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.
I feel this is very important.
It’s been apparent to me for a while that most men can’t really imagine “equality.” All they can imagine is having the existing power structure inverted.
I cannot decide whether this shows how unimaginative they are, or shows how aware they must be of what they do in order to so deeply fear having it turned on them.
"Most men can’t really imagine “equality.” All they can imagine is having the existing power structure inverted."
No way, man. Shouldn’t the responsibility to justify a course of action/belief/system rest with the status quo? In this instance, that’s you. You’re the one towing the patriarchal line, whether you like it or not. You seem entrenched in your particular dogma and I don’t think it’s worth my time or words to write you an essay. If you really wanted sourced and cited answers, if you wanted to gain a more nuanced perspective on gender equality (because that’s what we both advocate, I hope!), you could look up the myriad sources across tumblr or the rest of the internet, and do some research yourself. Don’t be the typical MRA who ignores hard evidence, and the lived experiences of real, live women. Me? I have more effective ways of helping my cause than throwing facts and figures at an irrational person who doesn’t want to change their mind.
isn’t it strange how most of the MRA issues are actually feminist issues taken from a different angle? For instance, women being characterized (by the patriarchy!) as inherently nurturing plays into men being denied custody.
This article is really upsetting. I think the situation is better in Canada, but I know some of the same pressures (to stop working to look after family, to work extra, unrecognized hours to gain favour, etc) exist, and are much stronger for female academics than for male ones.