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March 09, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-09

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I

OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, March 9, 1989

The Michigan Daily

Men

must

work

to

stop

V

By Scott Englehart
David Smith, in his column "Feminists
far too angry" (Daily 2/23/89), does both
women and men a disservice by calling
himself a feminist. As a male I find his
letter particularly offensive. He is a typical
example of our sexist society. He pretends
to be a hippy groovy liberal when in real-
ity he is a hypocrite scared by his own
sexuality.
I too at one time felt uncomfortable
when people derided magazines such as
Playboy and Sports Illustrated's (SI)
swimsuit issue. I was and am turned on by
the women displayed in these magazines. I
have no desire to deny my sexuality. It is
an important aspect of every person's
identity. At the same time I realize that
the images in these magazines degrade
women. Smith claims that "an eight and a
half by twenty two technicolor spread page
of Christie Brinkley in a lycra bikini" does
no damage to women. However, the vivid
physical language he uses to describe this
pidture exposes his attitude towards
women. Brinkley is no more than a sex
object to-him.
On the pages of magazines and on our
television screens women are reduced to
two dimensional images defined by their
sexuality. They are debased as vehicles for
selling products. They become objects to
be used by men. When Smith and other
Scott Englehart is an LSA senior

men say " what a babe!' they have im-
bibed the standards for judging women
which the media has created for them.
They are judging that woman purely by
her sexual appeal. No regard is shown for
her as a thinking, feeling human being.
Smith claims that he "found some of
the scantily clad models in Sports Illus-
trated incredibly attractive!" To find only
some of the women attractive in SI is a
perfect example of the warped images of
women created by the media. If all of the

claiming that they are victims of a sexist
society." He asserts that the only legiti-
mate example of rape is the kind commit-
ted by sociopaths who prey upon strangers
in the night. "They are men who have
been victims of sexual abuse as a child."
First of all, not all sociopaths were sexu-
ally abused as children and not all people
who were abused as children are so-
ciopaths. More to the point, he totally ig-
nores rape and sexual abuse committed by
men whom the victims know. One in

'On the pages of magazines and on our television screens
women are reduced to two dimensional images defined by
their sexuality.'

discarded at their convenience. I am not
saying that every man who looks at
Sports Illustrated or Playboy will become
a rapist. Just as there are varying degrees
of sexual harassment so are there men who
have been affected by society to various
degrees and who perpetuate that harass-
ment. As an example are the four hockey
players who followed a group of women
and verbally harassed them. The excuse
given by these esteemed members of the
University was that they are young and
acted impulsively. A better excuse is that
they are victims who continue to perpetu-
ate our sexist society.
Smith then denies the right of Univer-
sity women to be angry about our society.
"The vehemence with which some
'feminists' brow beat and preach would
lead us to believe that these women are
forty year old secretaries [who are victims]
and not middle class 19 to 25 year olds
who get a check from home every month."
There are several injustices in this argu-
ment. First, every person has a right to be
proud of him or herself whether they are a
40 year old secretary, a 20 year old stu-
dent, or anything else. Just because some-
one is a secretary or a janitof does not
make them inferior. Second, women at all
levels of society are subjected to ha-
rassment in the workplace and economic
discrimination. The "Good Old Boy Club"
persists in present day society. Note that
95 percent of U.S. congressmen were fra-
ternity members. Third, oppression mani-

ape
fests itself in every facet of society. Vio-
lence against women and economic dis-
crimination are just two examples of in-
justices perpetuated against every woman
in our society. Oppression is encoded in
our laws. Women today are threatened
with the loss of power over, and control
of, their own bodies. The Supreme Court
is threatening to overturn or severely erode
the provisions of Roe vs. Wade unless we
act to stop them. With the approval of
Proposal A last fall, every day poor
women in Michigan are denied the right to
an abortion whether or not they are vic-
tims of rape or incest.
I agree when Smith says, "It's horribly
true that women have been the repeated
victims of rape or incest. Rape is the most
horrible and evil crime a man can commit
and it is an absolute disgrace on our soci-
ety that it happens so frequently and is
dealt with so leniently. I am horrified and
disgusted with the way our system deals
with rape." That is why it is the
responsibility of men to understand and
sympathize with the anger women feel.
Men must join the Feminist movement
and help to change our sexist society. We
must work on a personal level to under-
stand the ways we are manipulated by the
media. Men must fight to overcome this
manipulation and assert their own moral-
ity. As a button distributed by The Sexual
Assault Prevention and Awareness Center
at their fall rape victims speakout pro-
claimed, "Men can stop rape."

