Tag Archives: Rape

Art Student Resorts to Carrying Around a Mattress to Draw Attention to her Ignored Rape


Emma Sulkowicz is walking around Columbia University campus with a mattress on her back. She’s an art student there, and Carry That Weight is a performance piece. What looks, without context, kinda funny (I immediately thought of this guy), is a actually a highly charged protest piece. The mattress carries the extra weight of Sulkowicz’s injustice and suffering.

Emma Sulkowicz says she was raped in her own dorm room bed by a classmate. Since then, she’s spent a substantial amount of time at her University trying to convince staff and peers that it actually happened to her, and that her rapist therefore deserves to be punished for his crime. Instead of expelling the rapist and allowing Sulkowicz to move on her with life the best she can, Columbia University totally ignored Sulkowicz, along with two other students at Columbia University who have reported the same assault. Their claims were swept under the rug and the alleged rapist is still allowed to roam freely on the campus as though nothing ever happened. Columbia University dealt with the allegations so flippantly, that in April Sulkowicz and 22 other students filed a  federal Title IX complaint filed against the University for mishandling sexual-assault cases.

In short: Sulkowicz lives in constant fear of harassment, because the man that raped her could be queuing up behind her to buy a can of Coke between classes. He could also walk into her room and rape her again. What’s really problematic – obviously apart from the act of the rape itself, and the high chance that it could happen again – are the lengths that Sulkowicz is now going to, to try bring her rapist to justice. It’s similar to charities having to resort to celebrity-endorsed social media campaigns to raise some money for people of dying of a disease. People are only going to give a shit if it comes up in their news feeds.

Sulkowicz has committed to carrying around a twin-size dorm mattress everywhere she goes on campus, to classes and appointments, for as long as her rapist it allowed to attend Columbia University. “I was raped in my own dorm bed, and since then that space has become fraught for me,” she says in a video about the piece published by the Columbia Spectator. “And I feel like I’ve carried the weight of what happened there with me everywhere since then.”

Women are afraid of speaking out in case nobody believes them. We assure them that if they do, then justice will ensue. Emma Sulkowicz, as well as carrying the burden of being raped, is now carrying a fucking mattress around so that someone will listen to her. What kind of message does this performance deliver to women around the world? This performance should never have to had to happen. Rape victims will keep their mouths shut. They’ll carry the weight on their backs too. Columbia University: Listen to Emma Sulkowicz. Take her allegations seriously. Take that mattress off her back before she cripples under the weight.

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ONE BILLION RISING. Rape culture has got to stop by Ruth-Eloise Lewis

Sometimes it’s easy to live in a bubble. You wake up, you get on with your day and the cycle spurs and spurns you on. I find that as every twenty-four hours pass by, the bubble sucks you in and keeps you contained.
Not long ago, six men held a 23-year-old woman and her male friend in a bus for hours in Dehli. They assaulted her so brutally that her intestines were removed as they tortured her with a rusty metal rod. After several surgeries to attempt to repair her insides, she sadly died. Sometimes it’s easy to live in a bubble. Sometimes that bubble has to burst.
The fact is that I felt anxious writing this article. What if I didn’t get all the facts right? Who am I, as a white middle-class woman, to write about the situation in India? I’ve never been to India. My judgment is surely just founded on what has been trickled down through the Western media, perpetuated and distorted. But let’s scrap that. I’d rather be speaking than silent. That way, discussion can get circulating and anyone can correct me if I’m wrong. On a humanist level, it’s impossible to ignore what is happening in the world. And let’s take a look at some hard facts: in Delhi, of 635 rape cases reported in the first 11 months of last year, only one ended in conviction. These issues should not automatically be unimportant because they are not close to home. And yet, this flux of sexual violence is not just apparent in India; let’s think about Jimmy Saville abusing hundreds of girls under the passive nose of the BBC, let’s not forget how women in the US military are being raped by their comrades, let’s take a moment to reflect about a group of boys allegedly raping a girl in Steubenville, Ohio. So what on earth is going on?

