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Columbia Student Treats Rape Like Show & Tell: The College Fix is There


Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz has decided as part of her senior thesis to carry around her dorm room mattress, everywhere she goes as part of a performance art piece. It’s a project to bring attention to the fact that the University made a ruling not to punish a fellow student, whom she alleges raped her in her dorm on the very mattress that now burdens her across campus day and night.

I first became aware of this story from a report by CBS, who treated it like one part celebration of female empowerment, part human interest and part avante garde new-age art in the Obama era – rather than a story of a young coed being raped.

emma2To make matters worse, CBS left out just a slightly germane detail about how the two were once a couple, having sex of the consensual variety on that very mattress on multiple occasions.

Guess it’s time for the obligatory and politically-correct disclaimer here that I’m not suggesting a rape did not take place: Many, many rapes and sexual assault of every imaginable do take place between people who know each other, boyfriend and girlfriend, married couples and anywhere you find two people and the opportunity. That’s not my point, so shut up with your condescending babble.

As for this stupid mattress stunt – yes, I said; “Stupid” – I’m not knocking Emma, she’s a young college kid and man was I stupid in college. It’s the reporting that bugs me. CBS has their puff piece and abdicated their responsibility once again – but hey – when was the last time they were taken seriously? Lying by omission, which this CBS “report” did – harms all future victims of rape. I’ll grant you I have no experience with non-consensual sex, but I have no experience with murder either, but it doesn’t disqualify me from discussing it.

Other criticisms of young Emma is that she waited to report the crime, which is unfair. You can’t criticize an alleged victim of rape or sexual assault for waiting before pressing charges because it’s traumatizing and that’s something that bends time and changes perspective. Yes, it might take some time to get up the courage or to go outside or even talk to someone about anything, much less this.

My beef is with CBS. They leave out a HUGE part of the reporting – my guess is on purpose. No journalist is that ignorant about what would be germane in a sexual assault case. They convict him. They’re glamorizing her as a “courageous” victim – some sort of performance artist that needs a little publicity to get her “project” off the ground. It’s pathetic.

Now he’s pressing charges and I don’t blame him. If this guy wins his lawsuit against her, there will be repercussions in that actual victims (again, I’m not saying she’s not) of sexual assault will be even more reticent to come forward.

But… (you knew this was coming)..

The College Fix has a follow up and yikes! She looks pretty bad. Check it out–

Hat tip to our girl Jennifer Kabbany and Greg Piper – Assistant Editor 

Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz has a twofold purpose in carrying around her twin mattress everywhere on campus: It’s her senior thesis (performance art) and an attempt to shame the school into punishing her alleged rapist.

New York reports:

Sulkowicz is one of 23 students who are part of a federal Title IX complaint filed against Columbia in April for mishandling sexual-assault cases. Though she and two other students reported that the same student had assaulted them, all of their claims were swept under the rug, and the male student was not expelled from campus.

Sulkowicz said in a Time essay in May she was raped on her own bed during her sophomore year. She talks about her project in a Columbia Spectator video. (Sulkowicz actually had consensual sex twice before with her alleged rapist, according to the police report, noted in the Spectator’s original report.)

In a new interview with The Cut, the fashion site for New York, the student blames the media – the lawsuit and her performance art drew wide coverage –  for making her relive the horror of rape:

The reporter response has been really aggressive and not what I expected. It is a sensitive subject, and I can’t be accosted in the middle of campus to talk about it. One guy, while I was carrying the mattress, he just opened up my backpack and threw his business card in, which was a real violation of my space and made me really upset and triggered a lot of memories of being raped. …

Yesterday was really stressful because of the reporters on campus. I had a class at 8:40, so my boyfriend helped me carry the mattress to class — we slid it along the sidewall so it wasn’t distracting. Then my next class was at 2 p.m. and that was when two news stations started following me and taking pictures of me. I finally got to class and the people waited outside. I received an email from one reporter, “Subject line: Mattress Girl. Content: I have her contact info and I am going to get her.” I didn’t know that he was a reporter at first so I thought I was going to die, and so I was so scared and really fearing for my life. My boyfriend came and picked me up because I was so afraid of the reporters. [emphasis added]

As dumb as that reporter’s email phrasing was, it’s a little hard to take Sulkowicz’s media criticism seriously when she acknowledges the point of performance art:

continue reading at The College Fix:

My point is: This is rape – not Show N’ Tell. If I was in charge (and I will be); rapists, pedophiles and violent scumbags of all stripes will be dealt with in such a fashion that it will become very rare. But I digress.

Carrying around a mattress and posing for the front of the Entertainment and Arts section does not help anyone – most of all, people who have been raped. If this is your attempt to make society aware of the real dangers of sexual violence, CBS, you’ve only managed to create some revengeful ex trying to ruin this guy’s life.

The truth is, guilty or not – he’ll never shuck the accusation, so you’ve done that, regardless.


by Rodney Lee Conover

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Rodney Lee Conover

Rodney Lee Conover is a writer, producer and Senior Editor at

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