Blaming Lady Gaga for Being Raped?


By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD


Lady Gaga made news yet again, this time by publicly sharing during the Oscars that she was raped at age 19. Yes, she set off shock waves around the world, not just because she shared something so intimate, but because she challenged each of us to consider how we talk about rape in our own lives.

One of the heartbreaks about being a woman is that it feels like we are blamed by society for everything that happens to us, and sexual assault is no different.

But if you wouldn’t blame Lady Gaga for being raped, why would you blame yourself, or your friends?

Why Do You Blame Women . . . and Maybe Even Yourself?

When you find yourself more responsible than the other person for virtually everything that happens to you, including rape and sexual assault, you are tapping into a conditioned response. Internalization of the continuous media messages as well as all of our family messages leads to the creation of our own negative self-talk, which I’ve named toxic girly thoughts.

Why have a name for this? So we can first identify when we are blaming ourselves for all the woes that come our way and then stop thinking this way!

What You Can Do

This tendency to “blame the victim” needs to be addressed on so many levels. This is why I was thrilled to read Jes Skolnik’s blog on “some guidelines for music/entertainment writers writing about sexual assault [sic].”

Her clear guidelines for those in the entertainment industry also bears consideration for writers and bloggers everywhere, and they have relevance for all of us in how we discuss rape and sexual assault.  Here’s a summary:

  1. Be careful with your language. If there is alleged violence, do not refer to it using the same terminology as consensual sex. This reinforces the pervasive social myth that sexual violence is “sex gone wrong” rather than specific and contextualized violence. . . .

  1. Be clear about your own biases. . . .


  1. Do not write a story without even attempting to contact the person on the other side of the allegations. . . .

  1. Do not ever, ever pressure someone to tell their sexual assault story to you. If they don’t want to talk, let them go. . . .

  1. Be careful about reporting allegations (from either side) as indisputable fact. . . .

One way to stop the perpetuation of toxic girly thoughts is for us to stop doing to ourselves—and to other woman—what society does to us.

Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my two latest books, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power and The Resilient Woman: Mastering The 7 Steps to Personal Power.

Sixteen and Not Ready to Confront Girly Thoughts

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I met Roseanna recently when I gave a talk at a university. She remembered that I asked women to share their girly thoughts, an obnoxious term I coined to describe that toxic, inner self-talk that plagues and disempowers women.

Roseanna’s Contribution

Roseanna send me a poem she wrote about her sister, a 16-year-old who was taught to underappreciate her accomplishments and to focus instead on fashion. Sound painfully familiar? After you read this poem, I hope you’ll share your comments with me, and I will forward them to her.

by Roseanna Boswell
(a college student studying Creative Writing and Women and Gender Studies)

My sister has no boots.
At least,
that’s what she tells me,
tipping conversation
over orange juice and coffee cups.
It’s breakfast,
and normally
she would be shunning daylight,
with half-closed-eyes,
making faces at her cereal bowl,
but today,
the effervescence of her smile
tells me: we’re going to talk
and we’re going to talk about shoes.
She is 16
and I worry:
In a world where it seems as though
she has a better chance
of being sexually assaulted
than becoming a computer science major,
how can I tell her not to be afraid?
She is 16
and she tells me that she has a 90 average,
that she needs new boots,
that sometimes she feels afraid to be alone with her teachers,
that she wants to borrow my sweater.
I tell her to always fight the patriarchy,
to be smart and safe,
I tell her “don’t believe guys
who say condoms don’t fit,”
I tell her “don’t let society dictate your beauty,
don’t let anyone dictate your body.”
She is 16,
she sighs, and rolls eyes.
She already knows how to navigate a world
that is unsympathetic to her body,
her gender,
her age.
She tells me she needs new boots.

What Happens When We Give Something a Name?

We realize we can wrap our minds and our words around a thing when we label it. We learn that what is rattling around inside of us is not just about us but has a more universal meaning.