According to the activist Eve Ensler,

“There is a rape culture – a mindset that seems to have infected every aspect of our lives: the raping of the Earth through ecological destruction by the corporate powerful, pillaging resources for their own coffers with no concern for the Earth, or the indigenous peoples, or the notion of reciprocity; the rape of the poor through exploitation, land grabs, neglect; the rape of women’s bodies through physical violence and commodification, where a girl can be purchased for less than the cost of a mobile phone. The modelling and licensing of this rape culture is done by those protected by power and privilege – presidents, celebrities, sports stars, police officers, television executives, priests – with impunity.”

However, Ensler is aiming to create a direct uprising against this epidemic. On February the 14th the global campaign One Billion Rising will speak out for the one billion women who have been beaten or raped. Across 182 countries, communities are planning to rise, dance and speak their minds; becoming a part of what the Indian activist Kamla Bhasin calls a “feminist tsunami”:

“Now is the time. 14 February. Rise in the streets, in the schools, on the buses, in your homes, in the dark alleyways, in the offices and factories and fishing boats and fields. Let our rising reveal our understanding that, until women are equal, safe and free, no society can prosper and life is diminished. Let our rising announce our commitment to make ending violence against women and girls the central concern of our times.”

Others have responded to the horrors in India in different modes, aiming to disseminate the way we think about women and the effect this has on culture. Aswini Aswini Anburajan writes at Buzzfeed that much of India still imagines that the violation she endured was one against her chastity. The old myth about rape that a face is face with a depilating and overwhelming urge to possess a woman is still present; this is a degrading stand to both men and women, posing all men as sexual predators without any emotions or control. There are many commentaries that expose India’s culture of street violence against women, a violence that instills fear into women’s daily lives. And as they walk down the street, they feel every pore of their bodies being watched, analyzed and examined. This violence is all about threat and boundaries. Women are made to feel demoralized when they cross certain boundaries that others feel should not be crossed; the traditional boundary of role as a mother and a wife, the boundary of the home which they are bound too. The street, a space of modernist capitalist culture dominated by patriarchal systems, operates as a site of masculine inclusion. When women step into this bounded space, they become a target of anger. They are out of place. An anomaly. An aggregate.

At CNN Opinion, Lauren Wolfe writes that women are rising up against this brutal street harassment other parts of the world such as Egypt and Somalia. The terror women feel in India, and indeed, in many parts of the world can no longer be tolerated. You wake up, you get on with your day and the cycle spurs and spurns you on. On February the 14th, there is the potential to do something with that day. There is the possibility to take your bubble, your privilege and your fortune and to rise up with women from all over the world. Let our rising announce our commitment to make ending violence against women and girls the central concern of our times.

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The Invisible War #NotInvisible

The documentary The Invisible War is not exactly what you would call easy viewing. Sitting down with my friend on a lazy hungover day, popcorn and daily milk ready- well, we knew we weren’t in for a fun-filled ride exactly. But, I don’t think we quite prepared ourselves for the raw shock of what we were about to see. Firstly, I’d urge everyone to see this if they have half the chance. Screen it, share it, even bloody stream it from the internet…  it needs to be seen to be believed.

The Invisible War is the film about how in the US Military today, a woman serving  is more likely to be raped by a fellow service member than to be killed in the line of fire. This is the army for the supposed leaders of the free world. I have no other words apart from what. the. actual. fuck.

And here are some more hard facts just to emphasize how bad it really all is, despite the “Zero Tolerance Policy” claimed by the Department of Defense-

  • Since 2006, more than 95,000 service members have been sexually assaulted in the U.S. military
  • More than 86% of service members do not report their assault
  • Less than five percent of all sexual assaults are put forward for prosecution, and less than a third of those cases result in imprisonment

Yet, despite all the numbers and figures what really resonated with me from the film was the stories of the victims. One poor lady was assaulted so bad that her jaw broke. She can’t even go outside and play with her daughter if it’s too cold in case it freezes.  One woman thought that hanging herself from a flag point would finally prove a point and make her voice be heard. They all went in to the army which such hope for the future, they all had their lives totally ripped apart.

We became so angry watching this that we were screaming at the screen, enraged.  The documentary also included interviews with high-ranking military officials and members of Congress . One of these spoke about the publicity plans for “rape prevention.” This followed a classic victim-blaming approach, urging the women to never be walking alone without a “buddy.” No one single word about how you know, it would be a good idea to teach humanity that raping people and breaking their sense of selves down to a pulp is, you know, a despicably awful unthinkable thing to do? No?

