What a cruel injustice it is to tell a woman that she cannot work unless she continues to do so with the man she alleges sexually and mentally abused her for over a decade.
That is what a New York judge told popular pop star Kesha (Kesha Rose Sebert) last week; that her own insistence of abuse was not enough. Kesha, by describing the horror she went through sexual and mental abuse from a man in a position of power over her, Dr. Luke, has done to her. This judge said that her words simply are not enough proof that a crime was committed, that her judgment is not as believable or concrete as that of her employer, Sony, and what they insist is best for her financial and emotional wellbeing.
All Kesha wants to do is leave her contract with Sony. In September of 2015, Kesha was forced to push for a preliminary injunction from a New York court pleading them to speed up her ongoing legal battle with Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), her abuser and producer with whom she has been working with for over a decade.
Dr. Luke signed Kesha in 2005, but their contract has not been renegotiated since then. Kesha’s career has suffered since she has spoken out against her abuser and agency. Her most recent song was a feature on the 2013 summer hit “Timber” by Pitbull which was a Dr. Luke produced single. Instead of making money from it, Kesha’s income has been cut off while she sits in legal and career purgatory.
Kesha’s claims against Dr. Luke and Sony are important talking points about women who are under the contractual control of abusive men and agencies. At a key moment when women in the entertainment industry are coming forward with their horror stories of sexism and abuse in Hollywood, it is time to support and believe Kesha.
In her complaint, Kesha’s attorney describes a darker side of her early relationship with Dr. Luke:
“Upon arriving in Los Angeles, Ms. Sebert soon realized that Dr. Luke was not the mentor he represented himself to be and the opportunities were not what he had promised they would be… Dr. Luke provided no time, guidance, or support for Ms. Sebert’s music career, ultimately leaving her career to languish.”
“A far cry from a mentor, Dr. Luke displayed despicable conduct in front of Ms. Sebert… Dr. Luke would boast and brag to Ms. Sebert about how he liked to take girls out on a first date, get them as drunk as possible, and [alluded to inappropriate behavior].”
Dr. Luke starts to abuse Kesha, who is a teenager isolated in Los Angeles:
“Soon after moving to Los Angeles, Dr. Luke began to violently abuse the young Ms. Sebert… Dr. Luke continuously made sexual advances towards Ms. Sebert. He forced Ms. Sebert to take drugs and alcohol in order to take advantage of her sexually while she was intoxicated.”
#FreeKesha has been a trending topic on the internet since the verdict was heard. Many musicians, high profile celebrities and internet stars have come together to show their support of Kesha. Artists like Kelly Clarkson, who worked with Dr. Luke on songs like “Since U Been Gone” and “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and Jojo, who had her own label issues, chimed in also.
Miley Cyrus has dropped all contact with Dr. Luke, after learning what he did to Kesha, stated she is “choosing to go in a different direction musically” for her next album, a direction that doesn’t involve Dr. Luke. Also, as I am writing this while watching the news, I am learning that Taylor Swift has donated $250,000 to help Kesha in any way possible.
Solidarity is important in times like this. One voice is easy to silence, but when multiple voices stand together, it is hard to control.
While Kesha does have support and the backings of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, there are those who do not support her. Dr. Luke’s team is doing a fantastic job at victim blaming, pointing the finger at her party girl image by stating she is lying about every accusation she has made. Others on the internet have said she was lying since she did not come forward sooner, she is lying for publicity and she is lying to just simply get out of her contract.
If, at some point, you have asked why sexual assault and rape victims do not come forward, just look at Kesha.
Kesha is a talented and famous, beautiful young woman who has her whole life ahead of her. She has a dedicated and loyal fan base, even if you do not like her music at some point you have caught yourself humming along to one of her addicting melodies.
Yet, she was emotionally, physically and sexually abused by someone who was in a position of power over her. She developed an eating disorder by hearing constantly about how fat she was. She was forced to do drugs and to drink alcohol. She was date raped and threatened, she was manipulated. She was abused.
And I want to say that I stand with her.
I stand with her because, once again, we are seeing how victims are victimized over and over again by our legal system, how those same legal systems put a higher priority on contracts than on people’s safety, (especially when those people are women).
I stand with her because, even when she is the victim, she is the one being punished for coming forward, she is being punished for not coming forward “soon enough,” she is the one being forced to work with her monster of an abuser or completely give up on her dreams.
I stand with her because, when it comes to sexual crimes, victims are expected to be perfect and fit a certain stereotype. When they are not the perfect victim we expect them to be, they are suddenly cunning, deceiving and lying women that want to ruin the lives of the men they are accusing.
The fact of the matter is, no woman, no man, no person should feel the need to stay silent for fear they will not be taken seriously or that coming forward will damage their reputation.
We need to stop assuming women lie about crimes perpetrated against their own bodies. So long as we shame any woman who enjoys sex and her right to prevent it, we continue to live in a world where a rapist can get away with anything, even if they are reported.
by Mackenzie Nestor