Columbia graduate Emma Sulkowicz garnered a huge amount of publicity for her “Carry That Weight” performance art project in which she dragged a mattress with her wherever she went as “an artistic expression of the personal trauma I’ve experienced at Columbia” — that trauma being an alleged rape by a fellow student who was investigated and cleared by both the university and law enforcement.
Paul Nungesser has filed a lawsuit against the school for allowing Sulkowicz to use the mattress stunt (for credit) to destroy his reputation and perpetuate her story, which has made headlines in at least 35 countries. Still, it seems many desperately want Sulkowicz’s story to be true.
Democrat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, for example, invited Sulkowicz to be her guest at January’s State of the Union Address, writing in the Huffington Post that the mattress symbolizes “the burden she carries every single day as long as her rapist is still on campus.” Note that Gillibrand didn’t bother to say “alleged rapist” or “the man Sulkowicz accused of raping her.”
Asked about several high-profile campus rape hoaxes, Gillibrand responded, “Well, I hope it’s just putting more of a spotlight on the problem.”
Add Lena Dunham, whose own account of a campus rape by “Barry,” a college Republican at Oberlin, “evaporated into pixie dust,” as another high-profile supporter of Sulkowicz.
Justice in this case will mean an award of unspecified damages to Nungesser, but we digress.
Speaking of those posters: Salon reported Wednesday that a “Despicable NYC flyer campaign targets Lena Dunham & Columbia anti-rape activist: New York residents woke up Wednesday morning to find mattress-sized flyers disparaging victims of rape.”