And it isn’t  just women , one percent of men in the military— nearly 20,000 men —were reportedly sexually assaulted in 2009.

And while rape victims in the civilian world can turn to an impartial police force and judicial system for help , rape victims in the military must turn to their commanders.  Many rape victims find themselves forced to choose between their careers and justice. Just eight percent of military sexual assault cases are prosecuted. Without prosecutions, it will just keep happening again and again and again.

Please, please take the time out to watch this film. It may not be pretty, but it is real and it is happening.  Have the popcorn, chocolate and tissues ready and then take action by signing this petition:



Raise awareness, sign and share.  This has gone on far too long.


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Unilad, Kenneth Clarke and Michael Sanguinetti: Bring on the “Banter” Backlash! by Susie Taylor

It has been less than twelve months since Michael Sanguinetti told a group of high school students “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised”. Have we learnt anything from this? Or from the backlash that he suffered after? Good came out of the ignorant policeman’s comment and that was Slutwalk, an attempt by strong, confident and intelligent women to reclaim a word placed on our gender by a patriarchal society and to make sure that same society is aware that blame should be placed on the rapist and not the victims.

I asked several men what they thought of Slutwalk and the comments that had caused it. Two men of an older generation believed to an extent that if you’re walking home in a dangerous area, you might be hassled more if you’re in a short skirt. I do get yelled at more when I’m walking into town for drinks in a body con dress than I do in dirty jeans and a parka. However, these were not the comments Michael Sanguinetti made. He was not talking about a few wolf whistles or a guy who grabs you in a club. He was talking about men who will force themselves on an innocent woman and scar them for life, both physically and emotionally. His comment is an affront to all as he is negating the responsibility of the rapist with the implied “he couldn’t help himself” argument and suggesting that all men have not evolved past our early days as cave dwellers and that they are still simple primal beings that have to have sex with anything that is wearing a short skirt whether the woman consents or not.

This is my main problem not only with Sanguinetti’s comments but also with the website Unilad. They both made heinous remarks about rape, but for different motives. Sanguinetti believed he was giving sound advice on how to protect yourself even though the comments were stupid, misinformed and wrongly put. Unilad however is branding their comments as humour or more commonly known in their world as “banter” and their reply to every intelligent person who objects to their comments is that person is a dyke or a man with a tiny penis who no woman wants to fuck/pussywhipped. These are just some of the gems I found on the comment section of Unilad’s belated apology. So have we really become a better society in England in the last 50 years?

And my answer is that we have not progressed as much as we’d like to think. We’re arrogant in England. We believe that we are part of the civilized world; we can look down on other countries and their customs but look at us over the last year. Our Secretary of State for Justice Kenneth Clarke made the comment distinguishing certain “types” of rape claiming that some were more “serious” than others during a live interview with a caller at BBC Radio 5. When complaints rolled in he clarified and said he’d mistaken date rape for statutory rape (that is sex with a consenting partner but one who is under age thereby negating their decision). So despite the fact he did not even apologise for his comments he also admitted to not being well enough informed on such a problematic topic. And this coming from a man who used to be a QC and is now one of the highest members of Parliament is terrifying to me. He is the one who is supposed to be standing up and protecting the victims of this crime that in a 2007 government survey in the UK was discovered that anywhere between 75 and 95% of go unreported.

And now back to our main target; Unilad, who came up with this:

“If the girl you’ve taken for a drink… won’t ‘spread for your head’, think about this mathematical statistic: 85% of rape cases go unreported. That seems to be fairly good odds. Uni Lad does not condone rape without saying ‘surprise’.”

Now here’s a game if you care to make this an interactive article, how many times can you be offended when reading these comments? I can find six possibilities, I win! I recently took part in a survey that wanted to assess jury’s views of rape victims depending on whether the victim was drinking, was a university student, knew their attacker, victim’s sexual experience and even physical attractiveness. And shockingly all of these were factors in a jury’s decision as told in a psychological study by Hubert S. Field in 1979. And isn’t this what Unilad is partly doing with their comments? Continuing these stupid stereotypes and notions that perhaps is what makes it difficult for victims to report the crime and difficult for justice to happen. So what if a man takes you out for a drink, he’s buying you a 25ml shot of alcohol mixed with some lemonade and that’s supposed to make us what, swoon? Allow them to engage in an activity that let’s face it, they might not be that great at? Excellent so £2.50 will now, according to Unilad, buy a guy a fake orgasm. And not only condoning forcing yourself onto a woman who could be intoxicated but also giving them an out for a crime that is already difficult to convict. Excellent, I’m glad that a university education can teach you all you like about your specialist subject in History or Maths but there doesn’t seem to be a mandatory class in common decency and the difference between a yes and a no that by the sounds of this is necessary.

