Has The #FreeKesha Movement Become A Shame Bandwagon Forcing Artists To Speak?

The Kesha vs. Sony Music and producer Dr Luke case continues in court. Meanwhile, the #FreeKe$ha movement has descended into a shame-and-name-taking, social media pile-on thanks to Demi Lovato, fans either defending or slamming artists who have or haven’t commented on the issue, a slew of so-called feminists, and Twitter shade accounts upping the ante.

So, how did we get here? On Friday, February 19, a New York Supreme Court judge arrived at an preliminary ruling against an injunction, which Kesha’s team asked for to get out of her contract with Dr. Luke’s (formal name Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald) label, Kemosabe Records, which is parented by Sony. This is despite her alleging the producer drugged, abused, and raped her. The court said Sony has offered the singer fair options, including never physically working with Gottwald again.

Minutes after the judgment became known, Twitter exploded in outrage amid a photo of Kesha sobbing in court racing across the network. Over two million tweets would eventually be generated. “New Americana” Halsey was the first artist to tweet support for Kesha. Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Lorde, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Janelle Monáe, Iggy Azalea, Adam Lambert, Troye Sivan, MTV, Miley Cyrus, Snoop Dogg, Zedd, Jack Antonoff, Fiona Apple, Margaret Cho, Lena Dunham, and Mariska Hargitay would follow.

Lovato kicked that organic process up several gears after posting a tweet on Saturday, writing, “#FreeKesha this is only gonna make you stronger, you brave and beautiful girl. Prayers are with you @KeshaRose.” Early Sunday, the Latina embarked upon a Twitter shade spree to call out, “self-proclaimed feminists to start speaking out or taking action for women’s rights.”

We can state that Demi was pointing at Swift, amid others, because she “liked” a tweet posted by someone asking why Taylor wasn’t speaking out about Ke$ha’s case. She then “unliked” it. After the end of her tweets, the Confident singer also “liked” a Tweet that dismissed Swift’s subsequent $250,000 donation to Ke$ha for her legal costs. More on that below.

Lovato began by widening Kesha’s case to a general scenario of females in non-empowered situations.

Demi turned up the heat in her next tweets. “I’m also ready for self-proclaimed feminists to start speaking out or taking action for women’s rights,” she vented. “Women empowerment is speaking up for other women even when it’s something uncomfortable to speak up about. Women empowerment is using your voice to help the voiceless women be heard. Women empowerment is taking action now, not when’s convenient. Women empowerment is leading other women to make actual changes in our society.”

Concluding, Lovato declared, “Women empowerment is tweeting at 2:30 am knowing the consequences of these tweets and not giving a single f—,” before signing off saying she was “tired… #equalityforALL (not just women).”

It looked like round one to Demi, with many Twitter users agreeing with her stance that the silence from Swift and other artists, including Beyonce, was hypocritical given that feminism is part of their brand. Other users, as well as a snarky Oh No They Didn’t post, blasted Lovato for “using” the #FreeKesha movement to score points.

But, even all of the above, was only the tip of the iceberg. By Sunday evening, Kesha’s mother and Swift’s rep confirmed that the “New Romantics” singer had donated $250,000 to the “Tik Tok” singer.

“In a show of support, Taylor Swift has donated $250,000 to Kesha to help with any of her financial needs during this trying time,” Taylor’s spokesperson told E! News. A rep also told Rolling Stone magazine that Lovato’s tweets had nothing to do with Swift’s gift.

Ke$ha’s mother gushed over Swift on Twitter, raving that she had “generously donated” and calling the singer a “rich person” and one of other “beautiful, powerful women are standing behind” Kesha, “letting the world see how powerful the truth is!”

Shortly after, Demi shaded Swift’s donation by — ridiculously — referencing something she has done but Taylor has yet to do. Namely, going to Capitol Hill to talk about mental health.

Lovato also liked this tweet that one of her followers posted in response.

And she wasn’t done. Lovato’s resolve to not care about the consequences got a run for its money when Swift’s fans took shots at her on Twitter and Instagram. A Instagram post shared (then later deleted) by a user named @proudofswift pointedly read, “@ddlovato REAL feminists DON’T need to tweet about it, REAL feminists ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT TO HELP KESHA.”

“How the f— am I making this about myself?” Lovato fired back in a comment on the photo. “At least I’m talking about it. Not everyone has 250k to just give to people. Would love to but I didn’t grow up with money and def… haven’t made as much as her. At least I speak up about s— that’s uncomfortable to talk about rather than trying to be politically correct 24/7.”

She continued, “There’s no ‘rivalry’ I just give more f—s than other people and would rather start a dialogue about women coming forward about being raped than throw money at one person.”

Lovato went on to non-convincingly deny that she sub-tweeted Swift. “I didn’t shade Taylor. If you take it that way then fine,” she said. “I’m just tired of seeing women use ‘women empowerment’ and ‘feminism’ to further brands without actually being the ones that have the uncomfortable conversations.

She added, “I get shade and I don’t give a f— because someone has to be the one to take it. At least I’m getting my hands dirty.”

Based on fans tweets and media opinion, the general consensus appears to side with Swift in the Lovato face-off. Gossip Cop subsequently reported Kesha has racked up big legal bills, although the outlet disputes TMZ’s claim that Kesha is broke and unable to access royalties due to Dr. Luke. Regardless, Swift’s donation is helpful and practical.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Dr. Luke’s lawyers criticized what they called a “Trial by Twitter” of their client, alluding to the #FreeKesha hashtag, which trended on Friday. The producer also took to Twitter and denied raping Kesha or indeed having sex with her at all. He also said he and Kesha had “creative differences.”

All of that aside, Lovato’s tweeted demands that other female artists speak out about Kesha’s case left a nasty taste in the mouth for many. Bottom line? If Swift, or any artist in the music industry or elsewhere — male and female — wants to speak up in support of Kesha or donate to her legal bills, that is their choice to make.

People should feel able to act or speak (or not), in their own time. Not because they are shamed or frightened of being dragged by self-proclaimed social justice warriors, or a pop diva with a seemingly old axe to grind. Forcing others to do or say things out of peer pressure is a form of bullying, not solidarity. Furthermore, doing that in the name of feminism amid Kesha’s ongoing battle to extricate herself from corporate bondage, undermines the goals of freedom and justice. For everyone.

In short: The more reflective and non-combative Instagram post (shown below) Lovato shared on Monday night, is what she should have gone with first.

[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]