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November 18, 2014 - Image 5

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 5

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, November18, 2014- 5

th an epidemic
of sexual assault
V sweeping college
campuses across
the nation,
including the
University of
Michigan, there
are countless
topics of
uncertainty and
controversy. In a
four-part series, JAMES
James Brennan ENNAN
seeks to explore
them with
interviews and
personal research. This is part four.
Trigger warning: The following
article includes descriptions of sex-
ual assault and may be triggering.
"What do you think causes
sexual assault?"
I tried to end every interview
over the last month by asking that
question in some way, shape or
form. I asked as many people as
I could in search of an answer. I
didn't think I would find a silver
bullet, nor did I.
"Alcohol" or "binge drink-
ing" was by far the most popu-
lar answer from students, but
also the least convincing. Meg
Scribner, an LSA senior writ-
ing her thesis on the Violence
Against Women Act, saw alco-
hol as a "facilitator perhaps, but
not a cause" of sexual assault.
For Scribner, sexual assault
is a symptom of much larger
societal problems involving
oppressive, gendered power
dynamics. In her words, "sexual
assault is just one iteration of
masculinism in an inherently
sexist culture."
Business senior Sumana Palle
called sexual assault a product of
male entitlement, coming out of
a system where men think they
can have whatever they want. On
campus and throughout the coun-
try, she told me, this is reinforced
by "a system of no consequences"
where assaulters typically get
off scot-free.
Sexual assault is not only per-
petrated by men, nor is it only
perpetrated upon women. How-
ever, it would be naive to ignore
the reality that assault is primar-
ily committed by men, and equally
as naive to pretend that gender
inequality and sexism have noth-
ing to do with this. Control, power,
domination - these are all terms
associated with masculinity. In
evaluating the "It's on Us" cam-
paign, Scribner saw it as a repro-
duction of the same masculinity
behind sexual abuse. Instead of
dominating women through vio-
lence, however, the campaign
looks to dominate through a
masculine mindset of we have to
protect these women. Palle drew
similar parallels between certain
masculine traits and "It's on Us,"
especially attempts to turn the
campaign into a competition with
Ohio State.
In a viewpoint in The Michi-
gan Daily, Palle wrote, "people
apparently missed the obvious
irony of using the very spirit of
competitive football culture that
enabled the mishandling of the
Brendan Gibbons case to combat
sexual assault."
On Oct. 29, shortly after my

interview with Palle, students
poured into the Diag carrying
mattresses, stopping to surround
an anonymously written list of
demands. Throughout the day, the
Diag remained filled with people.
1000 Pitches was having a Diag
day, as were the College Repub-
licans and a few human rights
groups - but the focus was on
those demands, where students
crowded around each other to see
what was there.
Tucked away between two
trees on the west side of the Diag
hung a yellow banner, advertising
the previous week's "Maize Night
Madness" rally before the Michi-
gan State game, likely the last
time the Diag had been so popu-
lated. Three weeks before that,
the Diag was similarly packed, as
hundreds of students rallied to
demand Dave Brandon resign as
Athletic Director.
Public Policy senior Craig
Kaplan (who is a close friend and
former roommate) made a point
to include the Gibbons debacle as
one of Brandon's fireable offens-
es in both his speech at the rally
and in numerous public state-
ments. Most students, however,
r appeared more concerned with
the football team's embarrass-
ing record and corporatization.
A student-created petition gath-
ered over 1t,000 signatures in a
matter of a few days, about half of

