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October 28, 1988 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-10-28

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0

OPINION

Page 4

Friday, October 28, 1988

The Michigan Daily

46

Se fiadmanQan
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Rape

of lesbians

Vol. IC, No. 37

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor. MI 48109

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
" of the Daily.

AidNic
MONDAY THE REAGAN administra-
tion announced that it will not send
disaster aid to Nicaragua where Hurri-
cane Joan left 50 people dead and
300,000 homeless, 10 percent of the
population. Accusing Nicaraguan
President Ortega of using "the storm as
another platform for propaganda
against the contras," the Reagan ad-
ministration has refused humanitarian
aid for political purposes.
Earlier this month when Hurricane
Gilbert struck Jamaica the Reagan ad-
ministration committed over $125 mil-
lion in food, medical supplies, and
technical assistance. The Jamaican
government is closely allied with the
United States and U.S. multinational
corporations. The Nicaraguan people
are deemed less worthy of aid because
their government justly refuses to abide
by the conditions attached to support
from the United States.
The Jamaican government is accept-
able to the Reagan Administration be-
cause of acceptance of free market ide-
ology and the return of the bauxite
mines to the U.S. multinational Alcoa.
Nicaragua, however, refuses follow
free market doctrines which would al-
low the exploitation of its people.
Contra-aid supporters and apologists
for U.S. intervention often claim that
the United States has a mandate to in-
terfere in Latin America for the good of
the Latin American peoples. Politically
this logic is questionable but it does
provide a good argument for giving
humanitarian aid to countries which
lack the resources to repair the
destruction from natural disasters. The
same people who have been so
passionate about protecting the
supposed opposition press in
Nicaragua are not concerned about
Nicaraguans' need for shelter.
Marlin Fitzwater, President Reagans
Press Secretary, asserts that Ortega
could not be trusted to use the aid for
disaster assistance. Yet, after Nicaragua
was devastated by an earthquake in

.araguans
1972 the United States was quick to
send millions in aid. These desperately
needed funds found their way into the
the personal coffers of the corrupt
Somoza dictatorship.
There is no guarantee with any gov-
ernment, including many U.S. allies,
that aid will not be misdirected. This is
a suspect argument when it is applied
only to countries which our govern-
ment does not support such as
Nicaragua.
Fitzwater also pointed out that Ortega
has not requested aid and would prob-
ably not accept it if it were offered.
This is a reference to the recent
Nicaraguan law making it illegal to ac-
cept any type of U.S. aid.
Ortega was completely justified in
passing this law since it is not accept-
able to be indebted to a country whose
money funds the contras, killing many
more people than any hurricane.
The United States and the economic
institutions which it controls (such as
the World Bank) attempt to extract po-
litical and economic concessions from
recipient countries.
Ortega is responsible for the welfare
of the Nicaraguan people and
Nicaragua's self-determination. If the
United States offered aid without de-
manding that Nicaragua become an-
other Jamaica, he would surely accept
it.
Finally there is the argument that the
United States does not give money of
any kind to governments it does not
support. This is not true.
The United States does not support
the Islamic fundamentalist principles of
either Iraq or Pakistan and yet has
given both millions in military aid.
This seems to be a particular grudge
against Nicaragua.
By refusing Nicaragua disaster aid
the United States has once again
proven that our interventions in Latin
America do not spring from any con-
cern for Latin American peoples but are
a transparent grab for political and
economic influence.

By Billie Edwards
Rape is experienced by the person as
one step removed from homicide. This vi-
olent invasion of a person often renders
the victim helpless and powerless. Sur-
vivors of a sexual assault typically
experience a wide range of emotions in-
cluding shame, humiliation, terror and
rage. When sexual assault is perpetrated
against a lesbian, these issues are greatly
magnified due to the oppressive and hos-
tile environment surrounding lesbians and
gay men.
Both lesbians and heterosexual women
struggle with whether or not to report a
rape. The lesbian, however, has the added
dilemma of whether she should also dis-
close her sexual orientation. If the lesbian
rape survivor decides to both file a com-
plaint and disclose her sexuality, she risks
further humiliation from a judgmental
system at the very moment when she is
most vulnerable to the opinions of others.
If a lesbian who has been sexually as-
saulted chooses to report the incident she
becomes involved in a process that has
multiple and repeated steps of personal
vulnerability. Each step requires that she
not only recount the experience of the
rape, but that she also declare herself a
lesbian. She must go through this dual
ordeal each and every time she tells her
story.
Whenishe calls the police she must as-
sess their sensitivity and their skill in
working with the issue of sexual assault,
while weighing the practical and emo-
tional consequences of telling them she is
a lesbian. Revealing her sexual identity to
the police is no small feat due to the per-
vasive homophobic attitudes prevalent
among police officers, not to mention the
fact that homosexuality is illegal in most
communities and/or states.
When dealing with the medical profes-
sion, the lesbian is faced with the same
dilemma. Although Ann Arbor is an ex-
ception, many emergency room personnel
Billie Edwards is Coordinator of the U-M
Lesbian Programs Office.

