As I was driving back to school, I chose to pop in one of the many mixed CD’s that was in my car. (For those of you reading who don’t quite remember what mixed CD’s are, or haven’t heard of them before they are compact disks that used to be exchanged by friends, lovers, and etc. and what those of us without an aux cord in our vehicles are still subjected to.) I pulled out a mix I’d made last summer and the first song on it hit me like a ton of bricks.
It was C’mon by Kesha.
In case you’re unaware with the controversy surrounding music’s favorite party girl, I can assure you it hasn’t been a party at all. Sony currently has Kesha locked in a contract to record six albums with them all produced by “Dr. Luke” – Lukasz Gottwald – a man who has allegedly drugged, raped, physically and mentally abused Kesha.
Upon asking to be released from her contract, Sony and the courts have all said no, stating that they’ve given her a chance to work with a different producer. If she goes to work with a different producer however, she’s concerned that Sony won’t promote her music as much as if she had worked with Gottwald.
At her hearing this past Friday, Justice Kornreich said Sony would “suffer irreparable harm” if Kesha wasn’t held to her contract.
Now, all legal matters aside, this has struck a definite nerve with me.
It was in between my junior and senior year in high school when I had the chance to go and see Kesha live. She was playing at the Ohio State Fair and a few friends from my 4-H club packed into a van to drive to Columbus.
When we got there it was a sight I’d never forget. All different kinds of people were gathered for her show, from innocent looking kids that were younger than us to people in full drag, fishnets and all. As the lights went down, she opened with her song ‘Blow’ and the floor became electric.
That’s what you were expecting to hear, right?
In the middle of her concert she stopped to talk to the crowd about not needing to fit in, to remember that being different was something to be proud of, rather than worth hiding from. She then went on to perform a few songs with just piano, showing off her skills as a musician and an incredible voice that was overlooked due to her commercial synth-heavy songs.
The night left me incredibly moved and covered in glitter. I felt like I knew her as a person, not just a celebrity, and I was a proud animal – even as my friends rolled their eyes at me. Essentially, she has an amazing talent in her song writing and everything rolled into one.
But it isn’t the fact that I love her music so much that makes my stomach churn. It’s all of the social commentary aspects of her case.
The fact that a survivor of sexual assault is being forced to work with her abuser absolutely sickens me. In any other environment, this would never happen – or at least that’s what we like to tell ourselves to sleep better at night. Victims of sexual assault have such a stigma attached to themselves that many are afraid to come forward.
They’re afraid to share their experiences due to backlash that may come from their abuser or even from the public. Instead of asking the question, “what were you thinking” and “how could you” to the rapists and abusers, we ask “what were you wearing” and “did you lead them on” to the victims themselves.
We’ve done a lot to become more progressive about this topic, even attempting to create more charities, more foundations and more battered women’s shelters to help those in need. Slowly, we are trying to change the world’s view.
When it comes to victim blaming, we’ve seen it time and time again, the most recent case of this playing out with Bill Cosby. People all over the internet asked over and over why the women he abused never came forward sooner. Then the case with Kesha happened and seemed like an answer to that question, even if it wasn’t meant to be.
Survivors don’t think they will be believed if they come forward. And in Kesha’s case, they’re not saying they don’t believe her, but they’re also saying she hasn’t given enough evidence that her claims are true. So, they’re basically saying they don’t believe her.
For years, Kesha was known as the party girl figure, the girl who brushed her teeth with a bottle of whiskey and just lived to have a good time. A reputation like that must have come from somewhere, right? Maybe she was consenting, but she was too drunk to realize what was going on. It can’t be as bad as we think, right? This is the same guy who produced hits for Katy Perry and she never had a problem, after all.
The notion that we would allow a woman who clearly has been through hell already to suffer more by not being able to carry on her job without the threat of continued abuse is what is wrong with our country. The rape culture that’s being perpetuated is represented by everything that’s going on within Kesha’s own personal battle for freedom.
For all we know this kind of thing has happened in the music industry for years. It took a brave girl to stand up and say it’s not OK, and in the face of that people have absolutely no idea what to say or do. It makes me sick, and it should do the same to you too.
So when C’mon came on the radio, I didn’t turn it off because it made me sad. I blasted it with the windows down, hoping that somehow, somewhere, change could be a possibility.