When you are forced, unwittingly and unwillingly, into participating in some sort of crime or other malfeasance, it’s fair to say you have been abused. However, in the more bizarre world of postmodern art, when you see the depiction of a rape, you become both the rapist and the victim; their experience echoes through you in both erotic and painful ways. Indeed, you have been raped and you are the rapist in a sense that is more than metaphorical: you have been callously and carelessly exploited, and you are also the exploiter.
Look, it is art; if art makes perfect sense, the current school would think it is poor art. Shitty art about anal sex/rape, however, is the toast of the art world.
Consider Emma Sulkowicz, the recently graduated Columbia student known as “mattress girl” for lugging around her mattress in a (mock and mocking) performance-piece-cum-protest of her (fake) rape. Emma is now doing something even more vile to everyone in the world: she has released a sex tape that she teasingly suggests is a depiction — or maybe not, who knows? — of her allegation that she was raped by a student named “Paul”:
The following text contains allusions to rape. Everything that takes place in the following video is consensual but may resemble rape. It is not a reenactment but may seem like one….Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol is not about one night in August, 2012. It’s about your decisions, starting now. It’s only a reenactment if you disregard my words. It’s about you, not him. — from her website linked below.
The title of the film, Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol (video at link is NSFW) translates as “This is not rape.” The video at the website is non-functional as of this writing but can be found at the free porn site “Pornhub” under the following title:
asian student releases interracial “art” video with fat guy
The video is just over eight minutes long but the sex, such as it is, ends after about four and one-half minutes. More on the contents of the video later but to understand Emma’s thinking you need to understand some things about the current world of art. As Emma wrote:
Do not watch this video if your motives would upset me, my desires are unclear to you, or my nuances are indecipherable.
How in the hell are we supposed to know any of that without watching the video? Emma continues:
You might be wondering why I’ve made myself this vulnerable. Look—I want to change the world, and that begins with you, seeing yourself. If you watch this video without my consent, then I hope you reflect on your reasons for objectifying me and participating in my rape, for, in that case, you were the one who couldn’t resist the urge to make Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol about what you wanted to make it about: rape.
Please, don’t participate in my rape. Watch kindly. [sic]
Of course, Emma is just being coy; in another interview she admits she wants to see your reaction regardless:
I am interested in what the public does with it, which begins with the way they deal with it from the moment it’s disseminated. [Interesting word choice, Emma.]
At this point and for those unfamiliar with the latest protocols of artistic expression and appreciation, in the current theory, art is not a finished canvas, a standalone sculpture or a poem on a page. Art is neither beauty nor the depiction of beauty; art exists in the minds of those who encounter it and preferably interact with it — the creator envisions and makes a “work” that becomes “artwork” through the social response to it — including the emotions, social justice implications and/or political response to it. If you Google the term “feminist art” and select “images” the resulting “art” is about as pleasant and beautiful as a Soviet gulag, only less inspired and inspiring.
One can contrast this with different schools of art that focus on accomplishment, beauty, and the fascination with life, nature and the human form. Years ago, while walking through Frognerparken in Oslo, Norway, I was moved to tears by the incredible sculptures of Gustav Vigeland
The park, also know as The Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park, must be experienced to be believed. The mad and obsessive genius of designer and sculptor Gustav Vigeland is overwhelming and his work is a treasure to the world.
Vigeland’s art is art worth seeing. Sulkowicz’s art is art worth berating.
The title of her sex tape “this is not rape” would have been more pointed had she picked German (Paul’s nationality) instead of French as her dilettante language-of-choice. The title can be interpreted in a number of ways:
- A simple description of the film’s content — a sort of a “trigger soother” for those who might think they were watching a real crime, or the depiction of one;
- A retraction of her initial rape claim. In an art piece, unlike law, there is no singular “truth” and the interpretation of her title reflects not her views necessarily, but rather the myriad views of her audience;
- An ironic indictment of those school and law enforcement officials who investigated her allegations repeatedly and then rejected her claim of rape, clearing Paul of all charges. “Look at this” she is shouting, “they told me ‘this is not rape!’ Can you believe those idiots would treat my golden vagina like that?”;
- A trap to catch the unwary filmmaker herself – by making a consensual film about a real life sexual encounter that went awry, Emma pretty much concedes that calling one incident rape, and the other, not, illustrates vividly the ludicrous nature of her initial claim: both men thought they had consent to have sex with Emma but it turns out that — surprise! — only the second guy did.
