Columbia student will carry her mattress until her rapist exits school
September 2, 2014
While most students at Columbia University will spend the first day of classes carrying backpacks and books, Emma Sulkowicz will start her semester on Tuesday with a far heavier burden. The senior plans on carrying an extra-long, twin-size mattress across the quad and through each New York City building – to every class, every day – until the man she says raped her moves off campus.
“I was raped in my own bed,” Sulkowicz told me the other day, as she was gearing up to head back to school in this, the year American colleges are finally, supposedly, ready to do something about sexual assault. “I could have taken my pillow, but I want people to see how it weighs down a person to be ignored by the school administration and harassed by police.”
Sulkowicz is one of three women who made complaints to Columbia against the same fellow senior, who was found “not responsible” in all three cases. She also filed a police report, but Sulkowicz was treated abysmally – by the cops, and by a Columbia disciplinary panel so uneducated about the scourge of campus violence that one panelist asked how it was possible to be anally raped without lubrication.
So Sulkowicz joined a federal complaint in April over Columbia’s mishandling of sexual misconduct cases, and she will will hoist that mattress on her shoulders as part savvy activism, part performance art. “The administration can end the piece, by expelling him,” she says, “or he can, by leaving campus.”
As painful as I know the constant reminder of attending school with her rapist must be, I’m glad she won’t be the only one forced to remember. I hope the rapist drops out immediately…or better yet, I hope he faces the justice he deserves.Where is the rapist’s information? why is his identity being withheld?
there are certain characters/families in the Harry Potter canon that are described as having fair or pale skin, the Potter line isn’t one of them. Harry and James both have canonically jet-black untidy hair but no canon ethnicity. Harry has “great skin”.
When spoken word artist Brenna Twohy tells you that she is an unabashed devotee of all things “Potterotica” — erotic fiction based in the magical universe of Harry Potter — your response probably shouldn’t be that her taste is “unrealistic.”
I’m happy to be getting to the point where I don’t have to feel weird about enjoying fanfiction, or having written a bunch of it. Partly it’s that the fandom experience has become more broadly shared. Partly it’s that I stopped giving a shit.
And as for why I like the porny sort of fanfiction, see above. She says it better.
I like sex with context. I like sex when it involves fully fleshed out characters. I like the backstories. I like feeling like these people do other things when they aren’t having sex.
to add to this. i feel uncomfortable when i DON’T know the backstory and context. how do i know participants in pornography are there by their choosing and not being coerced or other skeezy things? this is a large part of why i strongly prefer “erotica” over “porn.”
My experience as a mom, when my child came out as transgender:
This is an excerpt from my response to a message about how my child came out. It’s not How Things Are, or How Things Should Be, or How To Come Out, It’s just how it was for me….
I was raised in a very conservative Mormon western home, and brought up to believe that AIDS was a curse from God on the unbelieving sinning gay people. I actually kind of believed that. For real. Until I was almost eighteen. This is a shameful, ugly thing to look back on. Thank heavens for people who were willing to answer questions, or stand up, politely but insistently, for their belief in lgbt civil rights. So I am all about asking people questions and searching for info and personal experiences. It’s a method of learning that I rely on even now, to ask questions about personal experience.
First of all, I’m sorry, but this won’t be short. So maybe get a snack or have a pee first? (is your homework done? did you wash your hands? ha. sort of.)
I thought my affirmed female at birth child was maybe a lesbian.. I thought that from the time they were about fifteen to about eighteen. Except I noticed that girls didn’t really, truly ring his bell, and he made comments occasionally about cute boys. He had/has a close knit group of girl friends, and I thought, is it more than friendship with some of them? Because it seemed like the dynamic between the girls and my kiddo was just…I dunno. It seemed like there was an unspoken vibe that I wasn’t privy to.
I told both of my teens again and again, when they were children, later as teens, that sexuality was complicated and the world needed more love, not less, and that I would never judge them or kick them out or ask them to change, if they affirmed lgbt.(I had a complete change of heart from my hateful upbringing when I was first pregnant). And they’d both laugh, and say, oh mom, I’m not gay, and I’d say, well, ok, just putting the info out there. At this point in time it was about three years ago and I knew almost next to nothing about trans people. I thought trans=drag queens, and my thought process stopped there. I didn’t know anyone like Janet Mock or Laverne Cox, I didn’t know the difference between sexuality and gender, I had no idea there was a spectrum, or about the ‘QIA’ part of lgbtqia. I was just trying really hard NOT to be my parents, or echo any destructive aspects of my religious upbringing. The hell of it is: I thought I was past any bigotry or prejudice, that I had grown and evolved and I was totally open and accepting and a wonderful ally.
