“Mattress Girl” Emma Sulkowicz Goes Off The Deep End

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"Mattress Girl" Emma Sulkowicz is now THE dominant narrative, rather than 'a' victim.

Image via Wikipedia.

A few days ago, I was Googling around to find some information on the Emma Sulkowicz (“Mattress Girl”) rape case when I realized that the first result referred to a sex video. Now, I already thought she was psychotic, and entitled, and selfish, and that- despite the overwhelming evidence of Paul Nungesser’s innocence- I’d always be in the liberal minority for such views. Yet if I had even a phantom of a doubt re: Mattress Girl’s inner troubles, it was lifted when she decided to make this video and pass it off as something other than what it is: a re-renewal of the attention she’s craved for well over a year now, waning ever since the two students graduated and went separate ways.

Officially, I guess, the video is called an “art work,” but let’s be real. It’s nothing more than a sex tape. Adding a little history to it- as well as a pinch of psychosis- does nothing to change the fundamentals of what happens when you sit down, push a button, and wait for the pixels to light up. In short, look at it for what’s on screen rather than what you wish to project upon it- what isn’t there. There are 4 frames to show a series of sex acts (some of them violent) filmed from 4 different angles, with a French title- Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol– meant to obscure the hollowness of the actual ‘film’. It’s ridiculous that I even have to argue such a point, but this is little more than a reflection of what people deem to be serious.

It gets worse. The video was time-stamped 8/12/2012 (the date of the alleged rape) to ‘deepen’ her original claims, as well as further needle Paul Nungesser. Of course, given that Nungesser has a lawsuit pending for his gross mis-treatment, the date was promptly removed during a several-hour stretch that Sulkowicz claims was a hacking attack on her website. More likely, however, Sulkowicz wanted to retain whatever bit of plausible deniability that she has left. For the facts of the case have not changed:

1. Paul Nungesser was accused of rape many months after the alleged incident.

2. Nungesser and Sulkowicz continued to exchange pleasantries- including flirtations- into the winter.

3. The accusation came AFTER enough months had passed to ‘establish’ an odd case re: Nungesser’s character. “Josie” claimed he tried to kiss and grope her without permission– then sent fun, sexual e-mails to him later, mirroring Sulkwociz’s own behavior. “Natalie” more or less claimed he was a bad boyfriend rather than abusive– yet had just come out of an abusive relationship, herself, was suffering from depression, and still agreed to meet up/make plans after their breakup.

4. Columbia investigates Nungesser and finds nothing- even though an investigator admitted to really wanting to find fault with him, only to conclude that Sulkowicz was lying.

5. The police might have investigated, but Sulkowicz declined due to the emotional battery of having to re-live the rape via invasive questions.

6. Not satisfied with a fair investigation, nor wishing to get any other impartial parties involved, she decided to carry around a mattress as a performance-piece (“Carry That Weight“) designed to bully Nungesser out of Columbia. In short, fuck the investigation- fuck pressing charges- she wants the guy expelled, anyway, to pacify her against Columbia’s own policies. As for Columbia? They’re frightened of the media, and therefore get themselves into a legal pickle by allowing- encouraging, in fact- the girl to continue shaming Nungesser by accepting things that are not.

7. After months of quiet, she gets over (I guess) the alleged rape, and wishes to record herself getting plowed by an obese man with a violent streak to make a ‘point’. How odd- I guess answering the police questions was potentially more damaging than re-living (and recording) your own abuse?

And THIS is why Sulkowicz is so ‘controversial’. All the Men’s Rights Activist claims re: men getting falsely accused of rape are quite obnoxious, to me, but it obviously does happen. This is probably one of those cases, boosting the parasitism of MRA, on the one hand, and turning regular men into little kids seething with resentment on the other. The point is, they’ve got REASON to be angry. I mean- if official exoneration ain’t enough; if ridiculous inconsistencies don’t qualify; if refusal to cooperate with authorities isn’t a red flag; if starring in your own ‘look-at-me’ porno is ‘brave’ rather than narcissistic, then what do regular men- mediocre men- have to offer women, since nothing of them is really desired? Or so the narrative goes, replete with the tangents that will come to be accepted as part of ‘rape culture’.

