22-year-old Kar­menife Pauli­no was raped dur­ing her fresh­man year at Wes­leyan Col­lege. The assault col­ored the rest of her col­lege expe­ri­ence, destroy­ing a place she’d hoped could be a haven.

“…she found her­self cry­ing in class, avoid­ing her rapist, por­ing over the university’s sex­u­al mis­con­duct poli­cies, fil­ing reports and attend­ing hear­ings until, final­ly in her junior year, the man was expelled.”

In a pho­to series apt­ly titled Recla­ma­tion, Pauli­no decides to sym­bol­i­cal­ly regain con­trol of her sex­u­al­i­ty in the mid­st of misog­y­nis­tic fra­ter­ni­ty cul­ture. Here is how she describes the project, which was pho­tographed by Tess Alt­man;

“Recla­ma­tion is 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. 

Set­tings include Psi Upsilon, Beta Theta Pi, Delta Kap­pa Epsilon and The Eclec­tic Soci­ety, as the­se insti­tu­tions cre­ate space on cam­pus for sex­u­al, racial and gen­dered vio­lence to occur and fes­ter. “Frat boy” mod­els can be found in sub­mis­sive posi­tions to ges­tu­ral­ly mim­ic how wom­en and oth­er mar­gin­al­ized voic­es are often treat­ed behind the­se walls. Kar­menife is clad in dom­i­na­trix gear to sig­ni­fy 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 [i.e. if she is sex­u­al­ly assault­ed, it is quick­ly deemed that she had been “ask­ing for it”].” 

Tess Altman, Reclamation
Tess Alt­man and Kar­menife Pauli­no, Recla­ma­tion

Race plays a role in Paulino’s expe­ri­ence. Her attack­er was black and, much like the More­house rape vic­tims who came for­ward in Jan­u­ary, Pauli­no says she feels some guilt for speak­ing out again­st him.

“When we speak we have to rep­re­sent the entire com­mu­ni­ty, which is hor­ri­ble,” Pauli­no said. “Because my rapist was black it was real­ly dif­fi­cult for me to call my rapist a rapist. I felt like I had let my com­mu­ni­ty down and like I was enforc­ing stereo­types.”

Despite that con­flict, this pho­to series is incred­i­bly strik­ing.

Tess Altman, Reclamation
Tess Alt­man and Kar­menife Pauli­no, Recla­ma­tion
Tess Altman, Reclamation
Tess Alt­man and Kar­menife Pauli­no, Recla­ma­tion
Tess Altman, Reclamation
Tess Alt­man and Kar­menife Pauli­no, Recla­ma­tion
Tess Altman, Reclamation
Tess Alt­man and Kar­menife Pauli­no, Recla­ma­tion
Tess Altman, Reclamation
Tess Alt­man and Kar­menife Pauli­no, Recla­ma­tion
Tess Altman, Reclamation
Tess Alt­man and Kar­menife Pauli­no, Recla­ma­tion
Tess Altman, Reclamation
Tess Alt­man and Kar­menife Pauli­no, Recla­ma­tion
Tess Altman, Reclamation
Tess Alt­man and Kar­menife Pauli­no, Recla­ma­tion
Tess Altman, Reclamation
Tess Alt­man and Kar­menife Pauli­no, Recla­ma­tion
Tess Altman, Reclamation
Tess Alt­man and Kar­menife Pauli­no, Recla­ma­tion
Tess Altman, Reclamation
Tess Alt­man and Kar­menife Pauli­no, Recla­ma­tion
Tess Altman, Reclamation
Tess Alt­man and Kar­menife Pauli­no, Recla­ma­tion

See more images from the pho­to series here.

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­lis­te, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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50 Comments on "[Pics] Black Woman Does Dominatrix Photo Series at the Site of the Fraternity Where She Was Raped"

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[…] Uni­ver­si­ty. Raped at a fra­ter­ni­ty dur­ing her fresh­man year, she reassert­ed her sex­u­al agen­cy in a pho­to­shoot enti­tled “Recla­ma­tion,” where she pos­es as a dom­i­na­trix on fra­ter­ni­ty […]

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[…] to Tum­blr in Decem­ber of 2015, and they’ve since been shared on web­sites like Black Girl Long Hair, Mic and Jeze­bel. “I’m shocked at how many peo­ple have been mes­sag­ing […]

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[…] to Tum­blr in Decem­ber of 2015, and they’ve since been shared on web­sites like Black Girl Long Hair, Mic and Jeze­bel. “I’m shocked at how many peo­ple have been mes­sag­ing […]

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[…] pho­tographs to Tum­blr  in Decem­ber of 2015, and they’ve since been shared on web­sites like Black Girl Long Hair ‚ Mic  and Jeze­bel . “I’m shocked at how many peo­ple have been mes­sag­ing me,” she […]

The Reactionary Tree

Yea… she prob­a­bly was­nt raped.

Guest

I don’t get it. Oh well mov­ing on…

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[…] Check out the arti­cle I found. […]

Mariah

Yes ??

