On Friday February 19, 2016, Kesha Rose Sebert received the verdict that she would not be able to get out of her contract with Sony Records. The suit was filed against her producer, Dr. Luke, for sexual assault and battery spanning over a period of ten years. Kesha was told she is free to work with another producer, but she is contractually obligated to make six more records with Sony. Her lawyer argued that Sony “is setting her up for failure;” that they would not promote her music if she were to work with a different producer. The judge presiding over the case, Shirley Kornreich, stated in her decision that she did “not understand [her] problem … It’s not in [the company’s] best interest to not make money and not promote a recording artist.” What the judge does not understand is that it’s not just about being able to make music (while that is a large part of the lawsuit); it is about Kesha being out from under the control of her attacker. Even if she is able to work with a different producer, she is working for a company that reportedly had executives turn a blind eye to the abuse that was going on for ten years.
Court cases involving rape are tricky because rape is something that is hard to prove. Kornreich said in her statement that there was not enough sound evidence to prove the abuse. According to the official website for the Rape Victim Advocates in Illinois, “Only 2-8% of rapes are falsely reported, the same percentage as for other felonies.” Two to eight percent is a small number. Dr. Luke countersued in response to the lawsuit, claiming the accusations were false as a way for Kesha to renegotiate and get out of her contract. While this is a possibility, it’s also a fact that about “98% of rapists will walk free,” without any criminal sentencing. This is according to the website for the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network. In learning how to respond when someone tells another person they have been sexually assaulted, the most important thing is to listen and to believe that what they are saying is true. Because so few rapes are falsely reported, it is more than likely Kesha is telling the truth.
If anything positive has come out of the verdict, it is the widespread support Kesha has received from both fans and other celebrities, such as Lorde, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. All of the public declarations and monetary donations have given reason to believe that people are condemning sexual assault and fully believe her story.
However, in an article published by Buzzfeed on February 24, twenty popular artists (including ones who showed their support for Kesha) were asked whether they would work with Dr. Luke in light of the accusations against him, and the results left little to be desired. Eight came back with no comment while twelve did not respond at all, even given plenty of time to follow up. Although these responses, or lack thereof, come from agents or managers who know what they’re doing and do not wish to incriminate the artists they represent, it is shocking that not a single one would be willing to refuse working with him. It furthers rape culture in that even though people might believe the allegations of the abused, the abuser goes on without justice being served. Dr. Luke will go on with his career as usual while Kesha is trapped in a situation where she can’t produce the music she wants to. Not to mention the emotional turmoil that comes with dealing with physical and sexual abuse and knowing that the perpetrator walks freely and successfully.
I don’t know about you, but I’d like to live in a world where when someone says they have been either physically or sexually abused, we believe them. I’d like to live in a world where people who commit a heinous, scarring crime against another human being get due punishment. I’d like to like to live in a world where physical abuse and rape do not exist. But for now it is our duty to educate ourselves and to condemn abuse and those who perpetrate it.