Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the tragic situation with Kesha. She was denied by a judge yesterday to leave her recording contract with Sony, and work away from longtime producer Dr. Luke. This is just one of several suits the singer/songwriter finds herself in, but they all link to her trying to find artistic freedom away from Luke, who she alleges sexually, mentally and emotionally abused her over a period of several years.
Kesha has not put out an album since 2012’s Warrior, which is where the GP began noticing something was not quite right with her. Besides seeming distant and removed from songs like “Die Young,” the singer alluded to being controlled by her management (A.K.A. Dr. Luke). Several projects that would have taken her away from her previously constructed “poppier” sound were shut down by Luke, namely a collaboration with The Flaming Lips.
She has been on a very brave, albeit traumatic journey to try and sever her ties with Luke, and parent label Sony who she alleges allowed the abuse to take place. But with the judges decision, she must fulfill her recording contract, which would only be satisfied with the release of 8 more albums.
Several fellow singers and celebrities tweeted out their support to the “TiK ToK” singer yesterday in response to this heartbreaking news.
Taylor Swift took to Twitter yesterday to announce her latest single from 1989.
Nothing on #FreeKesha though, which was, and still is, a trending topic.
When there are countless news outlets and celebrities showing solidarity while you remain silent, that is a problem. And while not everyone had something to say about this, that Swift chose silence is problematic because she’s made a career out of being a “feminist” and “an advocate.”
Though more and more people are starting to see that she exemplifies a white feminist more than an actual feminist, there was a time in 2014 where the media hailed her as the feminist. Every interview Swift did in promotion of 1989 was about how she had learned to be a feminist. She landed TIME’s coveted magazine cover, and preached the importance of solidarity amongst women, which evolved into her cringe-worthy, self-laudatory “girl squad” that began accompanying her everywhere she went. They felt more like handmaidens than friends, however, and that is the main problem with Swift: everything is always about her. She is always center stage.
There was also her open letter to Apple last summer, which Swift said was a way for her to stand up for the “little artists.” Yes, she withheld her album from Apple’s then new streaming service because they weren’t going to compensate artists for streams during the free 3-month trial period. Within a day of her posting the letter, it went viral and Apple famously changed their position. Swift did as well, and it is the only streaming service with her music catalog available to stream.
The media, naturally, had a field day.
While I commend Swift for sticking out her neck in favor of artists who maybe couldn’t afford not to be compensated for music during that period, it’s interesting that her entire angle was “Well here’s why you won’t be getting my album on this service.” But I digress. Could Swift have not done the same thing for Kesha?
It’s not petty of me to point fingers and say, “You should be speaking up about this.” Swift has been pretty happy being the music industry’s “crusader” for the last couple of years. She’s been happy to preach about the importance of solidarity and support for women, and has been more than happy to act like she pioneered the conversation concerning feminism, as if that was not a conversation that had been going on for some time before she felt it necessary to swoop in and make it about her. So you’re telling me the industry’s self-proclaimed feminist couldn’t take two moments to speak up for a fellow songwriter and singer? She certainly could talk the talk, but not walk the walk.
Nothing you say is going to make me feel any differently. She certainly didn’t have any reservations from stepping into Nicki Minaj’s conversation concerning black women and the VMA’s. Someone critiquing Swift’s place within an awards category? Taylor Swift to the rescue! I wish I could say the same for an abused women trapped in a sick system.
An open letter or a tweet from Taylor Swift would mean so much. No matter what you think of her, she is the biggest thing in the industry at this moment besides Adele and Beyoncé. She is the one of the few who can move mouth dropping units of music and sell out stadiums, and while she pales in comparison vocally, she is adored by the industry. She just won Album of the Year for the second time in a row, a history making precedent; no woman before her had accomplished that. To see her speak on this would not change the outcome obviously, but it would shine an even bigger light on not only Kesha’s plight, but the plight that so many young, impressionable young women face in the industry. If Taylor is going to keep reaping in all of the press and accolades for being a feminist, she needs to be a feminist.
I write this as someone who enjoys Swift’s music. Though she’s far from the icon the industry wants to have us believe she is, she makes solid music and is clearly talented at playing instruments and at songwriting. I can’t, and will not attempt to take that away from her. But I will do, is be critical of this image she has constructed and gained from. Because at the end of the day, Taylor Swift is not a feminist. Taylor Swift is not an advocate, not a real one anyway.
Taylor Swift is a feminist and an advocate when Taylor Swift stands to benefit from doing so.