Lady Gaga’s “Till it Happens to You”

A look into Lady Gaga’s heart wrenching song about sexual assault, written by our very own Bea Bennister

Out of the artists who speak out and campaign against sexual harassment/assault Lady Gaga is certainly one of the most prominent. Gaga revealed late last year that the song ‘Swine’ off of her latest album ‘ARTPOP’ was that written in anger and disgust at her personal experience of sexual assault. In an interview with Howard Stern, Gaga opened up about her assault, admitting that she was only 19 years of age, and had been unwilling to share her story with the fear that her creativity will be dismissed. And I quote:

“I’ll be damned if somebody’s going to say that every creatively intelligent thing that I ever did has boiled down to one dickhead that did that to me. I’m going to take responsibility for all of my pain, looking beautiful, and all the things that I’ve made out of my strife.“

A few months ago I came across a film called “The Hunting Ground” – a powerful and engaging insight into the vast cases of sexual assault taken place on University campus’ all over America, revealing that one in five women are sexually assaulted on campus. The film highlights the dismissal from higher authorities within the University to these events, and the lack of support shown for the victims. A striking feature of the film was the initial ignorance from those in the position of power, who were more obliged to ‘protect the name of their college’ than for the safety of their students. The institutions display denial and rationalizations to cover the events happening at their Colleges.

I then discover that the song of the film ‘Till it Happens to You’ was written and performed by Lady Gaga herself, with a portion of the proceeds going towards helping victims of sexual assault.

The video follows four victims, all of whom are put in vulnerable positions by their attacker. For me, the film highlights the exact horrors of sexual assault, following that of a drink being spiked at a party, being unexpectedly attacked by a stranger, and even by a friend. Towards the end of the video, the film demonstrates the victims accepting help from friends and people around them – a vital part of tackling the issue of sexual assault, and something we aim to make possible and easier from setting up Girls Against.

Undoubtedly, the song fits perfectly with the context, with the clear emotion from Gaga’s personal experiences making the stories even more real and frightening.

If you haven’t already, I suggest you listen to the song and watch the film. Although the movie is, arguably, a horrific (and potentially triggering) glimpse into the reality of sexual assault in places many consider as ‘safe’, filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering do a beautiful job at demonstrating the empowerment of women who join forces to fight back and share their stories with others.

Within Girls Against, we strive to do the same. Although our mission may not be on as large scale, we are hoping to achieve the same level of empowerment from all who follow us and be a voice for those who want to speak out and make a difference – to fight back against the cover-ups and victim blaming that are so clearly outlined in the film.