Famous for promoting LGBTQ+ rights in her hit “Born This Way,” Lady Gaga’s recently released “Til It Happens to You” tackles another controversial issue in society today. The emotional music video displays a different side of college life—one that is too often ignored and downplayed.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college. Even more alarming is the fact that over 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses never report the assault. Lady Gaga’s video strives to change these statistics and bring the issue to people’s attention.
Four sexual assault survivors helped to inspire Lady Gaga’s new song, all with the hopes of ending campus rape. The song is also the theme to The Hunting Ground, a documentary that depicts the experiences of these four women.
In just five minutes, the black-and-white video conveys different scenarios of sexual assault. One woman is seen working alone with a male student in a recording lab. He starts flirting and then aggressively touches her. Unable to fight him off, the woman is raped by him.
Two women are then portrayed enjoying themselves at a party until a fellow partier slips something into their drinks, leaving the women incapacitated and helpless. He subsequently leads them into a bedroom to take advantage of both of them.
The fourth victim in the video is a lesbian, clearly targeted for rape because of her sexual orientation. She stands alone in a bathroom with her taped chest until a man comes in and violently rapes her.
“Til It Happens to You” also displays the trauma women experience after an assault. One woman is seen dropping out of college while the others become incredibly withdrawn.
Later in the video, however, a hopeful message prevails. Viewers can see the other three women learning how to better cope by reaching out to friends and creating a support system. This not only highlights the importance of talking with others about these issues, but also the necessity for rape survivors to speak up and demand justice.
Statistics show that many college students who commit assaults tend to be repeat offenders. Therefore, reporting rape can prevent it from happening in the future.
College victims across the country, however, have encountered trouble coming forward with their assault. Many educational institutions try to conceal these cases to appear safer to prospective students. This simultaneously creates a dangerous environment where offenders feel like they won’t face repercussions for their actions.
Society’s views on women also perpetuate the frequency of rape cases. Young women are taught to be attractive, but not overtly sexual or they’ll earn the name “slut,” which leads to a tarnished reputation that is not easily salvaged. Then there’s the ridiculous notion that a victim is “asking for it” if she looks a certain way. Consent should be explicit and involve a confident “yes.”
The concept that men objectify women isn’t groundbreaking to anyone. Though strides have been made with the emergence of SlutWalks and the recent “I’m Not Asking For It” movement, the question persists of why rape is such a prevalent problem in our society. There is neither a straightforward answer nor a clear solution to stopping sexual assault.
Although difficult to watch, Lady Gaga’s video is but a glimpse into is the devastating inner turmoil people endure after rape. The song is sure to give many viewers chills; but more importantly, the video aims to heighten public awareness of college sexual assault, to create educational initiatives and to build a community of support for sexual assault survivors.