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September 20, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-20

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4

OPINION

Page 4

Tuesday, September 20, 1988

The Michigan Daily#

MSA
By Nikita Buckhoy and
Elizabeth Paige
The following is a story and example of
the sexism women face in their'interac-
tions with MSA and other elected repre-
sentatives.
On Wednesday, Sept. 14, 1988, Liz
Paige and I discovered that the Michigan

insensitive

to

women

ately offended that MSA was giving out
douches to women on campus. Histori-
cally, women have been subjected to the
belief that our genitals are dirty, disease
ridden and that "extra special" cleaning and
deodorants are needed. This belief still ex-
ists, a quick look through any women's
magazine will verify this claim. The
companies that manufacture and distribute

'The companies that manufacture and distribute [douches] are clearly
making a hefty profit off of this misogynist notion. Thus, giving out
douches is not a trivial issue, it is rooted in sexism and insulting
ideas about women's bodies.'

Student Assembly would be giving out
"care packages" to students at Festifall.
We noticed at least 20 boxes lining the
hall in the MSA area labeled either male
or female, we asked someone if we could
look in the packages to see what they
contained. In the men's packages we found
pain killers, cologne, cold medicine and
other free samples. In the women's pack-
agles we found similar items; cold
medicine, pain killers, tampons and
douches. My friend and I became immedi-
Buckhoy and Paige serve on the
Women's Caucuses of the United Coali-
tion Against Racism (UCAR) and the
Fiee South Africa Coordinating
Cdmmittee (FSACC). Buckhoy is also a
member of People Organized for Women,
Equality and Rights (POWER).

these products are clearly making a hefty
profit off of this misogynist notion. Thus,
giving out douches is not a trivial issue, it
is rooted in sexism and insulting ideas
about women's bodies.
It is relatively well known that:
1. The insides of healthy women's
genitals do not need to be disinfected,
cleaned by the chemicals contained in
douches, the internal parts of our bodies
clean themselves, the outsides we clean
with soap and water.
2. Douching is unsafe, for it upsets the
Ph balance in the vagina, washing away
our bodies natural bacteria and germ fight-
ing defenses.
3. If there are women who feel they need
to use douches for hygienic or medi-
cal/health reasons, it is a woman's
prerogative and responsibility to purchase

these products herself. And to discuss with
her doctor the possible side effects of us-
ing these products.
We tried to explain this to Rob Bell,
one of the organizers of MSA's Festifall
participation, in addition to expressing our
anger and asking that the douches be re-
moved. Bell informed us he did not have
enough people to remove them. (This was
Wednesday afternoon and there were sev-
eral MSA people in the offices at the
time. Granted these people may have other
things to do, but the process would not
take that long and they would have two
days to do it.) Then Rob Bell had the au-
dacity to suggest that my friend and I take
them out. I promptly reminded him that
this was not our responsibility, not our
fuck up. He appeared not to understand the
issue or our anger.
Our elected MSA President, Michael
Phillips did not seem to care. During the
course of the conversation with Rob Bell,
Phillips walked into the MSA area of the
Union, Bell then went to explain the situ-
ation to him. He approached us and gave
us his arrogant and insensitive opinion.
He informed us that the packages were a
gift from the companies who make the
products, that MSA was not condoning
the use of any of the products and was not
in any way affiliated with the contents.
Our beloved president must be some
kind of fool if he thinks that MSA will
not be associated with the care packages
that they are giving out, be they the mid-
dle people or producers of the products and

packages themselves. What kind of orga-
nization, which claims to represent the
student population, would think and do
something as irresponsible as not giving
considerable thought to any process in
which they are engaged? We were told, by
Phillips, that if we and other women are
offended by any of the items in the "care
packages," don't use them. In other words,
don't bother to look at, listen to and speak
out against an offensive act.
After giving us his words of wisdom, he
then recommended that we raise it at
MSA's constituency meeting the follow-
ing Tuesday, and walked away. Phillips'
message was, don't bother him with it
until the appropriate time and place.
Phillips dismissed us and our concerns.
On Thursday, I was told of an interac-
tion that Phillips had with Audrey Haber-
man, a SAPAC staff person. Phillips told
Haberman that two UCAR women had
come into the office causing trouble and
complaining about the presence of the
douches in the packages they were handing
out at Festifall. (In fact, I think we ruined
his day.) Haberman responded with disbe-
lief that the douches were to be distributed,
Phillips asked what he should do, and
Haberman told him to remove the
douches. He responded that he would, and
would tell other MSA members that she
advised their removal. That evening I was
informed by Pam Kisch and Cathy Cohen,
fellow members of People Organized for
Women, Equality and Rights (POWER),.
that Phillips told them that the douches

