Kesha Is a Feminist Icon

Kesha is an artist that has been with me through the darkest of times. In 2010, I was an awkward preteen with braces, my nails adorned with crackle nail polish, and silly bands an inch thick around my wrist. During this (rather unfortunate) time in my life, my morning/afternoon/evening routine would consist of listening exclusively to Kesha’s album, "Animal" (my middle school self’s favorites were “Take It Off” and “Blah Blah Blah”, but enough about me). More recently, Kesha released her new album, “Rainbow”, after a nearly five year break and her transformation has been nothing short of inspiring.

photo source: target

I think all millennials remember the days when “Tik Tok” would come on over the speaker and everyone would collectively drop everything and transform into the glitter-soaked, eyeliner-smudged version of Kesha from the “Tik Tok” music video. During this time period of Kesha’s career, most people viewed her as little more than a party girl possessing too few brain cells. And as ridiculous as it sounds, her entire image revolved around this persona. That is, until news of her sexual assault case became public.

If you have never heard of Kesha’s sexual assault case, allow me to give you a brief recap. In 2016, Kesha announced that she had been drugged and sexually assaulted by her producer, and the case was taken to court. The court case put Kesha in a very difficult position, as she was legally bound by contract to Sony Music for another six albums. In other words, if she wanted to continue to make music, she would have to do so with her abuser. Ultimately, Kesha sued Sony Music and her abuser, and even though she herself was sued for breaching her contract Kesha, thankfully, escaped from that situation.

After this experience, as one may expect, Kesha reinvented herself. For one, you may have noticed that Kesha no longer goes by her previous stage name--Ke$ha. She recently removed the dollar sign out of her professional name as a way of subtly putting out a new image of maturity and growth, and we support her all the way. Her music has developed, leaving the “Tik Tok” days far behind. Do I still jam to old “Ke$ha” music? Absolutely. But, the new change Kesha has undergone sends out a powerful message to women everywhere, as her music begins to tackle raw, real topics very personal to her (which I jam to all the same).

photo source: studybreaks

I myself am not a huge popular music fan, but Kesha’s new album really struck a chord with me, so to speak. “Rainbow” tells the story of Kesha’s “coming back in to the light” and “seeing all of the colors” that her life had previously been devoid of, and, you guys, it’s beautiful. If you have yet to listen to “Rainbow”, do it. Just. Do. It. I promise you will not regret it. At the very least, give up four minutes of your life and listen to her song, “Praying”. I believe that out of all the songs on the album, “Praying” most captures the tangible pain, hope, and forgiveness that Kesha still holds in her heart. This song explains Kesha’s character more than I could ever put into words.  

Here is why Kesha’s character arc is so important: not only did she bounce back from her assault, she came out stronger and better. She has shown that no matter what happens, no man can put her down, change her, or stop her from doing what she loves. But, perhaps more importantly, she has shown the value and grace in forgiveness. In her song “Praying” she publicly forgives her abuser, and prays that he changes in to a better person; the same transformation that she prayed for herself. So, what does this tell us women? It tells us that we are strong. We are beautiful. We are unstoppable. We are unflinching in the face of difficulty and hardship. And we owe it all to Kesha.

photo source: billboard 

If none of that is anyway convincing that Kesha is a true icon for feminists, perhaps her song “Woman” will. “Woman” is the third track on “Rainbow” and, let me tell you, there is a reason it is the self-proclaimed anthem for feminists everywhere. I mean, the lyrics to the chorus are, “I’m a motherf******g woman, baby alright/I don’t need a man to be holding me too tight.” Need I say more?

Lyrical genius aside, Kesha is an artist that I have been with through the darkest of times. She underwent brutal criticism, lost all sense of privacy, and even publicly lost a part of herself. Not only did she overcome her struggles, she took control and annihilated them; claiming her identity as a woman and spreading a message of positivity and forgiveness, even in the face of unimaginable horror. For this reason, I believe all women can draw from her resilient, unbreakable strength.

She is a role model not only for feminists, but everybody with a heartbeat. Seriously. Men, women, and everyone in between can learn something by following in her example. I commend you, Kesha. I am proud of you. I hope that I will someday grow to be half the woman you are.