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December 06, 1993 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-12-06

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 6, 1993

The £tdiian&lg

420 Maynard
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Edited and managed
by students at the
University of Michigan

JosH DUBOW
Editor in Chief
ANDREw LEVY
Editorial Page Editor

f

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the majority opinion of the Daily editorial board.
All other cartoons, articles and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Daily.

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Rape mustre
By JES ICA HELLMANN
The statistics are unbelievable.
So many women are raped every
year in this country that we often
forget how prevalent sexual assault
is. Now a new story has come to
light, and still we refuse to address
the real problems behind the rape of
women. We cannot ignore the rape
of a University student. Violence
against women is a horrendous crime
that is often clothed in popular
misconceptions, cultural denial and
misinformation.
First we must always recognize
that under no circumstances, at no
time, in no place is a woman ever
asking to be raped. We have to
question why certain people refuse
to acknowledge this fact. For the
chief of the Department of Public
safety to insinuate that responsibility
for preventing rape lies with women
contributes more to the problems of
rape than the solution. Further, if
his statement has been taken out of
context, why didn't he come forward
quickly to clarify his remarks? We
do not want or need a chief that is
not sympathetic to victims of rape.
The media also can ignore the fact
that women don't invite rape. For
Channel 50 to pick and choose
among the facts and comments of
police authorities is to instill an even
greater fear in women. Fear
perpetuates rape's firm grip on us
all.
Campus media has barely
covered this story. Why was the
original coverage of the incident by
the Daily limited to a mere side
headline? (The second article was
at the bottom of the page.) Some
students have bought into the idea
of fear as well. Why were the women
who were interviewed the very next
day by the Daily so quick to profess
their fears and not to come to the
defense of a woman who was simply
functioning as a free individual?
Further, why was SAPAC's
comment on how no woman who
walks alone at night is asking for
rape limited to only one statement
near the end of the first follow-up
article? What this University needs
is to be well informed, so that instead
of mourning the addition of another
Hellmann is an LSA sophomore.

define lines of dependency.*

rape to the statistics, the community
can rise up and face this problem
head on. Let's place blame where it
belongs - with the rapist. Let's
give women and their issues the
attention and respect they deserve
in the media, so that we can raise
awareness and work for real
solutions. We must defend victims.
We need to keep this particular
incident in perspective, however.
Rape by strangers is something on
which female nightmares are often
based, and we do need to learn to
protect ourselves. On the other hand,
we must recognize that acquaintance
rape is far more frequent. Rape as a
whole is one mechanism by which
women's societal roles are
maintained, and fear, not courage,
is what keeps us there. Education,
anger and demanding respect and
equality will further our goals far
better than will fear and dependency.
We can never forget who a rape
victim is, exactly that, a victim. It
upsets me that more are not outraged
that a student's life, independence
and self-worth were violated just
outside her own home, at her own
car. She should not have called for
an escort. She should not have
needed assistance to lead her daily
activities. She did not need someone
to watch over her. What she needs is
a University community that stands
up for her rights as a person and the
rights of all women who manage to
live their lives in a society that tells
them they should be afraid and
dependent. Independent women
deserve our respect and empathy,
not our disapproval.
We cannot live in fear of rape,
and professing dependency on
others for security will never stop
the plague of rape. Organizations
that provide escorts for women are
important, and provide a needed
service, but we cannot solely rely
on them for safety. We have
outgrown our childhood, and it is
now time to face life's injustices
and demand that collectively women
be treated better. Making sure that
one individual woman is well
"protected" does not make any other
woman less susceptible to rape.
Walking with your friends is smart,

