Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My reaction to Emma Sulkowicz's 8 minute 'rape/not rape' video

Emma Sulkowicz alleges she was raped at Columbia University in 2012, and that the University did not do enough to punish her alleged rapist. As part of an ongoing protest she would walk around Campus carrying her mattress on her back. The University held hearings but determined there was not enough evidence to find the accused guilty of rape. The sex had started out consensual but Sulkowicz maintains he did not stop when she made it clear she wanted him to stop.

Sulkowicz has now graduated and... produced an 8 minute video containing graphic sexual content. She has posted it on her website, together with a statement that says (in part):
It is not a reenactment but may seem like one. Ceci N'est Pas Un Viol is not about one night in August, 2012.
I have watched the video and left this comment on her website:
I'm not interested in watching rape/simulated rape videos but I watched the video because you made it. You say you were raped on campus, you have fought hard to have your story heard and to be believed, so I figured I should watch this. Bizarrely, having watched it I now find myself unable to articulate how I feel now. Awful is one word, but it is just a word - it doesn't cover how I feel. I can imagine the man you accused of raping you will have his own version of what happened, but this is your story and I accept it is true - through your lens. I'm not going to try to second guess his 'defence' - the moment you said "stop!" is the moment he should have stopped. End of story. But he didn't stop, and that makes him a rapist in my eyes. 
Secondary to the making and posting of this video is the comments you have received about it. I assume that the comments are part of the ... the ... whatever it is you are doing here. In this modern world, dominated by 'social media' it is not suprising that so many trolls and haters have turned out to urinate on you. Clearly you've made a commitment to letting these people speak but I'd urge you to have some sort of moderation since already there are a multitude of people trying to threadjack and exploit your site to promote their own agenda(s) - if the comment is not on topic I suggest you delete them. And for those who suggest you have 'made a porn tape' - I have to wonder what sort of porn they watch if they find this sexually stimulating.

Finally, I am left confused by your comments "It is not a reenactment but may seem like one" and "Ceci N'est Pas Un Viol is not about one night in August, 2012. It's about your decisions, starting now. It's only a reenactment if you disregard my words. It's about you, not him. Do not watch this video if your motives would upset me, my desires are unclear to you, or my nuances are indecipherable." I wish I had taken more time to let these statements sink in before watching the video. I am not a mind reader - is this what you allege happened, or not? Did you want us to watch the video or not?
If you want to watch the video (which to me looks like a re-enactment of a rape in a dorm room) you can watch it here. It's a powerful piece of work, and I don't understand how a rape survivor could film it. (That's on me, not her). I'd love to hear what you thought of it in my comments section below.

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