Why Kesha Should Have Been In TIME's "Person Of The Year" Lineup

Sarah Midkiff

TIME announced their 2017 "Person Of The Year" as the women and men who have spoken out against sexual harassment and assault. The list, called "the Silence Breakers," included celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd, and Terry Crews. However, Kesha was noticeably absent from the feature. Given her experience with assault and standing up against her alleged abuser, many people were confused as to why she wasn't included.

Before the #MeToo campaign and before the onslaught of allegations against influential men were made public, Kesha was embroiled in a contentious legal battle against her alleged sexual abuser and music producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald. She risked her career in the pursuit of creative freedom and the ability to move forward with her life.

In October 2014, she filed a lawsuit against the producer, who she accuses of drugging and sexually assaulting her. She also alleged that Dr. Luke threatened to harm her career and ruin her financially if she were to speak about it. Kesha also claimed that he prevented her from releasing music.

As part of the suit, Kesha asked to be released from her contract with his label, Kemosabe Records, a subsidiary of Sony. Dr. Luke filed a countersuit for defamation and breach of her contract, which stated that she still had three more albums to record as part of the deal. More importantly, Dr. Luke was contractually obligated to produce at least six songs on each of the albums.

What ensued was nothing short of tragic. Her preliminary injunction was denied, which meant that she couldn't release music with another label without facing legal and financial repercussions. Kesha's traumatic history was now public knowledge and her music career was still in the hands of a man who sexually and emotionally abused her. It wasn't until April 2017, nearly three years after Kesha filed her lawsuit, that Sony finally cut ties with Dr. Luke.

In spite of all of this, she was able to release the now Grammy-nominated album Rainbow. In an essay written by Kesha for Refinery29, the singer credited the album with saving her life, adding, "I just don't want to be that broken person. And I’m not anymore. I am a walking testament to anyone out there that with honesty and self-love, you can feel whole again." It was still produced by Kemosabe Records and Dr. Luke is more than likely still profiting from it as the co-founder of the label, even though he was removed from his title as CEO. It just goes to show how flawed the system is when it comes to protecting people from their abusers.

Many readers of Time's article expressed their confusion at Kesha not being included among the "Silence Breakers." Taylor Swift, who was in the Time article, specifically mentioned Kesha as a source of inspiration during her own legal battle earlier this year. "I spoke to Kesha on the phone and it really helped to talk to someone who had been through the demoralising court process," said Swift in her "Person Of The Year" interview.

So why wasn't Kesha included in the Time's article? There could be a simple explanation, but neither the artist or the publication have offered an explanation. It could be possible that she isn't legally allowed to speak publicly about the trial. But whether she's a part of the list or not, Kesha personifies the strength and bravery embodied in all of the people who came forward.

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