As for Mattress Girl’s cinematic reception? Here’s a few commentators from the God-awful Jezebel website:


I think what is interesting about this internet installation (or whatever) is that it forcibly blurs the distinctions between the private space of artistic experience and the public realities of political expression. Everyone recognized that Carry That Weight was inherently political and social in nature — it aimed at revealing systemic problems in the way that people relate to each other. It did so, however, purely performatively. People would look at Emma, either in her presence or via photographs, and respond in their own private way. Here, by making it a website, people have to chose to watch it. They are no longer passive spectators like they were to CTW. To even experience this work is to actually partake in the processes of victimization and objectification that CTW was trying to point out. It’s almost as if the “topic” of CTW has been turned into the process of watching, made inseparable from the artwork itself. The private space of artistic experience is invaded by the politics of gender.Having said that, I’m not precisely sure how coherent the whole thing is.


There’s a long history of rape imagery and violence in the history of art, particularly the feminist performance art that she seems to be tapping into (I think of Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece in which the issues of violence, consent, and spectacle are simultaneously meshed and deconstructed). If anything Sulkowicz’s work strikes me as interesting because it revisits those theme, largely abandoned by the visual arts abandoned sometime in the 1980s, and she treats them in these deeply conflicted ways. It certainly makes it hard to watch—which it should be—but there’s a empathy and intelligence in her work that I find compelling.

Anyway, I wrote about Carry That Weight and feminist performance art last year and I still think that that piece – and this one which is thematically linked – is a radical look at consent, both what it means in the history of art (who has the right to look at/to create a body) and in our day to day lives. I look forward to seeing where her work goes in the future.


I’m really conflicted here.

On the one hand, this is misguided, sophomoric, exploitative and narcissistic. The kind of exhibitionistic stunt with pretensions to art that you might expect of someone who’s not very mature for her age.

On the other hand, she’s a survivor, so we need to support her, understand the trauma and confusion that assault triggers and respect her choice to tell her truth in the manner she deems most fitting.

On the third hand, she seems to be developing a disconcerting pattern of drawing public attention to her vagina 24/7.

On the fourth hand, it’s her vagina and she can draw as much attention to it as she wants as long as it’s on her terms.

On the fifth hand, this will probably lead even reasonably-minded people to question her judgement and sincerity, if not her mental stability, and cast doubt on her accusations, thereby hurting the cause.

On the sixth hand, fuck worrying about how anyone is going to shame-and-blame a survivor for her choices. We’ve been worrying about that shit forever and it hasn’t exactly helped the cause.

On the seventh hand, wtf?

And there it is, folks- 3 people discussing art that don’t give a damn about art, but merely the recycling process- into something dumb, silly, unrecognizable, useless. Notice how that last commentator is struggling with his own good sense- that this IS narcissistic, and exploitative, and crass, yet turns around- MUST turn around- simply because it’s what’s expected. Simply because Emma Sulkowicz is now the dominant narrative, rather than ‘a’ victim.

14 Comments “Mattress Girl” Emma Sulkowicz Goes Off The Deep End

    1. Keith


      The shit with the male accuser is very odd. With the two women, you can at least glean a pattern of behavior of him seemingly enjoying being a little rough with women – holding the girlfriend’s arms down during sex, drunkenly kissing a girl against her will and seemingly trying to hold her in place. Neither of these is a slam dunk, especially legally but not even colloquially – it doesn’t seem clear that Nungesser would have been aware of his actions’ effects on the girl, and there’s a pretty big gulf between being a drunken pig for a moment and breaking into a beatdown mid-coitus – but they at least comprise a particular pattern of behavior. The male friend, though, alleges that Nungesser just held him down and rubbed his crotch, seemingly out of nowhere. What? This part makes very little sense to me.

    2. Alex SheremetAlex Sheremet

      Jesus Christ. All of her kinks are now data.

      Re: Sulkowicz’s line of questioning at Columbia– I’ve read sources where she complained about the questions, even as others insisted they were perfectly normal, respectful, and comprehensive.

      Also, the Daily Beast article from February claims that she refused to pursue charges because they’d be “too draining.” And I’ve seen interviews where she was unhappy with the police procedure, anyway, and said No.

      The MRA’s went nuts over this shit, and I could see why. I’m doing an essay on Reddit’s “The Red Pill” to get into these exotic mindsets– as well as their enemies, who can be just as exotic.

      Thanks for the link.

  1. Keith

    Good piece.

    This is sort of like the anti-Cosby case. In that instance, you had, what, 30+ women from every era of his life come forward and relate the same basic claims re: his actions against him? Yet even then, there were those who chose to hold on to the slim, slim possibility that what we were seeing was just one liar triggering a cascade of dozens of copycat liars, rather than the (probably exponentially) more likely scenario that he was just a piece of shit who’d hid behind money and a squeaky-clean public image.