Rosanna is just enough older than her sister to understand the power of our girly thoughts to distract us from what is really important. But we don’t have to continue to do this. We can identify those toxic girly thoughts and replace them with helpful and empowering thoughts about the ways in which we are special.

Do You Want to Share Something About Girly Thoughts?

If so, please contact me through my website. Look soon for artwork from Michelle Sohn depicting girly thoughts.

Interested in speaking about girly thoughts?
Join Me—Next Stops:

  • Worchester, MA: June 11, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. “Girly Thoughts and Addiction.”
  • Lake Placid, NY: July 11, 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Book signing at Bookstore Plus.

Want to talk about girly thoughts? Invite me to:

  • Your book club
  • Your management meeting

You’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my latest book, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power

One Billion Rising….by Dancing?

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD

Author of: The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (publication date 3/5/13)

Pre-order: Amazon / Barnes & Noble

One billion? and we’re not talking about the Sequestration, which is planning to cut one trillion anyway, or the population of the US that is only about 315 million.  No, we are speaking about a global effort involving more than three times the population of the US — we are speaking about women uniting around the world to end violence against women and girls, and doing this in a distinctly female way – by dancing, walking out, rising up, even giving voice to our concerns by demanding, that the violence, END.  By drawing attention to our concerns, by using the skills we have, and even perhaps having some fun in the process. Why? Because, right now, 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime, about one billion women, and that number includes some of you reading this blog.

Sometimes when something is so very common is feels even normal.  We have what I call our girly thoughts to thank for this, those societally driven messages concerning how we are to blame for all the misfortune we experience, and we are often not even aware that we are listening to them.

Girly thoughts are not new, and we come by them honestly. After all in the Bible, isn’t there a prayer to God, thanking HIM, for not being born a woman?  This example, and many, many others have resulted in many women being seen as less-than and as a consequence, acceptable targets for needing to be controlled, and for the rage of men.  And due to their girly thoughts many women even believe it was their fault.

But this doesn’t stop women from being courageous—you know what that is—acting in the face of fear, courage is not the absence of fear but taking action when you are, well, afraid.  On a daily basis we have all seen that being a woman can be very dangerous, particularly if the woman believes she has rights. But that hasn’t stopped so very many of us.   A woman could be shot in the head is she wants to go to school, have her clitoris removed, be targeted by a commanding officer, be slipped a drug so she is unable to fight off an attacker, or beaten by a drunk father or boyfriend who says he loves her.

So it probably sounds incredible to believe that we can make a difference by dancing.  How unreasonable is that, you may be wondering?  You may be asking where are the guns, the armies, the rockets – the real power?  After all isn’t that how we all been shown to demonstrate our power, through muscle, through clubs, through armaments, not to mention tradition and laws?  Well, that is how many show their power.  That is how we have been trained to understand power, as: might, intimidation, force.  But as for the real power, the answer is clear.  The real power is within each of us. This is the message of our recovery programs, the message our mothers wanted or perhaps did send us, and it is the message in this worldwide effort–onebillionrising.  We can begin to own our power, by uniting with other women, and men, in ONEBILLIONRISING/ is a global call to women and men across the planet to gather in their communities to dance and demand an end to the violence girls and women face, no matter what the cause.

What can you do?  First check out— then dare to use your personal power to consider creating your own event in your school, office, block, town. Plan to make it meaningful and perhaps even fun.  Break out of your comfort zone and even think about making an outrageous statement that is so engaging that others will want to dance with you, with all of us, enjoying the power of community, and the end to violence.  Realize that whether you are a woman in recovery, an ACoA, a sexual abuse survivor, you are connected to all other women who have experienced similar pain, trauma, discrimination, today, and in the past.  But understand that together we can all join to reduce, and even eliminate, the violence of the future, all through the improbable action of dancing together.

Need a little inspiration?  Listen to Lee Ann Womack “I Hope You Dance” after the jump…

Continue reading “One Billion Rising….by Dancing?”