Carrying the Weight: Consent & Sexual Assault Prevention on Campus
Sharing her experience as a sexual assault survivor, Emma engages students and staff in a dialogue about sexual violence on campus. Following the failure of campus administration and the police in responding to her rape, Emma began Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight) an endurance artwork and protest in which she carried a dorm mattress everywhere on campus for as long as she attended the same school as her attacker. Covered widely by mainstream media, this work became an international sensation and helped catalyze the campus anti-sexual assault movement. Emma helped to bring increased public attention to the severity of the campus rape problem and issues of victim blaming, shame, consent education, unreported cases, and the handling of reports & disclosure from survivors. Using her experience as a framework, Emma inspires students and campus staff to carry the weight and do their part in ending sexual violence and rape culture on campus.
More Than the Truth: Art, Activism, and Public Opinion
Emma addresses the nature of truth as it relates to sexual assault and art-making. Rape culture frames sexual assault survivors as liars, while those who go public become gospel-speaking saints. Where can we find the truth on such an extreme spectrum? How can we address the truth of “what really happened” in a system that relies on physical evidence to prosecute cases of sexual assault? In our current “post-truth” era, this presentation has ramifications beyond the realm of sexual assault. Emma encourages audiences to think deeply about the language they use when speaking about sexual assault, and increase their compassion for survivors.
Workshop | Strong Shame: Finding Your Voice
This workshop is focused on healing and the development of leadership skills for marginalized groups, or people who have experienced trauma. Emma creates a space where people can speak openly about the isolating effects of shame, beginning with constructing a working definition for “shame” and identifying how and why it is experienced. Emma then moves the conversation towards leadership and activism, and activism’s power to lift people out of isolation. The group will also explore and discuss the role and qualities of a leader, and the value of our voices and opinions. Participants leave feeling empowered to speak about the things that society has conditioned them to feel ashamed of.
Engage Emma for an in-depth conversation on the process of interweaving her personal trauma with public work, the unique experience of carrying a mattress in public, and what it means for Sulkowicz's art that she has become an Internet-based media phenomenon.
National Organization for Women | Woman of Courage Award
United States Student Association | National Student Movement Builder of the Year Award
Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. Magazine | Ms. Wonder Award
The Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. Magazine | Ms. Wonder Award
National Organization for Women | Susan B. Anthony Award