You’ve probably heard of Emma Sulkowicz, but you may not know her by name. I have been diligently following the details surrounding Emma Sulkowicz for a long time now. For those of you who are just joining the party, Emma Sulkowicz is better known as “Mattress Girl”. In August 2012 Emma was having consensual sex with a male fuck buddy* in her dorm room at Columbia University. According to her, the consensual sex turned non-consensual when her FWB hit her across the face, choked her, and then forced her down on the bed and anally penetrated her. Emma eventually went to school authorities to tell them that these events had allegedly happened, and the school conducted several investigations and ultimately determined that there was no evidence of a rape taking place. Emma’s FWB was not formally punished by the school, but Emma pushed hard for him to be expelled. When it was clear that he would not be expelled Emma began a performance art piece entitled “Carry That Weight” in which she carried around the mattress from her dorm room wherever she went during her academic life. Her ambition was to display a reminder of how heavy a burden it is to carry the pain, anger, and frustration of being raped by representing it physically with a huge cumbersome object. She graduated this May and carried her mattress with her across the stage to accept her diploma.
When I first heard of Emma’s performance art piece I will absolutely admit I applauded her. I said to myself, “What a great way to turn an ugly and horrible event into a powerful statement that will get the world to start thinking about feminism, rape, and the sexual assault crisis our colleges are neck-deep in whether they know it or not.” I even remember telling Eloise about it over dinner and saying how much I admired Emma and how great a boon this would be to feminism in the United States and possibly even abroad.
Then the story started to unravel.
As of today I feel very secure in saying that Emma Sulkowicz is a liar. That’s a bold statement for a guy who’s never met Emma nor had any special access to any material other than what I have found online, but believe me: I wouldn’t be saying it if I didn’t 100% believe it to be true. Did the rape actually happen? Maybe, but probably not. Did Emma’s FWB sexually assault other people? Maybe, but it’s also highly unlikely. Are there shreds of truth to Emma’s stories about how everything went down? Most likely yes. But is Emma Sulkowicz a liar? You better goddamn believe it.
Simply for the fact that I don’t want this article to be pages and pages long explaining the long-winded and confusing sequence of events that have occurred in this case, I will not be going over everything. You can read the story chronologically here or simply fall into the clickhole of searching for Emma’s name on Google. But here are the major facts to prove my statement:
Before and after the alleged rape took place, Emma was in constant contact with her alleged rapist. Transcriptions of their online chats are easily found on the web and there is not one where Emma expresses any kind of negative feelings towards her FWB. In fact, the opposite is true: almost every chat message is her saying that she loves him, misses him, and wants to see him as soon as possible. Now, this certainly paints a picture of a girl who maybe wasn’t raped, but it certainly doesn’t prove she’s a liar, right? Plenty of rape victims continue to have relationships with their assailants afterward due to a whole slew of reasons. But what Emma did lie about is the transcriptions themselves.
Emma’s FWB was the one who originally put the chat transcripts out into the public sphere. However, he only put out parts of them, e.g. the parts that were relevant to his plight to prove his innocence. Emma, in response, then posted an annotated document of what she claims are the “full” conversations between her and her FWB surrounding the incident. But guess what? Emma omitted parts of the transcript that are VERY relevant to the case at hand! You can see Emma’s annotated transcript here. Look closely at the message from her FWB on 8/29 at 9:33pm. See those black dots underneath the text? That is the cut-off top of another line of text. Why can’t we read that line of text? Well, that’s because Emma has chosen to conceal that part of the text. Also, the transcripts that her FWB posted have much more text to them than the one’s Emma posted here, which of course means that there are more things being omitted. So, to be clear: Emma says, and this is a direct quote from her, “…I have chosen to release the full conversation, plus the context in which things were said. I want people to have all the information so that they can make informed decisions for themselves, rather than seeing a redacted version of the conversation with bits and pieces picked out to make me look a certain way.” But what does she post? A transcript with bits and pieces picked out to make her look a certain way. So she lied.
