Lady Gaga and “Till it happens to you”

The always-ready-to-shock-an-audience singer has been very low key (at least outside the U.S.) for the last few months. The expectation was that she was preparing herself for another round of successful songs – she is in fact preparing a new album, supposedly to be released in 2016, but the song that I will talk about today is not related to it.

Till It Happens To You was made with the collaboration of Diane Warren to be used as background for the documentary The Hunting Ground, shown for the first time in the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The video for the song, directed by Catherine Hardwick, premiered on Friday, September 18.

Lady Gaga’s typical marks are all there: traumatic imagery and truths stated so matter-of-factly that you almost feel like you were slapped in the face. The difference though in this video is that Gaga used her intrinsic talent to talk about a real and painful problem: sexual assaults in universities.

People tend to think that they are restricted to the U.S. (the video talks only about the North-American country), but it happens in the whole world. I’ve seen cases of it in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and have no doubt that in other countries it happens too. It is sad because, as Lady Gaga says in her song, “you don’t know how it feels till it happens to you.” And if you don’t know how it feels, you probably won’t sympathize with the cause the same way you would if the situation was different.

Sexual assault is one of the most horrible human crimes that exist – and sadly, one of the most frequent. The U.N. predicts that one in three women will be sexually assaulted at least once in their lifetime. The violence of it generates a trauma that cannot be surpassed in a day, in a month or even in a year. It takes a lot of time to recover from something like that, and some don’t ever make it. And still, for a matter of reputation, universities disregard what happened. It is inadmissible.

It carries an extra weight for me. University is where you learn, where you acquire knowledge so you have the tools to change the world – yours or that of other people. It is what brings the possibility of personal and professional growth. How can such an important and almost sacred institution deny justice and comfort to those it swore to intellectually protect?

I know. It is ingenuity on my part to believe that they would put human beings first over money. I am the kind of dreamer that thinks they should. But yet – even if the world in general is colder than that, I still can’t understand how they let it happen over and over again.

Follow my logic for a moment: if a university reports the atrocities that happened under its guard, ok, I’ll grant that it will make the place lose a few stars of consideration. But if they are reporting it, it’s because they do not accept this kind of behavior and won’t permit it. They are admitting that they are taking action and refusing to be impassive in a situation that demands attitude. They admit their mistake, but they also confirm that they know what’s right and will fight for it. So, you see, those stars of consideration rise again. And the victims won’t feel that their pain is being rejected, or that it is their fault (it never is).

Lady Gaga may have acted dubiously in the past, but if this video is any indication, I think we are about to be positively surprised regarding her new upcoming album. The song is incredibly empathetic, mature and beautiful. It also made me realize that maybe she is a little bit crazy, but her voice is one that is always heard. Millions of people will hear her song and feel compelled to face the reality of this violence. Some will take action. Don’t be the part that doesn’t.

See the video here:

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