Lady Gaga’s name in itself makes people immediately think of how weird she used to be for the media. But many people don’t know how much of an activist she is for women’s rights as well as the LGBT community. She released a video titled “Til It Happens To You” about the prevalence of sexual assault on college women. Being a victim of sexual assault herself, Gaga created this video to show the frequency of college campus sexual assaults.
This video is about women of different ethnicities being sexually assaulted and how it affects them afterwards, which provokes immense emotional response for the viewer. At the beginning, it starts off with a warning since the video is quite graphic. But the video needs to be horribly graphic to help strengthen her message and spread word about the issue. Throughout the video, you see women being raped in different settings; the typical rape scene most people think about is someone slipping something into a girl’s drink. Although this type of scene is shown, she also shows of what seems to be a friend hanging out with another friend that turns into rape, as well as a transgender female being raped by a male.
Everyone knows rape happens and is something horrible that no one should experience; yet people often turn away from the subject because it makes them too uncomfortable. What about those people then that actually were sexually assaulted and can’t exactly turn away from the subject? This is one of the many ideas artistically shown in Lady Gaga’s video. These women were sexually assaulted and the video shows how their environment was altered; friends left, they were lonely, and they hated themselves. Only those who went through it understand the emptiness it leaves them with.
Often, these victims try to be silent about their experience because it is so incredibly hard to talk about and many people may not believe them. In the video, these women speak through art on their body with written sayings like “believe me” to express how they are feeling. This video promotes victims to speak up about the matter because it is happening as much as people try to look away from it. These kinds of videos prompt much needed change because they throw it in your face; the uncomfortable feelings are on purpose.
Creatively shown in black and white, this video creates such a sad, emotional atmosphere for the viewer with the images and the lyrics. One lyric says, “Til it happens to you, you won’t know, it won’t be real.” People don’t necessarily understand if it didn’t happen to them, but this does not mean to be ignorant to its common occurrence. Victims often here sayings like “just get over it, you will be fine” but haven’t experienced it. How are people who haven’t experienced it supposed to know how these victims are feeling? They don’t.
This video helps people have a better understanding of what it is like for those who have been sexually assaulted. The video shows the victims finding comfort in their friends and through talking about what happened. This is what every victim should do- speak out. The power of her music and lyrics bring together the survivors when they are feeling alone. As scary as society can be once you point out the elephant in the room, sexual assaults do happen and should be addressed.
At the end of the video, a frightening statistic is displayed that says, “One in five college women will be sexually assaulted this year unless something changes.” That number is awfully high and she is right that something needs to change. The risk of getting sexually assaulted at a college campus is so high and most people don’t realize it. Being a college student myself, I hear of sexual assaults happening and hear people say, “Oh there’s another one” or “She probably just regretted her decision in the morning.” It is so frustrating hearing such ignorance when yes this could happen but real sexual assaults do occur. This makes it seem as if those true sexual assaults aren’t as demoralizing and hurtful when those survivors are probably dying inside. Sexual assault on college campuses happens whether people choose to see it or not.