Every few months a story will pop up that makes you go, “Wow”. It’s the sort of story that journalists live for because they so seldom get to write about anything that surprises anybody. Amuses, interests, saddens, enrages, yes, but surprises, no. Yesterday, was a wow day.
Remember Mattress Girl? The Columbia student, Emma Sulkowicz, that got so incensed with the continuing presence on campus of her “rapist” that she carried the mattress on which he had done the despicable deed around with her ─ everywhere ─ for months. It was an affecting story: the quiet dignity of a defenceless woman who wordlessly yet eloquently communicated the terrible burden she must bear for the rest of her life. Well, just after the last thrilling instalment of Mattress Girl at her graduation in May … she released a porn film.
This was the when I went, “Wow”.
Now I’m not exactly a virgin when it comes to experience of feminist depravity, but I’ll admit to a raised eyebrow. True it’s not perhaps an entirely typical porn film. For a start there’s the pretentious French title, Ceci N'est Pas Un Viol (This is not a rape). And even for a porn film there’s not much by way of a back plot or conversation. The Emma character comes into something like a dorm room with a fat guy, they get down to business right off and about half way through the guy turns nasty. But get this. It’s all real, and pretty much along the lines of how she described the original “rape”.
Wow! What a story. Why the hell would a supposedly rape traumatised woman do such a thing?
And this all happened back in June just after her graduation triumph. I only came across it myself by chance as I was trawling the net. You’ll no doubt remember that the original story was popping up all over the place and all the time. So why would all those TV channels ignore such a weird girl-bites-dog twist in a story already so familiar to their viewers? Those same channels whose coverage of that plain blue mattress was so frequent that for me it started to take on something of a personality itself as it made its bobbing progress around the Ivy League campus.
At this point it should be said that the mainstream media were not quite on the level with us about Mattress Girl from the start. They never bothered, for example, to give the accused’s side of the story. They never placed much emphasis on the fact that he was entirely cleared by the university even though the standard of proof required to convict him was merely the balance of probability. They never told us that Emma Sulkowicz had associated and flirted with the accused for months after what she claimed was a particularly brutal rape involving anal sex, choking and blows to the head. And they also never told us about the frequent, chatty Facebook communications between “rapist” and “victim” that once again seemed at the very least to cast some doubt on Emma’s version.
In fact so complicit were they in distorting the truth that they had to ignore this latest bizarre but extremely newsworthy development. It conflicted with the cartoon feminist fantasy that they had so uncritically encouraged and reported on for months. Rather than "dignified young woman battles the faceless patriarchy at Columbia" the story is almost certainly of a mentally unstable or evil harpy who was enabled by an Ivy League university to persecute an innocent man for a year with the complicity of feminists, politicians, and the mainstream media. Emma Sulkowicz wielded all the power and yet was loaded down with awards and panegyrics to her bravery. Hell, she even got an invite to the State of the Union.
Wow! What a story. Shame they couldn't run with it?