Kesha and women’s rights


Manfred Werner

Kesha captivates crowds during her Life Ball performance.

There is no worse an attack on women’s freedom than telling her that she may not work. That she is not entitled to her own economic independence unless she continues to do so with a man she claims sexually and psychologically abused her for over a decade.

This is what a judge told Kesha in her hearing Feb. 19, that her own claim of abuse was not enough. Kesha sued record producer Dr. Luke, seeking to void all their contracts. The suit claimed that Dr. Luke “sexually, physically, verbally, and emotionally abused [Kesha] to the point where [she] nearly lost her life.”

Dr. Luke countersued shortly after. The first big decision in these cases came on Feb. 19, when a New York judge denied Kesha a court injunction that would have allowed her to record new music apart from her record label, Sony Music, as well as Dr. Luke. The judge’s decision subtlety says that her judgment could not be as true as that of her employer, Sony, and what they assert is best for her well-being.

The unmitigated gall for a judge to force a woman to keep working for an employer who allegedly abused her sexually and emotionally is a travesty. Kesha was not allowed to get out of her contract and if she wants to do what she loves, record music, she must do so with Dr. Luke.

The ruling appalled so many women who, like Kesha, had been told by multiple people and institutions that their word was not enough. And that, in turn, their worth was meaningless without a man or a corporation to reify it.

As a result, people spoke, taking to Twitter with the hashtag #FreeKesha to stand with the pop star and to drive home that unless a woman is fully empowered and legally entitled to make her own decisions, especially about her source of income, she is not truly free.

Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato and Lorde were just some of the celebrities to use the hashtag to try and confront a ruling to silence a fellow woman musician. Recently, Taylor Swift, perhaps one of the biggest influences in pop music, announced that she gave Kesha $250,000 to use for whatever she needs, according to Rolling Stone magazine.

Swift’s donation is a sum that could surely help with Kesha’s legal fees or even with cost of living as she deals with how to work in her profession when her options are to not work or work with a man she claims abused her for over a decade. While money helps Kesha in this particular case, it still will not change a system and a world that refuses to grant women sole control over their own wellbeing.

The only way to change this system is to question authority and conduct dialogue between one another. Do not let silence be interpreted as consent. Talk until you cannot talk and understand that women’s truths are their own.