Mattress girl

Did ‘Mattress Girl’ Tell the Truth?  Not Very Likely

At least for now, Columbia’s mattress saga is over. Emma Sulkowicz, the student who spent her final year on campus toting a mattress to protest the school’s failure to punish her alleged rapist, graduated at the end of May; so did Paul Nungesser, the accused man who says he’s the real victim.

There was more drama at graduation: Sulkowicz toted her mattress onstage in defiance of school regulations and later accused Columbia president Lee Bollinger of snubbing her. In related news, posters branding Sulkowicz a liar cropped up near the campus; Nungesser was reported cleared on the last sexual assault complaint against him, this one from a male student; and, the next day, one of his two anonymous female accusers told her story on the feminist blog Jezebel.

An attempt at summing up this messy saga and its lessons comes from Emily Bazelon via Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Bazelon admits that l’affaire Sulkowicz drama highlights major problems with the current system of Title IX-based campus “justice”—including “utter lack of transparency,” which is not a bug but a feature of the system: federal law stringently protects the privacy of students involved in disciplinary cases. As a result, in an alleged rape case that has attracted international attention and scrutiny, we are mostly left with he said/she said accounts not only of what happened between Nungesser and his accusers, but of how the complaints were handled by the university. The records exist, including transcripts and video recordings of the hearings; but they are off-limits and likely to remain so.

Dispensing with Due Process

Bazelon believes this fiasco is a result of the current system’s growing pains—of “a transitional period in the evolution of how universities handle sexual assault.” But it’s hard to see what reforms would fix the problem. Even if school staff are better trained to investigate sexual misconduct reports—assuming that “better training” actually means more effective fact-finding, not more faithful adherence to believe-the-survivor dogma—this would not address the underlying issue: that activists like Sulkowicz want to dispense with any semblance of due process and refuse to respect any result other than culpability and punishment.

(Incidentally, while Bazelon correctly notes that “rape is extremely difficult to prosecute both effectively and fairly,” the kind of violent attack that Sulkowicz alleges—an excruciatingly painful anal rape during which she was hit in the face, choked within an inch of her life, and pinned by the arms—would be quite easy to prove, at least if promptly reported to the police. The physical evidence would have been overwhelming.)

One lesson of this case Bazelon doesn’t mention is that if universities are going to have rules for the disposition of Title IX cases, they need, at least, to enforce those rules in a fair and meaningful way. As Nungesser’s lawsuit against Columbia points out, all the parties in sexual misconduct cases are urged to do what they can protect the confidentiality of the process and the privacy of all those involved. Sulkowicz has repeatedly violated that rule with impunity; the male accuser, known as “Adam,” talked to Jezebel about his complaint while it was still under investigation, apparently with no consequences.

On Fulsome Display

Columbia’s craven acquiescence to Sulkowicz’s activism was on fulsome display in the graduation dust-up. A university email sent the previous day had reminded students not to bring large objects into the ceremonial area. When Sulkowicz arrived toting her mattress, she was apparently asked to stow it away for the ceremony; she refused, and she and her helpers were finally allowed onstage anyway. The university’s official statement, emailed to me by director of communications Victoria Benitez, noted, “We were not going to physically block entry to graduates who are ultimately responsible for their own choices.” In other words, compliance with the rules is a personal choice.

Another lesson is that the media need to exercise due diligence and skepticism when it comes to “survivor” narratives: not to treat accusers as presumptive liars, of course, but to ask questions and do the fact-checking. (In other words, “trust but verify.”) That is something journalists egregiously failed to do for months, when Sulkowicz’s narrative went unchallenged amidst massive publicity. The mainstream coverage today is much more balanced; Bazelon clearly presents this as a story with two sides and mentions some of the exculpatory evidence, including Sulkowicz’s chatty Facebook messages to Nungesser after the alleged rape.

Yet even now, failure to verify remains a problem. No one, as far as I can tell, has followed up on Sulkowicz’s claim (made in the annotations to her Facebook messages for Jezebel last February but never mentioned before or since) that the day after she was allegedly raped by Nungesser, she talked about it to a female friend “who explain[ed] it was rape.” If such a corroborating witness exists, why did she not testify at the hearing or come forward to support Sulkowicz? Can Sulkowicz give this friend’s name to journalists, at least on the condition that she won’t be publicly identified?

To state the obvious, the truth in this story is ultimately unknowable. But here’s what we do know.