    In this case, you have a series of odd inconsistencies that, in any other case, would lead people to believe that the claimant was either exaggerating or outright lying, yet still, people glom onto the unlikelier scenario because it matches up with the way they would like reality to be, politically and psychoemotionally.

    It’s little wonder rape is so contentious an issue. All the available data suggest that it’s still a major, major issue (though one that *has* gotten better, a fact that is not often spoken of), yet the most prominent solution I’ve seen proposed by anti-rape activists – that is, the night-reflexive belief of claims of rape, a concomitant of which is positive belief in the *guilt* of the accused person – is downright draconian, even if it’s not applied in a court of law and used to physically imprison somebody, but applied merely to the “court of public opinion” and used to imprison a person’s reputation and future prospects in the accusation, itself. It’s no wonder that MRA dummies continue to burn, when so many feminists’ own words make for quality kindling. And I say this as someone who calls himself a feminist, as a subset of a higher belief in egalitarianism, yet finds himself loathe to use that word lest I be lumped in with the mainstream of stupidity and craziness, much as I am an atheist who prefers not to self-identify as such so as to avoid being connoted with Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and all that ilk.

    It’s a wonder that humans ever solve any problems at all, really.

    1. Alex SheremetAlex Sheremet

      Regarding ‘human problems,’ I think that, eventually, people come to a kind of delayed truth. Feminism was a much-delayed response to real problems. And this peculiar brand of Third Wave Feminism is an excess- and has been an excess- for at least a couple of decades, and is only getting some push-back now.

      In a way, truth isn’t really a matter of what’s right. Truth comes by way of senescence, when the biases of an older generation die out with its disappearance. It’s very easy to make people feel ‘under attack,’ so they’ll feel it and feel it until it becomes ridiculous to do so.

  2. Dan Schneider

    Keith: grow a spine and stop fence sitting all the time. Jesus, stop klumping your life away!

    1) All the accounts, from the first Beast that Alex showed me to a few others, clearly show a pattern of psychotic behavior on Emma’s part.

    2) Holding a girl’s arms down during sex is no more disturbing than a girl clawing your ass, and can be done w/o any violent intent. All of these claims are perfectly normal sexual things that have been violentized by Feminazis.

    3) The girl who claimed he followed her upstairs offered no witness nor proof, and the other so called rape victim, by her own testimony, was clearly not raped, was shown to have mental problems, and all 3 women were said to have met at some gathering, where they were seen hiddling before the later 2 spoke out. This is classic lynch mob tactics.

    4) ‘Nungesser massaged Adam’s back and shoulder and then gently pushed him down and massaged his crotch for approximately two to three minutes, while he was frozen in shock. Nungesser said that there was no sexual contact between the two during this conversation.’

    This is such transparent BS. A straight guy (esp a college aged guy in testosteronic prime) wd have instantly slugged the guy, and even a gay guy wd have not been in shock but likely unzipped. This is such an absurd fantasy, and conveniently surfaces AFTER the case becomes known.

    To state that the guy’s pattern is peculiar, when the clear pattern is of a psycho inciting others, who- LIKE YOU- are too immature and daft to actually objectively analyze the claims, sheds more light on YOUR patterns of thought than on any behavior.

    Re: Cosby. I gave him the benefit until he and his dumb wife basically came clean, unwittingly.

    The thing these things show is that each case NEEDS to be seen as a separate thing.

    The overwhelming likelihood is that this guy got on the bad side of a Glenn Close wannabe.

    The overwhelming likelihood is that Bill Cosby DID drug and rape multiple women.

    The overwhelming likelihood is that Woody Allen did NOT mmolest his daughter and that Emma ans Mia Farrow are peas in a pod.

    The admitted truth is that Roman Polanski did rape a teen girl, and served time, and then a judge reneged on his pled out deal, which is why he fled the country, NOT because he denied the rape.

    The overwhelming likelihood is that Kobe Bryant was set up by a golddigger who falsely accused him.

    Women are raped and men lie about raping.

    Women lie about rape to get revenge over rejection, and men falsely go to jail for it. 100s have been set free already, with likely that being only a FRACTION of the falsely imprisoned.

    But this Emma has NOTHING to do with Cosby who has NOTHING to do w Woody who has NOTHING to do with Polanski who has nothing to do with Kobe who has NOTHING to do with any soon to be committed sex crime.

    There is certainly room for gray, Keith, but a gray and subjective world has room for black and white, and this is about as black and white a false rape accusation as one can get.So, unless a real video of the real assault shows up, this is pretty much what it is- a female sociopath and liar who was rejected and tries to get revenge.

