Emma Sulkowicz Made a Film


hunnnterrr / Foter / CC BY

I watched Emma Sulkowicz’s video, Ceci nest pas un viol. I hesitate to call it a “sex tape,” like just about everyone else on the internet because I believe that it’s more than that, and to label it a "sex tape" is reductive.

To be honest, I don’t know why I watched it. I knew that it would be triggering, but I've been following Sulkowicz and her message, and I wanted to know what she was trying to say with this. So, I did it, I watched it.

And what I saw was something extraordinarily revealing.

Sulkowicz says that the video is not a recreation of her sexual assault, and that she wants the viewer to examine their reactions to the narrative. She wants the viewer to ask themselves what they want to get from watching what happens to her.

She gives 99% of her viewers too much credit.

Most of them come to bash her without even thinking about what they were doing there in the first place.

Sulkowicz says it's an art piece, but I think that it is so much more than that.

Because Sulkowicz’s piece illustrates, in no uncertain terms, and with no equivocation, the difference between consensual sex and rape.

In the beginning of the video, Sulkowicz is a woman who is in control of her sexual agency (scary I know). But when her intimate partner begins to cross the line and becomes violent everything changes. Sulkowicz did what advocates have been trying to do – she showed everyone what an acquaintance rape looks like. And if you go on to read the comments, she also shows you why survivors don’t come forward.

The rage, the vitriol, the hate that spews from the anonymous human detritus is revolting, and indicative of the culture of rape that women (and men, and trans people, and children, and teens, and gender non-conforming individuals) live with every day.

You want to know what rape looks like? Emma Sulkowicz just showed you.

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