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you gotta carry that weight

from "Golden Slumbers":

Boy, you're going to carry that weight
Carry that weight a long time
I never give you my pillow
I only send you my invitation
And in the middle of the celebration
I break down...


There comes this new Freshling named Emma Sulkowitz, to Columbia College of Columbia University, set to graduate May / June 2015, it's Fall 2011.

She hooks up, after awhile she breaks it off, he does not agree. Then comes the first night of her Sophomore year.

He becomes violent, overpowers her and pins her down and rapes her in her own bed in her own room.

She files a complaint with Columbia, it's now seven months later, middle of her second semester Sophomore year. Columbia does the same thing to her as Harvard has done to Alyssa Leader (see previous 'My Short Skirt' posts in my LJ.) While Columbia fiddles around, Paul Nungesser, also Columbia '15 and the alleged perp, is free to keep on harassing Emma. Two other College women filed complaints against him too.

Columbia decides for Paul, Emma appeals, loses again. Emma goes to NYPD. Now it's a criminal complaint. She also files with the New York District Attorney.

NYPD clears Paul. DA decides not to prosecute (this is standard in cases where the DA doesn't feel he can win because the evidence is legally shaky.)

So, being a Theatre Arts major, Emma decides to raise awareness of head-in-the-sand college procedures by creating a performance piece. She calls it "Carry That Weight". She starts carrying her own personal bed mattress around with her to most, if not all, of her college classes during her Senior year. She gives a presentation of it in an art gallery, against a sign "Rules of Engagement." So here's how that looked:


EMMA caption and mattress carry.jpg

And it got lots of responses, including a public demo from others who felt just as strongly as Emma:


What I find very moving is the YouTube video she posted describing exactly how she felt and why, and the toll all of this was taking on her: she starts by saying "Rape can happen anywhere..." you can watch the entire film at


Emma joined with others to file a Title IX lawsuit with the US Dept of Ed complaining about Columbia's ineffective responses to ALL of their assault complaints.

And, as there are two sides to every story, Paul himself filed his own Title IX complaint, complaining that Columbia had harassed him by giving Emma college credit for the Performance Art piece, which meant that Columbia was supporting her against him, therefore Columbia was guilty of sexual discrimination.

This made the whole case unusual, both sides attending the same college and filing under the same law.

A federal judge last Friday, 11 March, threw out Paul's complaints for lack of evidence that Columbia had sexually discriminated against him under Title IX.

(Both graduated in Spring 2015, so we are a year down the road here.)

Emma's case is still pending.

I support Emma completely. But all of this brings up a very grey area for the court.

Nobody in the court was there in Emma's bedroom in September 2012, you weren't, I wasn't. First thing to address is --- does what happened meet the legal definition of rape? (It's apparently irrelevant what damages have been caused to Emma and hundreds of others of her sisters.)

If it doesn't meet that definition, a court is not the place for you to look for vindication. And we are not lawyers, and they are, so we do not have one speck of control here. They will decide how the law applies to the evidence you presented. That's why YOU need a lawyer, nobody should ever go near a courtroom without one, it's too easy to open-mouth-insert-foot and lose yourself your own case before you realize the legal meaning of what you've said.

But the emotional and PTSD damages are just as real, more so in many cases, rape might happen without a single piece of attack evidence being left on your body.

So if "yes" meant "yes" at one time, how do you prove that "no" means "no" right now, after you've ended the relationship but your attacker obviously has not?

This is why there are counselors to help, cybercounselors like Kiota was, and face-to-face ones too (as Kiota occasionally also was.)

What is positive in all of this are two simple ideas: one, healing from toxic events and toxic relationships has to start with YOU; and, two, you are never alone, you do not have to do it alone without any help.

I'm repeating this, I know, but my two cents are that erasing the toxic (="poisonous") events is very empowering for me, even if these are people, even family members, even lovers.

"Erase" = not quite strong enough. "Obliterate" = much better.

I am NOT saying go obliterate family members nor ex-lovers. Just wipe out their effects on your future, and your own personal future is surely what you CAN change, even one tiny step at a time, in place of the unchangeable past. I know it is far from simple.

But the future belongs to each one of us, and we can write on it whatever we want.

Blessings Be from Brad / Silverplate88


kiota too late for the stars
Moonfire Marion Bridge / Brad

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