Even if you didn’t actually watch the Oscars, you probably at least heard about Lady Gaga’s incredibly emotional and poignant performance of “Till It Happens to You,” her Oscar-nominated song about sexual assault. She was joined onstage alongside dozens of young men and women who are sexual assault survivors–all of whom exposed their arms to reveal words and phrases like “Survivor,” “You Are Love,” “Unbreakable” and “Not Your Fault.”
As the song came to a close, all of the men and women joined hands, raising them in solidarity. It was clearly an incredibly harrowing moment for everyone involved, moving viewers everywhere. As a result, many went to Twitter to air their feelings–Kerry Washington being one of them:
These survivors. Wow.
Floored by the courage. And beauty. And realness. #Oscars @ladygaga Thank you.
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) February 29, 2016
The song, co-written by Gaga and Diane Warren, is from “The Hunting Ground,” a CNN Films documentary about sexual assaults on American college and university campuses. What made the moment especially powerful was the fact that it was introduced by Vice President Joe Biden, who encouraged Americans to take a stand against sexual assault and directed viewers to It’sOnUs.org. Of course, the song can strongly stand by itself, but the fact that a politician took a stand against sexual violence so openly on national television is indicative of a much-needed step forward. So often, it’s a topic that is viewed as uncomfortable and taboo, which only perpetuates the inability for legal justice to be served, and for survivors to stay silent.
For Gaga, the song is especially personal, as she has previously disclosed that she was raped when she was 19. On the red carpet before the show, she stated:
“It’s such an important song for me. 1 in 5 women will be raped before they finish college.”
While she ended up losing to Sam Smith’s song from “Spectre” soon after her performance, the fact that she masterfully performed this song with the help and support of other survivors is a testament to how important fighting for sexual equality and awareness is. As a survivor myself, I can’t stress this enough.
Watch her amazing performance below:
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