which were from students. That's
1,000 more than the overall goal
for the "It's on Us" petition and
pledge drive.
Two weeks ago, Ihad the privi-
lege of seeing Pulitzer Prize-win-
ning author and human rights
activist Alice Walker speak at
Hill Auditorium. Walker focused
on the topic of friendship, but
the true core of her lecture was
empathy. Empathy for everyone,
from the poor and disenfran-
chised, to the awful people who
disenfranchised them and made
them poor. It is through empa-
thy that we learn to accept and
understand different people;
without it, we ignore the lives of
others and act only for ourselves.
Like sexual assault, ignorance
and selfishness are at crisis lev-
els in America. A person com-
mitting sexual assault, from an
act of unsolicited groping to first
degree rape, is a physical mani-
festation of lacking empathy. It
is an act of pure self interest, one
done without consideration or
care for the thoughts and feelings
of another human being.
One night my sophomore year,
I was drinking with some friends
in my former fraternity, talking
about women. One friend had
just hooked up with an (insert
ethnicity here) woman for the
first time, and the discussion
turned into an exchange of who
had been with different "types"
of women.
"If you could be with any kind
of girl you haven't," one friend
began, "what would it be?"
"Black chick" another friend
responded instantaneously, "def-
initely a Black chick."
His comment, especially the
immediacy of his response, sent
a disgusted chill through my
body. It brought to mind planta-
tion owners rapingslaves and the
sexual terror reigned on South-
ern black women. I thought of
Ida Mae Holland and the vio-
lent, racialized desires of men
in Mississippi. We were talk-
ing about women like they were
trading cards and comparing
our collections
I say webecause I am not free
from responsibility here.
I honestly can't remember if I
threw in my own list, but I never
pushed back on the conversation.
I didn't say "Guys, we're being
incredibly sexist as well as rac-
ist." Nor did I posit that we all
take a step back and examine our
own privilege in the situation. I
could have, but I didn't.
During the 'Fire Dave Bran-
don' rally, a student in the crowd
yelled "How about we protest
something that matters, like
institutional racism?" He was
met with loud boos. At the rally,
the same thought was going
through my head, but I didn't
want to be "that guy." When
I was sitting around with my
friends evaluating women based
on looks and ethnicity, I stayed
quiet for the same reason.
Empathy, while often seen
as trying to examine others,
requires about just as much prob-

ing of one's self. That's what
makes empathy such a challenge
- we have to be willing to accept
that the way we see the world
might be wrong. We also have to
accept that there are situations in
which we cannot empathize, as
sometimes we just can't fit into
another person's shoes. But the
only way we can know is if we try.
A lot of people aren't trying.
In her op-ed, Palle wrote that
she had stopped excusing poor
treatment of minority students
as a product of ignorance rather
than cruelty. Cruelty, she told
me, is often caused by ignorance
- willful ignorance, however, is
an act of willful cruelty. Failing
to empathize is something we all
do, probably every day, but refus-
al to try is a Cardinal Sin.
Most of the survivors I spoke
with said their assaulters have
acted like nothing wrong hap-
pened or just plain didn't care.
Some accused the women of
"crying rape." It's hard to under-
stand the thought process that
leads to such selfish behavior,
especially in situations that
involve violent assault.
But we have to try to put those
shoes on, too.
Empathy is a powerful force.
It allows us to comprehend why
our fellow human beings do ter-
rible things, thus giving us the
tools to stop them. If we are
ever to understand the real root
causes of sexual assault and

