Justice, Sex & Gender

I'm Voting Kesha for Queen Esther

In 2011, Kesha was the Purim of pop stars. She turned everything on its head–she was a young woman who was unafraid to be seen as sexually aggressive, she was unafraid to be dirty, and she seemed to relish every second of being a hot mess.

While Taylor Swift embodies the beginning of a wild night out, getting primped and ready with perfect makeup and hair, Kesha is the end of the night. She’s messy and unexpected, brazen and carefree, she’s perfectly in the moment. Her image has shades of Janice Joplin; she contains the sort of fun that fuels epic drinking stories for years to come.

We need pop stars like Kesha. We need examples of people who are happy and messy and not perfectly groomed. Instead of celebrating champagne and the VIP section, Kesha celebrates whiskey and dive bars. (Now that she’s sober, maybe she’ll celebrate diet coke and dive bars. The point is not so much about what she’s drinking but how she’s drinking it–with gusto, with bravado, with swagger.) We need that in our lives.

We need Kesha the same way we need Purim–we need someone to show us how to cut loose and have fun, to live in the moment and turn everything upside down.

Unfortunately, our society is not very kind to women like Kesha.

A New York Supreme Court judge recently ruled that Kesha must remain contractually bound to Sony Records’ Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald, aka Dr. Luke, with whom she produced songs such as “Tik Tok” and “Take It Off.”

Kesha has claimed Dr. Luke drugged and raped her when she was 18 years old and abused her throughout their work together. Understandably, Kesha no longer wishes to work with Dr. Luke. According to Sony Records, the contract is between Kesha and Dr. Luke himself, and Sony does not have the power to release Kesha from the contract.

This recent ruling effectively ends Kesha’s creative career–she is not allowed to create or produce new music without working with her abuser. According to reports, Kesha cried in the courtroom when the ruling was announced.

Our society won’t let a woman like Kesha exist. To be creative and sexual and beautiful and messy and happy, all at once? It’s too much. Beautiful female artists aren’t supposed to be human, to be imperfect but happy. We’re much more comfortable with them as objects, as familiar characters in fairy tales–the princess, the poor wretched Cinderella who eventually becomes a princess, etc. The court has effectively turned Kesha into a damsel in distress.

(Speaking of princesses, Taylor Swift has joined the public outcry against the court’s ruling and donated $250,000 to Kesha as a show of support. Women don’t always hate other women. #stopfemmemisogyny)

I can’t help but hope that the more people talk about this unfortunate situation, the more likely it is for something to change. It has to. Kesha is one of my favorite pop stars because of the way she turns the world on its head–we need more stars like Kesha, and she doesn’t deserve to have her creative career ended so abruptly.

May we one day live in a society that takes sexual predators as a serious threat, a society that has room for raunchiness, a society that allows women to be in charge of their own fate, a society that allows artists the freedom to create their art. Here’s to Olam ha Bah. I’ll be wearing glitter this Purim.

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