For the past week, and for the first time in years, pop singer Kesha, best known for hit singles such as “Tik Tok” and “Die Young,” has been plastered across every form of social media I have visited. Not in the way I would have imagined, though, doused in glitter and waxing poetic about gargling with Ciroc; no, the pictures I have seen of Kesha are the heart-wrenching opposite. They are of Kesha, conservatively dressed, sans party makeup, with tears streaming down her face as she sobs in a courtroom.
For those of you unfamiliar with what is happening, the gist of it is this: Kesha has come forward and said that her producer, Dr. Luke, raped her in 2004, and has requested to be released from the contract she signed with Sony that states she must create six more albums with Sony if she wishes to remain a competitive artist.
Now, for most people with any ounce of a soul, the solution is clear: Let Kesha out of her contract. Do not force her to work with someone who assaulted her. Let her make music freely and without the shadows of a traumatic event hanging over her.
However, it seems that no one at Sony falls into the above category, because Sony is not giving Kesha up so easily.
As usual, the conversation surrounding Sony’s stubbornness and Kesha’s allegation has derailed into what is by now unfortunately familiar territory: women versus women. Several female celebrities have been called out for their noticeable silence on the issue — namely, Taylor Swift, who opted to donate $250,000 in lieu of speaking up. Kesha’s situation has been turned into yet another opportunity for people, women included, to fall into the trap of vilifying women for the same shortcomings that men are also enacting.
While this kind of feud is counterproductive, it also opens up another avenue for discussion: the matter of appearance. Kesha is every over-the-top glitter-bomb party girl you ever knew in college. She is blonde, she dresses how she wants, she sings about sex and drinking and partying with no regard for what others might think. She does not have the same clean-cut, prim-and-proper image that other popstars do, and I think that has come into play in the chatter surrounding her assault and the subsequent trial. I would challenge those skeptical of Kesha’s testimony to ask themselves why they do not believe her. Is it because they genuinely doubt the facts of the story? Is it because she does not fit into the “respectable woman” mold and that subsequently discredits her? Or is it because society has taught us to question first and believe later in cases of rape?
All digression aside, I think the crux of the matter, the biggest question of them all, is this:
Why is this happening?
The simplest explanation is the patriarchy. No, really. I know it sounds overdone, but it’s true. We live in a society that tends to lean toward giving men the benefit of the doubt, across any number and any type of situation. This includes — and I would even say it is perhaps exemplified by — situations where an accusation of rape is made, for the sake of this point, assuming the rape occurs between people who identify as a man and a woman.
Think about it: Rape is arguably the only form of assault where the victims are charged with their own defense. No one gets punched in the face and is asked, “Well, did you tell a really bad joke? What expression were you making? Are you sure you didn’t bring this on yourself?” In almost any other form of physical assault, the procedure is simple: Find the accused guilty, because hurting people is something even any toddler with a conscience knows, and punish them accordingly. But with rape, the consequences for the rapists are frequently prioritized over the suffering of the victims. “Think about what this will do to their future,” is a common response to rape accusations.
This is the patriarchy in action; any potential ramifications the accusation may have for a male rapist is frequently worth more than female victims getting the justice they deserve. But elevating men’s worth above women’s leads also to a degradation of women’s worth in the process. Right now, the way I see it, Sony’s position in the matter implies that the profit it could potentially generate is worth more than Kesha’s peace of mind and personal, mental and emotional safety. Right now, Sony is sending a message: A corporation’s profit is worth more than a woman’s safety. And that is one message that I, personally, am going to leave on read.
Femi Sobowale is a senior in the College. Pop Politics appears every other Friday.