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September 15, 2010 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-09-15

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8B The Statement // Wednesday September 15, 2010


Don't Tell" debate. Some conserva-
tive organizations have supported the
repeal, like the Log Cabin Republicans,
whose case against the policy won in
a federal court last Thursday. Others
haven't gotten the message, and the
FRC report shows how backward con-
servatives' logic can be when it comes to
issues like sexual assault and sexuality.
Their logic amounts to this: there are
more male-on-male sexual assaults in
the military than in the general popula-
tion while there shouldn't be an unusu-
ally high number of homosexuals in
the military. Therefore, increasing the
number of homosexuals would increase
the number of same-gender sexual
This rationale fails

ast May, the conservative think
tank, Family Research Council,
released a report concluding
that a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
would further increase the already
abnormally high rate of male-on-male
sexual assaults in the military. The
organization, which often feeds talking
points to right-wing politicians and pas-
tors, said they believe this will happen
because openly gay men in the military
will be incapable of resisting their com-
This typical stereotyping of gay men
as perversely promiscuous offended
those who support LGBT rights. How-
ever, I was primarily offended as a man
who once during an overnight school
trip in high school woke up to an arm
draped across my body.
My experience mirrors some of the
anecdotes the FRC offers as evidence
of the evils of gay men in the military.
In the report's dry, emotionless tone, it
would sound something like this: Vic-
tim awoke in motel bed to the assail-
ant's noticeably small penis wedged
inside the victim's buttocks, gyrating
in and out. I don't believe my clothes
were removed, nor that my assailant
ejaculated, but that didn't matter. The
memory of him breathing down my
neck and relaxing his arm on my side
still feels more terrifying than any-
thing sexual that happened. He'd vio-
lated me, and I'd been too unconscious
to stop him.
What felt worst of all, though, was
the immediate sense of shame. Two
other guys were asleep in a separate bed

next to us. I remember lying there for year ago - an irr
some time, paralyzed, afraid one would one noticing and
awaken and find out, before finally removed him prev
pushing my assailant off me, tiptoeing so sooner. Howev
to the bathroom, locking the door and to believe he hasf
having a mental breakdown. or bisexual, and tl
At the time, I genuinely believed I'd chologists and sac
somehow "asked for it." Although I possibly never wil
wouldn'tadmit it for years, my assailant
was someone I'd had a crush on. He was
also someone I'd thought of as a friend, "Hurtful at
someone I could trust enough to share
a bed with. Because I had feelings for make a per
him, I found myself guilty of his crime
and couldn't envision any other verdict. sexuality."
To cope, I convinced myself while
sitting on the toilet in the motel bath- Back in the
room that everything that had trans- Alfred Kinsey con
pired was just a nightmare and, after of interviews that
pulling myself together, forced myself can men had ats
back into the same bed as before, the to other men in a
bed my assailant still lay in. I made today in our more
sure to lie down on my back, and soon number of men wl
both of us drifted into sleep, pretending or bisexual hove:
nothing had happened. five percent.
I could write pages about how This is because
harmful this experience was - how and-dried as we li
it worsened my already poor sense of ity seems best vie
self-worth, how it damaged my abil- with a sizeablenui
ity to trust, how it affected my sexual between straight
development and hindered me from that is, conscious
acknowledging my own homosexual interest for both
tendencies - but I don't want to. Dis- people who iden
cussing such things would de-empha- experience some
size the more significant point that in and sometimes p
October of my freshman year at Michi- ally poor judgmen
gan, Facebook informed me that my sexual feelings in
assailanthad obtained agirlfriend. Unfortunately,
I'd lost touch with him long before of sexuality seem
then, but didn't defriend him until a servatives engagir

ational fear of some-
asking me why I'd
vented me from doing
ver, I have no reason
ever come out as gay
the work of some psy-
ciologists suggests he

to consider the fluid-
ctions and decisions ity of sexuality among
straight men surround-
son an assailant, not ed by other men living

1950's, psychologist
ncluded from a series
nearly half of Ameri-
some point "reacted"
sexual way. But even
e tolerant society, the
ho self-identify as gay
rs between two and
sexuality is not as cut-
ike to believe. Sexual-
wed as a continuum,
mber of people falling
and truly bisexual-
sly possessing sexual
genders. Sometimes
tify as straight still
same-sex attraction,
eople have exception-
at and choose to act on
a hurtful way.
such a nuanced view
ns lost on many con-
ng in the "Don't Ask,

