During her senior year at Columbia University, Emma Sulkowicz carried a 50-pound mattress around wherever she went, telling everyone who would listen that a man who raped her walked free on campus.
The accused man, Paul Nungesser, was never charged with a crime. Columbia exonerated him, the New York City police decided not to bring charges, and he recently received a settlement from the university for an undisclosed amount of money.
The New York Times published several profiles of her, she was a guest at Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, and feminists interested in pursuing their own fake rape stories can purchase indulgences exclusively from Rolling Stone magazine.
All the indulgences contain the mattress symbol or a reference to the mattress. Some are just cute, while others have religious themes. Rolling Stone says the most popular is the “Princess Emma Sulkowicz and the Pea” keychain. Profits go to Democrat election campaigns.
“I’ve already had my fifteen minutes of fame, and I don’t need the money,” Sulkowicz said. “I just want people to be free to carry on my work.”
Her wish has come true, as students on other campuses continue to replicate her demonstration. Some students have held mattresses, pillows, or something else representing defiance of sexual assault, while others have scrawled the names of alleged rapists on bathroom walls and distributed fliers on campus falsely identifying them.
Sulkowicz remains a symbol for students who oppose “rape culture” even though Nungesser didn’t rape her.
“It’s a matter of faith,” she said.