Kept up A Friendly Act

Sulkowicz’s account of her rape strains credulity to the extreme. Sulkowicz accuses Nungesser of an extremely brutal assault that should have left her visibly injured (with bruises not only on her face but on her neck and arms, unlikely to be covered by clothing in August and early September in New York) and in need of medical attention. Yet no one saw anything amiss after this attack, and both Nungesser and Sulkowicz went on to chat and banter on Facebook as if nothing happened. Sulkowicz’s claim that she kept up a friendly act hoping to confront him about the rape seems extremely dubious, given the near-psychotic violence she alleges and the lack of any sign of unease or tension in their online conversations. (When I reread these archives recently, I checked the timestamps to see if there were any awkward pauses; there weren’t, not even when Nungesser asks Sulkowicz to bring more girls to his party and she replies, “I’ll be dere w da females soon.”)

Is Sulkowicz a “false accuser”? We don’t know that. It’s possible that something ambiguous happened between her and Nungesser that night—something that she later came to see as coercive and embellished with violent details. But I would say the odds of her account being factually true are very low.

Sulkowicz has demonstrable credibility problems.A few examples:

  • As Nungesser’s lawsuit notes, at one point in spring 2014 Sulkowicz wrote that she lived in daily terror of encountering her rapist on campus—while another statement she made around the same time shows that she knew he was spending a semester in Europe.Prior to her claim that she spoke to a friend the morning after the alleged rape, Sulkowicz had sometimes asserted that she didn’t tell anyone for several months, sometimes that she told a few friends.Last fall, Sulkowicz told the Times’ Ariel Kaminer that after filing a police report, she had elected not to pursue criminal charges because the process would be “lengthy” and “too draining.” Now, she tells Bazelon that she stopped talking to investigators because “the police were visiting her apartment unexpectedly.”
  • The multiple charges in this instance do not make for a stronger case because they are demonstrably linked to each other; what’s more, there is evidence backing Nungesser’s claim that he was targeted for a vendetta based on the belief that he had raped Sulkowicz.
  • One of the other two female accusers, “Natalie”—Nungesser’s freshman-year girlfriend—filed a complaint after talking to Sulkowicz and (in Sulkowicz’s words) delving into their “shared trauma.” Her complaint was dismissed for lack of evidence after she stopped cooperating with investigators. Nungesser’s lawsuit says she claimed she felt obligated to have sex with him; Natalie herself told Bwog, the Columbia campus magazine, that he would often forcefully pin her arms back during sex and that she often cried when they were in bed. (She struggled with major depression during their relationship.)

Rape or Drunken Pass?

  • “Josie,” the accuser who authored the piece for Jezebel, admits that she filed her complaint with the encouragement of a “friend” who told her that Nungesser had been accused of raping another woman. As I have previously reported, that friend—to whom I have referred by the pseudonym “Leila”—was an officer in the Alpha Delta Phi coed fraternity to which Nungesser, Sulkowicz, and Josie all belonged. At the time, Leila was trying to get Nungesser ejected from the ADP residence because of Sulkowicz’s charges. (Josie also lived at the house; Sulkowicz did not.)Josie’s charge is the only one on which Nungesser was initially found culpable; that finding was later reversed on appeal, and a second hearing exonerated Nungesser after Josie declined to participate.Josie has given somewhat contradictory accounts of her decision to withdraw from the process. Among other things, she has repeatedly stressed that she had graduated from Columbia by then, without mentioning that the first hearing also took place months after her graduation in May 2013. (According to the timeline compiled by Nungesser’s parents, the original hearing was held September 26; the appeal was granted on October 28, and the second hearing was on December 13.)Even if Josie’s story is true, her complaint hardly corroborates Sulkowicz’s accusation. Sulkowicz is alleging a brutal rape; Josie is alleging a boorish drunken pass at a booze-soaked frat party. She says that Nungesser followed her upstairs after offering to help restock the bar, then tried to kiss her and pulled her toward him despite her protestations, until she pushed him off and left. Such behavior may meet the definition of sexual assault on the modern campus, but it is hardly the mark of a violent sexual predator. Josie herself says she did not think of it as “sexual assault” until she heard about the alleged attack on Sulkowicz.
  • The last and fourth charge from “Adam” has been all but definitively exposed as a fabrication, as I wrote on Reason.com last month after reviewing a leaked internal report by Columbia Title IX investigators. The report describes Adam as a highly “unreliable” complainant, partly because social media records contradicted his version of his interactions with Nungesser and backed Nungesser’s. Adam also made bizarrely paranoid claims that Nungesser “retaliated” for his complaint—before the complaint was filed—by sitting too close to him and his friends in class and complimenting a point he had made in a class discussion.The document also reveals that Adam first made his allegations to Leila while she was collecting accusations of sexual misconduct against Nungesser in the wake of Sulkowicz’s charge. Without explicitly confirming the existence of a vendetta, it notes that “at the time of the Complainant’s initial disclosure, at least several of his close friends … were [seeking] to evict the Respondent from the fraternity house.” Adam was a close friend of Natalie’s; Nungesser’s lawsuit also alleges he is a close friend of Sulkowicz’s.

