Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


I Wish We Didn't Need Lady Gaga's New Music Video

He was one year older than I was and headed to medical school. Somehow that gave him a veneer of respectability. He also seemed reserved and didn't drink much. When he asked me out after English class, I floated all the way back to my dorm so I could tell my roommate. We may or may not have jumped on the bed and squealed with excitement.

By all measures, he was a catch.

The date was enjoyable, but that's not what sticks out all these years later. What sticks out is how forceful he was after the date. I remember him using his considerable physical strength to his full advantage. I couldn't overpower him, but I eventually evaded his too-strong grasp by convincing him I had to pee. Free from his grasp, I ran all the way back to my dorm. This time, my roommate and I were not squealing with joy. I was shivering; she was pacing back and forth, saying what a jerk he was.

RELATED: 8 Ways to Help Your Bullied Kid (Besides Pull Out a Gun)

It never occurred to me or my roommate to go to any authorities. I must have felt shame because I swore my roommate to secrecy. You only keep secrets if you're ashamed. I thought it was my job to protect him. And I also thought it was my fault for liking him and agreeing to go to his place after the party. The following year I learned about two other women who had similar encounters with him. I thought of us as belonging to a shameful club. On a campus of 50,000 students, there must have been others.

Meanwhile, he went off to medical school.

This memory came flooding back to me when I saw Lady Gaga's powerful new video for a song she wrote with Diane Warren for the campus rape documentary, "The Hunting Ground." "Til It Happens to You" has been described as a PSA about rape culture on campus. It graphically depicts the rape of several college women, who subsequently suffer depression and self-hate in the aftermath. All of the narratives are disturbing, though the sexual assault of the woman who was drugged and unconscious appears particularly savage—her sheer vulnerability and lack of consciousness sears the viewer.

Lady Gaga's narrative arc provides some redemption in that the survivors (you can't convince me that Lady Gaga is singing about victims—they are definitely survivors) find communities of believers. The rape survivors appear to emerge from the isolation of victimhood, which hints that the transformation from victim to survivor entails joining with others—witnesses, fellow survivors, friends, advocates—and giving a voice to this epidemic.

As the song ends, text appears that spells out the scope of the epidemic. "One in five college women will be sexually assaulted this year unless something changes."

I wish there was no need for Lady Gaga's video. I wish I could send my daughter off to college without warning her about date rape drugs and campus rape statistics.

Lady Gaga's willingness to throw her fame and prodigious talent behind this project is vitally important. Her video educates us by dissecting our culture and depicting an uncomfortable reality. If you're paying attention, her video should outrage you about what our culture accepts for its collegiate women.

Back in 1992 when I was using the urge to urinate to escape a dangerous date, there was no video to signal that I wasn't alone. Or that it wasn't my fault. Mariah, Madonna and Paula Abdul were singing about unrequited love and being in rocky relationships—nothing nearly as edgy as non-consensual, violent sex. Their videos were uncomplicated, cotton candy snacks for late night study breaks.

RELATED: There's Nothing Beautiful About Rape

I wish there was no need for Lady Gaga's video. I wish I could send my daughter off to college without warning her about date rape drugs and campus rape statistics. But the fact is that I can't. Not yet. Faced with this reality, I'm grateful for Lady Gaga bravely taking on date rape and starting a conversation that is long from over.

More from entertainment