As increasing numbers of women across the globe come forward to discuss their experiences of sexual assault at university, Lady Gaga has joined the campaign to raise awareness
Going to university is supposed to be spent learning how to fashion a toga out of a single IKEA bedsheet. You’re supposed to spend your days watching the Neighbours omnibus (is that still on? We haven’t checked) and eating dry packet noodles smeared with marmite. You’re supposed to spend your nights playing Ring Of Fire (while desperately hoping you don’t draw a King), and you’re supposed to go to lectures in your pyjamas, so that you’re prepared when you inevitably fall asleep at your desk. You’re supposed to feel hopeful, ambitious and free. And you’re supposed to feel safe.
You’re not supposed to spend your time crying in a police station, struggling to recount the previous night’s events through your tears – not least because you’d really, really like to block them out altogether. You’re not supposed to spend every night after that feeling scared and grubby and ashamed of your own body. You’re not supposed to be the victim of rape, or violence, or sexual assault. And you’re not supposed to feel like nobody takes you seriously if you are.
But as increasing numbers of women across the UK and America come forward to bravely share their experiences of campus rape – to end the atmosphere of shame and silence that it’s been cloaked in until now – it often feels like the only ones listening to them are the ones who are already on their side.
Which is one reason why Lady Gaga has teamed up with NYC Governor Andrew Cuomo to support the #EnoughIsEnough campaign – an American bill to make New York state enforce a policy to prevent sexual assault at university.
In an open letter, penned by the pair and published on Billboard, Lady Gaga – who revealed in 2014 that she had been raped when she was 19 – urges society to listen to victims of sexual assault.
“Every fall, young men and women head off to colleges across the country, dreaming of bright futures and the experience of a lifetime,” Lady Gaga writes.”They’ve worked hard for the chance to become a part of their new campuses, and they set out full of hope and excitement.”
“Unfortunately, for thousands of these students that dream turns into a nightmare because of the unacceptable epidemic of sexual violence that is currently plaguing colleges and universities. It is a shocking reality that many in academia, government, and society in general still refuse to acknowledge.”
“…Today, too many college students experience sexual assault, too few of the assailants are prosecuted, and too often the survivors lack the resources they need to recover… Making a bad situation worse, college officials sometimes fear negative publicity against their school if assaults are reported to the police. Instead of involving law enforcement, these cases are often handled as campus disciplinary issues and many offenders avoid meaningful consequences.”
“…This situation is unacceptable. The likelihood that college students are not getting the assistance and support they deserve is heartbreaking, and the knowledge that sexual predators are left free to attack again is criminal.”
“That’s why we are joining together to take a stand against sexual assault on college campuses. Quite simply, enough is enough.”
Leaving us with nothing left to say, except: hear hear.