This week, the Internet unsurprisingly exploded when two of the biggest pop stars in the world came to bat for Kesha. Quick recap for you in case you missed it (cue TV voice saying, "last week on 'Kesha'"):
- A judge ruled that Kesha must remain contractually obligated to her record label. Tons of celebrities came to bat for her, including Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Lorde, Troye Sivan and Demi Lovato. Taylor Swift, a sometime proponent of feminism, was silent.
- Taylor then donated $250,000 to Kesha.
- Demi tweeted, "Take something to Capitol Hill or actually speak out about something and then I'll be impressed."
- A fan accused Demi of making this whole thing about herself while Taylor is actually taking action, to which Demi replied that at least she's talking about the issue rather than trying to be politically correct all the time.
As a feminist, I found myself a bit confused at this Demi vs. Taylor case. I'm not on either person's side, because they both share the common goal of helping an industry peer of theirs in a difficult time. Neither one is wrong, but are both of them right? Or is this less about "right" and "wrong" and more of a feminist gray area, so to speak?
The Case for Demi Lovato
For the sake of understanding, I want to break down what modern feminism looks like. If we brush aside the political aspect, we can take a look at the attitude side of feminism -- or, what it actually looks like to be a feminist woman in 2016. I like to think that if you are a woman who is (1) aware of her actions and (2) choosing to do what she wants, you are a feminist. This allows for a woman to be a businesswoman, a housewife, an escort, a CEO, a stripper, a singer -- if the woman wants to be doing what she is doing and is happy with her choice, then she is a feminist. The job doesn't define the woman; the attitude does. Right, let's move on.
As a modern feminist, I have to admit I'm confused by Demi vs. Taylor. Demi started off by doing the "right" thing: in a multi-tweet rant, she stuck up for a woman whose voice was being silenced. She spoke out on an uncomfortable issue and inspired change. So, does it even matter how she inspired change?
My first instinct is to say it's wrong to attack another woman. We should stick together and be on the same side -- that's what support is. So Demi is "wrong" for attacking Taylor, right? If she's allowing people to jump on the opportunity to write about another "cat fight" or female feud that pits women against each other, she's not helping women.
Wrong. She is helping Kesha by bringing light to a massive issue many of her young fans, self-proclaimed "Lovatics," may not have been aware of before she spoke on it. So is it possible to be a feminist, speak on feminist issues, and do something theoretically anti-feminist? It's a gray area.
Last night, I tweeted, "Taylor Swift is like that rich distant dad who just throws money at things to try and solve 'em. I'm kind of on board." Though I was making a joke and said I was "on board," I too was immediately attacked by "Swifties." Taylor Swift's fans defended their queen, saying at least she's doing something rather than just tweeting about it.
The Case for Taylor Swift
The Swifties are also right! Taylor Swift took action rather than tweeting her grievances, and actions speak louder than words. The Swifties are saying Taylor actually did more than Demi Lovato, who in their minds hasn't taken a physical action.
But Lovato has. Speaking publicly about something so serious and uncomfortable is undoubtedly helping bring light to a bigger issue: Why don't we believe women? I also received tweets last night saying it seems weird that Kesha would wait almost 10 years to speak out. How is it "weird" for someone to take time to process and find the courage to say something out loud? Maybe the reason she didn't come forward earlier is, oh I don't know, the fear of exactly this happening to her. I immediately posed the question: Why are we so quick to believe Dr. Luke over Kesha?
Is Demi more feminist than Taylor Swift? No, that's stupid. They're on the same side, but Demi is on the offensive. They're both doing something. Demi is helping all women by starting a dialogue about the patriarchal instinct to mistrust women when they speak out about abuse. They're both right; neither is wrong. It's just gray.
You know what is wrong? Pitting women against each other. Taylor isn't necessarily using feminism as her "brand," because with her actions, she's using her privilege to inspire positive change. That's the best thing you can do with your privilege.
Can't we all just get along? No.
Are we all making this about ourselves? Yes. That is the human experience in one sentence.
The Real Enemy
While we're all caught up in choosing sides, let's remember where this all sprouted from -- Kesha's relationship with Dr. Luke. His lawyer released a statementclaiming Kesha is spewing outrageous lies to try and renegotiate a more lucrative contract with Sony. They're saying Kesha is actually damaging Dr. Luke's career by running a smear campaign on Twitter. They're calling it "trial by Twitter." Furthermore, Dr. Luke also publicly tweeted that he didn't rape Kesha and Twitter is speculating based on an allegation "motivated by money."
The real enemy is this: People don't believe Kesha. People don't believe her because she doesn't have a rape kit with cold, hard, corroborated evidence. If Kesha wanted to ruin Dr. Luke's career, couldn't she have found a way that wouldn't involve going broke and having the entire public call her a deviant liar? Yeah, this "grand scheme" of Kesha's is going swell for her. So yes, maybe Kesha needs some help from allies like Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Lorde, Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato.
I'm a fan of Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift. I have the hard copy of 1989 in my car. I'm a feminist trying to open a dialogue on the way we perceive women's voices. People are still going to call me a stupid whore in the comment section. That's the real enemy.