Why this woman is carrying a mattress everywhere she goes

A Columbia University student plans to carry a mattress with her everywhere she goes until her alleged rapist is expelled or chooses to leave the school.

Emma Sulkowicz is one of 23 students who filed a discrimination complaint (known as Title IX) against her university last April for mishandling sexual-assault claims. She says she was raped in her second year by a fellow student but her complaint was dismissed, first by Columbia and then by police.

The mattress will serve as both a protest and a piece of performance art as part of a project for her visual arts degree called Carry that Weight. "I was raped in my own dorm bed, and since then that space has become fraught for me," she told the Columbia Daily Spectator. The mattress itself is “the perfect size for me to just carry it enough that I can continue with my day, but also heavy enough so I have to continually struggle with it”.

The past year or so of my life has been really marked by telling people what happened and bringing it out into the light. So I think the act of carrying something that is normally found in the bedroom out into the light is a mirror in the way I have talked to the media, talked to different news channels.

  • Emma Sulkowicz

If you want to know more about Ms Sulkowicz's experience reporting her rape to authorities at Columbia University, she has described it in detail, in her own words, in an essay for Time magazine.

More: 14 signs we live in a rape culture

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