Til You’re Standing in Her Shoes

Sabrina Picou, Editor-In-Chief

Lady Gaga delivered an emotional performance of her and Dianne Warren’s song “Til It Happens To You” from the documentary The Hunting Ground at the 88th Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 28. The song is about rape victims and survivors of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse.


Warren and Gaga wrote the song for the documentary about rape crimes that take place in the United States on college campuses. Oscar winners and presenters like Chris Rock spoke on issues important to them such as African American rights and Leonardo Dicaprio addressed climate change. But of all these, I feel the most important issue of all are the rape crimes that take place in our country.


According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. This song shines a light on how no one can understand how traumatic this can be, until it actually happens to him or her. Like Gaga so passionately sings, “Till you’re standing in my shoes
I don’t wanna hear a thing from you,” almost as if speaking to the court that had denied Kesha’s release from her contract with her perpetrator Dr. Luke; Gaga dedicated this performance to her. Kesha Rose is a female pop artist who was allegedly sexually abused by her record producer. She requested to be released from her contract but was denied the release.


This song is personal for both Warren and Gaga because they are both victims of sexual assault; therefore, it was nothing like Gaga’s usual performances, because you could see the pain and tears in her eyes and hear the anger in her voice. It was almost like she was yelling at her perpetrator for having caused this trauma. At the song’s climax fifty rape survivors joined Gaga on stage with phrases such as, “NOT YOUR FAULT” and “SURVIVOR” written on their forearms.


“Til It Happens To You” is Gaga’s second outstanding performance at the Oscars following her tribute to the Sound of Music back in Feb. of 2015. Once again Gaga received a standing ovation for not only her powerful vocals but also her eye-opening message. The dramatic make-up and shocking costumes she has said that hides her pain, was taken off showing how raw this performance was to her. She wore only a white pantsuit designed by her stylist and best friend Brandon Maxwell, and very minimal make-up with her only prop being a white grand piano.


The superstar and the fifty resilient spirits made a pact during rehearsal that after the performance they would all go get The Fire Rose Unity survivor tattoo that fellow survivor Jackie Lin designed. The tattoo appears to be a rose sitting above a flame. Gaga was unable to go with them directly after the performance but did get her tattoo done by artist David Allen when she landed in Chicago at Pioneer Tattoo. Allen is known for tattooing all types of survivors. The tattoo can be seen on Gaga and Allen’s Instagram pages (@ladygaga and @davidallen).


Singing this song was not easy for the queen of pop either. She later posted on her Instagram how challenging rehearsal was for her.


Gaga wrote, “The first day of rehearsal with all the survivors I could barely get myself together. My body was wrecked with inflammation and pain, crying and shaking the whole walk to the stage. The whole night before I did not sleep. The fear of knowing I would finally face that I belonged in that group. I told them I was so sorry I couldn’t be Lady Gaga for them that I couldn’t even get dressed. I could barely get through the song, couldn’t hit any of the high notes. Hair wet, sloppy tee shirt, jeans, Uggs, tissues.”


After this performance I could not have been prouder to be a Little Monster – as Mother Monster likes to call her fans. The world stopped looking at her like a weird creature and finally like a human being because they realized she is just like them with real problems and real feelings. Gaga let down her walls during that performance and showed everyone Stefani Germanotta (her birth name). She used her stardom well and shone a light on an important issue while 34.4 million people watched. All hail Queen Gaga.