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 apologize if this comes off as disrespectful to Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin. Or their families. Or YOU, the reader. I’m not about that. That’s not why I drew this.
I am just really freaked out that 40% of Americans (and 47% of White Americans) do not think that the killings and violence in Ferguson ‘raise any racial issues.’ Fellow White Persons, this is our chance to learn. This is our chance to change.
When Trayvon Martin was murdered because Full Grown Men in America are frightened to violence by the presence black children, the dialogue turned very quickly into a conversation about gun control.
And gun control is an issue that deserves our attention.
But it won’t change the massive poverty in Black America. The arrest rate. The education statistics. The institutional, systemic, casual, and passive racism that plagues our country.
And it wouldn’t have saved Michael Brown.
Anyway. I’m sorry if this comes off as disrespectful or insincere or preachy. I’m sorry if my execution (or personality) gets in the way of what I’m trying to say. I am an imperfect artist, an imperfect person, and I am, undoubtedly, blinded to a million things by my own glaring whiteness. So this might be… Lord, this might be awful. I’m so sorry if it’s awful. Really.
But. I just keep thinking… Look, my wife is pregnant with our first child. A boy. We’re nervous, we’re excited, we’re SO ANXIOUS because what the hell do you do with babies? WE don’t know. But if we were a black family… in this country… we would be so terrified. Because we live in a nation that murders the children of black parents, puts it on the news WITH RIOTS AND TEAR GAS as decoration, and still half of us don’t even see it as a problem. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine bringing a child into that reality, to face the odds we lay out for black kids?
That would break me. I’ve never known anything like that. No one should ever know anything like that.
So let’s talk to our friends about race. Lets talk to our families. And when actual victims of racism try to tell us what’s going on in, say, a peaceful community protest as they are being gassed and shot at by cops WE SHOULD LISTEN TO AND BELIEVE THEM. Let’s talk to each other about this until we are all on the same page.
And then let’s turn the damn page.
"My children are not only my little darlings but off-shoots of myself. When I look at them, I have a strange feeling - as if I am watching myself re-living my life. What I want to show is their ‘living form’." — Hideaki Hamada
2012/12 “Haru and Mina/Hideaki Hamada’s Family Album”, Taiwan
Angelina Jolie’s dress was an expression of her kids’ creativity: Luigi Massi, the master tailor at Atelier Versace, sewed dozens of designs from her children’s drawings into the dress and veil.
AUTUMN’S ON IT’S WAY YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS
- HOT CHOCOLATE
- HALLOWEEN AND PUMPKINS
- WATCHING DISNEY FILMS WHILE IT RAINS
- DID I MENTION SWEATERS?!
The work of Stockholm based artist Anders Krisár often deals with the human body. It is discomfiting, presenting objects of simultaneous horror and beauty. Krisár takes realistic casts of human body parts, torso, arms or faces to modify hem in ways that lend them a surreal quality. His aim is to explore interpersonal relationships and examine the complexities of the human condition.