If you needed another reminder that our current system is so heavily stacked against (alleged, whatever) victims of sexual assault, or crimes of sexual nature, and if you did need the reminder, I would ask where you've been all this time but whatever, so if you did need this reminder, then the case of Kesha Rose Sebert shall do.
Kesha, 28, used to be quite the pop star, her notoriety having been built on the strength and popularity of her 2009 TiK ToK single. She's still very much that pop star, though she hasn't released music recently. She's suffered and endured quite a lot for, apparently, the previous decade--and over the last year and a half, she decided to do something about it.
The singer alleges that Dr. Luke (or Lukasz Gottwald if you would rather know his name than his dumb nickname, though I'll continue with the latter), to whom Kesha is linked under her current contract with Sony Music, has drugged, abused emotionally and raped her, all the while controlling her creatively and emotionally with threats and overall manipulation.
Kesha had requested an immediate injunction to allow her to stop working with the producer who has caused her so much harm and torment. "I know I cannot work with Dr. Luke. I physically cannot," she said. "I don't feel safe in any way."
It's not a matter of wanting to void her contract with Sony altogether, rather that Kesha doesn't want to work for Dr. Luke's Kemasobe Records, the Sony subsidiary the singer is signed to and in which Sony has invested $60 million. "That's a lotta money," you'll say and if you do, you'd essentially say what the Court decided.
Last Friday, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich denied Kesha's injunction, explaining that she can't be expected to "decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry." Her instinct was "to do the commercially reasonable thing," which is to say to do a big fat nothing and protect the interest of a multi-billion dollar corporation over those of an individual woman.
Kornreich also said that Sony's concession that Kesha could continue recording without Dr. Luke's direct involvement was a factor in her decision. Suuuure, except that, you know, Kesha is still contractually linked to the producer so really, how is he not directly involved? "Hey good thing, we know this man has abused you but you won't need to work with him anymore. For now, he'll just continue paying you and, you know, directly control your artistic destiny but he won't be in the same room as you."
What a deal, right?
You'll say that it's only the first hearing of what will a long and painful series of many, and that Kesha may still win in the end; I'll say that if you think so, you may not have looked at how our system works. She's already lost a battle, if not the war, and that sucks already.
But maybe that's a little too cynical; Kesha may really win this case. Only, if the process truly drags on, then nobody wins, least of all Kesha.
Originally published in my newsletter.