When you’re fresh out of high school you’re told a bunch of things to prepare yourself for the experiences you might encounter at college and tips to keep yourself safe. Some colleges even give out rape whistles and have policies so that students feel safe on campus but one of the most powerful advertisements I’ve seen is by Lady Gaga. The artist recently came out with a new hit called Til It Happens to You, talking about the experiences of rape in college.
The strong message she was sending didn’t really hit me fully until about halfway through when I started crying. I didn’t realize how dangerous college can be because I hadn’t experienced my first year yet. The video basically shows multiple incidences of sexual assault/rape but surprisingly she only referenced female rape. The video portrays this action very well with emotion from the sexual assault itself to the feelings the girls felt after it happened.
The words that hit you the most in the song, that Lady Gaga herself repeats multiples times is, “Til it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels.” Basically stating that shouldn't judge or make an opinion about someone who is sexually assaulted or raped because you don’t know how it tears you down unless you’ve actually been through the same thing. This makes perfect sense with all the sexual assault and rape reports going through society today. The people who are getting assaulted are usually getting the question, “What were you wearing?” or “Did you tell them to stop?” as if they weren’t really the victim. For example the Stanford rape case.
To be completely honest, I find these cases disgusting. I mean I can see why people might ask those demoralizing questions but I don’t see why they are necessary if the evidence is clear that the victim was raped, unwillingly. I also understand that the case may not be taken as “unwillingly” if it’s hearsay, but asking these types of questions to an emotionally weak person can’t help. I know in the Stanford case particularly it was very difficult for the girl to be asked all these questions. Buzzfeed even posted a video of her speech to the rapist and the court about how it all went down, a very emotional speech in fact.
The Stanford case is a really good example of what Lady Gaga means with her song. This girl was raped in an alley by a college student and she was demoralized in court and by community members. She was emotionally hurt and burdened with this pain but the public continued to ask those questions and say they understood how she felt. But have they ever experienced this type of suffering before? No. They have no idea what it’s like for someone to physically hurt you like that and have an emotional scar. That experience will follow her for the rest of her life, as it will for any other rape victim.
So if there’s anything to really get out of both of these things it’s that rape in college is a serious crime that happens all the time. More and more people are realizing how bad these incidents are and how often they happen. Most people who are raped or sexually assaulted don’t even report the incident so these types of advertisement are very important. The communities and the society need to let them know that they’re not the only ones out there battling the everyday pain that it gives off. Lady Gaga has definitely helped this movement by writing a very emotional and personal song to help boys and girls through those tough times and making it a point of awareness for new college students.