Lena Dunham has voiced outrage over the outcome of Kesha’s court case against Dr Luke AKA Lukas Gottwald. In an essay in the latest issue of her feminist newsletter, Lenny, Dunham says she felt “sick” when she heard that Kesha had been denied her motion to be released from a contract tying her to the producer who allegedly sexually abused her, and is “mad as hell.”
“When I saw the outcome of Kesha’s court case last Friday, I felt sick. Actually sick — I wanted to ask my Uber to pull over so I could throw up in a New York City trash can,” writes Dunham. “The photos of her beautiful face crumpled with tears, the legally necessary but sickening use of the word ‘alleged’ over and over in reference to the assault she says she remembers so vividly — it all created a special brand of nausea that comes when public events intersect with your most private triggers.”
In the piece, titled Why Kesha’s Case Is About More Than Just Kesha, Dunham describes the case for any readers who may not have been following it before going on to say why the ruling has wider implications for women in general.
Dunham outlines Kesha’s claims that Dr Luke “drugged, raped, and emotionally abused her and controlled her creatively and emotionally through threats and manipulations,” and explains Kesha’s request for an immediate injunction that would allow her to begin a record without Dr Luke.
Instead of making Kesha’s pain go away, Dunham says, record label Sony (which Dr Luke’s label Kemosabe Records is a subsidiary of), is instead holding her to her contract.
Dunham goes on to explain why the judge’s ruling has wider negative connotations for women.
“To be clear, Kesha’s case is about more than a pop star fighting for her freedom, or a $60 million investment in a shiny commercial career,” she writes. “It’s about more than whether Kesha can strap on her cool leotards and make another album, free from a man who she says terrifies her. It’s even about more than the systemic misogyny of the entertainment industry, or the way that women in music and film have long been controlled and coerced by abusive Svengalis and entities larger than themselves.”
What it’s really shown, Dunham concludes, is that “What’s happening to Kesha highlights the way that the American legal system continues to hurt women by failing to protect them from the men they identify as their abusers.”
I have nothing left to hide. I did this because the truth was eating away my soul and killing me from the inside. this is not just for me. this is for every woman, every human who has ever been abused. sexually. emotionally. mentally. I had to tell the truth. so the outcome will be what it will be. there’s nothing left I can do. it’s just so scary to have zero control in your fate. but this is my path this life for whatever reason…. #Friday
Dunham goes on to describe how the legal system in America is set up in a way that fails to free sexual and domestic abuse victims from even indirect control, fiscal or emotional, due to a lack of definitive evidence. The essay is directed at Shirley Kornreich, the judge that oversaw Kesha’s case.
“The fact is, Kesha will never have a doctor’s note,” Dunham says. “She will never have a videotape that shows us that Gottwald threatened and shamed her, and she will never be able to prove, beyond the power of her testimony, that she is unsafe doing business with this man.” It’s a pretty powerful illustration of what may have gone on in this case.
Dunham’s not the first public figure to come out in support of the singer: Taylor swift donated $250,000 to the cost of Kesha’s legal battle while the case was in session and thousands of fans and artists have shown their support, including Lorde, Iggy Azalea, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato. Dr Luke has denied Kesha’s claims that he abused her, taking to Twitter yesterday to inform the public that he and Kesha “were friends for many years” and “she was like my little sister.”
You can read Dunham’s full essay here.
For those needing assistance, 1800 Respect – the Australian National Sexual Assault Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service – can be reached on 1800 737 732