Columbia student will carry her mattress until her rapist exits school
September 2, 2014
While most students at Columbia University will spend the first day of classes carrying backpacks and books, Emma Sulkowicz will start her semester on Tuesday with a far heavier burden. The senior plans on carrying an extra-long, twin-size mattress across the quad and through each New York City building – to every class, every day – until the man she says raped her moves off campus.
“I was raped in my own bed,” Sulkowicz told me the other day, as she was gearing up to head back to school in this, the year American colleges are finally, supposedly, ready to do something about sexual assault. “I could have taken my pillow, but I want people to see how it weighs down a person to be ignored by the school administration and harassed by police.”
Sulkowicz is one of three women who made complaints to Columbia against the same fellow senior, who was found “not responsible” in all three cases. She also filed a police report, but Sulkowicz was treated abysmally – by the cops, and by a Columbia disciplinary panel so uneducated about the scourge of campus violence that one panelist asked how it was possible to be anally raped without lubrication.
So Sulkowicz joined a federal complaint in April over Columbia’s mishandling of sexual misconduct cases, and she will will hoist that mattress on her shoulders as part savvy activism, part performance art. “The administration can end the piece, by expelling him,” she says, “or he can, by leaving campus.”
As painful as I know the constant reminder of attending school with her rapist must be, I’m glad she won’t be the only one forced to remember. I hope the rapist drops out immediately…or better yet, I hope he faces the justice he deserves.
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The work of Taiwanese photographer Yung Cheng Lin rests somewhere on the boundary of surrealism, sensuality and the grotesque. Testament to this is his latest series of keenly manipulated imagery of the human form. Leaning heavily on voyeurism, the photo set features the human body in various twisted yet intimate contexts against against ethereal settings, making for a captivating series.
it’s pretty common for people discussing rape culture within feminist discourse to conveniently leave out disabled girls, but this is just a casual reminder that disabled women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted, abused or raped than able-bodied women. on top of that, 50% of deaf girls and 54% of deaf boys have been sexually abused or assaulted. so please stop leaving us out of your discussion about rape culture.