This year’s Academy Awards were praised by many for tackling pressing issues including the lack of diversity in Hollywood and global warming, but the topic of sexual assault was one of the biggest of the night, with Vice President Joe Biden and singer Lady Gaga pushing for the end of rape culture.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted in college; however, more than 90 percent do not report the incidents because they feel “embarrassed, ashamed or that it would be too emotionally difficult.”
While there have been efforts in the past to end campus sexual assault, it continues to be a problem that is too often overlooked or even ignored.
The United States Congress enacted the Cleary Act in 1990, requiring all colleges that receive federal funding to provide public information about any and all crimes on campus, but some schools still fail to report sexual assault cases on their campuses.
“Despite significant progress over the last few years, too many women and men on and off college campuses are still victims of sexual abuse. Let’s change that culture,” Biden said in his speech.
Biden’s speech called attention to the Obama administration’s “It’s On Us” campaign, which aims to raise awareness about and prevent sexual assault.
His speech was followed by Lady Gaga’s performance of “Til It Happens to You,” a song she co-wrote with Diane Warren for the documentary “The Hunting Ground,” which focuses on sexual assault on college campuses in the United States.
Lady Gaga was later joined onstage by more than 50 survivors of sexual assault with encouraging messages like “It’s not your fault” and “Unbreakable” written on their arms.
Both Biden’s speech and Lady Gaga’s performance sparked overwhelming responses from the online community, as Billboard reported a ten-time increase in “It’s On Us” pledges, and the hashtag “#ItsOnUs” was mentioned more than 348 million times on Twitter.
Biden, Lady Gaga and the Oscars have been effective in raising awareness about campus sexual assault, but it is a still a real problem that is just too prevalent on college campuses.
It is crucial to talk about this issue, and although it may not be a daily discussion topic, we cannot forgot that sexual assault is still a real epidemic.