CurlsGalore

Rape is a forced act while s&m is vol­un­tary by both par­ties. Seems like she is draw­ing a cor­re­la­tion that is very dis­turbing.

Milos Mom

More pow­er to YOU baby girl.

joy karen

Rape is a hor­ri­ble thing and no one who is sen­si­tive to this hurt­ful top­ic, whether male or female, should ever have to suf­fer its con­se­quences. But this girl [and the­se pic­tures] unfor­tu­nate­ly, suc­ceed only in look­ing ridicu­lous. She had been vio­lat­ed and abused once and now, in the­se pho­tos, she is being vio­lat­ed and abused again! there is a fine line between real art and just plain crazy.

kia

This web­site is get­ting weird­er and weird­er

Guest

Bwa­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha­ha!!!!!

You said it per­fect­ly!!!

Pre­cise­ly what I’ve been think­ing for a while now.

Mino Nzinga

As a sex­u­al abuse & attempt­ed rape sur­vivor I know exact­ly what she is say­ing. Unless you have been in her shoes don’t tut tut her for putting on those black boots.

Bubbles [PPG SQUAD]

This is weird

Interested

Reclaim­ing her sex­u­al­i­ty back from a posi­tion of strength. It works for her so it’s all good.

Peter von Gotcher

sol­i­dar­i­ty!!!!! all to often frats pro­tect and encour­age rape cul­ture, racist behav­ior, and need to be got­ten rid of asap

SnowPrincess

Wel­come to 2016. This is more pathet­ic than it is empow­er­ing. Most rape vic­tims aren’t going to look at this girl as a role mod­el. If any­thing, it’s an embar­rass­ment to nature. She real­ly want­ed her 15 min­utes of fame though, and used her attack to gar­nish it. I am so ready for this plan­et to just be knocked out of orbit and into the sun.

Taty Davis
How dare you. Until you have expe­ri­enced the fear, degra­da­tion, and humil­i­a­tion of being raped you don’t get to talk about how she feels. I was raped when I was 4yrs old! I was a child and con­fused and scared. Those feel­ings nev­er leave you. I have sev­ere PTSD and social anx­i­ety. I don’t like meet­ing any­one new for fear they might hurt me, even wom­en not just men. This wom­an has had her pow­er, con­trol, and her sex­u­al­i­ty tak­en from her. This is her way of tak­ing it back. It may seem weird to you. But until you go… Read more »
SnowPrincess
Sweet­ie, you know noth­ing about me or what I have been through, so pipe down. I don’t care about your life sto­ry, so it’s mere­ly irrelevent. Stop copy­ing and past­ing your life sto­ry to every reply that does­nt agree with this. My opin­ion still stands. She is doing this for atten­tion. She is not a role mod­el for rape vic­tims. There is noth­ing “empow­er­ing” about this. She looks like some­one who clear­ly didn’t get a lot of atten­tion grow­ing up, and using her sit­u­a­tion to have some spot­light, and that’s real­ly sick­en­ing and heart­break­ing. She is a moron, and so are… Read more »
Taty Davis
You wrote to anoth­er say­ing that being raped is worse than being robbed. Well no shit Sher­lock. Being raped is like being mur­dered. Every­thing is torn from you at once. It’s worse than being dead. Because while that per­son is rap­ing you, you have know idea if they’re going to kill you. They keep you con­fused and scared, nev­er know­ing if they’re going to let you go to live in your fear and humil­i­a­tion, or kill you right then and there and get it over with. You also said this was some slap in the face to oth­er vic­tims. Well… Read more »
Maxwell Zachs

If this makes her feel empow­ered then that’s great but this is a van­i­ty project, the pic­tures are bad­ly tak­en and deriv­a­tive.

JenJamesBeauty

I sup­port this stance 100%! No dis­claimers.

Rose

I agree with Lola Rose and fro­man­oth­er­plan­et.….

Why is iden­ti­fy­ing as a rape vic­tim sex­u­al­ly empow­er­ing? There are oth­er forms of phys­i­cal and bod­i­ly harm that a per­son may be a vic­tim of (like rob­bery, mar­i­tal, child, and phys­i­cal abuse, etc…) Yet, they don’t feel com­pelled to parade their vic­tim­hood like a new social or sex­u­al iden­ti­ty. The pho­tos are obvi­ous­ly provoca­tive, like the cre­ators want­ed. How­ev­er, it begs the ques­tion: is this real­ly empow­er­ment? Why is degra­da­tion accept­able when it is done to men by wom­en?

SnowPrincess
Because atten­tion. Peo­ple the­se days use their most neg­a­tive and trau­ma­tiz­ing expe­ri­ences to gar­ner atten­tion. It’s not even that she’s talk­ing about it that’s the issue. It’s how she’s going about it. I take rape very seri­ous­ly, which is a rea­son this just doesn’t sit well with me. Rape is one of the most hor­ri­ble thing a per­son could go through. I think it’s worse than being robbed. Doing stuff like this is not only a slap in the face to oth­er vic­tims (at least INTELLIGENT vic­tims with a high­er IQ), it just comes off as she nev­er got much… Read more »
kalexa1

Well said!

