Thursday, February 5, 2015

Followups On The Emma Sulkowicz Rape Story

A pair of stories today that follow up on the Emma Sulkowicz rape story at Columbia university. Sulkowicz, you may recall, was allegedly raped by one Paul Nungesser; in protest of the university's response, she started hauling a mattress around the school with her. Cathy Young, who continues to do yeoman's work (or is that yeowoman's work?) on this topic, wrote of the ensuing coverage that
The tone was set by a piece in the online publication Mic by feminist blogger Julie Zeilinger deploring “the narrative of the ‘perfect victim,’ in which female survivors’ stories are evaluated in terms of gender stereotypes such as those related to idealized virginal purity and simplified fallacies about uniquely felt and lived experiences, like the identity of a rapist and the nature of the relationship survivors have with them.”

Actually, the only fallacies here are Zeilinger’s, since her critique has nothing to do with the questions raised by the Daily Beast article. As far as I know, no one has ever suggested that Sulkowicz’s lack of “purity,” or the fact that she had previously slept with Nungesser twice without being in a romantic relationship, makes her a “bad victim.” It’s what happened after, not before, the alleged rape that matters.
Sulkowicz "exchange[d] chatty, flirty messages with" Nungesser after the alleged incident, which is hardly in keeping with someone brutally, anally raped only a few days before. If anything, Young is entirely too kind to Sulkowicz, of whom she says "there is certainly not enough evidence to brand her a false accuser". Charlotte Allen's take is much more aligned to my own thinking:
Now, I actually feel sorry for UVA’s Jackie. She was a delusional young girl who got herself in over her head and was exploited by an ideologically driven writer who had her own agenda. I don’t feel sorry at all for Emma Sulkowicz. She got her reward hobnobbing with Gillibrand and Obama. I hope she’ll have a good time with that memory.
It will, of course, make no difference to those whose first cry is "believe", e.g. this exchange, but what such advocates miss is they are poisoning the well for others.

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