have not received specialized training in
handling rape cases. It is also not
unrealistic to assume that lesbians may
face insensitive medical care.
If she goes to a rape crisis center for
help and support, her assessment of
whether to come out to them must take
into account that many of these centers
were established by women who assume
heterosexuality on the part of rape sur-
vivors. Although women in general appear
less homophobic than men, discomfort
with lesbianism is common.
The judicial system continues to ac-
tively demonstrate it's hostility toward
lesbians and gay men. How comfortable
can a lesbian be working with a system
which consistently and overtly discrimi-
nates against her? Prosecuting attorneys
may insist that she remain silent around
the issue of her sexuality for fear of jeop-
ardizing her chances of gaining a convic-
tion. The legal system continues to re-
victimize sexual assault survivors
through-out the judicial process. To reveal
her sexual identity in the courtroom, a
lesbian takes the risk of being publicly
ridiculed and harassed.
It is not uncommon for sexual assault
survivors to seek professional help to
work through their trauma. It is most
critical that she be open with her therapist.
Healing cannot occur unless a trusting and
open relationship exists between client and
therapist. Unfortunately, many therapists
are either judgmental or uncomfortable
with lesbianism. Moreover, group therapy
is often the treatment of choice in working
with sexual assault. By the time she gets
to this stage of the process the lesbian
rape survivors may have experienced such
homophobia, discrimination and rejection,
that she may need a lot of support and en-
couragement to risk further rejection by
group members. Because most groups are
led by heterosexual therapists and made up
of mostly, if not entirely, heterosexual
women, the risk of rejection is real. .
If the lesbian rape survivor is not out to
her personal network of support, family,
friends and sometimes religious commu-

nity - the same dilemmas are present. If
a lesbian decided to be open with her fam-
ily, pastor, and friends, she may risk los-
ing them permanently. At the very least,
they may not be able to support her, at a
time when she needs their full support the
most; while they deal with the double
shock of her sexual assault and her coming
out to them.
A large number of lesbians are in rela-
tionships. Their lover is the most impor-
tant and critical support. If she does come
out as a result of her rape does she allow
her lover to support her publicly? Her
lover may not be in a position
professionally, politically or personally to
come out. Because one in four women are
sexually abused by the age of eighteen,
there is a strong possibility that her lover
is also a survivor of either childhood or
adult sexual assault. If this is the case, the
situation between the couple can be ex-
tremely complex and painful. The rela-
tionship will endure severe stress at a time
when a rape survivor needs maximum
support.
If the survivor of sexual assault is a
lesbian, the issues of recovery are com-
pounded, the trauma and stressors are
magnified. This is today's reality. This
reality can change. Each of us can help
make the societal climate more accepting
and less condemning of lesbianism. We
can stop assuming that everyone is
heterosexual, providing a more open envi-
ronment for lesbians to self disclose. We
can pressure the legal system to educate
itself about issues- of homosexuality. We
can challenge the medical profession to be
more accepting and humanistic in dealing
with lesbians and gay men. We can insist
that social service agencies provide ser-
vices sensitive to the needs of homosexu-
als. We can support families in their
struggle to accept a child that is different.
These problems can seem so over-
whelming that it may sound hopeless.
This is not true. Change is possible. The
fact that this article has been printed and
that you are reading it demonstrates that
change is occurring.

C

U
I

AP distorts South African vote

By FSACC and UCAR
On October 26, the Daily uncritically
absorbed a dangerously misleading
Associated Press release on the recent seg-
regated and undemocratic elections in
South Africa. The story which carried the
outrageous headline "Riots mar S. African
elections" implies that the elections re-
flected some real democratic process which
was hampered by Black protest. On the
contrary, the elections are cosmetics de-
signed to further conceal the crimes of the
Apartheid regime and give it legitimacy in
the international community. To frame the
AP information in this context is a
tremendous disservice to Daily readers and
promotes racist notions about the'nature
of Apartheid and opposition to it.
The article emphasizes that this is "the
first time people of this racially separated
nation will have cast ballots on the same
day," without explaining that Blacks have
previously been allowed to vote in local
so-called tribal elections, but never in na-
tional elections which actually decide pol-
icy. The Oct. 26 balloting was no differ-
ent. Blacks are still de facto disenfran-
chised. "Botha is (simply) trying to use
the elections to co-opt enough black sup-
port to continue white minority control"
(Detroit Free Press, 10/21/88). The
Free South Africa Coordinating Com-
mittee and the United Coalition Against
Racism are student anti-racist organiza-
tions.

