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Sexual Assault Survivor Raises Awareness Through a BDSM Photo Project

It’s part of ‘a photo project seeking to reclaim fraternity spaces.’

Photo via Twitter

A disturbing recent study found that 23 percent of women on college campuses have experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact, carried out by threat of force or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Eleven percent said the contact involved penetration or oral sex. Facing that inexcusable reality and her own horrific experience, one Wesleyan graduate is fighting back by reclaiming her body and those of other survivors.


Karmenife Paulino, a 22-year-old Wesleyan graduate, has channeled her experience of being raped in a fraternity basement into an empowering art installation, Reclamation. For the project, Paulino reversed roles with her attacker by wearing BDSM gear and holding men representing the perpetrator, marked “FRAT FILTH,” in submissive poses. The project is explained as a “photo project seeking to reclaim fraternity spaces, ones that have been marked as dangerous for certain members of the Wesleyan community, though a reversal of both role and gaze.”

Photo via Twitter

According to the installation’s Tumblr page, Paulino’s bondage gear signifies a “certain power and ownership of her sexuality and positioning, as women who exercise power and confidence in their sexuality are routinely demonized both within and outside of the fraternity.” Paulino’s race made reporting the assault all the more difficult. “Because my rapist was black it was really difficult for me to call my rapist a rapist,” she told Mic. “I felt like I had let my community down and like I was enforcing stereotypes.” But her project has an empowering message for women of color. “I’m tired of black respectability politics and people of color’s bodies being viewed as vulgar and ‘too much,’” she said.

Photo via Twitter

Learn more about Reclamation on its Tumblr page.

(H/T attn:)


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