In Defense of Kesha

If you’ve been following music news, you’ve heard by now that Kesha Rose Serbert (better known simply as Kesha, formerly Ke$ha) is involved in a massive lawsuit against her producer Lukasz Gottwald (better known as Dr. Luke). Kesha alleges that Dr. Luke drugged, raped and abused her, and is trying to void her contract with Sony. While Sony has stated that they will not force Kesha to work with Dr. Luke, she is afraid that they will not publicize any albums she makes without him. Since making albums takes a lot of time, Kesha says she is afraid that even if she does make the six more albums her contract demands, Sony could bury them, and by the time she is free to make music with other companies, her current contract will have done irreparable damage to her career.

In my opinion, there is a bigger issue not being discussed: the way the public doesn’t take Kesha seriously because of the persona the media, her publicist, and even her songs and music videos have created for her. Since “Tik Tok” first came out in 2008, Kesha has constructed a public persona—a character, for all intents and purposes—as a promiscuous party girl whose main concerns in life are where she’s going out tonight. We can’t know how close that character is to the real Kesha.

Society looks at Kesha—like so many other victims of sexual assault—with an air of mistrust. I’ve heard way too many people say that Kesha is probably lying to get a better contract, or focus on the fact that she didn’t press charges back when the alleged abuse first began (despite her saying that Dr. Luke had promised to end her music career if she did) as proof that she was not assaulted.

While this happens to a lot of high profile sexual assault victims, the fact that we view Kesha as perpetually drunk, partying and hooking up with some guy has increased the public’s disbelief of her allegations. This is, of course, something we see time and time again. People focus on what the victim was wearing or drinking at the time of the assault which not only leads to more abusers being free, but perpetuates a culture that keeps victims from coming forward in the first place

We need to learn how to separate Kesha Rose Serbert the person from Kesha the persona of her music, and recognize that the lifestyle portrayed in her music doesn’t invalidate her allegations.