(via Students help Emma Sulkowicz carry mattress to class in first collective carry)
I saw the photo, immediately knew what I was looking at, and teared up.
TW: rape, harassment
Walking home from the subway today, a man in a group of men leaning against a storefront asked me what book I was reading. He was a big guy, and he came up close to me to see the title. I said, “Never Let Me Go,” that being the name of the book. Then he made a move to grab me in an aggressive hug, saying, “I won’t let you go!”
I narrowly escaped his arms by jumping to the side and continued on my way like nothing had happened. Because this happens every day. But a second later a young woman (around my age) who was walking slightly ahead of me turned around and asked if I was ok. My heart swelled and I took in what had just happened, what she had just said. “I’m fine. But thank you so much for asking.”
As soon as I entered my building I started to cry. Because I was so startled that somebody cared, quietly, politely. Because when women who are strangers help other women, it gives me unbelievable strength. But mostly I was crying because it’s a goddamn shame that something like this happens every time I leave my house, and this is the first time a stranger has checked in on me.
These women (and one male presenting person, by my count) helping this other woman, to carry the emotional weight of her rape, is incredibly moving. Emma’s performance art piece is so vital and important because it makes rape, a concept that isn’t always visual and out in the open, into something that can be photographed and shared. We can see her experiences, see what she has been carrying and continues to carry— and we can see the women who help her.
Don’t hesitate to lend a hand or ask someone if they’re ok. We need to look out for one another.