A Student Sat Almost Naked on Campus to Make a Point About Objectification and Assault

By Comments

While most students at Texas State University were just trying to get through another Monday morning, an art student named Monika Rostvold gathered the courage to strip down to a pair of tan pasties, a tan thong, a blindfold, and a pair of headphones and sit, unmoving, on the steps of the campus’s main library. And for about 45 minutes, she pulled it off.

Although some students speculated that Rostvold was just another San Marcos hippie looking to get an all-inclusive tan, the demonstration was actually a performance art piece for a class project and a form of protest against sexual assault and objectification of the female body. In an interview with the Texas State student radio station, Rostvold explained her motives and preparation behind the project. She also said she never thought her demonstration would create such a stir around campus and on the Internet:

“I was intending it to be, like, kind of a small performance piece, but the fact that people are talking about it so much and people are saying that it’s a positive thing — it’s awesome. I’m honestly really proud of Texas State kind of because everyone has had so much positive feedback and is saying all this great stuff about it, and that makes me feel good.”

Not anticipating that kind of reaction may have been a bit naive—sitting almost naked in the middle of a college campus for any amount of time will eventually draw a significant amount of attention. And in this case, some of it was scathing. But as Rostvold told the student radio station, she’s been impressed by the amount of positive feedback, saying some students even left her with snacks, water bottles, and in one case, a necklace.


At one point during her sans-clothing sit-in, Rostvold was approached by campus police. But not to worry, she wasn’t ticketed or arrested. The police officers were more concerned about her sobriety and state of mind than anything else, and Rosvold was allowed to remain in position. Some preliminary research helped her avoid any sort of confrontation with the law:

“I looked up the federal and the state [laws] — and you’re allowed to be topless actually in Texas — but San Marcos had a specific thing where you can’t show your areolas, and in the student handbook it says as long as you’re not breaking any city state or federal laws, you can do whatever,” Rostvold told KTSW. “I talked to a defense attorney about it to make sure it would be okay because I didn’t want the cops to arrest me for just trying to spark a conversation.”

The idea of using a notable form of protest to get students talking about assault and objectification isn’t new. Two years ago, a woman named Casey Jenkins attempted to demystify the female anatomy with a (NSFW) performance art piece called “vaginal knitting.” More recently, a Columbia University student named Emma Sulkowicz has been in headlines since September for her decision to carry a dorm room mattress everywhere in protest of campus rape and assault. 

A lack of immediate clarity about what Rostvold’s actions were about led to confusion that resulted in harsh inappropriate critiques from sites like Total Sorority Move, shared Snapchat screenshots, and a gif of Rostvold sitting on the steps from one student. Even now, after Rostvold’s had a chance to explain the motive behind her hybrid performance art/protest, the criticism continues to roll in. But if starting a conversation at Texas State was her goal, she’s more than achieved it. Now there’s just the matter of her project’s grade.

(Photo via Twitter)

Related Content

  • Robert C Deming

    That is exactly what college students are supposed to be doing – protesting the status quo, challenging the system, pushing for change. Those who criticize her do so out of their inability to see out of the cultural fog they are enveloped in. In my day we protested the war in Vietnam, and I have been disappointed that college students haven’t widely protested every war since.

    • truth_keys

      Most of the kids now days are raving morons, purposely dumbed down. Most I work with have no problems with NSA spying on them since they “don’t have anything to hide”…

      • vippy

        not just the NSA, as long as it happens to other people like the no-knock policy,
        seize your property, etc. people are okay with it, that is the mindset of the 99%
        and as long as they can cite the pledge of allegiance and sold this garbage about freedom is not free!

    • Sarah McWilliams

      You sound like a pervert. She’s not protesting anything. She’s sitting in front of a college with mostly female students completely naked. Protesting something that didn’t and isn’t happening. I think you just want to see more stupid college girls “protesting”. Awwww poor little privileged white girl. Did you get ugly after high school as a cheerleader? Let’s blame men. We got Robert here to support your nude protests.

      • soccermomx3

        Exactly what did he say that makes him “sound like a pervert?” You sound hateful, envious and judgmental.

      • Boris

        Don’t call her stupid just because you won’t do the same. Believe me, it took her a lot of courage to decide getting naked on campus. However, The reason she did that is not important. The act of getting naked in public is basically a matter of who you are and the projected body image that you have on yourself. And that, my friend, is the thing that really counts.

  • OldBlindBob

    So she was sitting there for 45 minutes and didn’t get assaulted, didn’t get “objectified” and didn’t get arrested. What point, exactly, did she prove?

    • http://selflovemedicine.com merrmeckuh

      she proved exactly what you just said. a woman being naked, or a woman being clothed doesn’t matter. a rapist is a rapist. someone that is going to do harm is going to do harm. the way a woman is dressed (or not dressed) does NOT encourage “rape” or “objectification”. your statement, although it seems that you don’t understand, is EXACTLY what she proved.

      • Turpal Giskaev

        srsly dude she was in broad daylight at the stair with 999 students around her , their aint any rapist stupid enough to rape her there

    • Jed

      i don’t think art needs to prove anything.

      • http://selflovemedicine.com merrmeckuh

        that’s the beauty of art…it’s multifaceted. some art is purely to be “beautiful,” some is purposely ugly, some is political, some is simple crafts. you the viewer choose what you want the art to be, and if you don’t like something or don’t consider it “art”, you also have that right.

    • Sarah McWilliams

      That feminists are retards.

  • oatwillie

    Why couldn’t it have been a cheerleader?

    • Kelli Rostvold

      oatwillie….here is Monika in High School…underage. Precisely why she did what she did.

