Kesha: A Voice Beyond the Music
For anyone following entertainment news recently, you have seen the long battle and lawsuit, as well as the overwhelming support and outcry from the public, for music artist Kesha around the sexual assault she experienced by her producer Dr. Luke. Ultimately, the courts decided that there was not enough evidence to support Kesha’s experience of sexual assault by Dr. Luke, whose real name is Lukasz Gottwald. This not only tells Kesha that there is not going to be justice through her lawsuit, but it also tells other survivors of sexual assault that there is not always justice in the legal system.
Why would a producer, or anyone for that matter, want to work with an artist that is very openly saying they do not want to work with them, and also publicly speaks so poorly of them? In an industry like the music business, Dr. Luke has a great deal of power since he is working with a variety of famous music stars and artists, most of whom have major hits. It is curious then, why this one particular artist, Kesha, who has nothing positive to say about him, would be someone Dr. Luke is so adamant about working with. This all comes back to the concept of power and control. For those who have seen a Teen Alert Program presentation, you know abuse is based on these two things: POWER + CONTROL. This is the type of dynamic and working relationship that the producer Dr. Luke has with Kesha.
If he continues to work with Kesha, he has the power to push back release dates for the next 3-6 albums they have to create together. He has control over what those albums ultimately sound like, and even the image of the artist. At best, even if he doesn’t have final say, he has enough decision-making power to prevent Kesha from ever being in the spotlight, or having her voice and music heard. Understanding all that control Dr. Luke already has, I would say it seems very understandable that Kesha feels manipulated and feels like she does not have her own power in this working relationship. Obviously Dr. Luke understands his own power with and over Kesha, otherwise why would he be fighting so hard to continue working with her, an artist who clearly and openly wants nothing to do with Dr. Luke?
Kesha’s case is a blatant example of legal injustice because she must legally stay with her abuser and work closely in this abusive working relationship based on the power and control that Dr. Luke has over Kesha’s career, music, voice, and as Kesha has already shared, her body.
Even though Kesha was not able to achieve justice in the courts, she has had immeasurable support from the public (fans of her music, and not), and celebrities. Lady Gaga has been open on social media and in the press that she supports Kesha. This is a very powerful ally, supporter, and survivor considering Lady Gaga’s most recent public performance at the Oscars of her song ‘’Til it Happens to You,’ featuring survivors of sexual assault and rape on the stage [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5Zrk8dywtI]. Adele also openly shared her support by stating so in her acceptance speech at the recent Brit Awards [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDG3e7J6gUs]. Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to help with the legal costs of Kesha’s trial, and other celebrities such as Ariana Grande, Kelly Clarkson, Darren Hayes, and Lorde, to name just a few, have taken to twitter to show support for Kesha, and many fans of Kesha and the general public have added #FreeKesha to their posts to support the artist.
What I think most people, and definitely all the supporters of Kesha, realize is that it is extremely hard to share your story of abuse and sexual assault to begin with. I also think there is a larger understanding that speaking up does not just give the opportunity to bring awareness to sexual assault, but it can also allow a survivor to experience VICTIM BLAMING from the public and the press. Unfortunately, this has also been the case for Kesha throughout this court process.
Most recently, however, it is rumored that SONY has decided, due to the public outcry and support of Kesha, to let Dr. Luke go as a producer for the company and label, a year early of his contract. If this is indeed true, and SONY recognizes that all the artists and talent they work with should ultimately be and feel safe, then I would say that’s definitely one huge piece of justice for Kesha and survivors of sexual assault. This also goes to show when we find and use our voices, when we share our experiences, we may find more support and power than we even knew was possible. Though I wish the courts were able to provide justice to Kesha, I am hoping that justice will be served with the removal of Dr. Luke at SONY.
Here’s to the power and impact of all survivors; your voice is strong, and your voice is heard.