had been removed. Phillips did not bother
to inform the women who initiated the
complaint.
There are several possibilities to explain
Phillips' response to Haberman. The most
important and probable is that she is seen
as more of an expert on women's issues
because she works at SAPAC, while
Paige and I belong to anti-Apartheid and
anti-racist organizations. Needless to say,
Paige and I have a very good understanding
of women's issues and feminism. A sec-
ond possibility is Phillips suspected an-
tagonism towards and dislike for UCAR as
an organization and some of its members.
(Pure speculation on my part, of course.)
In either case, Phillips handled this situa-
tion poorly. Speaking for both Liz Paige
and myself, we think at least an apology
is in order.
This issue is larger than women's hy-
giene/health care products, it is about the
various manifestations of sexism,
Phillips' and Bell's egos and irresponsi-
bility. Both men could benefit from some
education on women's issues and sexism,
among other things (which I hesitate to
put in print). It is important to know how
the president of MSA handles complaints,
women's issues and the responsibilities of,
his office. We may indeed see Phillips and
Bell at the next constituency meeting, but
I think it would be a waste of precious
time and energy. In the mean time and
thereafter, their personal and this
University's institutional sexism will not
be ignored or tolerated.

4

-k

0he mFbtudnsanrtichigan l
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Abortion too important to

GOP

Vol. IC No. 9

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Women helping women

FOR WOMEN in Ann Arbor, several
organizations serve as important
resources. They all share a common
commitment to provide support and care,
to women in particular, and to all people
in the Ann Arbor area. These
organizations include the Sexual Assault
Prevention and Awareness Center
(SAPAC), the Women's Crisis Center
(WCC), the Washtenaw County Assault
Crisis Center and the Domestic Violence
Project/Safehouse.
While all of these organizations func-
tion in support of and in coalition with
one another, they are all distinct groups
working in different ways toward com-
mon goals.
SAPAC is a University-sponsored
cnter which has its offices in the Michi-
gdn Union. SAPAC focuses on three
cmplementary purposes.
The first provides counseling for sur-
vivors of sexual assault and their family
members and friends. SAPAC provides
individual counseling and survivor sup-
port groups.
:SAPAC's second focus promotes cre-
ating a safer campus. SAPAC works in
cpnjunction with Safewalk, a co-educa-
tional escort service, which operates out
of the Undergraduate Library. SAPAC
was also instrumental in installing emer-
gency phones on campus.
SAPAC's third focus deals with edu-
cation on campus. The purpose of this
education is to make women and men re-
sponsible for understanding the issues
surrounding rape and violence against
Women.
SAPAC has approximately 100 vol-
unteers who organize and facilitate their
many programs. They are currently for-
tunate to be functioning with a very full
staff. People can express their support of
SAPAC and their desire to be involved
by attending SAPAC sponsored events.
The Women's Crisis Center (WCC) is
a community-sponsored organization
which defines its basic philosophy as
"women helping women help them-
selves." The Center's role focuses pri-
marily on dispensing information to
women in the community.
As well as offering peer phone
counseling to women who seek it, the
Center provides referrals to organizations
such as the Domestic Violence Pro-

September 29th.
WCC is currently located at 306 N.
Division. They are in need of a new loca-
tion, but due to budget limitations are
able to pay rent no higher than $50 per
month. Any information which could
help WCC find housing is welcome and
encouraged.
The Domestic Violence Pro-
ject/Safehouse is a United Way agency
dedicated to the empowerment of
women. It has several goals: providing
safety and shelter for battered women
and their children; reducing incidents of
domestic violence; shifting the
responsibility of prevention from battered
women to the perpetrators and the
community; and making battering a
public policy and community issue rather
than a private one.
The services offered by the Domestic
Violence Project/Safehouse focus on cri-
sis intervention, counseling and support
for battered women. Women can seek
shelter at Safehouse by using the crisis
line. Support for women is also available
in the form of support groups and public
education. Such educational efforts are
vital to creating sensitivity to the needs of
battered women.
The Domestic Violence Pro-
ject/Safehouse is also currently seeking
volunteers. More information can be ob-
tained by calling their crisis line.
The Washtenaw County Assault Crisis
Center is supported through community
grants and private donations. Its goals are
to provide support to survivors of sexual
assault, their families and friends. This is
accomplished through crisis line phone
counseling, short term counseling and
support groups. The Assault Crisis Cen-
ter stresses the need to increase aware-
ness and sensitivity in the community to
the needs of women who have survived
sexual assault.
The Center offers its services to all
residents of Washtenaw County and also
to non-residents who are assaulted in
Washtenaw County.
Each of these organizations was cre-
ated to deal with the special needs of
women. They exist for women as sup-
port mechanisms and networks of com-
munication, however all members of the
Ann Arbor community can benefit from
their service

