What she has done is much, much more interesting.
Trigger warning: This post includes nudity and deals with issues of rape and sexual assault and may be triggering for survivors of abuse.
“Mattress Girl makes sex tape” is a pretty alluring headline.
Because the American media, in particular, can’t get enough of Emma Sulkowicz, the US university student known for protesting her alleged college rape by carrying a mattress around the campus of Columbia University. For months.
And yes, part of the ‘sex tape’ headline is true. She has released a very graphic video of herself engaging in what begins as apparently consensual sexual intercourse.
And then the sex abruptly turns violent.
The eight-minute film is titled ‘Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol’ (This Is Not A Rape) and depicts Sulkowicz and an anonymous male actor entering a dorm room, stripping off and engaging in sex, before the male actor suddenly slaps Sulkowicz and begins strangling her. A distressed Sulkowicz can be heard saying ‘no’ and ‘stop’ while the man removes his condom and continues to penetrate her as she whimpers in pain. The footage is deliberately shot as though from four hidden surveillance cameras in the dorm-room, offering four different angles of the simulated rape as it unfolds.
You can watch the video here, if you choose to do so.
If you’re not familiar with this story, read this: This woman is the brave face of a revolution 1 in 5 of us need.
And Sulkowicz knows this. She has gone to extraordinary lengths to present her video in a particular way.
In a detailed Trigger Warning that accompanies the video, she advises that the sexual acts depicted in the video were consensually agreed upon by the actors involved in the film, however the footage has clear and intentional allusions to rape and so may be highly triggering for some viewers. Sulkowicz also advises that despite the apparent parallels, the performance piece is not a re-enactment of the incident that was the focus of her protest – her own alleged dorm-room rape which occurred in 2012.
That is something that has been disputed by some critics. Not least because, in an earlier release of the video, the date on the footage was the same as the assault.