Uncritical Reporters

While this is purely speculative, it is also interesting to note that the accusations against Nungesser first emerged in the immediate aftermath of the Steubenville, Ohio rape trial in February-March 2013, when the moral panic about “rape culture” reached fever pitch in the media and “sexual awareness” events proliferated on college campuses. Is it possible that this atmosphere of hypercharged rhetoric about the ubiquity of sexual violence and its tacit toleration by American society encouraged at least some of the complainants to reinterpret their own experiences as assaultive?

With Nungesser’s lawsuit still pending, the story is certain to be back in the news. Perhaps, by the time it reaches its next round in the news cycle, the journalists who cover this case will learn some of its lessons and ask the hard questions.

In the meantime, there is certainly enough evidence to grant Nungesser the benefit of reasonable doubt not only in legal disciplinary proceedings, but in the court of public opinion. That is something he has been denied by Sulkowicz’s campaign and its mostly uncritical media reception.

67 thoughts on “Did ‘Mattress Girl’ Tell the Truth?  Not Very Likely”

  1. I agree with you 100% Alan. This is an extremely victim-blaming article. Even if there is ambiguity about whether or not she told the truth, I almost had to stop reading I got so upset. Uh, first of all, you are questioning why she didn’t go to the police promptly. and criticizing her for not wanting to press charges. If you knew anything about the process you have to go through to report rape to a police after having been raped, you would know that it IS extremely draining. You also call the incident with her friend a “drunken pass” “despite her protests” and that doesn’t make him a violent sexual predator. I’m sorry, but if a girl is saying no, and he is still forcing himself onto her, regardless of drinking or not, that is predatory behavior and non-consexual. It makes me sad the lack of education you have as a reporter, and this type of reporting hurts all rape victims such as myself.

    1. The truths are always hard, that’s why you feel upset about this article.

      It makes me sad that you don’t understand what the meaning of drunk is. By searching in google, the meaning of drunk is “affected by alcohol to the extent of losing control of one’s faculties or behaviour”. This meant that the
      Accused might not be aware of his actions at the time. I’m not saying that rape while drunk is acceptable but an attempt at kissing a girl while drunk does not have the same severity. Are you saying that for something so small,you would really accused the guy for sexual assault? Something that could have been resolved easily? This is just pure exaggeration. If the accused had really wanted to rape the girl, I think there is a high possibility that she would have been raped there and then. Also, the article mentioned that Josie herself did not think that it was sexual assault until she heard about the alleged attack.

      There might really have been a traumatic experience that the accuser has experienced. And to me, her rape allegations are fine too as it might have happened and there was the need to investigate further.

      What was not acceptable was the public humiliation that she and the public did to the accused even before he was found guilty. As in this case, the accused was exonerated. What if he had really been innocent? What would happen to his reputation? His future life? This incident would be a mark on his reputation and follow wherever he goes.

      Well, in response to your other comment, it would seem that she doesn’t have much of PTSD as she could come up with the mattress exhibition in which the rules for her are all put out nicely.

    2. “If you knew anything about the process you have to go through to report rape to a police after having been raped, you would know that it IS extremely draining. ”

      And yet she had the energy to create multiple “art” pieces out of the encounter and speak at endless events…all while carrying a mattress around. It seems like she wanted to be seen as a victim and so she convinced herself she was one.

    3. Hey Alison, I agree with everything you just said. It is absolutely rape if a girls says no regardless of how violent it is. It is definitely not ok to criticize how a rape victim handles it on the legal side of things after a rape. Given how traumatic an experience it is, I can not blame anyone who doesn’t want to embark on a multi-year, possibly high profile legal case that will dominate their life and get them all kinds of unwanted attention. However, though I agree with you on all of this, the FB messages do seem to support the alleged rapist’s story. After reading all of them, it does seem to me like they were hooking up and the guy just moved on (as many college guys do) and she was very hurt (understandably so.) Not saying I know this for a fact (she claims she was trying to deal with her trauma by asserting her love for him or something), but you must admit it makes it a little difficult to believe everything she’s saying. I think that’s all this article is getting at.

  2. Unbiased??
    This is a perfect example of the lack of awareness of what rape victims experience.
    Just because her story doesn’t always make sense doesn’t prove she wasn’t raped. It proves she is human and her brain processes rape the way anyone else’s would. Or it could be that she made it up.
    To say that she was scared on campus when she knew he wasn’t there doesn’t people she wasn’t raped!? If she was raped she’d be scared! Regardless of his presence!
    The author of this article clearly has little knowledge of the traumatic after effects or mental processing of rape or assault.
    And seriously… Who makes up being raped???

