Worthless


Installation
(video, found objects, fabric, wood)

Install Size: 9ft x 14ft approx.
December 2017
Special thanks to Zack Livingston for being my actor, also known as my stand in sexual offender.

I was sexually assaulted in my room - a roommate's visiting friend mistakenly thought I was interested in him and forced a kiss onto me. On the scale of sexual assault, it's mild. I was shocked and disgusted, he didn't understand my protest. I wondered why he thought this was okay, where this behaviour could have come from. Why did he ask for my food scraps but not my permission? Worthless is my reflection upon this experience.

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In the wake of #metoo, I began to think about my own experience with sexual assault. In January 2017, someone tried to forcibly kiss me in my own room; my refusal resulted in a slap. He was confused; why didn’t she want me? She talked about nudity, she must have been into me. I am an artist, we talk about nudity like it’s the morning news.

There’s a lot of arguments that come up that imply that both sides had some fault, however, they’re hardly valid. In this case, I was the only female in the apartment, the other fifteen people were male playing games, he was one of two people later going to a club. He was the only one to be constantly stalking and eyeing me; I never invited him to my room, he followed me twice. There was no one else this was going to happen to but me.

So in looking at this situation, I wondered about how he could find this sort of behaviour to be normal; where did he learn it from? After I had slapped him he said “other girls do this to me”. I thought about the media that surrounds us and drew upon sitcoms and movies where often kissing a woman either leads to her being instantly attracted to the protagonist, or her refusal is laughed off. I thought about the kind of macho culture that says: this is the way to get the girl. At the same time though, they’re a student like me hoping to obtain a degree to get some sort of leg up in the world. As much as I hate this person, and believe me, if I wanted to smear them I have the ability to, they are human.

In the aftermath of the incident, I was left feeling shaken. I reported him to my campus sexual assault services, opting to do an informal resolution as I believed going to the police wasn’t going to be worth it. He never came to the resolution, but the fear I see in his eyes when he sees me on campus tells me that he got the service’s calls. My experience is extremely mild in the scale of assault, but it demonstrates a disturbing point. The problem about the whole night perhaps wasn’t the incident itself, it was the fact he had asked for the scraps of my noodles I made earlier that night. This man obviously know the concept of asking permission, but can’t apply it to my body, to women’s bodies.

Why am I worth less than a bowl of noodles?