In a heartbreaking Facebook post last night, Kesha wrote: “My fight continues. I need to get my music out. I have so much to say. This lawsuit is so heavy on my once free spirit, and I can only pray to one day feel that happiness again.” She thanked the support of her fans — those very same fans that have defended her on social media through #FreeKesha. The post was in response to the dropped California case against Dr. Luke, who she has a six-record contact with, and who also is said to have physically, sexually, and emotionally abused her for the past 10 years.
Kesha, who hasn’t been allowed to record outside of her label because of the contract, has been fighting to be released from the deal and from Dr. Luke. Although she has scaled back her suit against Dr. Luke in California and has 28 new songs to submit to the record label, she is still pursuing a suit against Dr. Luke in New York. If we believe Kesha, which I most certainly do, we must put her experiences in perspective for a moment. She has not been able to pursue her career since 2014. Her passion and her livelihood have been put on hold because she can only pursue them while working under the umbrella of her abuser.
[bctt tweet=”The consumption of celebrities is scarily hyper-normalized, meaning that we consume their pain as much as their happiness.” username=”wearethetempest”]
Not only has she had to endure the abuse itself, but she has been put through many legal battles, including Dr. Luke’s fight against her for defamation, as well as public scrutiny. As a beloved celebrity and artist, Kesha is always in the limelight, with so many of us wanting to know more about her. This happens with all celebrities. We feed into their commodification because they are products that we consume daily, with barely any thought of their privacy. The consumption of celebrities is scarily hyper-normalized, meaning that we consume their pain as much as their happiness.
With that in mind, needless to say, this lawsuit was “juicy” — big news in the entertainment community. People wanted to know more, and when they want to know more, they want to judge. Even the very act of me writing this story proves the interest that we all have in Kesha’s life. But, as we commodify Kesha as person, we also commodify her horrible experience. We must remember, however, that the pain that celebrity’s experience is no different from our own, although they are, in fact, treated much different than us. While they become objects for us to consume through a screen, we forget their humanity. But we must remember, here, Kesha’s humanity and the humanity of every victim and survivor of sexual violence that has ever existed. We must remember the pain and endurance it takes to carry on when you are violated, defiled, and exposed in the most vile and unspeakable way.
[bctt tweet=”We always want to believe more than anything that nothing happened, rather than face the society of rape culture we inhabit” username=”wearethetempest”]
What breaks my heart more than anything, is that Kesha has to sacrifice her pride once again to do what she loves. But what does this mean for other assault victims? While we cannot and should not objectify celebrities, it is almost inevitable that they will be symbols or examples of our own experiences. In the spotlight, we have the awareness that while celebrities are not the norm, their experiences still could possibly be reflective of our own. Similarly, we think that because of how prominent a figure Kesha is others would take her word for her experiences. She has weight and influence, so when I see her battling aginst Dr. Luke with the exposure of her story, I have hope. Then I remember the society we live in.
I tentatively use this case as a symbol, not because this is in any way similar to any other sexual violence experience or case — let me be clear when I say that not one survivors experience is like another — but because celebrities are symbols for many of us. They are public figures that have great influence, as do their lives. So I hear the fact that Kesha’s charges are dropped and I do not think that she lied or made it up or that she stands behind her claims any less than she did before. What I think is that she is defeated, and those who doubted her — as all survivors are doubted — pushed her into that defeat. And what does that say about how we treat survivors in this society?We constantly project self-doubt upon them as we always want to believe more than anything that nothing happened, rather than face the society of rape culture we inhabit. We always want to doubt, we want to pretend, we want to forget — because it is easier for us.
[bctt tweet=”But, as we commodify Kesha as person, we also commodify her horrible experience. ” username=”wearethetempest”]
That will never, and I mean, never, make it easier for them. The attitudes that are always forced upon victims and survivors only lead to silence, defeat, and demise. We must come together and acknowledge the pain that exists within so many people around the world. We must acknowledge this pain in order to fix it. But, this is only one sad step in the wrong direction. While Kesha sacrifices her lawsuit to make the music she so desperately needs to make, so many other survivors and future victims put their heads down, knowing all too well why she did it.