      • Sarah McWilliams

        Oh so she WAS a stupid cheerleader who liked showing off her body. So she was happy to be objectified. But now that she has gotten fugly, goes to a college that’s 70% female, and takes some man-hating feminazi classes, she wants to protest. That makes sense. If you’re an immature idiot.

  • TxRancher1951

    Protesting sexual assault I understand. Rape is about control, not sexual intercourse. Protesting objectification of the female body seems strange to me. Wasn’t she using her own female body as an object to prove that men will be interested in seeing it? It’s human nature that men will be attracted to a nude female form. IMHO it’s like protesting moths being attracted to an outside light. Don’t all women understand that men will spend time & money just to see the nude female form? The world’s oldest profession, strip clubs, & advertising firms understand the desire & earn a living doing it.

    • jch

      Paying to just to see a naked woman IS objectification. Can’t call it attraction when you don’t see her until you’ve paid the door charge.

      • Sarah McWilliams

        So go protest a strip club! Don’t sit naked on college steps, which has mostly female students!

  • truth_keys

    But come on, a woman that is super provocatively dressed is really being rude, especially at work. I rarely see men dressing in a way that is provocative. It is only women. Then they insist, “I’m dressing for myself”. But we’re ALL suppose to not notice this….Bull!

  • truth_keys

    Another point over looked on this, is she has a boyish figure. A woman with large breasts would have been arrested. I’d bet you money on that.

    • Jed

      i’d have stopped a few comments ago.

  • Beth

    She’d do better to get a concealed handgun permit if she’s worried. Her so called art is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Austin Hood

    With all due respect what do young women expect today? They go out in the wee hours of the morning and get drunk and wander the streets all by themselves. Then, they go to a young man’s dorm room unescorted and wonder why there are problems.

    Women today are both foolish and naive. If they don’t want to get assaulted, then don’t go out by yourself, especially to bars, drink, allow yourself to become out of control with alcohol, or go to someone’s apartment or dorm room all by yourself.

    Sure, there are young men that are up to no good. Sure, there are men who like to prey on women. Sure there are men who are sexual predators and worse. But, they can’t get to first base if the young women don’t allow themselves to be alone with these men. Or, if these women do not travel the streets alone.

    I have seen first hand young women at bars talk to guys who are ex-cons and otherwise unsavory and they don’t have a clue.

    Finally, nothing succeeds like defensive actions. When you drive a car you drive defensively. Because even if you are in an accident and it’s the other person’s fault, you can still wind up getting hurt or killed that’s why you drive defensively. Ultimately the only protection for women is to not put themselves at risk. Always travel in groups. Do not go out alone and unescorted late at night, and never go to someone’s room or apartment all by yourself.

    • jch

      Wow. Lemme go check my calendar and make sure I didn’t time travel back a century or two. “Don’t go out by yourself.” Where have I heard that kind of oppression of women lately.

      • Austin Hood

        Oppressed or foolish?

        Most young girls today are ridiculous. They don’t know how to defend themselves. Insist on getting drunk, then going back to someone’s apartment or dorm room. They don’t have a clue about safety or common sense.

        Sure, young women can go anywhere they want. Just like that young college girl did in Virginia. She was walking the streets in the college town all by herself at 1 AM drunk off her rear end, and some whack job killed her.

        So, now, maybe she can address the issue of being repressed or just plain foolish.

        I can travel anywhere I want too, but I’m not stupid enough to go into a biker bar in a rough part of town at 2 AM all by myself or in a group, just because I don’t want to be “repressed.” Wake up and smell the coffee.

        Women aren’t as physically strong as men. They don’t know how to protect themselves in a jam. That’s why they get into trouble. So, the smart person acts accordingly. Fools step in where Angels fear to tread.

        • soccermomx3

          So the “whack job” gets no blame for murder? It’s all the girl’s fault for being out and about?

          • Austin Hood

            Sure the “Whack Job” get’s blamed for the murder, but in the mean time that’s small conciliation when the girl gets killed. Had she used some common sense she would still be alive today.

            Today, unfortunately, people are always trying to get others to take responsibility for protecting them instead of using learning to use common sense and protect themselves.

            The fact remains, there are bad people in the world. And, if you don’t learn to protect yourself from bad people you will suffer and pay the price.

            Now, in a perfect world certainly the bad guys would follow the law and respect women, just as in a perfect world everyone would obey the laws on the highway, never speed and never do stupid things.

            My philosophy is that women ought to learn to protect themselves and not put themselves at risk.

      • http://www.stepoff-because-idgaf.com mrcs84usn

        do you actually have a decent counter argument, or are you just going to shout out “oppression” and walk away like you’ve accomplished something?

      • Sarah McWilliams

        Let me guess, you’re a fan of the Columbia University student Emma who lied about being raped and afterwards claimed her mattress carrying stunt was just an “art project”.

  • Sarah McWilliams

    If her goal was to look stupid, then it was a success.

  • Boris

    In stripping almost completely naked on campus she set herself to be a model of objectification by both fellow male students and female students as well. Unfortunately, from her little experiment, she can’t tell which student specifically or which gender generally objectified her the most.

  • Chris Adams

    This is cool, but as a former student in San Marcos there was never a shortage of scantily clad young ladies sunbathing, playing volleyball, canoeing or swimming at the river that runs through campus. Big whoop. I’m more concerned about the fat female legs in the background of the pic. It’s a hilly campus and was once a pride of Texas for having the hottest babes. Guess I make her point.

  • Dorthey Houston

    This young lady did something that meant something to her. Its her choice not anyone else’s. This is why we have freedom of speech. Find something to do that you are proud of. Don’t drag down people when their dream makes them happy.

  • idahoguy101

    Austin is the Beserkly of Texas. What goes on there doesn’t surprise anyone. Austin is a case of “Disney Sex”. It’s just f_cking goofy there.