in conditions non-con-
ducive to an intimate
relationship of any kind,
let alone one with a woman when the
military's gender ratio remains unbal-
anced. This isn't to say that soldiers are
secretly gay or that sexual frustration
leads to sexual assault, but rather that
homoerotic tensions can exist between
straight men and even the most honor-
able of soldiers can still make dishonor-
able decisions.
If the FRC genuinely cared about
male-on-male sexual assaults, they
wouldn't single out gay men as its
cause. Hurtful actions and decisions
make a person an assailant, not sexu-
ality. Inevitably, soldiers choose to
assault their comrades because they
believe they can get away with it, and
when the victims are men, I believe
assailants realize the crime isn't likely
to get reported. Interestingly enough,
the FRC believes this too and includ-
ed it in their report: "...homosexual
assault cases are probably less likely
to be reported, given the stigma that a

heterosexual soldier might feel about
having been homosexually assaulted."
Unlike the FRC, I believe "Don't
Ask, Don't Tell" creates the stigma.
Because the military sees homosexual
relations as wrong, male soldiers who
become victims are more likely to
feel shame or blame themselves. This
seems especially the case for victims
who may have previously felt homo-
erotic feelings. They fear being per-
ceived as less of a man or gay, when
really, they should only fear not telling
and nobody asking.
Personally, I wish I hadn't been
afraid. I would have let someone know
about the assault and possibly even
reported it, making the whole thing into
a much less drawn out ordeal. Instead,
despite attending a public high school
in oh-so-liberal California, I told no one
until my sophomore year of college, two
years after it happened. In the military,
where a stated policy enforces a fear
of gayness, the pressure for victims to
remain silent increases, and in turn,
increases their pain.
In bringing up the topic of male-on-
male sexual assault, the FRC has cho-
sen to politicize something they seem
to know little about. However, doing so
has provided an opportunity to change
the discourse. If we must stigmatize a
group, we should object to sexual pred-
ators, notgay men, and realize the two
groups are entirely different.
Repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is
just one step in the right direction. It
will allow the military to confront the
homoerotic tensions that arise in any
organization - high schools, churches
and yes, even fraternities. Hopefully
the repeal will allow all American citi-
zens, straight or otherwise, to better
confront the complexities of their own
sexualities, encouraging a safe envi-
ronment in which nobody has to feel
ashamed. U
Noveed Safipour is an LSA senior.

From Page 5B
Michigan be successful."
And focusing on his role as provost
is something Hanlon is certainly doing.
Waking up at 5:20 each morning
and working for about an hour at home
before coming into the office, where
he typically works until 6 p.m., means
that Hanlon's not left with much free
time to think about anything other
than the University.
"I try not to spend the whole eve-
ning working, but I usually do a little

work at night too," Hanlon said laugh-
ing, adding that he couldn't imagine
doing this job if his children weren't
grown up. "My wife is very patient
with me."
Having taken over as provost just
two and a half months ago, Hanlon
already has a lot on his plate - includ-
ing work that's both a continuation
of what Sullivan left behind and new
ideas he hopes to implement.
Hanlon said typically a major
responsibility of a University provost
is to closely monitor and plan the Uni-
versity's budget around increasingly
complex budget negotiations in the
state legislature, something he plans to
make a priority as well.

"Continuing fiscal stability has to be
job one,"he says, before saying he wants
to talk about something "more fun."
And what Hanlon considers "fun"
is research. Mind you, this is the man
that Sullivan described as having "in
some ways a dull story, in some ways
a nice story" and who Coleman said
though typically seen as "very serious"
also "has a droll sense of humor."
"I'm very interested in how we as
a university can deploy our research
breadth to tackle complex world prob-
lems," Hanlon said. "And we do some
now, but if there's one thing I'd like to
elevate, it's that type of activity."
That activity could, among many
other areas, include the revitalization

and preservation of the Great Lakes -
something Hanlon says the University
is uniquely positioned to help with.
"There's a major federal effort to
restore the Great Lakes ... and involved
in that is the necessity to solve a whole
lot of technical problems," Hanlon
said, explaining that the University
could offer assistance and learning
opportunities in areas including biol-
ogy, chemistry, economics and public
policy. "We have the resources and the
However, Hanlon says the Great
Lakes are just one example of how the
University could turn the real world
into more of a classroom and help stu-
dents not only learn through real prac-

tice, but also directly impact the world
in a positive way.
"We educate a really large num-
ber of very high quality students. We
just have terrific students here," Han-
Ion said. "And they're going to go out,
many of them here, and land in posi-
tions of influence and land in poaitions
where they have the opportunity to
make a difference in the world.
"I feel like the way our University
can most impact the world is through
our graduates and what they do when
they leave here," Hanlon continued.
"The way we teach them to view the
world is going to make all the differ-
ence in the way they act once they get
out into the world."

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