rape, we must understand those
who do it and the factors that
motivate them.
Why an assaulter wants sex,
or what they really want, is a
potentially far more complex
question than any other I've
asked. I would be willing to bet
its root causes largely dimin-
ish a person's understanding of
others. Many sexually violent
people were abused themselves,
often as children. Others feel
personally inadequate, and see
sex as an answer to their own
stinging insecurity; this can
manifest itself in both a desire
for intimate love, which they
mistakenly equate with sex, or
a desire for approval from those
around them.
I want to see sexual violence
seriously diminished in my
lifetime, and that isn't going to
happen by jailing and expel-
ling rapists while we change
our Facebook pictures and push
hashtags. We can, and should, do
awareness and punitive justice
work as well. Brady Hoke's deci-
sion to dismiss senior defensive
end Frank Clark for domestic
violence charges - if he has as
much information as he claims
- is a good example. But we have
to focus mainly on this crisis of
empathy, from an unwilling-
ness to empathize with survi-
vors to an inability to empathize
with perpetrators.
Better education is a good
start, but expanding empathy is
going to mean a hard rewiring of
our institutions, our culture, and
ourselves. Here's a simple way
to get started, a strategy I found
very useful over the past month:
When people who are differ-
ent from you start to talk, listen.
I began researching sexual
assault looking to write a single
column. But then I interviewed
Sumana Palle.
I had interviewed a half dozen
students when Sumana's view-
point came out, and it hit me like
a ton of bricks that my sources up
to that point were overwhelm-
ingly white and straight. So I
reached out to Sumana, and we
met on a mild, sunny afternoon
outside of Espresso Royale on
South University Avenue.
Having done some research
ahead of time, I went into the
interview incredibly nervous.
She had written pieces for the
Daily with impressive style and
vigor, was an activist through
prominent student organiza-
tions, and was a pre-admit to the
Business School. Sumana is also
a survivor of numerous assaults,
and they seem to have only made
her voice stronger.
This was a person who could
tear me in half without even try-
ing. But she didn't.
Palle, like so many of the sur-
vivors and allies I've met over
the past month, had a commit-
ment to empathy and open-
mindedness far surpassing my
own. She answered my questions
openly and honestly, showcas-
ing the frustration I had read
in her article, as well as a genu-
ine love for other students. She
detailed the circumstances of her
assaults as well, which I hesitate
to call assaults only because they

deserve to be called rape.
"You never forget that feel-
ing of screaming on a bathroom
floor" she told me, describing the
second of her three rapes.
As we talked, it became
increasingly apparent that I had
so much more to learn. We con-
tinued the interview for almost
an hour, and as we began to
wrap up, it was hitting me that
if I was going to write about
sexual assault, I had to do it
right. This woman, and so many
others like her, had shown tre-
mendous strength in sharing her
story and continuing to thrive in
all other aspects of life. Just as
importantly, she had shattered
my own misconceptions about
how a social-justice-warrior-
feminist-of-color would treat a
white, former frat boy. When I
told her about my friends dis-
cussing "types" of women, she
sincerely thanked me for my will-
ingness to share it and recognize
its privilege.
As we finished the interview
and began gathering our things,
we chatted about other campus
issues and how I saw my writing
playing out. She wished me luck,
and without hesitation, gave me a
hug goodbye.
- James Brennan can be
reached at jmbthree@umich.edu.

Fashion as art

've been inspired by
everything lately. I find my
eyes lingering on a wall of
graffiti I've passed countless times
before, on tile patterns on ceilings
or floors, on
in UMMA.
there's one
medium that I
find on my mind
for hours and
inspires me in KATHLEEN
my everyday DAVIS
choices: fashion.
If you're an
Ann Arbor resident, unless your
home is a below-ground hole,
you've undoubtedly been exposed
tothe people-watchingthis city
has to offer. I urge everyone
reading this to find some time
in their schedules every week
to sit at the window of Lab Cafd
or Starbucks and just look at the
people who walk by. You'll see
some old men in suits, probably
a few bums, but the longer you
linger, the more you'll notice
the small quirks in a person's
appearance that will give you a
hint of the person they are.
Art is how an individual
expresses themselves through
a medium, an extension of the
creative process in their minds.
This medium can be traditional,
like marble or a canvas, or
contemporary, like performance
art or installation.