Another major lie is her chronology of events. Throughout this whole ordeal Emma has alternated between several different versions of who she told about the rape and when. Sometimes she says she didn’t tell anyone until she went to Columbia officials, not even her parents or her “best friend”. Other times she says she told a “girlfriend” within 24 hours of the event. Other times she says that she told several people much later after the event who assured her that what happened to her was in fact rape and encouraged her to go to report it. They can’t all be true, so which one is it? Even if one of them is true, that would make the others…lies.
But maybe this isn’t enough for you. Maybe these things are being nitpicky and not giving her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she mistakenly omitted parts of her chat conversations and maybe she’s experiencing some sort of cloudy memory issues when it comes to who she told about the alleged rape and when. Well, how about these things, which I’ve literally cut-and-pasted from the suit filed against Columbia University by Emma’s FWB:
There were no witnesses to Emma’s alleged screams in the badly soundproofed student dorm.
There was no medical report, even though an attack as massive as described would with great likelihood have caused serious injuries in dire need of medical attention and would have left visible bruises on Emma’s body for days.
There was no testimony from Emma’s friends or family members who could confirm such injuries or changes in her behavior caused by discomfort from these injuries. On the contrary, in the days following the alleged attack, Emma participated in various social events on campus, such as parties with friends and social events with the fencing team. Given the multitude of social contact, any physical injuries would have likely been noticed by people on campus or those close to Emma.
Obviously, only two people know what really happened in that dorm room in 2012: Emma and her FWB. But since both parties tell wildly different stories, why are we believing a girl with a verifiable track record of blatantly lying…and ignoring the mountain of evidence that suggests no rape took place? Why are we also ignoring Emma’s narcissism and money grubbing?
Oh that’s right, I haven’t gotten to that yet.
During the height of Emma’s performance art piece’s notoriety, she was actually asked to attend President Obama’s State of the Union speech as a special guest of Kirsten Gillibrand, the New York senator. Let’s paint that picture very clearly for you: this is a US senator who is supporting a performance art piece that is based on the principle that a girl was raped, yet no case was ever brought against her rapist because there was no evidence to support her claim, and, in fact, there was a bunch evidence to refute it. Talk about a slap in the face to the justice system. Emma’s FWB is not a criminal, has not been arrested…nothing. But that doesn’t matter to Mrs. Gillibrand, apparently.
During the SOTU speech, Obama talked about a bunch of stuff, but he did not talk about Emma Sulkowicz. He didn’t bring up rape or the sexual assault crisis on college campuses at all. This greatly disappointed Emma:
“I am not going to lie, I was let down because I felt like there were points in his speech where he could have brought it up. I was really hoping he would mention it, since the issue has been raised to a new level.”
Obviously, Emma Sulkowicz thinks it has been “raised to a new level” by Emma Sulkowicz. Later she says:
“Just seeing the president in person was such a wild experience. And shaking John Kerry’s hand was also extremely surreal. He didn’t really know who I was, and even when Senator Gillibrand introduced me no one seemed to know who I was. But that’s okay.”
So Emma gets invited to the SOTU address and is disappointed that it’s not all about her. I mean, John Kerry didn’t even know who she was! You believe that?! The nerve of that guy!
But wait, it gets better. After her walk across the stage to accept her diploma (where the president of Columbia University notably did not shake Emma’s hand) her “Carry That Weight” piece was officially over. What happened to the mattress after that? Emma’s got big plans:
“I have a scenario planned for the exhibition of my piece…If some sort of museum wants to buy it, then I’m open to that. But I’m not going to just throw it away.”
Cha ching! There it is. Emma’s not going to donate the mattress to a woman’s shelter, or put it on display in an art gallery for people to come and see free of charge. Nope…gonna fucking sell that shit. Because, you know, it’s about the art. And women’s rights, or something…nah, how much money are we talking here?
You think this is over now, right? You think that this lying, narcissistic, manipulative money-grubbing girl couldn’t possibly get any worse.
My, how wrong you are. Because only a few days ago, Emma did something no one could ever have anticipated: she posted an explicit video re-enactment of her alleged rape.
