After some sensitive prodding from radio host Howard Stern, Lady Gaga, now 28, said on his show Tuesday that she had been raped by a record producer 20 years her senior when she was 19 years old. She was explaining the inspiration for her song, “Swine,” which she performed this year at the South By Southwest music festival with painter Millie Brown.
“The song is about rape,” Gaga said. “The song is about demoralization. The song is about rage and fury and passion and I had a lot of pain that I wanted to release and I said to myself, ‘I want to sing this song while I’m ripping hard on a drum kit and then I want to get on a mechanical bull, which is probably one of the most demoralizing things that you can put a female on in her underwear, and I want this chick to throw up on me in front of the world so that I can tell them ‘You know what, you can never ever degrade me as much as I could degrade myself and look how beautiful it is when I do.'”
With that knowledge, it allows for the performance, and even the lyric video for the song, to be viewed from an entirely different perspective. Gaga is no longer just a paper-thin provocateur, but an artist working through something in a way that’s unique to her.
Gaga did not get into many specifics — only that the man in question used to tell the public they were dating.
“I didn’t know that was a date,” she said. “You were 20 years older than me. I was a kid. How was that a date?”
Gaga said she didn’t tell anyone when it happened. “It happens every day,” the singer said. “It happens every day and it’s really scary and it’s sad and you know, it didn’t affect me as much right after as it did about four or five years later. It was so hard. I was so traumatized by it that I just had to keep going and get out of there.”
There’s another reason why Gaga didn’t come forward earlier: “I wasn’t even willing to admit that anything had even happened … I don’t want to be defined by it,” she said. “I’ll be damned if somebody’s going to say that every creatively intelligent thing that I ever did is all boiled down to one d—head that did that to me. I’m going to take responsibility for all my pain looking beautiful … I did that.”