Although pop singer Kesha’s claims of sexual assault have only lately brought the topic into the national conversation, sexism in the music industry is hardly anything new. On April 6, New York Supreme Court justice Shirley Kornreich dismissed Kesha’s latest appeal against producer and collaborator Lukasz Gottwald, known professionally as Dr. Luke, on a number of sexual assault and abuse charges, dating back to when Kesha began her relationship with Dr. Luke at the age of 18.
“Every rape is not a gender-motivated hate crime,” Kornreich stated in her dismissal, claiming on the grounds that the abuse happened “outside New York and beyond the legal time limit.” This dismissal is seen as yet another instance of commonplace misogyny in the music industry, an ongoing epidemic that has been happening for decades.
Jackie Fuchs, former bassist for The Runaways, came forward last July with a detailed testimony of her rape at the hands of producer Kim Fowley, which was subsequently followed by a series of tweets by Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman, who accused Life or Death PR and Management founder Heathcliff Berru of sexual misconduct. With these accusations came multiple stories from other musicians, including Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino, singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe and other industry professionals, who have offered strong reassurances that the issue of sexual assault in the music industry will not be silenced any longer.
There have been a variety of new and exciting female musicians topping the charts recently, but sexual misconduct and violence has only become more common. As represented in the accusatory tweets against Berru, there seems to be a shared loyalty among industry professionals.
Many musicians, including R&B singer D’Angelo, rapper Killer Mike and indie rock band Speedy Ortiz subsequently dissolved their respective relationships with Life or Death, but Kesha’s dismissal perpetuates a system of blatant misogyny behind the scenes of the music industry. Speaking from her own perspective, Fuchs stands up to the hush-hush attitude toward such a topic. “It’s just tolerated and covered up and considered a cost of doing business. And that has to change.”
Kesha’s label, Sony, released a statement in February stating, “Sony has made it possible for Kesha to record without any connection, involvement or interaction with Luke whatsoever, but Sony is not in a position to terminate the contractual relationship between Luke and Kesha."
A subsequent Instagram post by the singer refuted Sony’s claims, revealing that Kesha was offered “freedom” if she were to take back her accusations against Dr. Luke and apologize.
In line with the recent wave of women coming forward with their stories of sexual assault, Kesha has chosen not to remain silent. “I will not take back the TRUTH. I would rather let the truth ruin my career than lie for a monster ever again,” her Instagram claimed.
Sexual assault has become so commonplace and covered up in everyday life, it seemed to be only a matter of time for the recent music scandals to come to light. With Lady Gaga’s recent Oscar win for her anti-rape anthem “Til it Happens to You,” celebrities and everyday people are pushing discussions of these very real-life occurrences in hopes of stopping the traditions once and for all. These recent allegations have inspired women across the country to speak out on their experiences with sexual misconduct, inspiring an anonymous Tumblr called The Industry Ain’t Safe, which allows people to detail their situations.
As of now, the discussion is doing more than enough to fight the stigma around sexual misconduct.