Daily's message that the elections were
"marred" by protesting Blacks sets a tone
which blames Blacks for somehow ruining
the elections.
The article states that "so few (Blacks)
are registered and no local candidates
represent major organizations opposed
to...apartheid," but ignores the very reason
why Blacks boycotted the elections:
African National Congress and other
apartheid opponents "see the elections as

Botha's government is making "tentative
moves toward reform." Reform? Is the
physical torture of children and other bla-
tant violations of human rights reform?
What the hell does the Daily mean? If the
Nationalist Party is not "staunchly pro-
apartheid," then what is it? In essence, the
Conservative Party is ultra-fascist, and the
Nationalist Party is only fascist? This is
not a substantive difference.
The Daily's glaringly irresponsible

'The Daily fails to critically examine and expose Botha's out-
rageous claim of "broadening democracy" in South Africa.
Rather than refute this claim, it focuses on "differences" be-
tween Botha's National Party and the Conservative Party.'

4

an opportunity to send the government a
message that Black South Africans refuse
to participate in a process dictated by
whites" (Free Press) and which gives no
real power to the majority of South
African citizens. Even in farce elections
only a fraction of Blacks are eligible.
The Daily fails to critically examine and
expose Botha's outrageous claim of
"broadening democracy" in South Africa.
Rather than refute this claim, it focuses on
"differences" between Botha's National
Party and the Conservative Party. The ar-
ticle categorizes the Conservative Party as
"staunchly pro-apartheid," but says that

coverage included several references to
violence by Blacks without any analysis
of the historical context. Armed struggle
by Black South Africans is a response to
centuries of brutal economic exploitation
and nearly half a century of non-violent
resistance which was answered with bul-
lets. The real violence is the daily brutal-
ity of Apartheid and the international
community's silence. If that silence is to
be broken, the media must be more
responsible in exposing the crimes and
lies of the fascists who rule South Africa.
Otherwise, our generation will be guilty
of complicity with fascism, with the sorry
excuse - we were unaware.

I
I

Letters tc~~~ the 4!~~~~.5II1...............................
.'24 0*****......****~ .. .

A view of the city of Bluefield after Hurricane Joan hit the Atlantic
coast of Nicaragua. An Interior Ministry official said that 99.5 percent
of the city's buildings were destroyed.
Stop passing up

Protect
victims'
privacy
To the Daily:
In last week's Crime Beat
(10/19/88), the Daily printed
the address of a survivor of
sexual assault and demonstrated
complete insensitivity to the
issue of violence against
.., rrnvs A 4:+ - n.. ,r m n. i -

ple Organized for Women
Equality and Rights (POWER)
demanded that the Daily adopt
and enforce a policy to protect
the privacy of sexual assault
survivors. POWER worked
with the Daily to write a set of
guidelines that stated explicitly
that it was against Daily policy
to print survivor's names, ad-
dresses and other identifying
information.
The Daily owes a public
apology to the survivor and the

a policy against printing the
names and addresses of the vic-
tims of sexual assault. This is
intended to protect their privacy
and encourage women to report
sexual assaults. The Daily
apologizes for printing the ad-
dress on Oct. 19 and will not
continue to print such material.
Tired of
sexism
To the

After hearing this harsh
statement, I started to watch
and listen more closely to how
men act toward people. I have
heard men talk a lot about get-
ting some " " tonight.
How selfish? I have seen men
checking out "chicks" in front
of a table that was promoting
sexual assault awareness in the
fish bowl. How defeating? I
have seen men walk by a
WAND (Women's Action for
Nuclear Disarmament) table
an 1a- __ ~xy arrv , e

A

AT SATURDAY'S homecoming foot-
ball game against Indiana a dead tradi-
tion received a second wind. Passing
up, the practice of lifting a person,
usually a woman. and handin o- that

charged with assault by the Ann Arbor
police. The Ann Arbor City Council
affirmed this stance when they legis-
lated that passing up is a crime,
specifically assault, punishable by a jail

.

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