Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River: #FreeKesha

Last week, a judge denied Kesha’s temporary injunction to record outside of her contract with Sony. The artist hasn’t made any new music since 2012 with her former producer and alleged rapist, Lukasz Gottwald, AKA Dr. Luke, who she brought allegations against in 2014.

The judge, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich, said that she believed that Sony would suffer irreparable harm if Kesha wasn’t forced to stick to the terms of the contract to make six more albums with the label.

I’ve been following this case and the #freekesha movement for about a year and was disgusted and disheartened by the ruling. I understand that the judge was upholding the law as it stands, but this case is a perfect example of when our justice system fails victims, specifically women.

It also pinpoints the upsetting trend in this country to respect businesses more than people. Sony, one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world, would be “irreparably” damaged by losing one artist? But the judge doesn’t even mention how the young woman who was raped will be mentally damaged by being forced to work with her accuser. Her job is to uphold the law of a contract, not protect victims.

Kesha’s doctors concluded that the ongoing contact with Dr. Luke would be “life threatening,” the lawsuit claims. And go figure, Kesha doesn’t want to continue to work with a company who was complicit in covering up Dr. Luke’s transgressions for at least a decade. If Kesha wasn’t actually raped, then why would she be fighting this so hard for so many years?

No woman wants to admit she was raped and certainly wouldn’t want to endure this scrutiny if it never happened. It’s not fun admitting you’re a victim. It takes time and therapy to come to terms with it, especially when the rapist is someone who is known to the victim. It makes sense that Kesha just started to talk about her assault in 2014, only a few months after she went to rehab (which includes hours of daily therapy) for an eating disorder.

Kesha’s lawyers are talking about bringing assault charges against Dr. Luke, but that will be an uphill battle. It’s hard enough to prove “date” rape, let alone when it’s 10 years later, and the victim has already denied in court being drugged by her abuser.

In 2010 Kesha’s former manager was suing Dr. Luke and Kesha answered “No,” when asked if they had a sexual relationship or if he had given her roofies. To some, it might seem that she’s lying when she now says the opposite. To me, it proves that even in 2010 people knew what Dr. Luke had done to her; she had told someone.

Rape in the music industry is nothing new, but talk of it is often silenced. Jackie Fox of the Runaways was drugged and raped at 16 by her manager while a group of people, including Joan Jett, watched and did nothing. The incident happened in 1975 and Fox just started publicly talking about it in 2015. The only reason she wasn’t called a liar (by most people) is because a room full of people saw it happen.

It’s even harder for Kesha to come out against Dr. Luke because of how much personal power he has over her; he basically “created” her. Music producers are very powerful people who force personas to help sell records. Kesha Rose was transformed into Ke$ha; a trashy party girl pop star at the very impressionable age of 17.

It’s hard enough to stand up against an attacker who you know; it’s virtually impossible when it’s someone who literally shaped you. Producers and managers all too often use their position of power to intimidate and devalue their female proteges. Even if drugs were never involved, and Kesha never said “no,” this Dr. Luke character clearly overstepped ethical boundaries.

Also, I find it convenient that he transformed Kesha into a wild child who seemed to have little morals. It’s not uncommon for rapists to prey on women who they have power over, especially ones that no one will believe. Take police officer, Daniel Holtzclaw, for instance. He raped and assaulted victims based on their criminal records or incomes, assuming no one would believe them.

Luckily, enough victims stepped up to convince a jury and Holtzclaw was sentenced to 263 years in prison. I have to assume with the kind of status Dr. Luke has that Kesha is not his first or last victim. I hope more women step forward and can corroborate her story and stand against him.

I’m glad that a lot of celebrities and fans have come forward to support Kesha during this difficult time though it kills me to see how quickly people write her off as a liar. False accusations of rape are extremely rare and in the unlikely cases, they occur they almost never go through to trial.

It’s much more likely that an impressionable young star did what she was told by her father figure and kept quiet about it. Now, she is brave enough to stand up on her own, admit what was done to her and move on with her career. I hope she sees justice and can write some dark, yet amazing songs about her experience.


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