As you begin to work with your new producer, you realize you don’t have much say about the direction of your career or your image. What’s worse, you also realize your livelihood and well being has been placed in the hands of someone who doesn’t have your best interest in mind. From the beginning, your producer forces you to consume drugs and alcohol in an effort to sexually assault you. Sometimes, you wake up in his bed, sore and with no memory of how you got there.
As your career progresses, the abuse, manipulation, and violence escalates. Your producer demeans your body to the point where you develop an eating disorder. At one point, you run into the mountains near the Pacific Coast Highway to hide from him because he’s become so violent. Then, when you finally have the courage and strength to come forward and sue your abuser, you’re career screeches to a halt, and you’re embroiled in a disgusting legal battle that holds your future hostage. Now you know what it’s like to be Kesha.
In October 2014, Kesha filed a lawsuit against her then producer, Dr. Luke. During their time working together, Dr. Luke abused, drugged, assaulted, and raped Kesha. He manipulated her into believing that if she were to come forward with such allegations against him, her career would be over. For many years, he kept Kesha under his control, something even her fans began to notice. In 2013, some of her fans started a petition to free Kesha from her contract with Dr. Luke, calling him a puppet master. Subsequently, Kesha checked herself into rehab for an eating disorder, something that developed in part because Dr. Luke harassed Kesha about her weight. After rehab, she was still under Dr. Luke’s control. When Kesha was ready, she came forward with her allegations and filed a suit against him so she could be freed from his control and pursue her career on her own terms without sexual assault, physical abuse, and verbal abuse.
Today, the hash tag #freedomforKesha emerged on Twitter, and allies and fans shed a spotlight on Kesha’s most recent challenge in her battle against Dr. Luke. Unfortunately, because of litigation, Kesha has not been able to create new music, tour, sell merchandise, or get sponsorship. Unequivocally, this could mean the end of her career. That’s why her attorneys are asking courts to allow a preliminary injunction against Dr. Luke. With her career hanging in the balance, Kesha is continuing her fight, even though Dr. Luke is counter suing for breach of contract and defamation of character. The worst part? Sony has recently sided with Dr. Luke, saying that her testimony is inconsistent and that she made no report of the incidents when they occurred. If that’s not salt in a wound, I don’t know what is.
Sadly, Sony’s reasoning for siding with Dr. Luke is all too common in rape or assault cases. Victims are put through the ringer when asked to describe the events, when they took place, and where they took place. Victims are asked to repeatedly recount harrowing events that force them to relive experiences that are responsible for their deepest pain. The fact that Dr. Luke drugged Kesha adds to the problem. When victims are say they were unconscious, their stories are under even more scrutiny as they struggle to remember events. In Kesha’s case, she was coerced into taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Victims who include this information in their statements are often treated as unreliable witnesses. If the victim is an unreliable witness, there is no one else to tell the story but the attacker. These reactions are typical of a rape culture.
Regardless of what you think of Kesha, the fact remains that she was the victim of a predator who manipulated and assaulted her, a young woman. Just like any rape survivor, she deserves justice. She deserves to have her accusations validated and see her abuser receive punishment; she deserves to be in control of her own body, her own mind, her own career. This type of injustice is nothing new to women. Powerful men have used similar tactics to exploit and control women. Just because Kesha is a celebrity and a pop star doesn’t mean she isn’t some who deserves justice. Hopefully, fans can help Kesha get the justice she deserves.