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The Warriors Behind the #FreeKesha Movement Have a Message for Dr. Luke and Sony

Sony won't allow Kesha to break her contract with Dr. Luke, who allegedly raped her. We spoke to her supporters, who say their cause extends beyond the singer.
February 25, 2016, 3:50pm
Image by Steven Greenstreet

Tomorrow morning, the members of the Free Kesha movement will take their protest offline and on to the doorstep of Sony studios in New York City. Kesha's legal battle with record producer Lukasz Gottwald, a.k.a. Dr. Luke, has saturated news coverage for the past week—ever since a New York judge denied Kesha's attempt to get an injunction that would have allowed her to record music without Dr. Luke, whom she says repeatedly sexually assaulted her.

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But the Free Kesha movement began long before that: It first came into being in 2013, after Kesha disclosed that she had been given little creative control over her album Warrior. An online petition was circulated for Kesha to be given creative freedom at the time, and fans attended concerts waving "Fuck Dr. Luke" signs. Over the past three years, their numbers have grown, and their cause has gone beyond Kesha's creative freedom. Now, the group acts as a support network for the young singer. In the past week, celebrities likeFiona Apple, Lady Gaga, Jack Antonov, Lorde, Adele, Lilly Allen, Margaret Cho, andSnopp Dogg have started spreading the #FreeKesha message as well.

We talked to some Free Kesha warriors about their involvement with the cause, their devotion to the singer, and what messages they have for Dr. Luke.

Michael Eisele is a 19 year-old college student from New York who runs the Twitter account @KeshaTODAY. "If [Sony] knows how many people care about Kesha and her music, I think [they have] the potential to cave," Eisele says. He hopes the demonstration on Friday will help shed light on Kesha's struggle as larger issue: "Women are being treated unfairly in the music industry, and worldwide and sexual assault needs to be taken seriously."

Thea is 26-year-old Londoner, who is fan of Kesha more for "intriguing and her outspoken persona" than her music. "I find the whole upsetting and a real setback for victims of any kind of abuse, although I'm not sure I'd say I'm surprised, as money and influence talk," Thea says. Thea also once found herself in a similar situation. "A person in the same industry as me assaulted me, and I did nothing about it because a lot of the people who employ/commission me are his friends, and I wasn't confident that I could pursue a case without negatively affecting my career, Like with Kesha, there was no medical evidence as I left it a few days to see a doctor, so it would have been my word against his."

"The Free Kesha Movement is a reminder that our society still points the finger at the accuser more than the accused when it comes to rape," says Noah, 33, from Los Angeles. "I highly suspect her image as a 'white girl wasted' artist (which Dr. Luke cultivated for her) didn't help the overall perception of her claims. It's just so sad that we tell our young girls that "no means no" and to always come forward if someone assaults them—but look at what happens almost every time. The woman is put under the microscope, judged, ridiculed, and questioned about every minute leading up to the assault as if it's her fault. The system needs to change. We need to do better. And we need to start now. Future lives are literally at stake."

Kat has been a fan of Kesha's since she was in the seventh grade. She got involved in the movement in 2013, when she signed the petition urging Sony to give Kesha more creative control. "I was there at the protest last Friday," Kat says, "and it was so heartbreaking to see her so upset. Outside the court house we were throwing glitter and blasting her music. We were so confident that the judge would hear her out, but unfortunately she did not. But this doesn't mean that we will stop fighting for her. What happend to her is so much bigger than just this case. She serves as an example to sexual abuse victims all around the world."

"My involvement in the #FreeKesha movement has shown me many things," says Tyler, 20, from Florida. "It's shown me how major companies such as Sony can only care about one thing: money. They don't care about Kesha; they don't respect her and what she's gone through. They don't care about her as a person—they only care about getting the money from Kesha's supporters after this case is over… I hope that Sony will give Kesha their condolences and lets her be free from the contract. Or, if anything, I hope that Sony at least lets her make music with someone else other than 'Dr.' Luke. Zedd seems like a respectable person, and I heard he offered to produce her music. Plus a Kesha and Zedd duo? I'd listen to it. "

"It's the same old, same old," says Kat, 37. "Seeing women being treated like we're manipulative liars as a standard, treated as disposable, treated as responsible for their own assaults by the justice system and the general public… and seeing companies willing to drain the dollar value from an artist without any concern for that artist as a real person or even themselves and their reputation of integrity." Kat has a message for Dr. Luke: "We see you. We believe her."

Alex, 27, has been a Kesha fan "since the beginning." Alex describes the situation as "horrifying," adding "Kesha is not an investment. She's a human. I'm hoping the public outcry is so embarrassing that Sony lets her out of her contract and Kesha is able to make music again free from this pain."

Austin Dean, 20, started the petition urging Sony to release Kesha from her contract with Dr. Luke. So far the petition has over 192,000 signatures. "It has been such a beautiful thing to see all walks of life supporting her and this movement. People really care for her safety, and want her freedom," Austin says. On his newest update on the petition site, Austin encourages readers to join him and other protesters at Sony headquarters tomorrow morning to: "Bring signs! Bring glitter! Bring friends!"