Is it sexual assault? (Columbia Mattress Girl Related)

The second such thread this week! (It sounds like some perverse game show, too…)

A student who claims to have been sexually assaulted by Paul Nungesser (who allegedly raped Emma Sulkowicz, who carried around a 50 lb mattress in protest) wrote a blog postdescribing her own experience:

I want to be sympathetic, but calling what happened to her sexual assault seems a stretch. As does the way she decided it even was assault. It sounds like she had to convince herself it was. Plus, the fact that it’s anonymous makes me more skeptical–the whole idea that we’re supposed to give weight to victims’ statements because they’re brave enough to come forward, even it’s totally anonymous, is a little frightening to me. It just feels like, to some, any questioning of what really happened or whether this is really an appropriate way to deal with rape, means you’re pro rape/patriarchy/etc.

So, two questions–is what allegedly happened to the anonymous student sexual assault? And in cases of rape/sexual assault, is publicly naming/shaming an alleged rapist ever appropriate?


Yes, always.

If you are using the word to refer to a crime, I agree. If you are using it to refer to “something that a school should probably have a policy against”, I don’t really have a problem with it. I do think “non-consensual sexual contact” is probably a better descriptor.

What was describe would be considered sexual assault and would require an investigation.

Considering the number of provenly false allegations that have come to light, it is not always appropriate to publicly naming/shaming an alleged rapist. The possibility exists that the alleged rapist isn’t a rapist. There is also the possibility that other alleged victims are simply trying to gain some unwarranted attention for themselves. Everyone isn’t as honest and law abiding as you are.

It’s best to contact the police, file a report, testify in court, and do society a favor by getting actual rapists off the street. YMMV

Done in one.

From the OP:

Look, when he grabbed her, and pulled her in as she told him no, it wasn’t like he was trying to save her from falling down a flight of stairs. He grabbed her in an attempt to convince her to fuck him.
That’s sexual touching with out her consent. I don’t know what else you would call that.

I agree.

No, never.
People are innocent until proved guilty.
Naming and shaming alleged criminals leads to vigilantes.
There was a case many years ago when a mob attacked a house because the owner was a paediatrician - and they thought that meant ‘child molester’.

That seems pretty damn clear cut to me.

FWIW, (and maybe only tangentially related) two stories from my college days.

I went to a small liberal arts school. (Very small, and very liberal.) As part of orientation, they had the whole incoming class sit through a lecture on sexual assault. Among other things, the woman said, “If you have sex with someone who’s drunk, it’s rape.”

I asked if both were drunk, were they raping each other?

She said yes, and I thought she was a fucking idiot.

A year or two later I was hanging out with a gay friend, and he tried to come on to me. When I pushed him away, he tried to use force, (which didn’t do him any good, because I was younger and stronger than him, and he’d been drinking). It didn’t even occur to me to report it to anyone, and I don’t think I even told anyone, except my girlfriend.

Like I said, maybe not related, except that I don’t think college’s policies had any effect on us, when I was in school. Now that that was a while ago, so maybe things are changing.

That’s not “college policy”. That’s the law. If you are too intoxicated to consent, that’s rape.

Depends on the state. In NY, you are incapable of consent if you are “physically helpless” or “mentally incapacitated” . Mental incapacitation is defined as a person being rendered temporarily incapable of appraising or controllling his or her conduct as a result of a narcotic or intoxicating substance admininstered to him or her without consent. Voluntary intoxication does not make you unable to consent until you cross into “physically helpless” territory, such as passing out.

Too intoxicated to consent is not anywhere near the same as drunk.

… or, in other words, rape. :rolleyes:


No. Rape generally has a specific meaning: non-consensual penetration. Sexual assault is a broader term.

So stealing a kiss is sexual assault these days. How does that even work for you guys? There is zero margin of error in reading other people’s body langage and non-verbal cues? Do you require written consent contracts written up and signed before each physical encounter?

As for the matress girl, I thought you guys were against public shaming, but here’s a girl who has taken public shaming of an innocent man to a whole new level of nastiness. She should be put in the pillory.

So, you are fine with falserape allegations destroying peoples lives.

Good to know.

Are there any other crimes that are so heinous that anyone accused of the crime should have their life destroyed regardless of the truth of the accusation?


Starting with (often) those in authority.

Best, yeah.

But I, personally, don’t give a shit if that procedure is circumvented for rapists. Yes, it’s terrible when it happens to innocent people. I still don’t give a shit. Too many rapists get off (hah!) or never even come (ha!) to trial for that number to be any more than a drip in the ocean of real sexual violence.

A little public disgrace is, IMO, a form of direct action. When the patriarchy (yes, I went there!) gets its cock out of its own arsehole, and does something about fixing the legal system around sexual assaults, then name&shame will become a poor response. Not before.

Gee, I’d really hate my life to be ruined by a 2.6 mill payday :rolleyes:

Yeah, littering…

Geez… talk about watering down the term ‘sexual assault’. Now it can mean anything from an unsolicited hug from a friend to basically a rape act without the penetration or sodomy. I don’t think that does anyone, the victim or the accused, any good.

This is the kind of thinking–minus the left wing cant–that led to a lot of young black men being murdered in the American south.

I feel like maybe the new moneymaking opportunity is some kind of consent-logger smartphone app with fingerprint recording or something like that, so that they can just mash their fingers on the fingerprint sensor and get down to business.

Seriously though, that’s absurd that the guy’s behavior is considered sexual assault- assholish and creepy, sure, but assault? That’s stretching it a bit far. How’s it work if you’re kissing a girl and you grab her ass or boob and she doesn’t want you to? Is that sexual assault? Should you be pilloried for that?

As a 42 year old married guy, it’s sort of academic to me, but I can imagine there are two things going on- first- deliberate ignoring of these concepts, and a subsequent devaluation of actual sexual assault, by one population of young men, and second, a whole shitload of confusion on the part of other young men who have no idea how to reconcile the idea and expectation that the man is suppose to take the lead and be the “aggressive” one with the idea that just about anything unwanted is sexual assault.