SydTheKyd

If she feels empow­ered then let her be. Not all wom­en are empow­ered by the same things. I’m here for it.

Zam

This is so ridicu­lous­ly stu­pid. She looks dumb putting her­self out like that. How is this in any­way empow­er­ing-espe­cial­ly to vic­tims of rape?

Blh

As a vic­tim of rape I can under­stand how THIS is empow­er­ing. When you become the dom­i­nant in a bdsm rela­tion­ship you gain the pow­er of the sit­u­a­tion. You can con­trol who/how some­one gets to touch your body. It’s a type of rela­tion­ship that takes a lot more trust and com­mu­ni­ca­tion than most “nor­mal” sex­u­al rela­tion­ships where things are still more mys­te­ri­ous, or on edge. So I can total­ly under­stand this. Every­one has their own way of heal­ing. If this is her way, huz­zah.

Taty Davis
How dare you. Until you have expe­ri­enced the fear, degra­da­tion, and humil­i­a­tion of being raped you don’t get to talk about how she feels. I was raped when I was 4yrs old! I was a child and con­fused and scared. Those feel­ings nev­er leave you. I have sev­ere PTSD and social anx­i­ety. I don’t like meet­ing any­one new for fear they might hurt me, even wom­en not just men. This wom­an has had her pow­er, con­trol, and her sex­u­al­i­ty tak­en from her. This is her way of tak­ing it back. It may seem weird to you. But until you go… Read more »
ellebee

Well, she is a vic­tim of rape, and she did this to empow­er her­self. So that’s how, for starters.

Return the Stone

I won­der how the con­ver­sa­tion went with the guys with the gags before they did the pho­to­shoot.

Friend

The school should be Wes­leyan Uni­ver­si­ty.

TWA4now

The pho­tos are strik­ing! The doors to a bank are open but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to steal the mon­ey or con­duct a bank rob­bery. NO ONE EVER ASK TO BE RAPED. Rape is a crime and should be treat­ed as such! Peri­od!

Lola Rose

I…dont know how to feel about this to be hon­est.

SnowPrincess

Any­thing for atten­tion. I looked at this and didn’t real­ly see empow­er­ment. It made me feel more irri­tat­ed than any­thing.

Orihime11

I was think­ing the same thing.…

JackpotJoy

Yeah this looks so wrong and rein­forces a stereo­type.

Kinnik Kinnick

Which stereo­type?

JackpotJoy

That BW dom­i­nate men ?

Taylor Dawn Humphrey

I’ll allow it.

S

This looks like Wes­leyan Uni­ver­si­ty, not Wes­leyan Col­lege. I’m glad she’s find­ing heal­ing
-Wes Alum

Essequibo

Yep it most def is. I’m also an alum­na and I’ve spo­ken with Kar­menife, she’s a very inter­est­ing young lady and I wish her all the best.

fromanotherplanet

Is this sup­posed to be empow­er­ing??? Lordtt!! You know what? Let me keep my com­ments to myself.

Tk

well she’s doing it for her­self, not you or any­one else. What mat­ters is her per­spec­tive and what empow­ers her. Every­one else’s per­spec­tive is irrel­e­vant, they can do their speci­fic empow­er­ing thing as is fit­ting for them.

kalexa1

No please don’t. You may not get any pats on the back but there are oth­ers out there think­ing the same. “Strik­ing”??! I feel the­se pho­tos are at best ama­teur-look­ing and tacky, at worst a sad reflec­tion of some­one dam­aged, whose idea of ‘heal­ing’ is this des­per­ate attempt at look­ing empow­ered. It’s iron­ic — and not in a good way, trust me.
I’m not gonna applaud this just because …

Sayanythingshay
It’s just a mat­ter of opin­ion. Empow­er­ment is sub­jec­tive as is being offend­ed. You can’t speak won­ders for the whole com­mu­ni­ty. You’re enti­tled to your opin­ion, you’re right you don’t have to like it. But per­son­al­ly me, I’m hap­py that she’s not let­ting her­self be held back in her own way. Who says she has to “con­form” or dare I say be “classy” in her method of heal­ing? No one. The psy­chol­o­gy of heal­ing and the meth­ods to obtain peace are pow­er­ful tools. I sup­pose I’ll have to agree to dis­agree with you on this. It was inter­est­ing read­ing your… Read more »
kalexa1

What part of what I said entails speak­ing “won­ders for the whole com­mu­ni­ty”?
The view that “she’s not let­ting her­self be held back in her own way” is def­i­nite­ly a sub­jec­tive one. One thing we seem to be agreed on… our dis­agree­ment on this.

Taylor Dawn Humphrey

How is it not?

kalexa1

See com­ment from ‘Rose’ 2 days ago. She offers a great com­men­tary on why it is not.

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