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DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE Silent All These Years: Sexual abuse, pop music
by Marc 'Moose' Moder
2016-03-02

This article shared 2100 times since Wed Mar 2, 2016
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The most powerful moment of the Oscars this past weekend was Lady Gaga's heart-wrenching performance of Diane Warren's "Til It Happens To You," nominated for Best Original Song. Her emotionally strained vocals were only amplified by a crowd of sexual assault victims joining her at the end with messages of trauma scrawled on their bodies. The rare moment of acknowledging sexual assault in an entertainment setting seemed right but rare. Sure, we often see rape and molestation in movies and TV, and we've had our fair share of movie ( Jared Leto, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby ) and music ( David Bowie, R. Kelly, Gary Glitter ) icons face accusations, sadly with little repercussions. But we rarely hear men or women confront the topic in song, seemingly until now. Looking back, though, it's been there all along.

In 1987, Sonic Youth gave us "Pacific Coast Highway," written by singer Kim Gordon from the vantage point of the rapist. In it, Gordon unleashes the rage and fear that the woman is feeling, while co-opting and ultimately undermining the power of the male. Much like Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" belittles the blue-collar bigoted character through dumb dialogue, Gordon does the same and makes the voice of her abuser so creepy you feel the victims own pain.

Although it now seems like a "bro" empowerment anthem, Pearl Jam's "Alive" is actually about an abusive oedipal situation. "Oh, she walks slowly. Across a young man's room. She said I'm ready, for you. I can't remember anything. To this very day. 'Cept the look, yeah the look. Oh, you know where". Written as part one of an abuse trilogy, "Alive" tells the story of a boy who looks just like his deceased birth father, who in turn is raped by his lonely mother.

Not a big single like "Alive" or her own "Silent All These Years" ( about an unplanned pregnancy, physical and emotional abuse ) Tori Amos' "Me and a Gun" directly addressed a time when she was raped at knifepoint. She said in a 1991 interview, "I was singing hymns, as I say in the song, because he told me to. I sang to stay alive. Yet I survived that torture, which left me urinating all over myself and left me paralyzed for years. That's what that night was all about, mutilation, more than violation through sex. I really do feel as though I was psychologically mutilated that night and that now I'm trying to put the pieces back together again. Through love, not hatred. And through my music. My strength has been to open again, to life, and my victory is the fact that, despite it all, I kept alive my vulnerability." Tori used that experience to write and used that writing to form her amazing organization, RAINN ( Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network ).

Though Lady Gaga didn't win the Oscar, Sam Smith's winning Bond theme will be forgotten in weeks, while Gaga's anthem will live on and hopefully inspire not only healing in the victims, but understanding and prevention for those of us to whom it hasn't happened.

RAINN's National Abuse Hotline is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-656-HOPE


This article shared 2100 times since Wed Mar 2, 2016
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