    No reportage of the assaults, no evidence, no claims of REAL violence, no fear of the ‘rapist,’ the solicitation of more (Hello, Anita Hill!) encounters, dirty talking instigated by the alleged victim, a likely solicitation of BS claims, Emma’s likely mental abuse of an already mentally disturbed girl, and then a bizarre after the fact claim of homosexual assault because, well, why not, at this point?

    Its wussy and inane POVs like yours, Keith, that allow this sort of nonsense and perfidy to continue. Grow a spine, grow some balls, and be a man, an adult, and not a klump! Learn! If you don’t stand up against evil, you are enabling it.

    1. Keith

      Dan, I said that she’s a nut and almost certainly lying. All I said is that the other two accusations at least would, in the context of the Sulkowicz accusation and in the absence of OTHER context shedding light on her craziness, at least give some credibility, however mild, to the possibility that he might be drawn to more dominating behavior in terms of his sexual proclivities – which is a particular, not nec. a peculiar, pattern of behavior. That wouldn’t prove or even suggest that he was a rapist, not even close, but it would at least make the Sulkowicz shit not come out of TOTAL nowhere. Now, everything else suggests that the guy isn’t guilty of anything more than having had the unfortunate luck of engaging in sexual relationships with a few psychotics, but I was simply saying that those three accusations at least kinda make sense in relation to one another – though of course the other shit with Sulkowicz shows the whole thing to be almost certainly a fabrication on her part – whereas the shit with the guy is utterly disconnected and reads like badly-written erotica.

    2. Keith

      Also, the girl who claimed the forced kiss released a public (though anonymous) statement in which she stated that her and Sulkowicz were not friends, merely acquainted and friendly, when she came forward. Columbia actually initially found Nungesser guilty, in that instance, because while she’d not reported the act to the police, she had told a number of friends and acquaintances, who corroborated her story. I 100% buy that Sulkowicz lied about the claim, and manipulated a mentally vulnerable girl into interpreting a benign sexual act as a form of abuse, and that the guy after the fact was probably either in on it or a nut attacking Nungesser for his own reasons and piggybacking on the Mattress Girl shit. But the girl at the party is, to me, a plausible story, but just an example of a guy’s comparatively mild drunken fuck-up coming back to haunt him in a big way when a psychotic woman went after him, publicly.

  3. Dean Esmay

    Always nice to hear that I’m a parasite. In point of fact name-calling is generally all our critics have, since they can’t actually answer on facts or basic human rights issues, including on false allegations. Emma Sulkowicz is the tip of the iceberg; having spoken to numerous actual researchers with no axe to grind, I knew this wave of phony rape allegations was on its way. And you want to call me and my compatriots names for it? How about you go the other way and consider the possibility that you anti-MRA people have been the bigoted reactionaries who won’t listen to an alternative point of view or let any data or research that goes against your views penetrate?

    1. Alex SheremetAlex Sheremet

      Dean. There are 1408 words in the article- most of which YOU would agree with. Yet you feel the need to come out of the wood-work, on an article that’s not at all about MRA, and spin it to your ideological direction over 1 word- why?

      I in fact *agree* with many of the points raised by MRA, as it’s only logical to conclude that- overall- women have it easier than men, due to both biological and social imperatives. Now that biology and culture are no longer so mechanistic, it’d be interesting to see what happens in sexual relations over the next century.

      That said, you unwittingly prove my point- nay, the very word I’ve used: parasitism. You found a way to worm yourself into things, accuse me of holding viewpoints that I simply don’t in order to suit your (as opposed to the host’s) nutritional needs, and fixate, obsess, and conduct the very same straw-men that phony ‘feminists’ engage in, and you complain of.

      In other words, I have about as much patience with MRA as I do with most feminists: that is, quite little, for while there’s an EXHAUSTIVE feminist mythos that’s been constructed out of pure feminine insecurity, men have, out of their OWN insecurity, propped up an identical mythos, yet called it ‘different’ because- like any destructive craving- there always need to be sides and mirrors and side-mirrors to reflect whatever it is that you are. It’s just so narcissistic.

      Please watch for my essay on MRA and Reddit’s “The Red Pill,” in particular, over the next week or two, if you’d like to know my actual views. The short: I want both sides to stop fucking around, stop with the mythos, stop with the infantile understanding of biology, and just grow the hell up into REAL, adult interests.

  4. Dan Schneider

    Alex: out of fairness, I shd mention that over the last year or so, since I did an article on prostate issues that Dean published I have kept in touch w him. Later this year he will be doing a DSVI with me and a podcaster on the diffs between podcasters and bloggers.