My trans son had/has some rather severe depression for a while now. He was a happy baby, a delightful child, adored by everyone, loved by everyone, and then when he went through puberty, he changed. There was body hatred that seemed extreme. It seems like all tweens go through a stage of “Oh my god, my body is out of control, it’s betrayed me,” and they dress grubby, and hate showering, and are moody little bastards, but it’s developmentally normal. This particular depression and body dysphoria was intense, and didn’t go away. My kid and his friends were the group of kids in HS that read too much (no such thing as reading too much, but it can make life harder in hs) and loved manga and quirky shows, and they all had short hair waaaay before it was cool or in for girls to have short hair…they kind of kept to themselves. I’m sure you know kids like that. Maybe you’re like that. High school isn’t a great good time for this type of kid. They’re too smart and too sensitive and too genuinely unique, and they cope with HS by staying on the side, under the radar. Anyway, I thought, well, we have pretty rotten depression in both sides of the family, especially when we’re younger, so this is probably just what it is.
I got my kid in with a therapist and on anti-depressants, and the antidepressants caused significant memory loss and mood swings, and he hated the therapist. So I said, YOU find a therapist you like, cause you hate the one I spent weeks researching. They did, and they went, and they seemed to like the therapist. They went for A YEAR without telling me that, no this wasn’t a run of the mill therapist for depression, but a sex therapist specializing in gender issues. It’s unbelievable to me that I didn’t check out the doctor, because I always check out everyone in my kids lives, like too much, my kids complain about it, but we were in the middle of a cross country move, and I was overwhelmed and tired (I’ve got lupus, and moving is just not easy for me. It kicks my ass for at least a year after a move). Not a great excuse for being so obtuse, but there it is.
One day, my son said, mom, my therapist wants to meet with you and me both, and I thought, ok, it’s a session to tell me what my kid hates about me, or a session to review meds/progress, or whatever. He had been going for a year. When we got to the office, we chatted small talk stuff, and fifteen minutes later, the therapist said, so, what was it you wanted to tell your mom? And my kid burst into tears. I was alarmed like damn, because this kid always keeps his emotions close to the vest, has always been concerned with keeping a low profile, emotionally. After about ten minutes of weeping, my kid said, mom, I’m transgender. And I said, “What’s that, then?” And the therapist stared at me while my kid explained, and I later interrupted by saying “Ooooh, you’re NOT a normal therapist?” while the therapist looked at me, justifiably, like I was The Village Idiot.
So there was a lot of on the cuff, half assed educating and explaining, with me going, “Huh, really?” every few minutes, for the rest of the hour. I told my kid that our family didn’t work without them, and I loved them, and we left.
I then didn’t talk about it for about six months. I wasn’t angry, or unbelieving, or judging, I was grieving. I felt like I’d been told that my child had cancer, or something. I really LOVED having two daughters. I loved everything about it. When people would bitch about raising girls, I thought, you’re an idiot. I didn’t want to lose my child, and it felt like that’s exactly what would happen. My kid’s father is financially supportive, but not super involved; I’ve been a single mother for a long time, and single moms and their kids are unusually close. Maybe you already know this. Especially when things are financially rough; it makes for a tight little family. I felt like one third of the family was leaving, that my daughter was leaving me, and I was heartbroken. I couldn’t ask questions because I would start to cry, and I’d have to turn around and cough, or start doing something else, to cover.
This probably sounds ridiculous, especially to a younger person, because you younger kids are all so much smarter, and more sophisticated, and accepting. But I was genuinely wrecked. I wrote about it, I think it’s my first post on the I Love My Transgender Child tumblr. It didn’t feel like a child had come out to me, it felt brutal and horrible. I was shocked by the talk about surgery and hormones, about dressing differently, about the violence and criminal acts that are perpetuated against trans people….I just couldn’t handle any of it, so I put my head in the sand for a long time. I know my kid was hurt by this. I know the questions and concerns I brought up, when I finally started asking, hurt them. When I did look online, I only really noticed the negative stuff. There’s a group of trans people out there called The Regretters, or somesuch, and they’re people who are upset they had sex reassignment surgery. It’s a small group, but because they’re mostly older, I thought, well, they’d know better than my kid would, about a lifetime of regrets or bad choices. Stuff like this just didn’t help at all, obviously.
I have a lot to feel ashamed about, when I look back. However, one of the things I’m genuinely still irritated about is that the therapist let me walk out of there without giving me any educational packets or phone numbers or other resources. When I finally stopped looking for negative stuff, it took a while to find people and resources on my own. I feel strongly that parents and other family and friends should be given tangible, like on paper, or email, lists of educational information and websites and support groups. I think it would ease the way if you maybe put together a list of answers to possible questions, for you to refer to when/if you come out, and I think that list should maybe include a list of support groups, etc. It could be a comfort for you and your anxiety, as well as invaluable in educating and reassuring your mom. Because it sounds like she’s open minded, but the transgender issues are a little more intense and complex than the rest of the gay/lesbian/bi concerns. Surgery is not nothing; especially when it’s your CHILD. Hormones are powerful and life changing. There are justifiable worries about your child’s safety, because we live in a world with evil motherfuckers. I mean, one of my first thoughts after my kid came out was: I’ve got to buy them a gun. I still sort of feel like that, which throws me into cognitive dissonance, because I’m normally so anti-gun. There are legal concerns, like name changing, etc. It’s just so different than the normal PFLAG stuff. Trans people are absolutely part of the rainbow, so to speak, but the definition of Pride needs a little more inclusiveness and work, if you ask me.