And here’s where I get into trouble. I can read everything out there and come up with an argument as to why our Secretary of Justice should have probably resigned once he realised that he was failing to protect half of his nation. However after I decided to read actual survivor’s stories all logical arguments go out of the window and I just feel a bit sad. I can’t understand how a group of well-educated people from our generation, one that is supposedly liberal and progressive, can hide behind this notion of “banter” and make statements that are so obviously offensive. However it is not only this one upman-ship game of “banter” that worries me, it is more that we are desensitising the generation that can start doing something. By making these jokes, by perpetuating this myth of the girl who either deserves to be raped or of the frigid girl we are making it easier for that 89% to remain a nameless, faceless statistic, we are pushing it under the carpet and making rape which is a crime that affects it’s victims for the rest of their lives even if they survive their attack, something that is not considered that serious or one that someone else will solve. This is not just worrying, it is dangerous, especially when one considers that in 2006 one in every 200 women in the UK was a victim of rape or attempted rape and in that same year only 800 people were convicted of rape.

The backlash towards Unilad, Kenneth Clarke and Michael Sanguinetti is brilliant. It just goes to show that there’s a huge collection of voices who are outraged at these kind of statistics and these kind of comments. However it is the fact that we have not educated all of our society in the ideas of equality, justice and just plain decency yet that is what’s truly offensive about all the comments made. We can’t just say we’ve progressed, we need to make sure that we educate this generation and the next one in that the Unilad culture where women are not people but rather simply fit into the categories of sluts or frigid, and men are either those who can have sex with a woman or can’t, is just pathetically backwards. Gloria Steinem said that the “first problem is to…unlearn” and that is true here, we need to unlearn the meanings to these words used in society to keep victims schtum and the “banter” flowing so I’ve left you with an example;




1.   A beautiful, confident, sexually liberated woman who does not care about breaking taboos, who stands up for herself and who wears whatever the damn hell she pleases

finally grab it back from the pathetic aspects of our society who says we ask for rape, nay deserve it and hopefully that 89% will decrease as it should. We need to start punishing all aspects of society for perpetrating this myth and changing it.


Susie Taylor

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10 Top Tips to End Rape

So this week, Eamonn Holmes made some charmingly offensive comments in the face of a rape victim, advising all women to “take taxis” in order to avoid being attacked. Casual victim-blaming strikes once again. Here are 10 other top tips Eamonn could have also mentioned in order to prevent further violent and brutal attacks… 





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“I Love Rape” Graffiti in the Park

Walking through the park today, I stumbled upon this poster. Around the city, blank ‘I <3' posters have been placed everywhere, most probably promoting a student club night. On several posters, innocent comments have been scribbled underneath such as names of people, music nights and bands. However, some lovely person had decided to write ‘RAPE’ underneath one of these hearts. “I Love Rape”… really? Is that something we will allow to be advertised on our billboards, in a public space in which children and families walk through daily? In response, another person has scribbled over the word and wrote in bold, black letters ‘”fuck sexism”. Whilst I am not sure “fuck sexism” is an adequate response, or even if we can classify rape on any level as “sexism’, I think it is crucial to repute this concept that rape is something to laugh and joke about. This week issues surrounding rape, and namely Ken Clarke’s hideous comments about the classification of rape alongside organisations for the closely approaching Slutwalk march, have been fiercely debated. I, for one, felt a small sense of triumph when I saw this small act of defiance, a clear refusal to allow the acceptance of rape in our culture.

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Cheerleader must compensate school that told her to clap ‘rapist’

This article really opened my eyes, making me realize that the world really is full of double standards.  It shows how people are prepared to put pride and status before basic human rights. No, we will not clap and chant and encourage sexually violent behaviour in any way. Does this girl not deserve the right to keep a dignified silence after her ordeal? Apparently not in 2011.



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