Columbia University student and anti-rape activist, Emma Sulkowicz, became a symbol for campus sexual assault when she carried a mattress similar to the one she was raped on around campus as part of her senior thesis project. Her piece, Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight), protested the university’s handling of her sexual assault case , in which her alleged attacker was cleared of charges after she filed a complaint against him. Sulkowicz said she would carry her mattress until her alleged rapist was expelled or she graduated, and this week she culminated her months-long protest by carrying it at her graduation ceremony.
Yet just a day after she walked across stage with the mattress in tow, posters have popped up around the university’s neighborhood calling the visual arts major a “Pretty Little Liar.”
In an attempt to thwart Sulkowicz’s claims, a Twitter account, @FakeRape, has tweeted images of posters accusing Sulkowicz of lying with the hashtag RapeHoax. Posters also feature Lena Dunham with the words “Big Fat Liar” accusing the actress of lying about being raped as a student at Oberlin College.
Columbia should be ashamed. pic.twitter.com/q8ijWM6sZy— Fake Rape (@fakerape) May 20, 2015
Students began tearing down the posters which caused the Twitter account to tweet, “So much for freedom of speech!” But others have fired back against the misogynistic campaign reporting the account for harassment.
So much for freedom of speech! pic.twitter.com/lGIBw9HWJM— Fake Rape (@fakerape) May 20, 2015
Jezebel reports the troll could possibly be the work of right wing graffiti artist, Sabo, who has targeted Wendy Davis with “Abortion Barbie” posters and has tweeted several links to the Fake Rape account. Jezebel also speculates the campaign could be the work of journalist Chuck C. Johnson who was one of the first people to follow the account, but he has denied being involved.
The campaign is a painful reminder that not only are rape survivors' claims not treated with enough respect or consideration especially by the institutions meant to keep them safe, but sexist groups remain actively promoting their patriarchal agenda by tearing down rape survivors' allegations — even as sexual assault continues to be ignored.