#FreeKesha: A Closer Look at Rape Culture in Today's Society

          For the past couple of weeks, feminists across the internet have been holding their breaths, anxiously awaiting the outcome of pop singer Kesha's trial against her producer Dr. Luke. For those of you that are not aware of the situation, Kesha sued Dr. Luke, real name Lukasz Gottwald, in October of 2014 for sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, emotional abuse, gender violence, and a violation of California business. These acts of abuse were said to have occurred during the course of 10+ years that Kesha and Dr. Luke had been working together, since Luke signed Kesha in 2005 at the mere age of 18.
          In 2015, Kesha took things a step further and pushed for a preliminary injunction to be released from Kemosabe Records, Dr. Luke's record label, for good. After another year of battling, Kesha's case finally came to trial in the New York Supreme Court on February 19, 2016. Unfortunately, Kesha's fight seemed to have not been enough, as New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich ruled against Kesha's request to be released from her label, as well as allow her to to record new music outside of her current label and to receive damages. Justice Kornreich stated, "There has been no showing of irreparable harm. She's being given opportunity to record."

          The chaotic and traumatic situation that Kesha has been thrown into while dealing with this case has been deeply reflective of how prominent rape culture is in American society today. With the lawsuit alone, she has already been struck down in court. Justice Kornreich's denial of her request to break free from her abuser, the man who bullied her into having an eating disorder for years, exemplifies that even when a celebrity is decrying a man for horrific acts against her, she is still largely regarded with skepticism and disbelief. Even after taking her problems to the justice system in hopes of true justice being served to both herself and Dr. Luke, Kesha found herself sadly mistaken when the system meant to protect the people turned against her. According to the article from Rolling Stone Magazine, Justice Kornreich has said that she is waiting to be presented with more evidence before outright dismissing the case. Just by analyzing her pessimistic wording, as she leans towards dismissing the case rather that being in favor of it, hints towards Justice Kornreich expecting to brush the case off of her shoulder and further propagates the notion that Kesha may be fabricating these stories and may have an ulterior motive. Once again, this translates to abusers being believed over their victims.

          On social media, Kesha still hasn't had a break. Dr. Luke himself took to Twitter last week after the trial for a full-fledged rant, lashing out against Kesha and denouncing her accusations. He claimed that Kesha and her lawyers were lying and spreading false claims about him in an attempt to obtain a contract renegotiation from him. He stated, "They are getting behind an allegation only motivated by money." Employing a common tactic used by abusers to silence their victims, Dr. Luke is attempting to twist the story by victim blaming. Dr. Luke attempts to deflect all blame and responsibility in the case, with no clear-cut answers or evidence to support him, and instead pointed the finger at Kesha, her mother, and her representatives. In his Twitter rant, he even added, "I have 3 sisters, a daughter, and a son with my girlfriend, and a feminist mom who raised me right" in the hopes of appealing to women simply by mentioning the fact that he is related to other women and by throwing the word "feminist" in there, as if that is going to make girls rush to his defense. Again, the abuser attempts to use manipulating tactics to twist the victim's story against them and make others question their credibility in any way possible.

          While the outpour of love, sympathy, and support for Kesha was widespread and unwavering from many around the world, there were also many others who defended Dr. Luke, believing his proclamation that Kesha's lawsuit was just another publicity stunt generated to extort money from Luke. Among these Dr. Luke supporters was Katy Perry, fellow pop singer and former friend of Kesha's. Katy Perry's outward support of her colleague's abuser shows that it is not always solely the abuser who attempts to silence the victim, but it is also often outsiders and even friends and family who can do the same. From personal experience with family members who have been abused, those that are closest to the victim are sometimes guilty of perpetuating rape culture by continuing to silence the victim and prevent them from telling their story, whether it is out of fear of backlash, denial, or otherwise. As the abuse Kesha faced and the abuse others face daily around the world, the least we can do is hope that true justice is on the sided of the victims, and help them in their fight to be heard through the heavy hands of their oppressors.

                 text: anéya sousa 
                   visual: twitter 
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