Whether conscious or not, the
clothes we put on our bodies are
the simplest display of creativity
we can express with materials we
already have in our closets. We can
put on something nice and let the
world know that we feel important
today; we can accessorize with
jewelryor watchesinabeautiful
combination; we can wear
sweatpants and a pullover and
tell the world that we're tired of
its shit and are trying our best
to get through the day. None of
these options are less expressive
than the others, they just express
different sentiments.
The intersection of art and
clothing is perhaps most apparent
in the world of high fashion.
Artist collaborations in fashion
have been relevant and profitable
for ages, and often become iconic
pieces of history for an aficionado
in either sect.
There have been innumerable
designer collections that have
found inspiration from art and
art that finds inspiration from the
runway, so much so that it becomes,
difficult to distinguish between
which is which. Take the case of
Jean-Michel Basquiat, a prolific
1980s contemporary artist who
became a style icon in his own
right. Basquiat, with his striking
features and towering stance,
modeled in shows for emerging
fashion houses like Comme des
Garcons and had a signature style
that helped fuel his fame until

his death at27. Since his passing,
Basquiat's signature artistic style
has inspired high-top sneakers, a
collaboration between UNIQLO
and MoMA and as of late a
Forever 21collection that features
the artist's signature prints on
inexpensive T-shirts for the
Lollapalooza crowd.
We're certainly not all
Basquiats, and while we may not
have the ability to control the
path ofrunway shows we can
still be influenced by them. Art is
supposed to move and inspire us.
We're supposed to look at a piece,
whether 400 years old or just four,
and feel something inside of us, a
passion that starts in our bellies
and grows into inspiration for
our own artistry.
Even for the artistically
uninclined (like myself), we can
all be artists every morning when
we wake up. We can look in the
mirror and say, how do I want to
express myself today? Who do I
want to be today? Most of us fall
into the same general style day
after day, a look that makes us
feel comfortable, which either
contrasts or pulls from the people
we associate with day after day.
Our bodies are the canvases, our
minds are the mediums and our
outfits are the finished products.
We are all art in motion.
Davis is an artist, despite
what she says. To commend her,
e-mail katacqu@umich.edu.

orde's 'Mockingjay'

DailyArts Writer
For the soundtrack to The
Hunger Games: Mockingjay -Part1,
the third of four "Hunger Games"
films, Lorde
became A
the album's
official The Hunger
"curator." Games:
Now what
does that MoCkingay
mean, Part 1
Basically, Original Motion
Lorde Picture Soundtrack
volunteered Various Artists
as tribute to Republic
put together
this impressive 14-track set that
features more than a handful of
music's most important newcomers
from the past year or so: HAIM,
Tinashe, CHRCHES, Tove Lo,
Charli XCX and Lorde herself, just
to name afew.
The previous "Hunger Games"
soundtracks created their own sort
of genre, not unlike Lorde's own
work. Blurring the lines between
different classes of music, the
previous two LPs similarly enlisted
some of music's hottest acts and
encouraged them to use their
signature styles to create songs
that embodied the themes and
sensibilities of the dystopian series.
Though each of the previous two
soundtracks had bright moments,
neither completely came together
as a cohesive set of music that
fully illustrated the film's ideas.
However, with Lorde at the helm
presenting a singular purpose for
the album, Mockingjay - Part 1
does exactly what those other two
soundtracks couldn't, and it's a
The story of "Mockingjay"
is one of revolution and revolt,
of Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss
Everdeen and her struggle to
embrace the pressures hoisted
upon her by the people she's
fighting for. It's clear that Lorde
deliberately made sure the film's
soundtrack was laced vith these
themes. On "Yellow Flicker Beat,"
one of the soundtrack's singles,
she essentially takes on the voice
of Everdeen as she croons, "They
used to shout my name, now they
whisper it." The track is classic
Lorde - eerie and introspective
verses paired with a booming
"Dead Air" embodies
everything that one can expect
from a CHVRCHES song: Lauren
Mayberry's joyously high-pitched
vocals over abumping, synth-heavy
beat. The song's lyrics present
something a little different, though,
taking on the mentality of Panem's
revolution: "They're holding us to
an idea / And we're fighting what
we can't see." The artists weave an

Cinematography on some Renaissance painting ish.