    1. Alan, to answer your question, it would seem Emma Sulkowicz did. Both the school and law enforcement found this to be the case. There are an astounding number of inconsistencies and contradictions in her story, which has changed over time. Can you share some of your insight and knowledge of the traumatic after effects of rape? Perhaps it would give us perspective. I’ve never been involved in rape, so I might lack your depth of understanding.

      1. I can tell you having been raped that what a rape victim goes through is very similar to the effects of combat PTSD. I was hyper-vigilant of my surroundings for months. Even though he was in jail, it didn’t matter – the human brain doesn’t work that way. I would also add that the report process is lengthy and difficult. After it happened, I just wanted to forget it ever happened, but in order to collect DNA, I had to wait 6months just to get results back. I also had to retell the story multiple times to investigators which is very uncomfortable. Do you like openly talking about sex to strangers? Well rape is worse than that. And they need to know very exact details about it for prosecution purposes.

    2. “And seriously… Who makes up being raped???”

      Some people do. Percentage-wise it isn’t many but in a country of 350 million people, there are always going to be some. When you take a group of people who covet the status of “victim” that small percentage becomes notably larger.

      1. “And seriously… Who makes up being raped???”

        A couple of points:

        1. Well, apparently not uncommon as you might think.
        2. There’s also the very difficult matter of “degree” and the “emotionally charged” influence on behavior around sexual assault. For example, maybe he did do “X” but not “Y” but the victim claims he did both X & Y. And it may not be ‘made up’: There can be mixed messages (both given AND received), leading to lines being crossed when they may not have been intended so. For example, some people may communicate a desire for ‘rough stuff’ (directly, indirectly or even mistakenly) but in the emotions of situation, two people can come away with different ideas of what boundaries are implied, communicated, and permissible etc.

        By the standards in some of these cases, I’d say I was raped several times by the women I’ve been with (e.g. I let one women stay overnight and explicitly told her (despite her being really hot) that I didn’t want to get physical beyond holding each other (I was in love with, but not together with another woman). She was aggressive as hell, putting things where I didn’t consent and it was very uncomfortable. Holy smokes — where’s my mattress to protest! I should lay charges!

        3. Why are so many of these high profile cases (e.g. Ghomeshi case in Canada and this one) so goofed up with problematic allegations like “I’m assaulted but best friends the next day..” etc. It’s one thing if there are dependency issues, like children, shared house, and so on, but without that factor it seems suspect.

    3. You are very naive.
      You think people don’t lie.
      Any normal person who is assaulted will ring the police.
      Not happily talk on Facebook with their attacker.
      If you accuse someone of something, under the law you need some sort of evidence of a crime happening.
      Merely saying it happened is not good enough. Whether the person is male or female.

    4. “And seriously, who makes up being raped?”
      Well, since you DID ask: duke lacrosse case (those guys were being treated as guilty until proven innocent)
      The bogus case over at uva and written about in rolling stone (once again, treated as guilty until proven innocent)
      So there are just a couple right there.
      Mattress girl was addicted to being a social justice celebrity.

  3. These are some of the best comments I’ve ever read online.
    Seriously.
    I’ve heard of this case, but just began reading about it today.
    ive known people that have gone through this rape business before and the more simple scare of a girl being “late” for her period, only to scare a guy.
    Let them go into the wild where the world will crush their spirits long before they realize it.

    1. Agreed. Great discussion and comments. This is the way all internet forums are supposed to be. Intelligent, respectful, honest, thoughtful, & thought provoking. Been a long time.

  4. No fault divorce,lifetime alimony,child support and maternal presumption destroyed marriage and chivalry.Women like this and a breed of female who initiate 75% of the 50% of all marriages that end in divorce destroyed American relationships.
    Imagine encountering this female in this news article in a divorce where a child was involved.
    Buy a dog and put your nuts on ice.

  5. Although Sulkowicz filed criminal charges, she didn’t pursue them because the process would be “too draining.”

    Oddly, she found energy to participate in the following activities related to her accusation:

    – National Organization for Women (NOW) Susan B. Anthony award reception
    – State of the Union address with Senator Gillibrand
    – Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, December 14, 2014
    – Carrying her mattress at graduation
    – Sex video entitled ‘Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol’ (‘This is not a rape’)

    Given these examples, the excuse of “too draining” for not pursuing criminal charges seems hypocritical.

  6. The integrity of Columbia University–our President’s alma mater–is questionable. They seem no better than “Corinthian” College.

    I wouldn’t hire any Columbia grads.