Education and the internet will be your friend. There’s a group called TYFA (trans youth family allies); they’ve been a lifeline for me. I emailed them and said, hey, I’m not handling things so well, and someone called me and talked to me for hours, giving me practical info, legal info, emotional support, etc. There are two different message board sites for parents, one for under eighteen kids, one for over. I will try to put together a list of supportive sites and resources on my main tumblr and the trans one, in the next while. It might take a few weeks, though, because I’m in the middle of another move and job search. I’d be happy to list that though, because god knows it saved me. I think that some of those sites even have tips for coming out as trans, and answers to questions some parents might have.
It’s important to remember that parental concern is not the same as parental rejection. Your mom has co-signed on your life, she’s invested in your safety and welfare, not just your goals and so on. Mom-worry isn’t like other types of worry. It’s intense. It can seem like it’s about you, when really it’s about the mom being scared. It’s possible you know your mom so well that you might be able to anticipate some of her concerns, which gives you a chance to plan and prepare for them.
I am still so scared about possible violence that could be visited upon my child. My trans son is short, and slender, and undeniably pretty. He has shoulder length blonde hair, and bee-stung lips, and long eyelashes, and big, brown eyes, and he will be pretty, no matter what gender he affirms as. He’s just one of life’s Pretty Boys. He wants top surgery, and a hysterectomy, but doesn’t want bottom surgery until it’s a lot more advanced, and won’t do T because of certain health concerns (my side of the family have Immune Issues, to put it mildly).
He will never, ever look like an average Joe. Even if he was more invested in passing, he wouldn’t be able to be not-pretty, or bigger, or macho-mannish. Fortunately for him, we live in a global and online world, where there are a lot of different types of people, and different standards of gender and attractiveness, and people are more and more educated and open every day. The internet is a wonderful thing, no? But even so, it is so, so hard to hear stories about trans people being hurt, or targeted, or to read misinformation, or propaganda, or just plain insane bullshit by people like that woman on tv with the twentymillion children who equated trans people to pedos (even though she’s almost as literally as dumb as a box of hair, there are people who listen to her, amazing as that seems). Try to remember again, mom-fear, mom-worry, is not the same thing as rejection of you or your coming out. Try not to get emotional if your mom is getting emotional. It’s easier to say that, than to do it, but it can help with potentially volatile discussions if one party stays calm (or calmer).
There’s a part of me that wants to drink the blood of anyone who even looks at my baby the wrong way. I think most moms are like this, to some degree. Everyone thinks the dads are the big, violent protectors, when most of the dads I know are a lot easier going than the moms who would happily rip out someone’s throat with their teeth, if they thought it would protect their child. This part of me is not something my kids adore. They don’t really understand it, but it’s not their job to understand it. It’s their job to do everything I say without questions. Ha. As if. My kids have needed legal briefs and documented precedences and the history of the world before they’ve ever done anything I’ve asked them to do. Almost from birth, they’ve been this ornery.
Try to be as open as you feel safe in being, try to answer questions, if you feel up to it, try to remember that it is a process and a journey; that any disappointments that you might have in your mom right now, or right after coming out (if you do), might dissipate and go away as your parent grows and learns. I personally don’t think you have to come out if you don’t want to, or if you don’t feel ok in doing so. I’m a big believer in keeping the kids safe, first and above all. There are a lot of lgbt and especially trans kids who aren’t safe coming out, and some who have become homeless after doing so. It sounds like your mom is already on the road to acceptance, because of the lesbian thing, but I thought I’d just say that anyway.
A supportive parent can be like a secret weapon. Someone who is an educated ally, who loves you unconditionally, who wants the world for you and is willing to fight to get it…that person can make a huge difference in the quality of your life, can get you through some rough spots, can make victory that much sweeter. So even though it’s terrifying to come out, especially as trans, because the trans movement is at least twenty years behind the gay/lesbian civil rights movement, it can be one of the best things you’ll ever do. Remember that education is your friend and that there are a lot of parents of trans kids who are delighted to welcome other parents into their fold, to answer questions or just be there for your mom.
I don’t feel like I’ve lost a daughter anymore. I feel like I finally KNOW my child, after years of standing on the outside and looking in and thinking, what’s going on with you? I’ve finally realized that a child is a child, regardless of gender, that not having any experience with a boy child is not the same as not wanting one. My kid is the same warm, patient, smart, funny, wonderful person that they’ve always been, there have been no losses, only gains. I am blessed with this child. I don’t deserve them, but by god I’m gonna keep them.
You’re welcome to ask anything else you want. I hope you’re ok. Be safe. Good luck. :)