By Melanie Spina
A lot of us might know Kesha as the fun and quirky pop star who performed on campus during Spring Fling last year. Some may not know about the amount of abuse that she says she has gone through throughout her career.
Kesha Rose Sebert, who is known for her catchy hit singles like “Tik Tok” or “Timber,” has worked with Lukasz Gottwald, better known as Dr. Luke, on both of her albums. Dr. Luke had an arrangement with Sony Music since November 2011 to run Kemosabe Records, for which he writes and produces music exclusively for the conglomerate, according to Rolling Stone.
In October 2014, Kesha filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke in a California state court, seeking to void her contract with him and allowing her to work with other labels. In this suit, according to Rolling Stone, Kesha claimed that during her 10 years working with Dr. Luke she had been “sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally abused,” by him. Kesha claimed that she was afraid that with the power and money Dr. Luke has, he would carry out his threats and therefore she was too scared to speak up about the abuse he had done to her.
Dr. Luke vehemently denied Kesha’s allegations. He countersued Kesha for defamation and breach of contract, claiming that her accusations were “false and shocking,” according to Rolling Stone. The injunction case was brought to the New York Supreme Court in June because the Los Angeles superior court judge held that any legal disputes arising from Kesha’s contract had to be resolved in New York. New York State Supreme Court Justice, Shirley Werner Kornreich, denied an injunction that would have allowed Kesha to record new music for a label that wasn’t Kemosabe on February 19. Justice Kornreich found that there was no showing of irreparable harm.
After reading the injunction request, I can conclude that although there aren’t enough facts or proof of the abuse Kesha faced working with Dr. Luke. There is very little consideration as to what it would mean for her to continue working under the contract. Yes, Kesha does not have to see Dr. Luke or record with him around, but she still must record under his name. Generally, it’s saying that Kesha doesn’t have to live with him, but he still owns her. He still has control over what she is recording and he is the one that decides what to do with it.
Kesha’s lawyer focused a lot on the fact that Dr. Luke could potentially ruin her future recordings by not promoting her future work, which is something that could be labeled as financial abuse. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, this is a tactic that many abusers use to gain control and power over the victim in approximately 98 percent of abusive relationships.
The court’s decision came as a shock to many Kesha fans. Even big celebrities were surprised and showed their support for the artist. Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to her cause while Lady Gaga claimed she didn’t want to live in a country where the government decides if a victim was actually raped or not. Even Adele spoke out and dedicated her Brit Award for Best Female Solo Artist to Kesha.
I personally agree with Lady Gaga’s words. It shouldn’t have to be the case that someone else gets to decide whether you, as an individual, were abused or not. In Kesha’s case, the judge claims that since there wasn’t valid evidence that she would do the commercially reasonable thing, meaning declaring in favor of what was written in the contract. Although I do understand why the judge would declare in favor of the contract, since it’s a legal contract, unfortunately the reasonable thing to do in this case turns out to be the requirement that this woman sticks to a contract she made when she was simply a teenager and remain under the control of a man who she claims abused her, because she physically doesn’t have to see him.
Yes, I do understand there wasn’t enough evidence, but the biggest problem with sexual abuse cases is that they are very hard to prove, because most of the time there are no witnesses. Because of this, a lot of victims refrain from speaking up. Kesha will never be able to physically show proof, not by video, not by having a witness. It should be enough coming from her mouth.
By rejecting Kesha’s injunction, this decision could potentially create the impression that her feelings of fear are invalid, that she has no reason whatsoever to feel like she is not safe, which can in return scare many other victims to come forward in the future. Editorial Director at MTV, Jessica Hopper, tweeted on the day of the case, saying: “To be in the courtroom for Kesha hearing today was to see the machinations of rape culture in high gear.”
Seeing the pictures of Kesha sobbing in court, at the thought of her career still in the hands of this man really makes one think that this is something that should be taken seriously. How can someone express such emotions and yet still be looked in the face by many and claim that her feelings are invalid in comparison to a commercial contract.
Kesha might have agreed to this heavily negotiated contract, but does that mean she agreed to, potentially, being abused physically and mentally by this man? I don’t believe so. As actress Lena Dunham said in an article she wrote in response to the case: “The part of not hurting one another as human beings is so obvious that it’s usually not added into corporate documents.”
When did a business transaction become more important than someone’s own health? If someone claims that they are afraid for their life if they continue working with another person, I think it’s important to take that seriously.
Thankfully this case has brought a lot of attention to the injustice that is happening not only to Kesha, but to victims of sexual abuse around the world who may feel their claims are less significant than their abuser’s point of view. People are tired of seeing things like this happen and they are speaking up, not afraid to lose all they have worked for. It’s time for a change. It’s time to care more about the well being of human beings rather than the business behind them.