Kesha: The Unorthodox Feminist Icon

It’s been over two years since one of the most iconic faces of modern pop, Kesha, filed her lawsuit against Dr. Luke after twelve years of working with the producer, accusing him of “sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally abusing” her for years. Kesha received support from female artists who worked with Luke as well, including Kelly Clarkson. Luke denied all claims made against him, including an unsettling claim Kesha made of Luke drugging and raping her. Last year, Kesha was denied release from her contract of Dr. Luke/ Sony, meaning she would be forced to record new music and work under her abuser. After seeing no progress in her case, and having the same judge dismiss her claims time after time, Kesha recently dropped the suit, but released an array of emails containing Luke criticizing and body shaming the singer, including a claim that, “songwriters and producers are reluctant to give Kesha their songs because of her weight.”

 

Though this situation is gut-wrenching, it of course is not surprising. Living in a world where stories like this surface regularly is exhausting and upsetting beyond words. Kesha’s story is a perfect example of an industry created and run by powerful men, a blaring reminder our world is incredibly male dominated. No matter how many how many radio hits you have, how much money you make, you are still living in a world seriously lacking women in power.

When Kesha, who identifies as a “ultra-till-the-day-I-die feminist,” entered the music scene, she had a simple goal: to level the playing field and take down the music industry patriarchy. The singer received an unlimited amount of backlash upon the release of her first album due to proactive lyrics and actions, but that was her intent; to shock, to show what happens when a woman acts like a man in the music industry. The singer stated, “I am allowed to do, and say, and participate in all the activities that men can do, and they can get celebrated for it. And women get chastised for it.” Kesha’s music, especially in references to her first releases, highlight sex, drugs, and the party lifestyle- but more importantly points attention to the double standards. Kesha, through her music, made a bold reversal of gender roles. It’s rare but important to find a celebrity not afraid to speak their minds, to shed light on what really matters, and be unapologetically themselves. Years ago, you might not place “Kesha” and “female empowerment” close together (you might have opted for “trashy” instead), but today they’re synonymous.

Though Kesha’s currently unsuccessful fight for justice is heartbreaking, what we can learn from this is how important it is to get angry and fight back, and how critical it is to keep talking about struggles like this- we cannot forget Kesha, or her story; she is a bold mark of courage, survival, and most of all, strength.