but it will never solve the problem:
(And women, can you imagine a
campus where we are forced to be
shuttled from place to place because
our social position makes us too
susceptible to violence?) Of course,
we need to be street smart; we need
to be conscious of our surroundings
as we function as students on this
campus. I'm not arguing that we
should ignore the very real threat of
rape, but fearing it will only make
the problem worse. Rape is about
power and violence. If we sacrifice
what women deserve - freedom -
by asking them to become dependent
on others, we will be forcing them to
regress to a state of helplessness.
The solution to the problem of
rape lies with the women's
movement itself. The achievement
of equality is the only thing that will
alleviate the threat of rape. Women
should demand to be treated better.
The entire University community
needs to rise up out of anger from
this incident; we should not ask
women to pledge dependency in the
name of their own security. Women
will not be secure as long as others
see them as weak individuals asking
to be oppressed. Women deserve
better representation. Women's
issues deserve better coverage.
Women's concerns deserve more
attention. And lastly, women's
involvement in society is not
something to be feared; it should be
celebrated.
I refused to be confined to my
home as soon as the cloak of darkness
arrives. For anyone to tell me that I
am responsible for finding an escort
every time I want to exercise- my
independence is ridiculous. I would
rather take the slim risk of rape by a
stranger than admit to an oppressive
patriarchy that I have been
conquered. I will continue to keep
my eyes open as I walk across
campus at night. I will continue to
attend parties with friends. But I
will never be told how to function as
a woman or as a student. I choose,;K
instead of living in fear, to work
toward the equality that will bring
women out of the societal hole that
makes them susceptible to sexual
violence.

College Roundup..Z V
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U.S. ust top aimigofwome

A bill recently introduced in the
U.S. House of Representatives gives
Congress a rare opportunity to ensure
women no longer are subjected to a
disfiguring cultural practice known as
female genital mutilation.
FGM involves the partial or com-
plete removal of the clitoris - a pri-
mary organ stimulated during sexual
intercourse - and the outer and/or
inner lips of the vagina.
The procedure usually is performed
in Middle Eastern and North African
countries on girls around the age of 7,

they want to undergo FGM, then they
should do so once they have achieved
adulthood by returning to their native
The procedure and Its
permanent
consequences are
undoubtedly painful and
grotesque, causing
needles pain for the
women who undergo it.

people of Middle Eastern descent to
the Detroit area has led health offi-
cials to study the degree to which
FGM takes place, but they have been
unable to discover any officially
documented cases.
This fact is alarming because it
points to the possibility that FGM is
more commonly taking place "unof-
ficially," in nonmedical and prob-
ably unsanitary conditions.
The cultural preconceptions sur-
rounding FGM are that a woman is
too sexual and wanton - that the

Blacks can be racists
To the Daly:
We are writing in response to
Natosha Morris's letter "No Such
Thing as Reverse Racism" (12/1/93).
To say that there can be no such
thing as reverse racism is ludicrous.
According to her, any act of violence
perpetrated by a Black person against
a white person cannot be considered
racism, but rather an expression of
anger against a racist society. This
stems from a claim that racism is a
"systematic oppression of one race
by another." This definition
completely discounts individualistic
thinking, implying that no one person
could be racist by himself or herself,
needing the backing of an entire race.
True, whites have never been
enslaved and tortured by another race
as heinously as Blacks have, but her
definition requires that it is the white
race as a whole responsible for an

white, there are good white people
and bad white people. There are
good Black people and bad Black
people. Racism exists throughout it
all. She recognizes that there are
racist white people, but refuses to
acknowledge that there maysbe racist
Black people. Natosha, racism
transcends race.
JOEL SHAPIRO
ERIC SKLAR
LSA Seniors
Rape is never the
victim's fault
To the Daily:
We were appalled by Department
of Public Safety Chief Leo Heatley's
comment that appeared in.
Wednesday's paper regarding the
rape behind South Quad. Your quote
read, "(The attack could have been
prevented) if she had walked with
someone, if she had called out escort

the underreporting and the extent of
the trauma is that, still today, the
police say the victim could have
prevented it -it's the victim's fault.
Blaming the victim is easy and far
too common. But when are we going.
to realize that victim-blaming is more
than a display of insensitivity, that it
perpetuates the insidious rape culture
of our society? It is one thing to
encourage students to avoid walking
alone and to take extra safety
precautions. It is quite another to use
language which dismisses a violent
crime as something that was the
victim's fault. Rape is the
responsibility of the rapist, not the
victim.
Legal and social change is needed
- a good place to begin here in a
University setting would be by
addressing the attitudes and
assumptions held by those in
positions of authority, especially our
police force. We wonder, does Chief
Heatlev ever walk to his car or take

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