By Uvika Wahi
On April 28, 2015, Kesha released True Colors with producer and electronic artist Zedd. Kesha’s journey for the past 2 years (give or take) has been emotional. For her, obviously. For victims of abuse everywhere, looking for hope vicariously through her. For Kesha fans, waiting for the return of an artist who has brought them joy or at least some semblance of it. While justice is a long way away for her still, her return to music with True Colors is capable of lifting many a spirit. It’s a lilting start to what might be a glorious comeback. Or not. A start, however, is a start.
True Colors was originally written by Tim James, Antonina Armato & Zedd. Kesha re-interpreted some of the lyrics to make it a song of personal empowerment. The song was released officially with the permission of Sony/Kemosabe records.
“I knew I had to find my own interpretation and record it, to spread the beautiful message of personal empowerment. It gives me hope that I will someday soon be able to release my own album.”
–Kesha on Facebook
We’ve escaped our capture
Yet we have our masters
I’ve escaped my capture
And I have no master
Before the mansplainers come a-trotting, let me clarify that rape is not a gender-specific occurrence and no one here is saying that so, shoo, take your tragic MRA agenda elsewhere. The treatment of rape victims is a bias that manifests in a gendered form. The treatment of all mistreatment at all has gendered roots thick as the deepest woods. You can flex your debate skills with us on Twitter later. For now, I hope to, yet again, illustrate the same for your benefit because school’s in.
What happened to Kesha?
October ‘14, Kesha accused her producer Dr. Luke, who runs the Kemosabe imprint under Sony, of multiple instances of emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse, requesting for a prelim injunction that would have allowed her to sign with a label outside of Luke’s wherewithal. By and by, a New York Supreme Court judge rejected her claims, and with it the injunction, citing lack of jurisdiction (“Kesha failed to plead that any of the alleged discrimination occurred in New York State or City.”) and evidence (the statute of limitations had passed on some of the singer’s accusations), ending with that glib “Every rape is not a gender-motivated hate crime” statement that caused the most uproar yet. Sony did offer to have Kesha work with another producer in lieu of Luke. The generosity, obviously, did not extend to making any changes to her existing financially and creatively controlling contract that she signed at the age of 18.
Why wait this long?
It’s a well-documented phenomenon that all abuse victims experience levels of self-reproach and guilt, both of which are simply too powerful an agent of fear for them to speak up. Even after the victim has accumulated the tremendous amount of courage requisite to do so, support is in slim pickings. The most common approach is to sweep these wiggly dust bunnies under the rug.
It happened. It’s in the past. No one will believe you. Did you do something to make it happen? Was your no not stern enough? Could you not learn to be more assertive? If he’d asked you, you would’ve done it anyway, right?
This is not an academic application. Tenure should not be a factor. Your opinion is not a factor, unless you are a party directly involved.
What if she’s lying?
Laws are supposedly created to assist the oppressee, while giving a fair chance to the alleged defendant. It’s called defendant for a reason. It’s in the kambakht name. Public opinion is not supposed to be factored in at the time of judicial proceedings, to ensure there is no undue bias. Only circumstantial evidence is. In cases of abuse, even when there is enough evidence, justice can not only be the opposite of swift, but also inadequate, laughable, and sometimes non-existent. The added humiliation of reliving your humiliation in the public eye is definitely the clincher. A victim of abuse has to surmount a stupendous number of odds to even make their case. As an outsider, your options are not only being part of the lynch-mob merely for the sake of having an alternative narrative to wholehearted support. You can choose to stay outside the realm of what should be a deeply private experience for all involved. People’s misery does not exist for your consumption.
As for now and forever, I will be echoing Kesha: you have no master.
Meanwhile, here are some all-time-favourite Kesha appearances from TV and the internet:
When Kesha un-princessed Disney
When Kesha made fun of herself for using auto-tune
When Kesha made fun of how she spelt her own name: Ke$ha
When no mythological creatures were harmed in the making of her music video (except James Van Der Beek)
When Kesha collaborated with rock ‘n’ roll legend Iggy Pop
When Kesha broke into yet another rock ‘n’ roll legend Prince’s house