  7. It’s amazing how many people believe that a woman (or man) would never lie about being raped — and yet there are quite a few examples out there in plain sight. Granted, I don’t think most women lie, but I do think that relationships can get complicated, and where alcohol and drugs are involved, many women have second thoughts and suddenly get angry or vindictive. Unfortunately, the alleged rapists have usually had their reputations ruined before it’s all over.

  8. we live in a time where 3rd wave rape scare feminism has convinced hipster girls that the consensual sex they had which wasn’t too great is now full blown violent rape.

    it’s sad really, no one thinks about just how much it sucks to be labeled a violent rapist when you literally did absolutely nothing wrong and the girl herself is caught up in feminist rape culture rhetoric that has taught her that everything is rape. then she tells the world that you raped her and your life is officially over socially because everyone thinks you are a rapist and the saddest part about it is that even though the police and administration know you just had consensual sex that the girl maybe didn’t like the next day. so the masses then go and blame the police and administration as being “soft on rape” which leads to more of this poisonous rape culture thinking that gets even more girls to accuse literally the most innocent sweetest guys of full blown violent rape ruining even more lives.

    i don’t want to live on this planet anymore

  9. Ms. Young, your reporting on this case has been excellent
    (and genuinely courageous), which has been the standard you’ve set over the many years I’ve read your work. But I think you do need to address the significance of the recently released tape. I realize it’s so bizarre and explicit that it’s difficult even to know where to start.

    But there are so many ironies to it, it takes the breath away. Ms. Sulkowicz claimed Columbia’s process for investigating her claim was flawed, but the only specific alleged deficiency I can recall (other than that the outcome was not what she wanted) was that she was asked embarrassingly explicit questions during the hearing.

    And yet this same person has just released an extremely explicit film of herself having actual relations (not simulated) with a man who was recruited from a fetish website for the purpose, with the film backdated for “artistic” purposes to the night of her famous encounter with Nungesser.

    Furthermore, she released the film with a pretentious French title recalling Magritte. (Is this how any actual rape victim in human history has responded?) The translated title is “this is not a rape,” and in the film she repeatedly asks her lover to hit her. The video is “dated” to the night of her famous encounter with Nungesser.

    This raises a genuine question whether the entire affair–including her accusations against Nungesser–have been an elaborate act of “performance art” in her mind (what the rest of us would call a grotesque act of deceit and self-promotion, with a young man as victim). I read somewhere that her parents hired a publicist to help her with her mattress campaign.

    Crazy things happen on college campuses; always have and always will. But this is different, because her campaign was endorsed by a U.S. Senator and a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, who didn’t know or didn’t care that the whole thing may have been based on a lie.

    There needs to be some accountability here. I hope you keep with this story.

  10. The only time Emma Sulkowicz told the truth was when she texted Nungesser and said she wanted anal sex from him.

  11. Cathy Young, I wonder if her video project was a video of the actual event, would it meet the legal definition of rape? Would it meet your definition? Would you think define her as a false accuser? Would you think he should be expelled or disciplined? These are sincere questions. I have watched the video and I really don’t know. In a way, it matches both their stories. What is Paul’s response to the video? Lots of questions to be asked.

  12. I saw an (excellent) production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible recently at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Supposedly Miller was dramatizing the Salem witch trials as a response to the McCarthy hearings, but the analogy to the current campus rape hysteria is clearer: fabulous charges, kangaroo courts, the accused thrown to the wolves. Now in fact there were no witches in Salem while there are rapes on campus, but the current confusions will make it harder rather than easier to deal with the real problems appropriately.

    1. To even mention in the same sentence, much less compare, the attempt to effectively deal with rape on college campuses to the Salem witch trials does a disservice to the women who’s rapes have been swept under the rug by their colleges and universities. The sad reality is that schools do not hold perpetrators accountable far more often than the times an alleged perpetrator is falsely accused. I hope those of you who are expressing your anger and discontent about this situation are getting this upset about the women who _are_ raped but not being heard or believed, or, as an example, or the backlog of rape kits.

      1. The world has gone mad.

        We now are hectored to ‘honor’ every form of sexuality, save that of heterosexual males. The more you “unman” yourself as a caitlynite, the more you are lauded.

        Also, Western women, especially the white ones, are the most pampered humans in history…often living longer and better than former kings. Yet every little thing, from paper cuts to being “looked at” causes them to have mental breakdowns.

        Worse, college campuses are now routinely treated like combat zones. They are the safest places for women on the planet. The actual rape rate is not 1-in-4, but 6.1 per 100,000!

        The DEATH rate for garbagemen is 6 (SIX!) times that: 36.4 per 100,000…yet we don’t hear about that 24/7. Why not? Because mostly males are the victims?