underlying frustration throughout
the album - Lorde may represent
Katniss Everdeen as the pot-
stirring symbol of a nation's revolt,
but the other artists represent the
collective peoplethe chantingbody
of the revolution.
These chants are evident
everywhere. One ,of the set's
strongest tracks, "All My Love"
is an explosive collaboration
between Ariana Grande and Major
Lazer. Grande's angelic vocals
soar over Lazer's gritty whopper
of a beat and underlying tribal
chants. The album's opening track,
collaboration between Stromae,
Pusha-T, Q-Tip, Lorde and HAIM.
It's an odd track that somehow all
comes together, combining Pusha-
T's mind-numbingly fast verse,
Lorde's crooning and chanting
by an anonymous mob of people.
By the time HAIM comes in for
the last minute with its signature
harmonies, the track becomes
downright epic, capable of
instigating a revolution of its own.
There are also mellower
moments here that prove to be just
as effective in telling"Mockingjay"
's story. Charlie XCX temporarily
abandons her aggressive, anthemic
pop sound on "Kingdom," a
twinkling piano and violin-driven
ballad featuring vocals from Duran
Duran's Simon Le Bon. The song
seems to paint the glossy, utopian
image that the Capitol wants to
uphold, but as sounds of static and
percussion seep in, it becomes clear
that the image is tainted, capable
of being overturned. Kanye West
also hops in, reworking "Yellow
Flicker Beat" with "Flicker," into
chilling, sparsely produced versions
of Lorde's track that holds up just as
well as the original.
At times, though, this effect
creates songs that don't totally
take off. Raury's "Lost Souls,"
which clocks in at just under
three minutes, builds nicely over
a heartbeat-esque backing and a
string ensemble, yet never really
goes anywhere. His spoken-word
verses channel a combination
of Pharrell and Miguel, but, as
a whole, it feels uneventful and
flat. On "Plan the Escape," Bat
for Lashes goes for a similar vibe
over a vaguely pulsating bassline
and glimmering windchimes
and, likewise, produces a track

that gets buried under the weight
of everything else on the album.
These songs fit into the general
framework of Mockingjay but,
at the same time, fail to establish
themselves as necessary parts of
the album's whole.
Perhaps the most notable
contributor to Mockingjay is the
legendary Grace Jones. What Jones
delivers here with "Original Beast"
is the kind of over-the-top, exciting
track one would expect from a
Grace Jones concoction. Though
it's original in its mixture of tribal
drums and animal sounds, it feels
almost criminally out of place to
the point where it comes off as self-
the album and sticks out as the one
song that simply doesn't belong.
Regardless of the slight misfires,
the real winner here is Lorde. She
has put together a phenomenal
assemblage of tracks by artists
who have, for the most part, just
recently proved their worth in the
music scene. The set closes with
Lorde's interpretation of the Bright
Eyes track "Ladder Song." Over a
simple church organ, Lorde sings
lyrics that seem chillingly in-line
with the rest of the album's subject
matter: "We'll welcome a new age
/ Covered in warrior paint." By
the end of "Mockingjay - Part 1,"
Katniss Everdeen will presumably
be prepared to embrace her new
role as the leader of Panem's revolt.
Like Lorde on "Ladder Song," she'll
be covered in war paint and ready
of her people. She'sspeakingforthe
collective and it feels right. The
same can be said for Lorde: The
Mockingjay - Part1 is a cohesive
album that continues to develop
the unique genre established - but
not perfected - by the series' first
two soundtracks. Here, Lorde has
perfected this sound and set the
bar high for soundtracks in general.
What's most commendable is that
she has succeeded in curating
a set of songs that at once feels
representative of the film itself
as well as fitting into the current
musical landscape as a whole.
With Mockingjay - Part 1, Lorde
continues her unexpectedly
triumphant ascendence to the top
echelons of the music industry and
proves that, yes, the odds are ever
in her favor.




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