Lady Gaga - Bringing Attention to Sexual Assault

I don’t know about you, but I love me a good music video. They are so fun, interpretative, and recently, filled with controversial moments that are discussed for weeks after their release. We all remember Miley’s wrecking ball video, or Nikki’s Anaconda rendition. Even the usually flawless Taylor Swift has stirred up some controversy with her newest music video release.

The creative and talented music icon, Lady Gaga, has recently released a new music video. This video is also controversial, but for different reasons than an 18 year old girl swinging naked on a metal ball. The self-named Mother Monster has decided to focus on an issue that has become very prevalent in the US; campus sexual assault and rape. Lady Gaga has collaborated with the producers of the documentary, The Hunting Ground, to produce her newest song and its coinciding video.

The Hunting Ground, a documentary about the epidemic of campus sexual assault and rape, was released in January of 2015. The film follows victims turned activists in their efforts to reform the way that college campuses deal with rape, as well as share their stories to inspire other victims of rape and sexual assault to do the same. The documentary was the inspiration for Lady Gaga’s music video, and a portion of the proceeds from the song will go toward a foundation supporting sexual assault survivors.

The music video begins with a warning of violent and graphic content, but also reminds the viewer that this content reflects the reality of college students across the country. The black and white video then proceeds to show the lives of four different college women, all of different ethnicities and sexual orientation, enjoying themselves and the best years of their lives. Soon, however, things take a dark turn. A music student is raped by a close friend, a queer girl sexually attacked in a bathroom, and two friends drugged and then assaulted at a party. The depictions of these situations are graphic, disturbing and horrifying. The following events, however, are even more difficult to watch. The girls isolate themselves, still reeling with the emotional and physical pain that has been inflicted upon them. Phrases such as, “I am worthless”, and, “sometimes I hate myself” are shown written across their skin as Lady Gaga’s haunting voice reminds us that it is difficult to understand the true emotional toll until it has happened to you. One of the girls moves away, presumably dropping out of college, while the others struggle silently, afraid to share their stories. However, this video contains another message, one more uplifting than the realities of sexual assault.

Soon, the other girls begin to open up to their friends, families, and peers. The video concludes with the girls leaving their dorm rooms, arm-in-arm with those who love them, smiles on their faces. Not everything is better, but they have changed from victims to survivors, ready to move on with their lives. The girl who dropped out stands in the background, still alone. Lady Gaga, who has spoken out as a victim of sexual assault, and the Hunting Ground, are hoping to encourage victims of sexual assault to speak out, and share their stories with others, as to receive the support that is needed in such situations and spread awareness of the rape epidemic.

After the music ends, a black screen with white writing scrolls into view. The words provide a statistic to support the graphic images just seen. This year, 1 in 5 women will be victims of sexual assault. Out of every 5 girls you know, one of them will be a victim of sexual assault. Don’t let them be the girl who isolates herself, who moves away from college and misses out on life. If you know someone who is a victim of sexual assault, make sure you listen. Make sure you believe them. Supporting one another is the most important step in changing the way things are. If you yourself are a victim of sexual assault, there are people who will believe you and support you. Reach out to friends, family, or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

You are not alone.