After reading and discussing Susan Estrich’s, Rape, reading in class there was a clear indication that the manner in which universities handle rape cases are improper and neither protect the victim nor the accused, but rather the university. Reading through The New York Times article in the case of Anna at Hobart and Will Smith Colleges it became apparent that her case was swept under the rug even after presenting evidence that proved she had been raped. Estrich has two major points in her reading one is considering what is “real rape” and the second is what is “untraditional rape”. I happened to come across a similar case in, Times magazine, where a student by the name of Emma Sulkowicz accused another student attending Columbia University of raping her.
Sulkowicz’ case is not one considered to be “real rape” if we consider Estrich’s interpretation because according to records, confirmation from Emma, and the other student they had been consensually involved intimately on two previous occasions; but, this occasion was different both the victim and the accused have conflicting stories of what occurred that night. Emma kept quiet about the assault in hopes of avoiding emotional distress, but after finding out that two other girls had been victims of her attacker Emma decided she needed to go to the school and report the incident.
Fast-forward through the case, and Emma’s alleged attacker was cleared by a Columbia University panel similar to what occurred in Anna’s case at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The decision did not put Emma at ease and she decided to pursue bigger actions one is changes regarding how universities (esp. Columbia) handle sexual assault cases and the second is Emma took it upon herself to protest on campus. Emma began lugging around a 50 lb. mattress around campus as a representation and reminder that her attacker was still on campus and she was silently making a bold statement.
Emma’s protests have garnered support as well as critiques because of her protest being a part of her senior thesis. The critiques play along the lines of “untraditional rape” where one people consider that the victim and attacker had been together consensually before as well as Emma’s major action as outspoken victim. Is it possible to say that those who critique her motives and protest are those who probably expect a victim to be scared of drawing attention to themselves and would rather avoid dealing with rape publicly? Although, there may be details in Emma’s case that fall under Estrich’s definition of “untraditional rape” this is very real to Emma and she carries the burden to prove it.