Pop star Kesha made headlines in 2014 when she filed a major lawsuit against her former producer, Lukasz Gottwald (a.k.a. Dr. Luke), alleging that he repeatedly sexually assaulted her and was physically and emotionally abusive throughout the course of their 10-year working relationship.
Both Kesha fans and anti-rape activists have rallied in support of the artist—both online and in literal, public rallies—but on Friday (Feb. 19), Manhattan’s Supreme Court ruled that the “Tik Tok” singer is legally required to remain under contract with Dr. Luke and Sony for another six albums.
Kesha’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, claimed that Sony was setting the artist up to fail by refusing to promote Kesha’s music unless she worked with Dr. Luke, but Justice Shirley Kornreich stated that she believed Sony would keep their promise of allowing the artist to record with other producers, and that Sony would suffer “irreparable harm” if Kesha were to leave her contract, according to the New York Daily News.
Kesha, who says that Dr. Luke’s alleged rape and ongoing abuse caused her to struggle with eating disorders and led her to enter rehab in 2014, sobbed in the back of the courtroom with her mother by her side as the ruling was announced. Dr. Luke has filed a countersuit alleging that Kesha’s claims are false, which hasn’t yet seen a ruling. At the time of filing, Gregaros referred to the countersuit as “an amateurish lawsuit, hatefully filed in a desperate attempt to once again blame the victim.”
Twitter users have reacted with shock to the news, with many condemning the decision and expressing disbelief:
But is this really surprising? After all, at least one in five American women report being raped during their lifetimes, despite the fact that a majority of sexual assaults still go unreported. As a society, we still spend far more time disbelieving and blaming rape victims than we do prosecuting rapists (an estimated 97 percent of whom receive no punishment whatsoever), and we put much more more time and energy into instructing women on how to avoid getting raped than we do teaching boys and men not to rape women.
Kesha’s loss in court today serves as a painfully clear reminder that rape culture is still every bit as American as pop culture.