Rape Culture Puts Kesha In A Horrifying, Impossible Situation

by kaya payseno

Kesha has been all but out of the spotlight since she filed a lawsuit against her former producer Dr. Luke last October accusing him of sexually abusing her. Now, unable to perform, the once-popular singer has fallen from the public eye. Hashtag campaigns like #freekesha are a testament to the loyalty of her fans, but are not enough in the face of the cold shoulder that the music industry has given her. No one will work with Kesha for fear of being sued by Sony music or Dr. Luke for interfering in an ongoing contract. Kesha has now added Sony as a defendant in her lawsuit, claiming the executives at Sony were aware of the abusive nature of her and Dr. Luke’s working relationship and condoned it through their inaction.

Sony isn’t making themselves look any better by not only refusing to release Kesha from her contract, but insisting that in order to work with Sony, she has to continue to collaborate with Dr. Luke  – a man alleged to have sexually, physically, and emotionally abused her starting at the age of 18. So she’s stuck in a career limbo, neither able to fulfill her contract with Sony nor be released to work with someone else. Kesha is now waiting for a ruling on the injunction she filed in September imploring a New York judge to be allowed to record without Dr. Luke before her career is completely kaput.  

Dr. Luke asserts that Kesha’s claims are an obvious contract renegotiation strategy, but it’s hard to believe that a famous and successful star would jeopardize her career and the reputation of a man who was key to her success just to get out of a contract — especially considering the serious nature of the claims (rape and emotional battery). Dr. Luke definitely has the advantage here: with Sony backing the producer, Kesha is quickly being pushed out of the music world, a warning to all young women in the music business to keep their mouths shut if they want to continue with their careers.

No one should be punished for reporting abuse. That does not mean people who are accused of misconduct are automatically guilty – it means that a person should be able to report workplace abuse without fear of losing their livelihood. Sony is taking a caught in the crossfire stance to this lawsuit, but it seems clear that the company is making a conscious decision to punish an artist for demanding a safe working environment. Sony could let Kesha work with another producer while she settles litigation with Dr. Luke, but instead they’re going to watch as her career drowns because how dare she inconvenience them!?

Update April 7, 2016: Yesterday, a judge threw out Kesha’s appeal because “Every rape is not a gender-motivated hate crime.” #FreeKesha

Image update February 7, 2019: from “Praying”

Originally published November 2, 2015

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