You read that right: Emma posted another performance art piece (read: porn video) in which she has consensual sex with a man in her dorm room which eventually escalates into a simulation of a rape. Eventhough Emma’s statement about the video explicitly says that this is not a re-enactment of her alleged rape in 2012, the video follows her alleged sequence of events to a T: they are having consensual sex, eventually the guy slaps her, chokes her, and fucks her in the ass. The time stamp on the video? August 27, 2012, the exact date of her alleged rape. Come on, Emma…who do you think you’re fooling?
Why did she post this video? Her statement about it is so insane that I can’t even really figure it out, but as far as I can tell this “art piece” is intended to inform the viewer that by watching this video, they are participating in her rape. Eventhough Emma uploaded the video to the internet and then promoted it being there (and so did her mother), if you watch the video without her explicit consent (e.g. you know her and she said you could watch it) you are violating her and are a part of her rape. So don’t watch it unless you want to be a rapist! And you know, go to jail. For being a rapist. Because that’s what you’ll be.
As a side note, the video was taken down briefly and then reposted with the timestamp on the video blurred out. Hmmm…wonder what happened there? Probably had nothing to do with the idea that the tape could now be used as evidence against her in a libel claim that her FWB would absolutely fucking win. Nope. Not at all.
Let me wind down this rant here. You get it, right? Emma is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. The evidence is all over the place that she’s simply not all there and has done some really questionable and sometimes even terrible shit. Then why is she being invited by senators to presidential events? Why are pieces being written on prominent sites like Jezebel, Forward, The Huffington Post, and many others, defending Emma? Why are people calling out anyone who questions what she says as a rape apologist, or a misogynist? Why is it that Emma Sulkowicz is being heralded as a feminist warrior?
Because we all believed Emma. Or at least we really wanted to.
At the beginning of this farce there were people who questioned Emma’s story…people who doubted her claims and saw this as a publicity stunt and cash-grab. Those people were eaten alive by feminist authors, bloggers, and the so-called “Social Justice Warriors” of the internet, who laid out the claim that if you choose not to immediately and unequivocally believe Emma’s story, you are horrible and don’t understand rape or the plight of women in this day and age. And now that Emma’s story has fallen to pieces and her mental instability has been cemented with her simulated rape video statement, no one wants to fall back. No one wants to admit, “Hmmm…those people who questioned Emma at the beginning were right.” No one wants to do that because that will make it easier for people to deny women’s rape allegations in the future. And that is a fucking HUGE step back for women and feminism.
I am a feminist. I’m a white cis-gendered heterosexual male, but goddamn it, I’m a feminist. Eloise is a feminist…most of the women in my life are feminists, and most of the men are too. Emma Sulkowicz doesn’t speak for us, and she shouldn’t speak for you, either. She shouldn’t speak for anyone, not even herself! The girl clearly has major issues and, if there is any justice in this world, is going to be caught up in a legal shitstorm in which she might even do prison time.
And although it may seem like I’m excited and happy to tear down Emma’s story and show you who she really is, believe me that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m devastated. Because when I was sitting with Eloise at that dinner table talking about Emma’s story when I first heard it, I was filled with hope. I was hopeful that her statement would be the proverbial straw on the camel’s back and it would cause some real change to happen. That change could have come from the Rolling Stone piece about the girl getting gang raped, but since that was proven to be false only a few months prior, THIS one is going to be “the one”.
But no. Here I am talking about how yet another girl has most likely made up yet another rape that we all attached to as if it were truth. And with the closing of this article, we all have to sigh and brace ourselves for the fallout: our blind acceptance of Emma Sulkowicz’s story has hurt feminism instead of helping it. Shame on Emma Sulkowicz…but shame on us, too.
*Unlike a lot of news agencies, I have chosen not to use the accused’s name anywhere in this article. If that respect is given to victims of sexual assault, then that respect should be given to victims of false rape allegations as well.
NOTE FROM SCOTT: I realize that it can be difficult to share articles I write since Sexpressed is a NSFW website. If you would like to cut-and-paste my work here and put the article in a SFW format on your Facebook, tumblr, or something along those lines, please feel free to do so. Just make sure you give me proper credit and a link to the original page somewhere in your post. Thanks!