Last Sunday, Lady Gaga was introduced by the Vice-President of the United States Joseph R. Biden Jr. to perform on the stage of the 88th Oscar the song “Til It Happens To You” from the documentary “The Hunting Ground”, a film about college sexual assault. Besides being a incredible artist, Lady Gaga is also a survivor of sexual abuse. During her presentation, other fifty survivors of sexual abuse had the courage to join her in the stage and make a statement: we need to talk about sexual abuse.
With all audience on their feet, the Vice President Joseph Biden started his speech saying that he was “the least qualified man” that night to talk about this subject, which was true. However, as one of the most powerful world politicians, he had to make an important allegation: “Let’s change the culture”. In my point of view, he should have say: we can not wait any longer, we NEED to change this misogynist culture.
When Lady Gaga entered the stage, everyone expected at least a good performance. With only her dressed in white with a white piano, Lady Gaga dramatically performed the powerful verses “You tell me “hold your head up”/Hold your head up and be strong/Cause when you fall, you gotta get up/You gotta get up and move on.” Yet, she was not the only star of this presentation.
Fifty survivors of sexual assault followed her to the stage with strong messages of transcendence on their bare arms, such has “Not your fault”. They were all equal because of a terrible experience, but together they were able to move on and survive. After the presentation, Lady Gaga stated: “I never thought anyone would ever love me because I felt like my body was ruined by my abuser.” Unfortunately, some victims did not have the same chance to survive.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the largest anti-sexual assault organization in the United States, every 107 seconds an American is sexually assaulted, which corresponds around 293,000 victims EACH year, a total of 17,700,000 women in America are sexual assault survivors. College students, in their turn, are three times more likely to suffer from sexual violence than women in general. But only 20% survivors have the courage to report to the police.
This was not the case of Emma Sulkowicz, a visual arts students at Columbia University. In 2012 she was raped in her dorm by a fellow student, however, her allegations were called “untrue and unfounded”. In September 2014, she decided to carry a 50 pounds mattress, the one she was raped, wherever she went on campus. Only in May 2015 she carried it for the last time during her graduation ceremony. Her attitude is described as an “increasingly bitter fight over truth and narrative”.
Unfortunately, most of the victims follow the society and blame themselves. They are 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and 4 times more likely to commit suicide. We must, we need, we have to change this culture. How many more have to suffer until something is done?