I am a woman.
According to data collected by the CDC in 2012, a woman’s chance of being raped in the U.S. is one in five. This chance rises ever so slightly because I am also a college student. There is a 20 percent chance that I will be raped in my lifetime. Or that my best friend, my roommate, my female cousins, my female classmates will be.
And I, like the rest of the female population, walk around every day in this terrifying reality where the threat of rape is very pervasive and very real.
Sexual assault victims range from young girls, teenagers, middle-aged and elderly women. Men are also sexual assault victims. There’s no exception for celebrities, either.
Popstar Kesha has been in a legal battle with her producer Dr. Luke for the past two years on the claim that he drugged, emotionally abused and sexually assaulted her.
Of course, Dr. Luke denied these allegations and countersued her for defamation.
On Feb. 19, Kesha’s court case took a turn for the worse when the Supreme Court denied an injunction that would have allowed Kesha to record music independently of her current label, Kemosabe Records, while both lawsuits were being settled.
Upon hearing the decision, Kesha broke out in tears. And rightfully so. This talented young woman was denied her right (a pretty basic and logical one, I think) to move forward with her career without having to work with her alleged rapist.
It’s worth pointing out that Kesha did, in fact, deny under oath that Dr. Luke ever made sexual advances towards her in a 2011 deposition.
Skeptics take this to mean that Kesha is making the whole thing up. However, I believe it’s a testament to rape culture in our society.
Our rape culture allows people think it’s okay to make casual rape jokes in everyday conversation. Many people, even police and university officials, don’t take rape victims seriously when they come forward. People victim-blame, saying, “Oh, well look at she was wearing – she was asking for it,” or “she shouldn’t have gotten that drunk” or “she shouldn’t have walked alone.”
Rape culture decriminalizes rape. It discourages victims from reporting their assaults. It makes victims feel ashamed, as if the rape was their fault. It can prevent survivors from getting the help they need to recover.
Rape culture also allows rapists to hold all the power. According to RAINN, less than half of sexual assaults are reported to the police, and only two out of every 100 rapists will serve jail time. It stands to reason that rape won’t stop until we stop rape culture. We need to recognize the severity of rape as a real crime that demands real punishment under law.
And to anyone who thinks Kesha is lying or there’s not enough evidence to say that she was raped, I ask you the following: Why is our first instinct when we hear a person who says he or she was raped to assume their statement is made up? Doesn’t that inherently acknowledge some sort of inequality at play?
At what point does it become conclusive enough to prove that a victim was raped? Do you need the condom, photos or video? Would that even matter or would the rapist’s word that he or she didn’t rape the victim still seem more credible? What does it say about our society when a woman breaks down in tears after being told she has to work with her rapist?
Kesha claims that she denied Dr. Luke ever made sexual advances toward her because he threatened her into silence.
Maybe, just maybe, if rape was taken more seriously, Kesha wouldn’t have waited three more years before she sued her rapist.
Regardless, Kesha has shown amazing courage and gained a ton of support from other celebrities.
At the Oscars Sunday night, Lady Gaga performed “‘Til It Happens to You,” her Oscar-nominated song about sexual assault. As she sang, sexual assault survivors — both men and women — exposed their forearms to show phrases like “Unbreakable” and “Not Your Fault.”
Kesha showed her gratitude for raising awareness of sexual assault in a tweet.
Lady Gaga, Lorde and Kelly Clarkson have all shown support for Kesha on Twitter with the hashtag FreeKesha.
Taylor Swift even donated $250,000 to Kesha to help her during this hard time.
Too bad money can’t solve the problem of rape culture in our society. That can only happen through an ideological shift in our perceptions of rape, something that I think is currently happening with the growth of the feminist movement.
Kesha’s struggle is just one publicized case of many survivors’ stories. Too many sexual assault survivors are unheard. It demonstrates the need for feminism. Rape culture is real. There is nothing that precludes you from being a victim of it.
I am a woman. I go about my life every day with a frightening statistic sitting in the back of my head, but I see Kesha’s story as an inspiration for other survivors to speak out against sexual assault and to begin the end of rape culture.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Flickr user Becky Sullivan.
Rosie Kean is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.