As Commencement Week continues at Columbia University, someone spent last night hanging large posters featuring a photo of Emma Sulkowicz and the words “Pretty Little Liar,” “#fakerape,” and “#rapehoax.” They’ve also created a Twitter account, Fake Rape. Guess everyone has to have a gross hobby.
The posters appeared this morning on the Columbia campus and nearby on Broadway. A few also feature photos of Lena Dunham and the words “Oberlin #RapeHoax.”
Overall, the account has a weird fixation on Lena Dunham, as well as a loose grasp on the rules of grammar that suggest English may not be the poster’s first language:
They also sent Jezebel this email from a masked address, pointing us to the Twitter account, where they’d tagged me in all the photos of Emma.
Some assholes are putting up posters everywhere around Columbia protesting that mattress girl.They are also posting at @fakerape on Twitter.Can’t we get them kicked off?
Yes, guys. We see you. There you are. They’ve also created a Flickr account, perhaps with the knowledge that the Twitter account will likely be taken down in fairly short order.
People create fake accounts like this more often than you might think, dedicated to harassing women who have gone public with rape allegations. (During the height of the UVA shitstorm, someone created one called “Haven Monahan,” which UVA student Jackie supposedly told her friends was the name of a man she was seeing. Monahan does not exist.)
For whatever reason, though, the Fake Rape account has caught on this morning, with people like noted bad person Chuck C. Johnson retweeting all the photos. Just a fun conversation for the families entering commencement today.
Columbia’s new “sexual respect requirement,” which can be fulfilled by watching a movie or doing an art project, really seems to have done its job.
Update, 12:45 p.m.: A tipster suggested to us that the posters look — visually and subject matter-wise — like the work of right-wing graffiti artist Sabo, responsible for the “Abortion Barbie” posters that greeted Wendy Davis when she visited Los Angeles. He also made a fake Lena Dunham Rolling Stone cover bearing the headline “Rape Fantasies.”
Sabo tweeted a couple times today about the Sulkowicz posters. We’ve asked him for comment and will update if we hear back.
Update, 9:45 p.m.: Over the course of an increasingly dumb day on Twitter, I’ve come to believe that noted person-who-probably-never-shit-the-floor Chuck C. Johnson was involved in the Fake Rape campaign, although I don’t think he physically hung the posters himself.
Sabo never responded to my requests for comment, but he did tweet this, which sounds like a denial:
As for Chuck Johnson, he was one of the first people to follow the @fakerape account. That account also tags me, personally, in the photos, which is odd, because no one knows who I am. Except Chuck. We spar frequently on Twitter and one time I made him take a photo with me at a very weird party. Then we argued about rape. Let’s call that foreshadowing.
A couple of other things point to Johnson’s being involved. For one, as William Gerrard pointed out to me in the following tweet, Johnson was fundraising not long ago for something “big” targeting Sulkowicz at her graduation, promising “justice is coming.” Yet the only thing he’s posted on his own site, GotNews, is an “investigation” of Sulkowicz’s friends who helped her carry her mattress onstage, meaning screenshots of their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
Let’s start with the fact that earlier this week, Johnson said he was hiring an artist for an unnamed project:
There’s also the fact that Johnson, who lives in California, was in New York on May 19. The posters appeared today, the morning of the 20th.
He tweeted in his own inimitable way about his wishes for Sulkowicz to be arrested onstage, using the hashtag #FakeRape. This is before the posters went up.
Johnson hasn’t directly denied being involved. He’s said only that he did not put up the posters.
As ProgressGeorgia points out, Chuck’s gotten into the poster business before:
Johnson has been busily retweeting praise for the Sulkowicz posters all day, but he was uncharacteristically quiet when I asked him directly if he was part of the Fake Rape campaign. Johnson, like most Scooby Doo villains, has a fatal weakness: he finds it impossible not to get drawn into a dumb Twitter squabble. So his silence is odd.
This concludes our dumb Twitter investigation into a nasty little art project. A final thought: if these posters were composed by Chuck C. Johnson, native English speaker, it’s time to get into some remedial grammar classes. If you know anything else about this idiocy, email us.
Update, 9:58: Johnson still denies being involved in the posters, adding that he’s been in Fresno says May 9, and that the tweet about hiring an artist is for a separate project. God preserve us all.
I guess the only thing worse than being the guy behind a “Fake Rape” poster campaign is wishing you’d been the guy behind a fake rape poster campaign.
To be clear, then, Johnson adamantly denies being involved and Sabo kind of denies being involved. Johnson did, however, have high praise for whoever made the posters.
All photos via Twitter