In light of Lady Gaga’s new music video for “Til It Happens to You”, I would like to remind everyone that a victim does not have to be 100% innocent to be a victim, no matter what the law says. Anyway, victims do not have to argue liability; the rapist is on trial for a crime. The victim is not on trial for a negligence tort. But the law isn’t there to be a moral compass, it’s there to enforce the more extreme cases of ours.
I’ve been watching this season of How to Get Away With Murder and between the increased amounts of melodrama (that I absolutely love, don’t get me wrong) there’s a lot more focus on sexual issues that aren’t just people using sex for manipulation. Slut-shaming in the court room is a big one that’s addressed. Pedophilia and child abuse. A covered-up composite gang-rape case told from the point of view of a bystander. Adultery. Stalking. I feel like the whole point of the show is to be frank and blatant about things that destroy people, and sex can certainly destroy people. It’s dramatic and entertaining as the show portrays it, at once loving and passionate and brutal and violent and painful…that’s about it?
I don’t remember one sexual assault scene where it’s just “going too far.” (And it’s not shown in the lady Gaga video either.) Which is interesting, because that’s how a lot of sexual assault happens. Someone just “goes too far” and trust is broken and feelings are hurt and fear imprinting begins. There doesn’t have to be a violent struggle, doesn’t have to be drugs or alcohol or restraint involved for people to get hurt. Generally the assaults in the Lady Gaga music were by people all less attractive than the people they assaulted. A fat guy. A creepy bespectacled guy. A bro with shitty hair in the bathroom. Two out of the three scenarios looked like random attacks. I think we should know by now that that’s not what the statistics show.
Sometimes it’s the person you thought was really, really attractive just a moment ago. Sometimes it’s someone you were already seeing sexually. Spousal rape only became an enforceable crime in 1993. It’s not always the person who pushes you down and hits you. Sometimes it’s the person who demands things you don’t want to do to you every day under the guise of love and intimacy until you give in. Who makes sure their love is unstable and unpredictable, to scare you into dependence. Who tells you they love you while toying with your emotions in other ways and making you feel like you’re not good enough to speak to, to see, to love.
Those people, realistically, are not going to be taken to trial, as often there isn’t a firm case a person could raise against them. The law is about extremes, not gray areas.
Realistically, those people are going to end those relationships and act like the issues that they caused never existed. Realistically, going to go on and have other relationships that will vary in healthiness. Realistically, could even learn on their own that what they’ve done was bad and move on in a way the victim has no avenue to.
So realistically, I can’t support the message of Lady Gaga’s new video because it’s so, so incorrect.