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May 09, 1986 - Image 12

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Michigan Daily, 1986-05-09

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Page 12- The Michigan Daily - Friday May 9, 1986
Women march against sexual assault

4

By MELISSA BIRKS
The anti-rape movement on
campus often concentrates on
tangible solutions like the creation
of a rape crisis center. Recently,
though, more than a thousand
women claimed the streets of Ann
Arbor after dark to provide
emotional support for women
faced with the threat of rape.
With chants and clenched fists,
women for the seventh year asser-
ted a feeling of solidarity with
other women in the "Take Back
the NightMarch" on April26.
ONE OF the most important
functions-of the march, said Susan
McGee, a member of the Ann Ar-
bor Coalition Against Rape -
which organizes the event every
year - is to let survivors of sexual
assault find support.
"It makes the rape victim feel
they are not alone, that they are
not to blame, and that they have
support," she said.
A University student named
Ann, wearing a red arm band
signifying that she was a rape vic-
tim, said that the march was "one
of the best feelings I've had since
I've been at the University."

"FOR ONE NIGHT, women
have power to walk the streets and
not be afraid," she continued. "In
my neighborhood, there were four
rapes the summer before I
arrived."
The march, said campus
security director Leo Heatley "is
only one of the many things that
affect the University. MSA
(Michigan Student Assembly)
student groups, all affect the ad-
ministration. 'Take Back the
Night' is another voice. It
probably has more effect on the
city because it takes place on city
streets."
"If nobody ever said anything,
nothing would ever get done,"
Heatley said.
AT A RALLY preceding the
march, organizers revealed some
startling statistics about rape.
"Forty-four percent of all
women have survived a rape or
rape attempt," McGee told a
crowd of women and men at Liber-
ty Plaza. "Why is it that only two
percent of rapists are arrested and
only one percent convicted?"

McGee said, "We live in a rape
culture," where sexual assault is
permitted, promoted, and
celebrated."
IN 1985, there were two reported
incidents of first degree criminal
sexual conduct at the University,
according to Assistant Director of
Public Safety Bob Pfieffer. In
1984, there were three reported
rapes.
Rally leaders also drew atten-
tion to what they called "sexist"
advertising, announcing the win-
ners of the "What if they Were
Selling a Woman and No One was
Buying" contest. The ads, said
Carol McCabe, coordinator of the
Citizen's Advisory Committee on
Rape Prevention, promote; "an
atmosphere that supports
degrading women."
Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity
won "most sexist local ad" for its
rush poster depicting the frater-
nity's letters written on a woman's
chest.
ALTHOUGH THE Ann Arbor
Coalition Against Rape is
primarily concerned with the

march and disbands shortly after
the event, it forms a list of deman-
ds against rape every year. This
year, for example, the coalition
has called for better lighting and a
campus-wide escort service.
But some people watching the
sea of women chanting verses like,
"Fight back, women unite!"
didn't believe the march would
produce substantive results,
though they said it would raise
awareness of rapes.
FRESHMAN engineering
students Joe Stephens and Sean
Herman, who watched the march
from the lawn of South Quad, felt
the real problem is that many
rapes go unreported, a problem
they felt the march could not
solve.
"If they're talking about being
scared to walk down South
University at night, it's not a huge
problem in my opinion," said
Herman.
ORGANIZERS OF the march
disagree, and during the march,
one woman was attacked by a man
who she said approached her while

she was standing on the periphery
of the crowd.
According to the woman, Mar-
tha Schmit, a man pushed and
shoved her until several other
woman came to her aid. Schmit
didn't file a formal report with the
police.
"He was obviously wanting to be
physically antagonistic," said
Schmit. "I didn't get bruised or
hurt. He wanted to make his
statement."
"WE NEED to ask why there is
so much hostility toward the mar-
ch," said McGee. She added, "I'm
sick about talking about men,"
referring to the fact that the rally
has previously excluded men.
"THERE'S hostility because
most men and women have not
challenged our cultural assum-
ptions," McGee said. "We've
bought into assumptions: women
are to blame; men buy into the
idea that you have to score. For
men to reject the idea, they really
have to change."

4
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