I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day and I saw a photo of Kesha. She was sitting in a courtroom crying. I scanned the headline, which didn’t give much away, liked the cut of her white suit, and kept scrolling. In my head I thought, God what does she have to cry about – DUI conviction probably – idiot.
A couple of days later, once again scrolling, I saw one of my writing Idols, Lena Dunham had written a piece on Kesha over at Lenny. I have immense respect for Lena and her work so I clicked through.
Seriously, shame on me. In this incidence I was a part of the problem – hands up I admit it.
Kesha’s story is horrifying. She was in court seeking to ultimately be emancipated from her contract with Sony so she can no longer be forced to work with Lukasz Gottwald or “Dr Luke” as he is professionally known, a man she alleges drugged her, raped her and creatively controlled her through emotional abuse and manipulation for up to 10 years that she was working for one of Sony’s subsidiary labels, Kemosabe.
If you read entertainment news, like I do, you might remember that Kesha went to rehab a couple of years ago to address an eating disorder? Yeah well that was her coping mechanism to deal with suppressing the abuse. Kesha got better and eventually, she spoke up.
First she spoke to Sony, seeking her contract with the company be cancelled so she can move on. Sony responded by saying, gezz that sucks for you but you can’t prove the allegations against Dr Luke. How about we just make sure you don’t have to be in a room with him, and he won’t have a say in what you do creatively any more.
This means that Kesha will still work for Dr Luke, his financial interest is protected, she just doesn’t have to deal with him directly. Umm Sony, how about “no”.
So Kesha took the matter to the courts. The court has determined that what Sony has done is OK. They also made a decision that they would not meddle with a contract that was heavily negotiated. Umm, yoo-hoo, legal system, the last time I was at work it was actually a basic right to feel and be safe. Has something changed while I’ve been on maternity leave?
Now I get that there is sometimes a difference between the law and what we perceive as justice. But what we now have is a situation where the system that we are led to believe our whole lives can protect us, won’t.
Instead it’s saying, “gee that sucks Kesha, but we can’t and actually we won’t stop Sony from forcing you to continue to work in a space where you feel unsafe and violated.”
This translates broader for women in general and says, even if you get the courage together to come forward and say someone has abused you, we can not gaurantee that we’ll be able to protect or help you.
Granted this is happening in the States. But time and time again, here in Australia, we hear stories of where the system has let people down – Rosie Batty springs to mind, as well as Rosie Waterland and Lena Dunham herself.
Upon reflection of my own life, I can see now that there were things that have happened and I was not comfortable with them. I didn’t want to do them, but I did. I did them because I thought it would validate me as a woman or a lover or perhaps I had let that person think, somehow, that I would do them.
This isn’t easy to write trust me, as there is a lot of shame associated with remembering these things and my parents will probably read this. But I didn’t ask for those things to happen. Kesha didn’t ask for it. Rosie B and Rosie W didn’t ask to have their son killed or be abused by a foster Dad respectively. I’m sure I am not alone and some of you reading this are feeling the veil of shame that creeps in and makes your stomach turn.
What we have is a society where women are scared to speak up. And when we do holy fuck, watch out sister because odds are you probably “asked for it”. Maybe you dressed wrong, drank too much or didn’t ask the police for enough help. Maybe you didn’t tell anyone minutes after the abuse and waited until you had processed it. How can a woman who reports being raped 12 months after the incident be believed? Look at her, she probably asked for it…
This is why we don’t tell people. This is why wait to say anything. This is why many women live day-to-day knowing that what happened wasn’t right but no one will probably care. We have been conditioned to think this.
So what can we do? Basically it’s simple – use your voice, stop judging and don’t victim blame.
When we talk about things, they become more normal. I plan to speak with my daughters from a young age about what is right and wrong. To make sure they are empowered to know they can say no – be it sex, drugs, driving in a car with a school mate who only just got their license – whatever. I want them to feel safe and be assured that if they are ever in a situation where they are not comfortable, they can call their parents and we will help them – no shame. Their safety is paramount.
Don’t judge people. Don’t do what I did and just assume it’s a pop star having a bad day. She’s a woman, yeah her music may not be to my liking, but she’s a woman fighting a hard battle in the public eye. Fucking good work sister.
And for heavens sake, stop victim blaming. No one asks to be hurt, raped, emotionally abused or manipulated. No one wants that. I really think people should be able to wear what they want, have a few too many wines and get home safely. I also think we should be able to go to work and feel safe.
If you’re in Queensland and have experienced a sexual assault (it doesn’t matter when) or are concerned about someone who you think was assaulted you can seek help through DV Connect or call their Sexual Assault Hotline – 1800 010 120.
No matter where you are in Australia you can also contact 1800 RESPECT via their website of call them to confidentially discuss sexual assault or family violence, whether for yourself or someone you care about – 1800 737 732.
Image credit – Getty Editorial