It is often hard to articulate why it takes so long for victims of sexual violence to come forward. So often women are questioned as to why they didn’t leave a domestic violence situation as soon as the abuse began. Survivors of child sexual assault are questioned over the legitimacy of their claims when they only come forward after many others have, or when some kind of class action is occurring. Women who claim that wealthy men, or men in positions of power, have abused them are often labelled as gold diggers or it is insinuated that there is some kind of ulterior motive, other than justice, for speaking out. It is so hard to be taken seriously when talking about sexual assault, and therein lies the flaw in our society. The character of the victim is often what is being disputed, rather than discussion around the actual allegations. This week, Kesha has unknowingly become the personification of the deep-seated problems in our dialogue about sexual violence.
An American court denied Kesha’s injunction that would have allowed her to break her contract with Sony and Kemosabe. In 2014, Kesha filed a lawsuit against Dr Luke claiming that he had sexually abused her from the age of 18 (claims that included him drugging and raping her) and had driven her to an eating disorder via emotional abuse (for which she stayed 60 days in rehabilitation in 2014). Dr Luke quickly counter-sued stating that Kesha was trying to “extort” him. These lawsuits went back and forth until late 2015, when Kesha filed this injunction to free her from her contact with Sony and Kemosabe and would allow her to make music without collaborating with her alleged abuser.
Which seems like a fair enough request right? The prospect of being forced to make SIX more albums with someone who took advantage of you at such a young and vulnerable age would be overwhelming for anyone, especially someone recovering from an eating disorder triggered by emotional abuse from the very man you are being expected to work with! But, the good old American court system has put commercial interests before a human being. The judge deemed that there is literally a price on personal safety, and that is $60 million. Sony have spent the last ten years “investing” in Kesha and Dr Luke and they want both parties to “succeed”, but that comes at a cost and that cost is Kesha’s body autonomy and security.
It seems as though the court has lost the ability to distinguish between a corporation and human being as both parties are being treated as equals, rather than human rights being placed at the forefront of any decision. Sony now has a mandate by which to guide Kesha’s relationship with her alleged abuser and legally force her to collaborate because the court has told Sony and Kesha, that Sony know what is right for Kesha, more than she does. Despite her saying that she categorically cannot work with him because she does not feel safe; a commercial contract must be protected more than her. Her human right to not be sexually abused is less than important.
And while we’re talking about legal responsibilities, does it not seem extremely odd that no one is talking about Dr Luke’s legal responsibility to NOT RAPE anyone? You may say that these are just allegations, but does it really make sense that Kesha would put herself through this public rigmarole if there were no truth. False rape allegations make up less than 5% of all reported assaults, and only 1 in 6 sexual assaults ARE reported. Someone in her position, who has a lot to lose, would not put themselves through this public legal battle if these allegations were not true. You need only to look at the devastating photo of her crying in court to see how distressing this outcome is for her.
Back to my original point; Kesha is a wealthy white woman with access to many legal resources and support and even she is not taken seriously enough to have a CONTRACT voided. She is probably in one of the strongest positions to have her story heard. She has privilege that most people cannot even dream of, yet she is still not taken seriously. She is told that her personal safety is not important. She is told that she said vs he said is not enough for courts to even break a contract so HOW THE FUCK could she possibly contemplate pressing criminal charges? How can any of us? If it is your word vs someone else’s, then that is not enough. Even if you do have the legal resources to attempt a civil action, just so you don’t have to work closely with the person for the next 6-10 years, then that is not enough. Even if you do have the strength to speak up and come forward, then that is not enough.
We have a problem in our society and for those of us that are not white cis-males, we are the ones who suffer because of it. We are the ones who will continue to be trampled on and told that we do not matter, unless we do something about it I stand with Kesha because if we allow this to be ok and we don’t fight with Kesha, then it will only get harder for other victims to come forward. It will only make it more difficult for our children tell us if, god forbid, something like this happens to them.
I stand with Kesha because we are worth more than commercial contracts.