Lady Gaga Opens Up About Sexual Assault During Elle “Women in Hollywood” Speech
Draped in a loose fitting men’s suit, Lady Gaga prepared to give her remarks about the changing role of women in Hollywood, and said some profound things about the nature of female celebrity, about the nature of being a woman in the industry, and how her own sexual assault at the hands of a yet unnamed powerful media figure at 19 years old almost broke her life were it not for the availability of excellent mental health care. It’s her second time publicly opening up about the assault after her powerful statement on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week. A large portion of the speech can be read in full on Elle, but here are some key excerpts from it:
“I tried on dress after dress today getting ready for this event, one tight corset after another, one heel after another, a diamond, a feather, thousands of beaded fabrics and the most beautiful silks in the world. To be honest, I felt sick to my stomach. And I asked myself: What does it really mean to be a woman in Hollywood? We are not just objects to entertain the world. We are not simply images to bring smiles or grimaces to people’s faces. We are not members of a giant beauty pageant meant to be pit against one another for the pleasure of the public. We women in Hollywood, we are voices. We have deep thoughts and ideas and beliefs and values about the world and we have the power to speak and be heard and fight back when we are silenced.
…This was an oversized men’s suit made for a woman. Not a gown. And then I began to cry. In this suit, I felt like me today. In this suit, I felt the truth of who I am well up in my gut. And then wondering what I wanted to say tonight become very clear to me.
As a sexual assault survivor by someone in the entertainment industry, as a woman who is still not brave enough to say his name, as a woman who lives with chronic pain, as a woman who was conditioned at a very young age to listen to what men told me to do, I decided today I wanted to take the power back. Today I wear the pants.
…After I was assaulted when I was 19 I changed forever. Part of me shut down for many years. I didn’t tell anyone. I avoided it myself. And felt shame even still today standing in front of you. I feel shame for what happened to me. I still have days where I feel like it was my fault. After I shared what happened to me with very powerful men in this industry, nobody helped me. No one offered my guidance or a helping hand to lead me to a place where I felt justice, they didn’t even point me in the direction of the mental health assistance I was in dire need of. Those men hid because they were afraid of losing their power. And because they hid, I began to hide.
I hid for a long time until I started to feel physical pain. Then I had to go to the doctor because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. And then I was diagnosed with PTSD and Fibromyalgia, which many people don’t think is real, and I don’t even know what the fuck to say about that. But I’ll tell you what it is. It’s a syndrome that is essentially a cyclone of stress induced pain.
Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma—these are just a few examples of the forces that can lead to this tornado of pain. So what I would like to say in this room of powerful women and men today is let’s work together to beckon the world towards kindness. I’m fortunate enough now to have the resources to help me. But for many, the resources either don’t exist or people don’t have the ability to pay for or access them. I want to see mental health become a global priority. We’re not able to control all of the challenges and tragedies that life throws our way. But we can work together. This room can work together to heal each other. And we can also try to find the strength in the best way that we can to ask for help if we need it.”
Lady Gaga additionally held up the importance of mental health treatment to those who need it, and wished that it was more publicly available. In this powerful speech, Lady Gaga additionally referred to her boyfriend, agent Christian Carino as her fiancée.
It was a powerful speech, and as a culture, we are thankful for Lady Gaga for making it, and the voice of any woman who comes forward with her wisdom.
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