  13. I predict that real journalism will return when the Nungesser lawsuit returns to the news based on the fact that a man is bringing the charges. He must be destroyed, or the narrative takes another hit

  14. Everyone send a copy of this article to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. She is as much at fault as anyone in advancing this fake rape charge. She is despicable. A willing participate in the persecution of an innocent male student for the sole purpose of advancing her political career.

  15. >”the kind of violent attack that Sulkowicz alleges—an excruciatingly painful anal rape during which she was hit in the face, choked within an inch of her life, and pinned by the arms” are allegations of a crime that should be promptly reported to the police. That several students coordinated their stories and the timing of complaints reeks of conspiracy (while also reeking of adolescent tittle-tattle).

    For the university to go anywhere near this incident is to interfere with a lawful investigation and/or prosecution. That universities and the Dept of Education believe better trained investigators and more informed students is the route to adjudicating sexual congress reveals the futility (hypocrisy?) of progressive social engineering–humans aren’t smart phones with programmable functionality.

    For generations, universities did their best to segregate men and women’s sleeping arrangements, and chaperone socializing–for the consequences (such that this case represents) of doing otherwise were well understood. Today’s enlightened leaders dismiss the cost of the broken eggshells (Nungusser/Sulkowitz) for the price of the omelet. The question remains: where’s the omelet?

    But this story best represents the consequences of so-called feminist empowerment regarding sexuality on terms equivalent to men. Such is an impossibility, if only because men’s and women’s desires/preferences/motivations are so different–and cannot be made equal merely by the making of declarative statements. That something as basic must be stated so as to reclaim evolutionary truths is a testament to how far off course secondary education (the breeding ground for these special snowflakes) has ventured that higher education has lost its way.

    1. Your comment and those like it are precisely why I am so angry that the media made as much as it did out of this case. By today’s definitions, I can no longer identify as a feminist because a core tenet of the modern movement is that all women are to be believed when they make rape accusations, regardless of the evidence or lack thereof. However, I am obviously a feminist if one uses a broader or more traditional definition, as I believe in the right to bodily integrity, ownership, and equality of access for all. Sadly, just as numerous media outlets have made no distinction between the Columbia mattress case and other cases where the accused was guilty, and have made no attempt to investigate these women’s claims further, a vocal, mostly male portion of the American commentariat has made no distinction between the lunatic brand of rich-girl delusion being fobbed off as feminism today and the basic notion of egalitarianism, which my gender is still lacking in certain areas, such as:

      • my right to privilege my own life over that of an unwanted fetus that could kill me
      • my right to engage in safe sexual relations with my husband of 10 years while acknowledging that contraception occasionally fails, and without needing to agree to unwanted, life-threatening, and health destroying motherhood so that a group of people who observe a certain faith can approve of me
      • my right to show my love for my husband without leaving him a widower
      • my right to maintain a basic level of health from the plan I choose, to determine treatment for my bowel disease that puts me above a pregnancy I don’t want and will not continue with, and to obtain required prescriptions from national pharmacy chains without being deterred by employees who feel they have the right to impose their religion on me
      • in previous relationships, the right to identify as LGBT and to marry a same-sex partner of my choosing (assuming one of my previous same-sex relationships had proceeded to the engagement stage) without danger to my person, and to enjoy identical federal rights in that relationship as I do in my opposite-sex marriage to an LGBT man
      • my right to earn the same salary as a male employee of my company who holds an identical title, has received identical education, and has the same number of years on the job…in real life, I have consistently earned anywhere from 10-28% less, including less money than male employees who are younger than me, have significantly less education, time on the job, applicable skills, demonstrated results, or any combination of the four
      • my right to earn that salary without being derailed and reprimanded by individuals who hold the intrinsic belief that the Y chromosome confers superior intelligence, creativity, and ability, and whose canned speech about why women “should” earn less inevitably quotes the line about garbage men and coal miners from Warren Farrell’s book.
      • my right to perform my job without being forced to hug and kiss senior male employees, be aggressively and repeatedly hit on and touched by male employees to whom I have said “No, I’m not interested” and “I am married” at least once a week for several years (please note I have never and will never file a sexual harassment suit as it is almost always career suicide, and the financial and emotional costs are such that it is always preferable to find a new job)
      • my right to state that I do not have and will never have children and be believed by my employer and healthcare provider and treated as if I am serious
      • my right to perform my job and civic duties without unfounded assumptions made about my intelligence, character, and talents because of my gender
      • my right to enjoy sexual intercourse the way men have for decades and to handle any emotions that might ensue in an adult manner, free of assumptions that I am unable to do so because of my gender

