The recent release of Lady Gaga’s ‘Til It Happens to You’ is already being heralded as one of the most important music videos of the year. ‘Til It Happens to You’ delves into the issue of sexual assault on college campuses. While Mines has a low reported rate of sexual assault , the prevalence of sexual assault on most college campuses is concerning.
The video references a number of statistics, including the frankly horrifying statistic that 1 in 5 women in college will be raped. It is a graphic video and contains a disclaimer at the beginning so anyone who intends to watch it should be wary of potential triggers.
The video follows three story lines of different sexual assault scenarios. The first scenario shows a young woman practicing at a piano and writing music with a friend. Amidst their celebration of a break through, the situation turns sexual. The male friend forces himself on the woman despite her refusal. This scenario of a woman being raped by someone she knows, potentially a friend or even boyfriend, is surprisingly common. The majority of sexual assault victims know their attacker before the incident occurs.
The second storyline shows a girl who appears to be transitioning, with a bound chest, using the men’s communal showers. This story shows another man, potentially a stranger, approach in the bathroom and force himself on them.
The third storyline shows two girls at a party being watched by a man. He brings them drugged drinks and leads them to an empty bedroom. One of the girls emerges from her drugged stupor midway through being assaulted to fight off the man and help her friend, who has already been raped, to get out.
After showing the initial trauma that each of the victims go through, the viewers see some of the fall out of the trauma that they have experienced. This includes both the ways that others view them, as well as the ways that they look at themselves. This is done through words written on their bodies, things like ‘I am worthless’ and ‘Sometimes I hate myself’.
We see that one girl drops out of school, something that happens entirely too often with sexual assault victims, while the rest just draw into themselves. This is one of the low points of the video but the tone is promptly turned around as we begin to see the people who support these victims.
Friends and family begin to show up to pull the victims out of their shells and get them motivated again. Here is where we see words written on their bodies again but this time they are more positive with, “I am worthy.” and “I love myself”. A stark contrast to how they seemed to feel about themselves earlier in the video.
The video ends with the three main victims being led from their dorms by friends and family along with other victims, of all genders and races. This scene of various victims of sexual assault standing together and moving forward is an uplifting way to end a song about such an important topic.
The video handles the topic of sexual assault very well. It is both direct with the portrayals of the assaults and handles the aftermath to show how it can affect the victims. The uplifting ending, hopefully, shows real victims that things will get better with the help of friends and family and talking about what they have been through.
Lady Gaga is well known for her out there music videos but this is the first one to tackle such a big topic. Simply by making this video, she has drawn more awareness to sexual assaults on college campuses, something that has been in the media a lot recently.
Ever since Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia student, carried her mattress to classes in protest of her rapist not being expelled, sexual assault is a popular topic both on campuses and in the media but nothing seems to be being done about it.
The statistics keep rising and conversations keep happening, being prompted by things like ‘Til It Happens to You,’ but nothing is changing. What can be done to stop the rising number of sexual assaults on college campuses?
National Sexual Assault Hotline:
Mines Policy and Procedures: