Emma Sulkowicz, Bunny Boiler


chat is a bunny boiler? It refers to Glenn Close’s character in “Fatal Attraction”, Alex Forrest. Alex Forrest has sex with Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) and then starts stalking and harassing him – subjecting him to anti-male shaming and emotional blackmail, pouring acid on his car, sending tapes full of abusive language. At one point she claims she is pregnant with his baby. When that ploy fails and her victim tries to get a restraining order on her, the police blow him off. She goes on to break into the family home when no one is there, kill the daughter’s pet rabbit – this is the origin of the expression “bunny boiler” – and leave it boiling on the stove. Finally she kidnaps the daughter in a very creepy scene where she takes her on a roller coaster.

The movie was remarkable in accurately portraying a certain kind of woman but what was really remarkable was the rapturous reception it got among women, who apparently approved of her behavior and considered her a “strong woman” (proving that they had no inkling of an idea of what strength actually is). Many criticized the film as stigmatizing mental illness and more unforgivably, showing a woman in a bad light, to the point that Susan Faludi considered the film a form of backlash against women’s progress, but out among the public the film and Close were received with rapture and the movie was such a financial success that it influenced a series of subsequent films.

Feminists criticized the film, but its reception among women in general was quite different. Close remembers practically being mobbed by admirers at one function. And that year as Close was going down the red carpet to the Oscars, she noticed:

“I was walking down the red carpet and all of a sudden there was a whole load of women with that hairstyle. Some had fake knives, too – made out of cardboard. I had my own little fan club!”

Let’s stop for a minute and ask what about an unhinged, murderous stalker was so appealing to so many women. I think it’s quite simple: she embodied so many cultural tropes they so many hold dear – the romantic trope of the desperate lover who will stop at nothing, the Daddy’s Little Girl radical entitlement trope seen as a form of empowerment for women, which takes its fullest form as consumerism, with the creed “Want, want, want; get, get, get” that burst into full corpse flower bloom in the benighted 80s. Alex Forrest was the customer, and the customer is always right! She is entitled to get what she wants, dammit. Alex Forrest embodied the female entitlement that is at the core of Anglophone gynocentrism, and American women loved it.

So that’s what a bunny boiler is. Fatal Attraction appeared in 1987; was Alex Forrest just a narcissistic denizen (borderline, actually) of a narcissistic decade, and her kind is seen no more among us? Would that it were true!


Emma Sulkowicz, Bunny Boiler

So now we come to the story of Emma Sulkowicz, a student at Columbia University, who accused another student, Paul Nungesser, of raping her, but not before having stalked him on Facebook and by texting. Her desire was not returned. And that was unforgiveable, and she became “viciously angry.”

She hadn’t taken the matter to the police, and an internal board had cleared Nungesser, and both he and she were bound to confidentiality, but that didn’t stop Sulkowitz in her crusade for justice. Sulkowitz didn’t abide by what she had agreed to and started her infamous mattress campaign of public humiliation and harassment against Nungesser, culminating in her dragging her now filthy mattress, against explicit instructions to the contrary, to the graduation ceremony, where she once more subjected Nungesser to harassment and humiliation.

In the meantime however, three other students, one male and two female, came forward to accuse Nungesser of other rapes. That looks damning, doesn’t it? The problem is that it turns out that these accusers were connected to Sulkowicz and the whole thing looks very orchestrated. For one thing the male accuser says he is a close friend of Sulkowicz’s. Columbia found their stories even less plausible than Sulkowitz’s. At point after point Sulkowitz’s and her confederates’ accounts have been found both internally inconsistent and inconsistent with sources that instead corroborate Nungesser’s account of events.

So that’s the sequence of events. What is also interesting is how much notoriety Sulkowicz has parlayed this into. L’affaire Sulkowicz has been running in the news for weeks now and she even had a US senator, Senator Gilliland, champion her cause, to the point of getting her invited to the State of the Union address. And Sulkowitz has seen her cause taken up by feminists like Amanda Marcotte and the people at Jezebel. Emma Sulkowitz, the champion and poster child of raped womanhood! That not only excuses her campaign of stalking and harassment, no, that makes it glorious and righteous!! Her distortions and lies and histrionics are a blow for justice!

This is the same celebration of bunny boiling we saw with Fatal Attraction. Nothing has changed.

A rapturous reception indeed among the Sisterhood. Alex Forrest rides again. And she’s not done yet. Now Sulkowicz has turned on the university president who enabled her whole campaign of harassment at Columbia in the first place: she’s accusing him now of slighting her (showing insufficient enthusiasm and deference when she crossed the stage) at her graduation. Not much sympathy for him, I’m afraid.

Alex Forrest’s fictional and Emma Sulkowicz’s real behavior reflect on them; the adulation it received and receives reflects on those defenders and admirers and champions of that behavior, and the image that reflects is sick and ugly.


Jim Doyle
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<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="152126 https://www.honeybadgerbrigade.com/?p=152126">21 comments</span>

  • All true. The problem is that women like Sulkowitz are the feminist heroes of today. The more outlandish their claims, the more criminal their actions, the more they MUST be supported.

  • Sulkowicz*

    Glenn Close? Bunny boiler? Psychopath? I can’t be the only one that thought of 101 Dalmatians.

  • Emma Sulky Witch, who comes with a mattress already strapped to her back. How much does someone with an art degree and a warm mattress make these days?

    • Well hey, at least she’ll always have something to sleep on. I do know that Columbia U. is not very happy Dear Emma and if she expects to apply to another school for an advanced degree she might be unpleasantly surprised by the rejection letters.

      • so more false rape charges coming…she don’t handle rejection very well

        • I’d be curious to know a bit more but Ms. Emma’s background. If she’s a rich girl she may be able to parlay her fame and pied piper her disciples into brief and disappointing lives. If he’s not so rich it’s likely she’s the one who is going to crash and burn.

  • Females won’t improve their behavior and cease admiring female criminals until they are actually subject to punishment under the law. Of course equality is written into most laws but judges, social workers, and other authorities consistently let them off.

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  • It also comes across in the 90s movie Thelma and Louise which I despised so much, and in the slew of “woman is raped; can now do anything to anyone because she was robbed” movies I also detest. The idea that women only react, that they are entitled to react as they aren’t really responsible for anything, and that “Hell hath no Fury like a Woman Scorned” ie, she has no limits or laws for her, you’re on notice that she can do what she likes and your responsible…

    • Robert, this is excellent. I hadn’t drawn that connection but now it’s obvious. In particular I do remember a slew of vigilante revenge flick – Burning Bed and so on – but I remember the end of the trial scene in the Eileen Wuornos movie, where she’s being dragged off, protecting that they are jailing a raped women, as if that justified her stalking and hunting of men on the interstate.

    • Jade, welcome! and thank you for that. I didn’t want this to come across as slagging women in general in any way. I know that it is women who catch most of this shit, form these women, and that because of the leniency they enjoy, their victims are left unprotected.

      • Ginkgo, assuming you are the author – please change spelling from Sulkowitz to proper Sulkowicz – I know to English person it sounds the same, but isn’t 😛

        • I am. Thanks for catching that. it’s so common for those names to be Anglicized that way that my eye slid right over that.

        • I can’t seem to change the way the title appears on the main page, but I think I have gotten all the others. Thanks again.

  • She’s now done some sort of video that depicts a rape, or not: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/05/columbia-graduate-mattress-emma-sulkowicz-video

    “If you watch this video without my consent, then I hope you reflect on your reasons for objectifying me and participating in my rape, for, in that case, you were the one who couldn’t resist the urge to make Ceci N’est Pas Un Viol about what you wanted to make it about: rape.
    Please, don’t participate in my rape. Watch kindly.”

    • So. She makes a porno. Tells the media about, encourages people to watch it, but if you do your a rapist?
      I don’t have the words to properly describe this woman.

      • Even with a large shelf dedicated to the etymology of insulting language I am also lost for words.

  • Its this glorification of rape as the most serious crime ever, some sort
    of fate worse than death, that is directly behind things like Mattress, and the creature it rides on
    I am not saying it should be minimized but a bit of rational perspective would be a good idea,
    From my own experience and that of other people I know, rape is a damn sight less psychologically and physically damaging than quite a few things.

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