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On-line petition asks Sony to cut ties with Kesha’s producer

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In the wake of Lady Gaga’s poignant performance at the Oscars on Sunday putting the spotlight on sexual assault — a performance she said was dedicated to the embattled singer Kesha — an online anti-sexism group began a petition drive to pressure Sony Music to cut ties with the label of the manager Kesha has accused of raping her.

The group, WeAreUltraViolet.org had already collected over 23,000 signatures by Tuesday at http://act.weareultraviolet.org/sign/sony_drluke/, asking that Sony not renew its contract that is set to expire this year with Kemosabe Records (which it currently owns), and which is helmed by Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), Kesha’s manager/producer. Sony has maintained it has no legal standing in the contract between the pop star and Kemosabe.

On Sunday night, Lady Gaga was joined on stage by dozens of sexual assault survivors, and had tweeted to Kesha prior to the performance: “I’ll be thinking of u 2nite. This is not over we’ll stand by u until you are free to live a HAPPY life. Everyone deserves that.”

Kesha is embroiled in a legal battle with Dr. Luke, whom she is suing for alleged emotional and sexual abuse. Kesha lost her bid to be released from her contract last week when a New York supreme court judge ruled against her in the 2014 lawsuit. Luke has counter-sued for alleged breach of contract. Since the ruling, a number of celebrities have rallied around the singer and expressed their support on social media.

“A survivor should never be legally required to work for the man who raped her. But unfortunately that’s the reality for pop star Kesha, and Sony Music executives are the ones that are allowing this to happen,” Karin Roland, Chief Campaigns Officer for UltraViolet, which claims 700,000 members, said of the petition drive.

“By continuing to force Kesha to work for Dr. Luke, Sony is sending a clear signal to music fans around the world — that they stand with rapists and against survivors,” Roland said. “Sony Music executives have the opportunity to send a clear signal to music fans and performing artists around the country that rape and sexual assault will never be tolerated.”

Students at Chicago’s Loyola University, who held a rally last Friday in support of Kesha after she cancelled a scheduled weekend performance at the North Side campus, say they identify with the artist because of what they called a rape culture in society and on college campuses that objectifies women and vilifies rape victims.

“One out of four women will be sexually assaulted throughout their academic career. So I think that all of this support is very necessary to diminish rape culture, and give voice to victims of this culture,” said April Acedevo, an 18-year-old freshman at DePaul University, who attended the Friday rally.

“I think the issue with Kesha really articulates how our judicial system functions, and how difficult and tragic it can be for survivors to come out and say that they were raped,” said Sarah Hamilton, a 19-year-old DePaul freshman. “I think her case really shows why rape culture still exists, because it’s perpetuated by our judicial system.”

Rally organizer Melissa Haggerty, a 21-year-old Loyola junior, shared her story of rape at the rally attended by some 30 to 40 students from Loyola, DePaul and Columbia College.

“Three years ago, I was raped. It took me a year and a half to admit it, to tell someone that I had said no, and to give it a label. I am here to tell you that I am not ashamed. It is not my fault. I was not asking for it,” said Haggerty.

“By not letting her out of her contract, they are objectifying her. Women in the entertainment industry are seen as money-makers, and she’s made them a lot of money, so of course they don’t want to let her out of her contract,” Haggerty said. “They want to keep exploiting her. Even though Sony released a statement saying it’s not directly contracted with her and there’s nothing they can do, we still think there’s a lot that they can do and they need to stop passing the buck. They need to pressure the company that’s underneath them to release Kesha from her contract.”

Posted 2:04 p.m. March 2, 2016.