By I. Matthew Miller
Last Friday, Republican Presidential
candidate George Bush stated that the issue
of abortion should not become a "litmus
test" for candidates running for office in
this country. On Saturday, Michigan Re-
publicans held their convention in Detroit
and made the abortion issue the leading
factor to decide which candidates would
represent their party in the election in
November.
The two most hotly contested positions
last weekend were for Regent of the Uni-
versity of Michigan and for Trustee of
Michigan State University. Both govern-
ing bodies have two positions available
this fall and three Republican hopefuls
were running for those two spots on each
board.
During the convention a flier was circu-
lated on the floor of the convention by a
pro-Pat Robertson faction which offered to
the voting delegates the positions that the
candidates held on various issues. On one
I. Matthew Miller is a Daily opinion
staff writer

sioe of the sheet were the Michigan candi-
dates and on the other side, Michigan
State. The questions dealt with the stance
of the candidates on the rights of homo-
sexuals on campus, condoning drinking on
campus, and affirmative action. The first
question on the flier, however, inquired
about the candidate's position on the
abortion issue. In each contest it was the
pro-choice candidate who was defeated -
Alan May at Michigan and Dee Cook at
Michigan State.
I am still trying to understand how a
candidate's position on abortion will affect
that person's ability to govern a major
university. I feel that it has no relevance
and that the elections should be centered
around more substantive issues like tu-
ition increases and combatting the prob-
lem of racism on campus.
The Michigan GOP is losing sight of
its purpose which is, first and foremost,
electing candidates to office. After spend-
ing twenty-two hours at the state conven-
tion I feel that the party has taken an ill-
advised, almost self-condemning, shift to
the far right. With the current attitude that

abortion is the primary issue of a cam-
paign, the party is forgetting the rest of
the issues while alienating pro-choice
supporters. .At this rate, the GOP will
never win a state-wide election and it is
their own fault.
The party gives too much importance to
the nomination to a post and not enough
to the general election where it really,
counts. What's the use of nominating a
Robertson clone only to see him lose in
the general election, and lose big. In the.
case of U.S. Senate candidate Jim Dunn,
who leads the Republican ticket in
November, some polls show his adver-
sary, incumbent Senator Don Riegle,
ahead by as much as 4 to 1 - Good luck
closing that gap, Jim.
Since the moderates of former Governor
William Milliken's crowd have been
forced out of power by the extreme right
within the party, those self serving party
faithful should take a long hard look at
themselves and the failures they will real-
ize in November and turn the direction
back towards the center or else they can
forget having any influence in a state-wide
election again.

Letters to the editor ,

Defining
freedom
and
protest
To the Daily:
"Climbing uninvited onto
the stage and speaking out of
turn are exactly the kinds of
behavior defined as unaccept-
able under the new guidelines
of student conduct adopted by
the Regents this summer."
To the authors of this article
"Arms and the Law" (Weekend
Magazine, 9/16/88):
Do you actually need guide-
lines to tell you that this is
inappropriate behavior? To me,
anyone who doesn't consider
this rude and downright
obnoxious on their own needs
to go back to the first grade,
where the basic rules of social
interaction are learned.
I'm also dismayed by your
attitude that you were blind-
sided-caught by surprise-by the
regents action. When a child
beats on another child with a
toy, the toy should be taken

whole. Regardless of her polit-
ical views (hers and mine are
decidedly opposite) she is a re-
spected and accomplished
member of the world political
scene, and as such deserves re-
spect. But more significantly,
that Southworth and Stein-
graber, the authors, claim that
she should not have been in-
vited here because her views are
in opposition to theirs is both
egocentric and personally re-
pulsive. Who omnisciently de-
cided your views are any more
correct or moral than any
other? There are certainly peo-
ple at this university whose
views are in opposition to
yours. That the authors claim
to speak for all of us is beyond
reproach. Don't even think of
claiming to speak for me. You
don't. Not until you grow up.
Nothing-no political view,
no office, no race, no religion-
gives one the right to be rude.
Another point: Last time I
checked, a university was sup-
posed to be a place where those
interested in learning gathered
to hear and exchange view-
points for the benefit of all in-
volved. This is part of the
concept of a 'Liberal Educa-
tion'. Perhaps this process does

freedom is curtailed. However,
I don't think that the Regent's
actions were unwarranted.
Whether, in the end, this is a
good or bad decision, only pa-
tience will tell. But there is
some kind of elegant irony to

the fact that those who are an-
gry over the guidelines are pre-
cisely those who caused their
inception.
-Frederick Knops
September 19

4

Complicating
library
computers
To the Daily:
The new MIRLYN com-
puter system in the libraries is
a waste of money. It is not
user friendly: it requires com-
puter language to operate it.

Students who want to find
books by call number, make a
hold, or learn whether a book
is in the library cannot. The
old Geac system worked fine.
Its only fault was the small
number of computers. The
University could have saved
money by buying many as-
suredly depreciated old Geacs.
-Erik Owens
September 19

The Daily Opinion page is actively seeking women and minorities who are
interested in writing editorials or doing investigative work. The basic re-
quirements are two meetings a week and writing one article per week. Call
Jeff or Cale at 747-2814.
Daily Opinion Page letter policy
Due to the volume of mail, the Daily cannot print
all the letters and columns it receives, although an
effort is made to print the majority of material on a

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