      Anytime an article about women’s issues is posted, the comments section invariably floods with people — again, mostly men, but some women also — who aggressively and deliberately confuse the modern feminism of Sulkowictz et. al. with those of us who believe women should enjoy the same rights, responsibilities, and yes, risks as men, including the right to engage in sex and the duty to assume any risks that may result. The conversations always turn into a fight because in 2015, there remains some portion of Americans who believe that my biology should be my destiny, that their faith which I do not share should determine whether I live or die, and that my freedoms and plans should be guided by their preferred set of stereotypes rather than upon my individual personal characteristics. Among this portion of Americans, few know, and even fewer care to take a couple minutes to learn, that there is a huge chasm between today’s victim feminists and those of us who believe in basic egalitariansm for all. My fear when the Columbia mattress case went national was that those individuals would take the story, and its ensuing fallout, as prima facie evidence that equal rights for women is a mistake, and that Americans would be better off returning to the social mores of a previous century or decade (typically, mid-20th century America or the Victorian Age). And, just as I predicted, my fear came to fruition, right down to the wording of the comments that purport to explain why my liberties should be restricted because certain Columbia undergraduates cannot handle theirs like the adults they supposedly are.

      1. Accordingly, I would ask any commenter who believes that the behavior of the women in the story can predict the behavior of every woman in America to explain to me why those of us who know ourselves and who are secure enough in our decisions to make our own sexual choices and assume personal responsibility for any risks we take should be treated like children. I have yet to receive a reply that takes into account the fact that the majority of women in America, including those between the ages of 18 and 24, can make the sexual decisions that are right for them, act upon them in ways that are generally pleasurable and satisfying, and assume full personal responsibility for any risks or consequences that may ensue.

        As an egalitarian, I likewise believe that the majority of men in America ages 18-24 are capable of conducting their sexual business in a mature, self-assured, and responsible way, and would never endorse a philosophy that prefers to view those men through the lens of the assumed rapist. And I denounce anyone, male or female, who tells me that I should begin to look at men in that age group through a rapist lens.

      2. > “my right to privilege my own life over that of an unwanted fetus that could kill me”

        Can a man refuse responsibility for an unwanted child, too?

        > “my right to engage in safe sexual relations with my husband”

        Can he be safe from you, too?

        Plus that’s a privilege, not a right.

        > “contraception occasionally fails”

        So again: he can’t be forced to raise or pay for “mistakes”, either, right?

        > “my right to maintain a basic level of health from the plan I choose”

        Privilege again, not right.

        > “without being deterred by employees who feel they have the right to impose their religion on me”

        Yet you feel you can impose your views on them.

        > “the right to identify as LGBT and to marry a same-sex partner of my choosing …without danger to my person

        Not a right. You can expect safety in general, but not because you are gay. Just like someone can expect to not be beaten for liking model trains.

        > “I have consistently earned anywhere from 10-28% less”

        What was your productivity like? Did people work well with you? How did you increase company profits? Ever work overtime? Ever volunteer to do more work?

        What were your performance reviews like?

        > “my right to earn that salary”

        Again, not a right. You earn what you earn for a variety of reasons. You might “think” you provide invaluable services, but that doesn’t mean you do. You might make less than “garbage men and coal miners” because you work in a cushier, less dangerous environment.

        > “my right to perform my job without being forced to hug and kiss senior male employees”

        If you are forced, file a complain. If you “feel” like you have, that’s YOUR problem. If you can’t assert yourself, you probably don’t negotiate salary terms, either.

        > “my right to state that I do not have and will never have children”

        Not a right.

        > “my right to perform my job and civic duties without unfounded assumptions made about my intelligence, character, and talents because of my gender”

        Not a right.

        > “my right to enjoy sexual intercourse the way men have for decades.”

        First, what does that mean: being accused of raped, publicly shamed and jailed, the world believing your accuser?

        Second, it is your wish, not a right.

        > “free of assumptions that I am unable to do so because of my gender”

        Again, again, again: that is not a right. It is merely your wish…one almost totally in YOUR control.

        You seem to be a damsel-in-distress, acting like the world is out to get you. Do you act that way on the job, unable to fend of passes or unwarranted assignments? Might that have some correlation to your position and income?

  16. There’s a simple way to handle this. When someone alleges a crime, call the cops. Everywhere I know of, rape is a crime.

  17. She has made a porno now about the regret sex oh I mean the rape. Shes batshit crazy, I feel sorry for the guy.

  18. It’snot over. she released an “artistic” sex tape re-enactment of the rape. It was filmed from 4 different camera angles. She still needs attention.

    1. after seeing that tape I wonder if I can ever get my mind clean again. She is diseased & if I was her mom I would hang my head in shame.

    2. yeah – I watched it – which, I think, means I participated in her rape? I’m not sure what exactly she was hoping to prove – other than the guy in the movie sure has a big schlong. I truly believe she has gone completely insane at this point.

