Justice

Lady Gaga and Andrew Cuomo Take a Stand Against Sexual Assault

Lady Gaga and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo penned a joint article on Billboard.com Monday calling for better handling of sexual assaults on college campuses.

The duo wrote the piece to draw attention to "Enough is Enough," Cuomo's legislation fighting for improved campus sexual assault policies. "Enough is Enough" proposes a statewide standard of affirmative consent for sexual assault as well as a sexual violence victim and survivor bill of rights. The policies would apply to all colleges in New York, including private schools. They hope to see the bill pass before the end of 2015's legislative session on June 17.

Cuomo has also begun screening "The Hunting Ground," a new documentary on the problem of campus sexual assault.

The piece explained that the college experience can be wrecked in a moment thanks to 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," Cuomo and Gaga wrote. "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."

That's why Gaga and Cuomo are supporting the proposed legislation.

"By passing legislation such as the bill currently before the New York State legislature, we can turn the tide on this issue so that students can realize their dreams on campuses that are safe spaces," they wrote. "That’s why we are joining together to take a stand against sexual assault on college campuses. Quite simply, enough is enough."

Late last year, Lady Gaga revealed to radio host Howard Stern that her 2013 song "Swine" was about being sexually assaulted at age 19 by a man 20 years her senior. She said that at first it didn't seem to impact her very much, but the trauma eventually came to haunt her down the road.

"It didn't affect me as much right after as it did about four or five years later," she said. "It hit me so hard. I was so traumatized by it that I was like, 'Just keep going,' because I just had to get out of there."

Even today, Lady Gaga says she'd be horrified to come face-to-face with her assailant.

"I think it would terrify me," Gaga said. "It would paralyze me. I saw him one time in a store and I was paralyzed by fear. It wasn't until I was a little bit older that I went, 'Wow, that was really messed up.'"

The Cuomo-Lady Gaga collaboration comes a few weeks after Emma Sulkowicz famously carried a mattress to her Columbia University commencement ceremony as part of her year-long art project to represent the burden of sexual assault.

Sulkowicz received media attention starting late last year when she vowed to carry the mattress around campus as long as her alleged rapist continued attending the university or until graduation.