Philip Ellis
News & Views
Why #FreeKesha matters to all industries

Last week, singer Kesha Rose Sebert appeared in court to hear the fate of her career, and the news was not good. To those of you not familiar with the case; Kesha requested an injunction which would permit her to record music without her longtime producer and collaborator, Dr Luke. She alleges that he drugged and raped her, and also claims to have been abused both physically and psychologically for the duration of their working relationship — almost a decade.

Judge Shirley Kornreich eventually decided that Kesha’s record label, Sony, would suffer “irreparable harm” if she broke contract, and ruled in favour of the corporation, deeming it “commercially reasonable” that Kesha remain professionally obliged to make another six albums with Dr Luke. “Our interest is in her success. Our interest is in Dr Luke’s success,” says one of Sony’s lawyers “They are not in the least bit mutually exclusive.”


Just to clarify; it was decided that the commercial interests of a corporation were more important than the well-being of a young woman being forced to work with the man she maintains abused her.

“This is appalling, but it’s no break from tradition,” writes Jezebel’s Madeleine Davies. “Money speaks louder than you or I ever could in a courtroom, even if we were pop stars whose fans waited outside for hours to support us; corporate interests are louder than ethics or empathy, louder than autonomy, or self-determination, or basic rights to safety.”

The internet has, as you might expect, exploded in its support of Kesha, with hashtags such as #FreeKesha, #WeStandWithKesha, and the incendiary #SonySupportsRape. Other female stars, from Lady Gaga to Iggy Azalea, have expressed their solidarity. Parallels have been drawn between Chris Brown, who perpetrated a series of violent acts against a woman and still has people lining up to work with him, and Kesha, the victim of alleged abuse whose career lies entirely in the hands of people who see her as an asset first and a person second.

You don’t have to be a fan of Kesha’s music to find this deeply unsettling. This is bigger than one woman’s career, or any one industry. Last week’s court case is simply an especially high profile example of something which happens all too often; namely, abuse and sexual assault in the workplace being swept under the carpet, the interests of the corporation taking priority over the safety of the victims. Here’s hoping that the media ire pointed at Dr Luke and Sony will prompt other companies to take a long hard look at how they deal with similar allegations under their own roofs.

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