The ongoing legal battle between singer Kesha and music producer Dr. Luke gained worldwide attention on 22 February when Kesha was denied an injunction to terminate her contract with said producer Luke Gottwald, and Sony, amid claims of sexual, emotional, verbal, and physical abuse.
The ‘Tik Tok’ singer claims that Dr. Luke drugged and sexually assaulted her on two separate occasions, and that the producer was the cause of her eating disorder, which saw her being admitted to Timberline Knolls rehab facility last year.
Kesha claims that Gottwald (Dr. Luke) emotionally abused her about her appearance and weight continuously, saying that they were below both his and “Hollywood’s standards”.
Kesha also claims that Gottwald threatened that, if she ever mentioned the rape to anyone, he would “shut [her] career down, take away all [her] publishing and recording rights, and otherwise destroy not only [her] life but [her] entire family’s lives as well.”
Consequently, following Kesha’s public allegations and request to end her contract, Gottwald has filed a defamation suit on Kesha’s mum Pebe Serbert.
“The world is not a safe place for women, the music industry is especially not a safe place for women”, said managing editor of Complex magazine Lauren Nostro.
“Kesha’s current situation speaks volumes to the lack of attention this industry pays to protecting women.”
Another well-known and respected artist of the industry, singer CeeLo Green was also brought to court following claims that he drugged and raped a 33 year-old woman after a dinner in 2012.
He even took to Twitter in an attempt to defend himself, stating that “if someone is passed out they’re not even WITH you consciously. So WITH implies consent. So if I TRIED but did NOT succeed but the person said I DID then what really happened?”
Mr Calloway (Green) pleaded “no contest” to the charge that he drugged the woman, later tweeting that rape is not really rape if the person is unconscious, yet was still deemed “not guilty” by the judge.
As young girls and boys, we are taught to stand up for ourselves and speak out against anyone who hurts or bullies us, to tell an adult or someone of authority. So at what point does this change for little girls; when they become women?
While in rehab, Kesha gained the courage to acknowledge the abuse she had been subject to, and to reveal Dr Luke to the world for what he really was. And while the law may have failed Kesha, the world listened.
Since Kesha’s injunction was denied, the movement #FreeKesha has gained worldwide attention and acclaim, where celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Adele, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and Kelly Clarkson have flocked to social media to social media to support the star.
Kelly Clarkson, who was previously signed with Dr. Luke’s label, tweeted, “Trying 2 not say anything since I can’t say anything nice about a person. So this is me not talking about Dr. Luke.”
Taylor Swift also donated $250,000 to help Kesha fund her legal expenses and even music-producing giants MTV Music tweeted a picture of the singer with the caption, “We stand by Kesha Rose.”
Since the allegations against Dr. Luke emerged, much more negative information has come to light regarding him. Apparently, the ‘Dr.’ in Dr. Luke refers to his drug-dealing past; and this was compounded by the emergence of Kelly Clarkson’s 2013 statement that she had been “blackmailed” into working with Mr Gottwald.
“Unfortunately, when you have that poor of character, so many artists don’t like working with you”, said the American Idol Winner. “I get along with everyone I work with but he’s just not a good guy for me. He’s kind of difficult to work with, kind of demeaning.”
The record label made a stating saying that, “Sony is doing everything it can to support the artist in these circumstances”.
However, the record label, which houses artist such as Chris Brown and R. Kelly, will not agree to terminate the six-album contract that Kesha signed aged 18.
With all of this in mind, how could a woman feel safe enough to speak out against a rapist if powerful men are so strongly defended by the law?
When teaching our daughters to speak up for themselves, and to speak out against anyone who tries to take advantage of them, should we also warn them that powerful men are allowed by law to do what they want and that, if a victim should contest the abuse in a court of law, then she will be made out to be promiscuous, a fabricator, and a liar?
When Kesha stood up against Luke Gottwald, the judge ruled wrongly in the favour of the producer as she ruled that, as a direct consequence of her ruling against the producer, Sony would suffer “irreplaceable harm” if Kesha were to be freed from her contractual obligations, and that her “instinct is to do the commercially reasonable thing”.
Justice Shirley Kornrich’s decision to do the “commercially reasonable thing” lit a fire inside a number of people all over the world: a media frenzy erupted and the #FreeKesha movement began trending worldwide.
Reports have now surfaced that Sony will be ending the contract of Luke Gottwald a year early, following the media frenzy, in order to regain credibility for the brand amidst the worldwide outpouring of support for Kesha.
A dissolution of the contract would be a direct breach, however, and therefore a negotiated exit is the most likely way out for Mr Gottwald; an exit that will not see him left empty-handed.
But even if Sony demanded this “negotiated exit”, this case shows that the welfare of a young woman and her emotional and mental welfare is not the concern of the company. It was the media frenzy that has pushed Sony into reconsidering Dr. Luke’s position at the company and not Kesha’s safety, their reputation – not her life and wellbeing.
However, it was the world that emerged as the rightful jury in Kesha’s case, as an outpouring of support saw the world stand in solidarity with the singer; and this, I hope, will pave the way for young girls and women everywhere to feel safe enough to stand up against anyone who may hurt them, powerful or not.
Without the support of the people, the music industry will fall apart. And although the music industry may not be concerned with the welfare of women, thankfully the world is.
By Laura McGettigan