Emma “Mattress Girl” Sulkowicz is continuing to punish rapists, rapist sympathizers, and rape apologists with the most powerful weapon in victims’ rights advocate arsenal: performance art. If you thought Sulkowicz dragging a mattress around everywhere she goes to undermine rape culture was brave, bold and assertive, then you should’ve seen her latest piece of activist art, which ended its run June 3.
From an interview with Sulkowicz:
For the new piece, titled The Ship Is Sinking, she wore a white bikini adorned with the Whitney logo. An S&M professional who goes by “Master Avery,” playing a character called “Mr. Whitney,” bound Sulkowicz tightly and hung her from the ceiling on a wooden beam, periodically whipping and insulting her.
As Sulkowicz explains below, the piece was meant as a multilayered exploration of ideas surrounding sex and consent, societal standards of female beauty, the personal nature of making and sharing art, and the art world in the age of Donald Trump.
Sulkowicz, of course, has her fair share of critics and detractors, like feminist-hater Camille Paglia, who froths Sulkowicz’s performance art is “like a parody of the worst aspects of that kind of grievance—oriented feminism,” that Sulkowicz is “perpetually lugging around [her] bad memories—never evolving or moving on,” and claimed Sulkowicz “trapped herself in her own bad memories and publicly labeled herself as a victim, which will now be her identity forever.”
Within the article about Paglia’s hatred of heroine Sulkowicz, Artnet rightly points out, “While Carry That Weight served as a reminder of Sulkowicz’s alleged rape, the work was meant to point out the shortcomings in the school’s justice system—not to proclaim her status as a victim…Sulkowicz should not be criticized for refusing to ignore and forget what allegedly happened to her, but instead lauded for standing up for herself and for sexual assault victims at universities around the country.”
What Sulkowicz’s critics (all of whom double as proponents of rape culture) fail to realize is that powerful performance art compels academic institutions to change their policies so as to quickly and efficiently investigate, indict and incarcerate anyone accused of sexual assault due to the power of performance art.
Victims of sexual assault have no way to transcend victimhood other than colleges’ justice systems. Victims of sexual assault, particularly women of color, should not seek justice from the police and courts. The justice they deserve can only be meted out by colleges unafraid to expel anyone accused of rape and/or advancing rape culture. Sulkowicz’s performance art is the vehicle for change.
There is much possibility to contemplate in Sulkowicz’s work. What societal ill couldn’t she highlight by taking off her clothes and getting abused in front of an audience? Maybe next she’ll spark a dialogue on Islamophobia by having performers dressed as a rabbi, a minister, and a priest take turns flogging her while she writhes on a prayer rug wearing only a headscarf. Perhaps she’ll draw attention to inequality by turning up in a gallery wearing a costume made of dollar bills and having a snickering fellow done up like the Monopoly Man peel them off her. Maybe she’ll protest global warming by inviting us into an overheated studio to watch her sit on a melting block of ice in a G-string and pasties.
Speaking of identity, a few days ago I received the following text from one of my best friends Nick, who is gay: “Why haven’t you wished me happy pride month?!?!? Don’t you know my sexuality is my identity and everyone needs to know what I do with my dick!?! I’m a victim and you need to recognize this! Some friend you are…soooo how are you?”
It’s a great little piece of satire, and I LOL’d when I read it. Nick nailed how ironic self-identification can be; for some individuals, it’s more important for others to know who he is, than for him to know who he is.
The Trump Administration has won its war against CNN.
The giant cable news outlet pulled a story from its website that cited an anonymous source that said Senate investigators were examining a meeting between Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci and a Russian Direct Investment Fund executive. Scaramucci is the founder of SkyBridge Capital, which specializes in hedge fund investing, and served on the Trump transition team. Undeniable proof that Scaramucci is a Trump surrogate: when CNN pulled, and apologized for, the story, Scaramucci tweeted, “Everyone makes mistakes. Moving on.” Scaramucci is not as eloquent as the Tweeter-In-Chief, but his employment of the social media platform shows how intimately connected he and Trump are.
CNN and the MSM never met a Trump/Russia collusion story it didn’t love, no matter how tangential the link may be. Even the best journalists get things wrong from time to time, which can be due to an evolving story, inaccurate witnesses, lack of verification, etc. What’s surprising is that these three journalists resigned; MSM reporters and editors have superiority complexes who do not deign to report on the opposition with a modicum of objectivity, respect, dignity and/or the benefit of the doubt.
Stephen Battaglio of the Los Angeles Times has a hot/fresh take: “The site added that although the facts in the story were ‘not solid’ enough for publication, CNN has not said the story is false.”
OK, let’s be honest here. A reporter and two of his editors would not resign if this was just a case of a story not having strong enough sources or accidentally getting facts wrong, or some other benign incident. Journalists resign when it comes to light that they were reporting/writing in bad faith, by fabricating stories, and often the editorial board of a publication encourages the resignations so the media outlet itself is not implicated.
Battaglio again: “The swift investigation and departure of the three journalists is probably a sign that CNN wants to protect itself against allegations of ‘fake news’ from Trump and his supporters.” In an effort to circle the wagons, Battaglio winds up contradicting himself a bit. Trump and his bros have constantly accused CNN of disseminating “fake news” since before he was elected. CNN isn’t trying to avoid one more charge of fake news; they are making sure they don’t actually confirm that their editorial policy includes publishing stories that indulge their strain of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
And that’s the way it is, as far as you know.
Photos: Leila Ettachfini
This post was written by Dillon Eliassen.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.
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