I

women in SI could not satisfy his stan-
dards of attractiveness then certainly the
women whom he actually knows in real
life are incapable of satisfying these stan-
dards. Nonetheless millions of women do
try to reach these unrealistic standards.
Many of them fall victim to anorexia and
bulemia in the process.
Smith goes on to claim that
"'feminists' are 'angryists' and they ra-
tionalize their misery [about rape] by

three women are raped in their lifetime. 90
percent of rapes on college campuses are
acquaintance rapes. This is not to men-
tion the sexual harassment, physical or
verbal, which every women is subjected to
in our society.
These rapes, abuses and harassments are
committed by men who are victims of our
sexist society. In their minds women are
reduced to sexual objects to be used and

4

q

IP £itbrjau
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Speaking

out

for women

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Vol. IC, No. 108

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
jof the Daily.
Sa otag1ng Peace, Again

LAST MONTH five Central American
presidents agreed to disband
Nicaraguan contra base camps in Hon-
duras if Nicaragua would hold demo-
cratic elections. President Bush re-
sponded by announcing that his
administration would seek funding for
the Contras.
The motivations for this agreement
are clear and it is beneficial to all the
parties except the United States. Hon-
duras wants to get rid of the contra
army because, as former members of
the Nicaraguan National Guard and as
mercenaries, they have no appreciable
skills except those of killing. Since
U.S. military aid was cut off last
February, the contras have focused
their talents on Honduran peasants. It
is now widely recognized by Hon-
durans of all parts of the political spec-
trum that the contras are a great threat
to the stability of their country.
Nicaragua obviously wants an end to
the terror and destruction inflicted on
the Nicaraguan people by the contras.
For the other countries, it is a chance
for stability in the region and a more
rational U.S. policy.
Nicargua's part of the agreement will
be easy for it to keep. It is required to
hold elections nine months sooner, al-
low opposing parties access to national
media, insure a fair electoral process
and allow international observers to in-
sure compliance. Nicaragua did all this
in its 1984 elections - which all
international observers, except the
U.S. embassy, agreed was a fair elec-
This is contrasted by events in El
Salvador and Guatemala, where civil-
ian government is a thin curtain for
military and oligarchical control. Elec-
tions have little meaning in these coun-
tries other than propaganda for the
U.S. public and Congress.
The Reagan and Bush administra-

tions have long maintained that
Nicaragua has a history of breaking
treaties and that the contras are neces-
sary to force compliance by the
Nicaraguan government. Yet it is the
United States that has a history of sab-
otaging peace agreements. In 1984
eight Latin American governments put
together an proposal to end the war. It
would have eliminated Cuban military
advisors from Nicaragua, limited So-
viet military aid, provided for reduc-
tions in the size of the Nicaragua army,
prohibited foreign military bases and
addressed other issues that have always
been distorted to provide justification
our terrorism against Nicaragua.The
proposal was agreed to by all the Cen-
tral American countries, but after pres-
sure from the United States, El Sal-
vador refused to sign.Weeks later the
State Department was crowing about
how it had successfully blocked the
signing of the treaty. Implementation of
the Arias Peace Plan in 1987 was
similarly blocked by the United States,
which sought continued military aid for
the contras, not a negotiated peace.
President Bush cannot seem to admit
that the military effort against
Nicaragua has failed. The contras have
wreaked enough destruction in
Nicaragua and Honduras and it is long
past time that they be disbanded. The
United States created the contra army
and should now accept responsibility
for them.
The five Central American presidents
have taken a first step towards peace in
the region. Instead of blocking it by
seeking more contra aid, the Bush ad-
ministration should respect this step.
And it should follow it by normalizing
relations with Nicaragua, lifting the
trade embargo and paying the repara-
tions ordered by the World Court for
the damages of the contra war.

By Anonymous
I am writing in response to Daniel
Smith's article "Feminists far too angry"
(Daily 2/23). This response is not to pro-
vide all the facts that cut through Mr.
Smith's arguments, the women's and anti-
rape groups on campus will probably do
that very adequately. My purpose is to tell
the personal story behind the facts.
I am a survivor of rape, and conse-
quently I am angry. According to Mr.
Smith I should not feel this way: I am
wrong.
The men who raped me (when I was 14
and 19) were acquaintances. The first was a
boyfriend. Contrary to Mr. Smith's claim,
these men were not from "dysfunctional"
families or deranged or even "abnormal" (I
tend not to date such men). They just be-
lieved that a little force was o.k., perhaps
normal.
If I cannot, as Mr. Smith suggests,
blame their families or their psychological
make-up (they were just red-blooded
American boys) for their actions, where
can I place the blame?
I blame the men themselves, but they
do not live in a vacuum. Somewhere they
learned that it was acceptable to treat me
like I am less than a person. I was some-
thing for them to control and humiliate.
Where did they get such ideas? You
guessed it: society.
I would contend that Sports Illustrated is
a good example of our society. Eleven
months a year the aggressive, physically
active male is featured. One month a year
the passive, sexy woman is shown for the
men's sports enjoyment. Sound familiar?
I do not wish to re-argue the negative
aspects of Sports Illustrated. I do, how-
ever, wish to point out that rapists come
in all shapes, sizes and colors. They are
businessmen, fraternity members, law
students, medical students, fathers, broth-
ers and friends. It is not necessarily the
To protect the privacy of the author, the
following letter has been printed anony-
mously.