Basically, Emma is raping the entire world: drawing us into her bullshit narrative so that we can pause to reflect on how rape and culture interact to produce what feminists call “rape culture” — through feminist grandstanding, hoaxes and the hatred of men’s sexuality. She’s expanding from abusing Paul with a false rape accusation, to abusing the University President by falsely accusing him of snubbing her at graduation, to now abusing all of us as well.
She’s treating you like her long-suffering mattress – just another prop in her performance art odyssey that started with consensual (but aborted) anal sex and has now grown into a vulgar sex tape wherein she purportedly re-enacts her purported rape. Or not, or not.
Consider the sex tape’s contents. The screen is divided into four fixed camera angles as if to catch a crime in progress. The couple (Emma and an unidentified actor I’ll call “Paul”) enter her dorm room and are immediately all over each other, kissing and stripping off their clothes, which are gone by the 45 second mark as the oral sex begins.
There is no talking for the first 2:40 minutes and certainly no consent is asked nor given explicitly by either participant. One gets the impression that this is a new but established couple where consent is implicit and passion is still raw.
The first part of the sex is mutually reciprocal and thus can be assumed to be consensual — he performs a few seconds of oral stimulation on her hairy pudenda and then she sucks on his already erect penis. They both get on the bed; she puts a condom on his penis; Emma mounts Paul to begin vaginal intercourse.
There is no seduction, no talking and almost no foreplay. Everything screams that this is a couple who know each other’s preferences well. At this point, both are guilty of sexual assault under “affirmative consent” because no explicit consent has occurred — the film as a scathing ANTI-feminist statement that affirmative consent is a joke to real-world lovers.
After 35 seconds with Emma on top they flip over to put Paul on top. After 35 more seconds, without warning, Paul slaps Emma once across her left facial cheek; she demands “hit me again,” so he complies.
Not only are we sure that this is an established couple now but we can infer that they have a history of sadomasochism (S/m) or at least, moderately violent sex. She likes being slapped hard: she both actually and literally asked for it.
To avoid misunderstandings and heighten both excitement and safety, experienced S/m couples develop a specific set of “safe words” to moderate their violent play: for example, the word “Mercy” or even “Stop” might mean, conventionally, “scale it back a bit but keep going” and the word “Yellow” might mean “Full stop on everything.” More about this in a moment.
She says “ow” twice, then he starts choking her – she says “stop”, so he stops choking her but the sex continues. This is consistent with the idea that “stop” meant “scale it back…” and perhaps “get the fuck off of me” (which we never hear) might mean “full stop.”
Paul then discards the condom, bends Emma knees to her chest in order to move her anus into place, and then Paul entered Emma anally without proper lubrication while continuing to pin her down. Emma says “ow” several times and then says “stop.” It is not clear what she wants him to stop or scale back this time — maybe it was the anal penetration, maybe it was the way he was holding her arms, or maybe it was everything — there is no way to be sure. 35 seconds later Paul pulls out his penis, moves away off the bed, grabs his clothes and walks into the hallway naked. Emma grabs a towel, leaves for a moment, returns, makes the bed with a couple of sheets, then crawls into bed. The “work” is ended and the “artwork” begins?
We have no information of whether Emma and Paul’s consensual rough play was covered by any safe words. I doubt that it was in a formal way but they act as if they had some awareness of…something. It is both his and her fault if they participated in rough play without “safe word” measures — the entire debacle would’ve been avoided. As it worked out, Emma could have written off the incident as “life experience” and discussed with Paul more effective ways for them to communicate during sex – they texted each other lovingly hundreds of times after the alleged rape, which only became a rape claim when Paul and Emma drifted apart, to Emma’s consternation.
Equating bumbling, bad and unpleasant sex to rape undermines the credibility of real rape victims. It damages the lives of innocent men like Paul who will carry the abuse from Emma and her insane allies for the rest of his life while Emma is feted by powerful figures for her “courage” of spreading her legs, her lies, and her poison about one poorly executed sexual encounter. When Emma says “Look—I want to change the world,” it is clear that she doesn’t give a shit about how many men have to suffer for her to do that.
Use safe words, folks, and lots of lube. Better yet, don’t have sex with feminists. Ever.