Emma Sulkowicz made it clear on Tuesday at Columbia University's graduation ceremony that, by carrying a mattress to the stage, her "Carry That Weight" performance art-as-protest against campus sexual assault would continue to the bitter end. And just as quickly, a Twitter account with the handle "Fake Rape" went up, and fliers in New York with her face that said "Pretty Little Liar" went up, reported Gothamist.
Sulkowicz alleges that during her sophomore year at Columbia, she was sexually assaulted in her dorm by classmate Paul Nungesser, who has denied her allegations. She maintains that she was too traumatized to report it right away, but when she met two other women who said they’d been assaulted by the same person, she reported it to Columbia. All three cases were dismissed by Columbia in what Sulkowicz claims were deeply flawed hearings.
She started her senior thesis art project, “Mattress Performance or Carry That Weight,” in September 2014, and carried a twin-size dorm mattress everywhere she went on campus to signify the weight of the rape she carries with her everywhere. She had said that she would carry it everywhere she went on campus, as long as her rapist was still there. Nungesser was at the graduation ceremony.
Carrying her mattress on stage for graduation didn't go over too well with officials at Columbia University. "President Lee C. Bollinger turned away as she crossed in front of him, failing to shake her hand, as he did with the other graduates," reported the New York Times.
Actress Lena Dunham, who has had her own struggles as a woman who discussed her own rape on campus in her memoir "Not That Kind of Girl," showed her support for Sulkowicz after viewing the fliers attacking Sulkowicz -- and by extension, other women who have accused men of rape and who have been doubted.
Dear Emma, anyone who wants can call us anything they want, but you helped me to stand in my skin & I am so grateful: http://t.co/2H6dBzN6BX
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) May 21, 2015