Why Demi Lovato's inspiring defense of Kesha matters for all survivors.

This past weekend, Demi Lovato had a lot to get off her chest when it comes to sexist double standards.

Few realities illustrate this double standard more than our tendency to doubt — and sometimes actually blame — sexual assault survivors when they come forward (because, you know, a woman's short skirt proves she was "asking for it," right?).

And Demi Lovato has had enough.


Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for iHeartMedia.

Lovato took to Twitter to speak out in defense of fellow singer Kesha, who's ensnared in some heartbreaking legal drama.

In 2014, Kesha filed a suit against Dr. Luke, who runs the record label she's signed with, Kemosabe Records. Kesha alleges that Dr. Luke drugged her, raped her, and emotionally abused her throughout their decade-long professional relationship. (Despicable stuff, to say the least.) The case is pending.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

But on Friday, Kesha left a New York City courtroom in tears after a judge denied a request that would have allowed her to record songs and continue earning a living from her music outside of her contract until the case is finalized. To be clear, Kesha is still able to work with different producers on the label other than Dr. Luke, but she believes her music won't be promoted or prioritized by Sony (who owns Kemosabe Records) if she did so.

To say Kesha's between a rock and a hard place is quite the understatement: In order to keep her career intact, she's being forced to work on her alleged abuser's label, of which she's currently contractually attached to for another six albums.

This is what Lovato had to say about that:










Lovato touches on several great points in her tweets, especially when she mentions that survivors are "shot down" and "disrespected" far too often.

There's a societal knee-jerk reaction to question the honesty of a survivor when they come forward. This mistrust is "one of the biggest barriers sexual assault survivors face" when trying to seek justice, as activist vlogger Laci Green points out in one of her videos.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

Take the reaction to the accusations against Bill Cosby: Even after 35 women say he sexually assaulted them, many fans (including a handful of sympathetic celebrities) have become hellbent on proving he's the victim or have downplayed the survivors' claims. We see survivors being "shot down" time and time again.

Add on that sexual assault survivors face stigma (which may make them hesitant to seek justice) and the restrictive nature of statute of limitation laws (which stop survivors from coming forward if too much time has passed), and it's no wonder only about 2% of rapists spend time behind bars, according to a study by RAINN.

Kesha's situation — which involves a man with a lot of money, power, and influence (as do many cases of rape and sexual assault) — complicates the singer's difficult battle even more so. And keep in mind, she's not even seeking justice for the alleged abuse — she simply doesn't want to work with him any longer.

It's great that Lovato is using her platform as a celebrity to speak out on a story and subject that needs more attention.

And the good news is we can all use our voices and (much smaller) platforms too.

After news spread that Kesha's latest request had been denied, the hashtag #FreeKesha stormed the Internet in support of the pop star. Many celebrities, including Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, and Lorde, expressed solidarity with the singer.


To join the cause, post or tweet using the #FreeKesha hashtag. After all, your words might be seen by someone out there (friend or stranger) who should know you care too.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less