Content warning: this article includes references to sexual assault, rape and violence against women and could be triggering for some readers.
Melbourne artist Sophia Hewson, 31, was expecting mixed reactions to her “rape representation” video once it went public, but even she wasn’t prepared for what came next.
In the three-minute clip – titled are you ok bob? – Ms Hewson engages in “un-simulated sex” with a stranger she invited to her apartment in New York City. Throughout it all, her gaze is fixed on the lens of the camera, as if she’s staring right at you – or through you.
As she explains in her official statement, her aim was to depict the victim of sexual assault as the “subject, not an object”.
Now Ms Hewson is experiencing firsthand the sort of online abuse survivors of rape are subjected to.
Women share their experiences of sexual violence on Twitter. Post continues after video.
When I reached out to her for comment, she was declining interview requests “because of the rape threats”. She subsequently linked me to an article on a male supremacist forum which brands her a “fat slut” and a “parasite”.
Let that sink in: the creator of a video meant to bring awareness to sexual assault is now being threatened with rape.
Some have called her three-minute video sick. Others have warned that the short film might be triggering for survivors of sexual assault. And others still have questioned whether it’s a form of exploitation, using real rape victims and their stories to elevate her own personal platform.
In the furore that surrounded Ms Hewson’s video, she said the victim was often “represented with her face down and her eyes averted,” a stereotype she’s determined to shatter.