    Given the subject matter, and my frustration with Keith’s mamby-pamby approach, which I think is as destructive as the worst that comes from Feminazis and MRAs, I asked if he had heard or written of this young Emma psycho. I mentioned your article.

    So, Dean did not come out of the woodwork like a parasite. He was made aware of it by me. I did not solicit he reply nor endorse nor condemn any or all of his opinions, but he was not scouring the Internet to divebomb your article. I only was made aware of this by my wife when I woke.

    Just wanted to clear that up.

  5. Alex SheremetAlex Sheremet


    In light of Dan’s comments, I’m sorry for assuming that you were merely here to cause trouble.

    Yet my comments re: MRA parasitism still stand. I don’t know your views, in particular, so I’m not gonna direct this at you. I’m directing it at MRA- a noble idea, overall, but completely rotted from within. Just look at these 2 ridiculous articles from your own website:

    1. http://www.avoiceformen.com/gynocentrism/the-myth-of-patriarchal-oppression-in-iran/

    So let’s see- since MRA wish to make a few gains in our own society, they’ve decided to feed off of the ills and dilemmas of a FAR more retrograde culture damaging to both men and women?

    It begins with an obvious cliche- that male power typically *improves* women’s quality of life vis-a-vis the most base facts of life. Well, duh; that’s the case in any protector/protected relationship, and women have almost always been the latter. This is what happens when you infantilize an entire group of people- you are compelled to become a provider.

    Then it goes on to ‘argue’ by way of showing pictures of happy, trendy Iranian women- an emotive line of ‘thought’ the Red Piller in question would happily apply to a woman, yet indulges in himself. I mean, really- being FORCED to wear a veil, thru a sexist religion, is somehow argued as no big deal because it looks cute? Are you sure this guy swallowed the Red Pill and not a few tabs of LSD?

    As the article goes on, it lists a few (mostly economic) advantages that women MIGHT have, mostly related to marital/family relations- yet we’re still dealing with a *dowry* culture that exchanges daughters for goods, then puts barriers, violence, and other dangers in the workplace to discourage independence. For this reason, men HAVE to bear the brunt of financial obligations, since women couldn’t even if they’d like to.

    The author pays lip service to there still being “problems” re: insufficient women’s rights in Iran, over the course of a single sentence, yet still manages to title his piece “the MYTH of patriarchal oppression…” as if this is all bullshit. Notice the manipulative way in which it ends? All those pictures of good-looking girls having a good time, while the men (we’re left to assume) are busy slaving away to purchase their vaginas?

    I mean, fuck. Go ahead and infantilize women, then bitch about the fact that they’re so protected? This is confusing child-like ‘freedom’ with genuine power, declaiming it’s better to be a child, then not even giving the option of growing up to those that’d want it.

    Really- I’d like to know what the fuck MRA thinks it’s doing meddling in Iranian bullshit? Do you see how, in the quest for what will essentially be MARGINAL gains for men, there’s this mythos- this set of LIES- that’s erected to counteract feminist lies? Do you see how it’s parasitizing off of others’ needs to demand your own? It’s this kind of hypocrisy and dishonesty that I cannot stand. The delusions simply know no end.

    2. http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/feminist-governance-feminism/bill-cosbys-victims-or-just-a-bunch-of-drug-whoring-star-fuckers/

    And if that shit wasn’t enough, look at THIS shit. This article was posted yesterday. Perhaps it was tenable to assume that these women were simply after Cosby’s money when the allegations first surfaced, but once you have dozens of women all saying the same thing, on top of Cosby, himself, admitting to drugging women for sex, then there’s no hope. I assume the writer knew of his admission. Yet despite this knowledge, there’s this ideological holdout- this DESIRE- that Cosby be innocent, not because it’s the probable thing, not because it’s good that these women were not abused, but because it’ll continue to drive home a ‘point’- whatever the fuck it is- that MRA types absolutely need to get behind.

    Again- parasitism, hypocrisy, negligence, stupidity, childishness, entitlement, bullshit. MRA will not win me over, despite my sympathies, because I am an ADULT, and naturally look down upon such.

    Little by little, there’s no more ‘innocent until proven guilty’- at least not in the court of public opinion. Gone are the days when evidence is merely the privilege of a court room. The public, itself, has access to such. For this reason, I can say that Emma Sulkowicz is guilty of selfishness and manipulation and giving a bad name to feminists, and Cosby is guilty of rape.

    That is- by all common-sense knowledge of narrative, beginnings, closings- where the tale ends. Man and woman need a proper synthesis, alright, but it’s neither gonna come from the playground of feminism, nor the Disneyland of MRA. It will come from adults.

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