  19. If I understand correctly, Sulkowicz got a grade for the mattress performance. Both she and the school, then, were thoroughly invested in her story. I see that as a further complication to the already-questionable approach to Title IX issues/conflicts–a conflict of interest in the school’s case, in fact, blurring the lines further between scholarship and school-supported activism. The more basic problem is one of morality, of course; but the awarding of credit for the dramatization and perpetuation of (charitably to Sulkowicz) an exaggeration, or an outright lie…that has gigantic implications for institutions who need to figure out what their job really is.

  20. Dear Ms. Young,

    Women never lie.

    According to Zerlina Maxwell, a graduate of the finest law school in the land, all accusations of rape must be believed.

    College girls (term used intentionally) are now minors. They cannot give consent to sex. Sex with a college girl is statutory rape. The only decision is prosecutorial discretion.

    What do you not understand?

    1. @SN

      What I do not understand is how you could sniff so much glue to readily believe and make such moronic and fraudulent statements without your brain melting.

    2. Your first sentence suggests parody but the rest seems almost serious. Just in case, the age of consent in New York is 17. The age of majority is 18. For most if not all of their time in higher education, college girls in New York are legally adults. Dumber than they will ever be again, but adults.

    3. Yeah, and college boys are also minors. They cannot give consent to sex. Sex wth a minor boy is statutory rape. What I would understand is its not rape unless she didn’t ask for it. But there are Facebook chats of him and her mutually agreeing to sex.

  21. This fabrication appears in context with many other fabrications and hoaxes directed at men in general but young men in particular.

    One reasonable conclusion for men to draw is this.

    The people you live with are narcissistic and indulgent, and they despise you to feel justified. They will take from you what they can, but they will dispose of you thoughtlessly.
    If young, mostly they need you to fight their wars.

    You needn’t value these people and their culture because they are not truly suffering. Instead, find people all over the world who truly suffering and need your time and talents, and practice them there.

  22. If Paul choked Emma, that is attempted murder, no? The campus should hand off anything that serious immediately to police.

    Why would the case of Josie, already graduated, be taken by the university? At that point she’s a private citizen. How long after an alleged sexual assault would the campus handle it? What if one party didn’t even attend the school? What if both parties had graduated? Is there some statute of limitations? Obviously expulsion is no longer an option if found guilty; would a degree be rescinded, honors revoked, a black mark on their transcript?

    Strangely, as bad as campus policies are now, they actually worked to some degree here; it was outside the process where things fell apart.

    1. I’ll attempt to answer a few of your questions. First, Emma did not report her “rape” to the school until months afterwards. Any marks would have been gone, but there is proof that she went on with her daily social acvtivities immediately after the “rape” and she has no evidence of any physical abuse (not even a friend who could vouch for her) . When she did not like schools conclusion of “not guilty”, she then went to the police, they came to the same conclusion as the school and also found Paulto be “not guilty” .
      Now on to Josie’s case. Josie did file, but she graduated before her case went to tria and she simply indictaed she had no interest in going through a trial since she had ‘moved on’

    2. No, any accusations of a criminal nature should be sent to be handled by law enforcement. A University is neither a Law Enforcement Agency nor a Legal Courtroom.

      If the accusation was say, “X was cheating off of me in class” or “Y is a bad room mate” then yes the University should handle these petty disputes.

      But once a Criminal Accusation is made, the University should have no authority, this only allows for secret tribunals that can dole out a punishment even if the accused is cleared in a Court of Law.

      1. UNiversity police ARE police like the cops of any other jurisdiction in the state, and they are involved. But you can inform the school of misconduct. and she informed both the school and the cops, both of which came to the same conclusion, NOT GUILTY. Upon that she decided to walk around with a mattress.

      1. Only if it’s consensual. I felt I had to point out the bleeding obvious reply to such an attempt to derail discussion.

  23. I recall a few years ago,some women’s groups in Michigan (where I live) wanted a ‘surcharge” on all ER/InPatient visits to be used to fund “rape technicians”. These people would be trained to investigate/care for rape victims-because regular ER personnel couldn’t do so accurately.
    It didn’t go anywhere,but it’s a pretty good example of an attempt to legislate jobs and/or competency.

  24. As a mother of a young man who was falsely accused or sexual misconduct (not rape), I am eternally grateful to you for your unbiased, thorough and thoughtful reporting. I have been following this particular case for a couple of years now, and am baffled by the refusal of the media to report on this the way you do: impartially and in a more balanced way. Thank you.

    1. That’s because mainstream media can’t sell papers with level headed, well researched articles. They need shock value. and “Boy accused tenuously of rape” isn’t really a paper selling headline

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