rapist's "dysfunctional" family that causes
them to rape but our dysfunctional soci-
ety.
All rapists may not read Sports Illus-
trated, but they live in a society that al-
lows such magazines to treat women's
bodies as sport.
Mr. Smith suggests that feminists look
"more closely at what they are angry
about" and that they are not "confronting
their own neurosis." Well Mr. Smith, I
have looked painfully close at what I am
angry about, and I don't believe that I am
neurotic because I am angry that this
society allows rape to happen. It taught
my attackers since they were little boys
that I am an object, and a little force is
o.k.
Since these men learned their lessons so
well, I must live with the pain they have
caused for the rest of my life. They will
go on believing that they are just red-
blooded American boys, while I deal with
the feelings of depression, helplessness
and hopelessness that many rape survivors
experience. I'm sorry if this upsets you
Mr. Smith but I am angry.

But my anger is not exclusive, as Mr.
Smith claims, it is inclusive. I am part of
the growing anti-rape movement here on
campus that actively encourages both men
and women to join the struggle against
rape.
I welcome any man (or woman) who
wishes to understand my anger and my
pain. One who wants to figure out where
rape originates and how s/he can help stop
it. A man may even get angry, as some
men are, at the role he is taught by society
to play.
We are all victims in some way of sex-
ual assault because we all, women and
men, have roles society teaches us to play.
Until more women realize their objectifi-
cation and more men realize their part in
the struggle, sexual assault will continue
to devastate and control the lives of many
women (and men).
To answer Mr. Smith's mock of femi-
nists "Isn't the fact that we are victims of
sexual harassment and violence enough to
justify self righteous anger?" I am angry.
And I am right.

4

4

Learn the facts .about rape.
RAPE IS... I out of 4 girls will experience sexual
abuse before the age of 14.
" a crime of violence imnwhichthe goal Over 80 percent of all sexual assaults
is to overpower, intimidate, and degrade are committed by someone known to
the victim. the survivor (according to FBI statis-
" the most frequently committed violent ts.)
crime in our country (according to the In a recent survey conducted on 35
Fhs)r crime th college campuses it was found that: 90
" the most underreported ciion e percent of the women who were raped
country. According to the FlI, oly knew their assailants and 47 percent of
S-An Arbor police reports show that in those occurred on first or casual dates, or
*AnnArbr plicereprtsshowtha in in a romantic situation.
1987 there were 141 sexual assaults re- r 63% of the rapists are under 25 years
ported in the City of Ann Arbor. old.
- One in three women and one in ten 79% act alone, and most commit 21
men will be raped sometime in their li e7 aon easge2
(according toIFBi satistcs.) n f rapes on the average.
acBording4% FBIs atistics.)50% of all sexual assaults take place
S etweenan wives in in residences. Only 20% occur outdoors.
United States are raped by their 4us- - 35% occur between 5 p.m. and 12
iands , ~

4

Letters to the editor *-.

Daily not
anti-Jewish
To the Daily:
With regard to your article of
Wednesday, February 22, 1989
which covered a student
demonstration directed at the
Daily, a few points need to be
clarified. The demonstrators al-
leged that the pro-Palestinian

American-Arab Anti-Discrimi-
nation Committee (ADC) at
the University is particularly
concerned with and opposed to
all forms of racism and dis-
crimination on any basis. Our
group has just completed thor-
ough research intended to dis-
cover the bases, if any, of the
demonstrators' allegations
against the student newspaper.
In short, no overtly anti-
Semitic statements were found

Daily to be sensitive to the
sensibilities of all groups.
ADC is firmly committed
to freedom of expression,
however. We strongly urge
that allegations of anti-
Semitism not be used as in--
struments in an attempt to si-
lence views not congruent with
those of the pro-Israel commu-
nity at the University. Support
for Palestinian rights of self-
determination can under no

anti-Semitism. Those attempt-
ing to do so are guilty of
intellectual dishonesty and of
suppression of freedoms of
speech and press. The Daily's
support of Palestinian rights is
not anti-Semitic, but is a re-
flection of the growing na-
tional acceptance of the legiti-
macy of Palestinian rights for
self-determination.

-Dina Khoury

4

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