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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On Sunday, I wrote about how I’ve learned to save my wrath for real-life sexist outrages instead of getting agitated over songs and movies.  I’m devastated that an example of the former has come to light so soon. CBS reported that its foreign correspondent Lara Logan “was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating” in Egypt while covering the reaction to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. (Some reports say that she was raped; others say the assault didn’t include rape.)

Lara Logan in Egypt shortly before the attack. Courtesy of CBS.

Compounding the horror inflicted on Logan are the vile blame-the-victim responses to her attack.   Nir Rosen, a journalist and fellow at New York University’s Center on Law and Security, Tweeted, “jesus christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger.” Then, in his initial “apology,” he accused her of being an attention whore: “ah fuck it, i apologize for being insensitive, its always wrong, thats obvious, but i’m rolling my eyes at all the attention she will get.” Appropriately, he resigned his fellowship in shame. Maybe the name “Nir Rosen” will be to Twitter what “Dooce” is to blogs — a reminder that online activities have real-life consequences.

Meanwhile, as Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon wrote, “it took all of minutes” before somebody made the story about Logan’s appearance. Simone Wilson of LA Weekly called Logan “the blonde reporter” and referred to Logan’s “shocking good looks” and “Hollywood good looks,” as if women of all shapes, sizes, colors, races and ages aren’t assaulted on a regular basis. Wilson’s post-hate-mail clarification — “Just so we’re clear: Rape is awful. Logan’s rape was not her fault” — belatedly stated the obvious. And  Debbie Schlussel wrote, “How fitting that Lara Logan was ‘liberated’ by Muslims in Liberation Square while she was gushing over the other part of the ‘liberation.’ Hope you’re enjoying the revolution, Lara! Alhamdilllullah [praise allah].” Schlussel’s “apology” reiterates her initial stance: “Now she [Lara] knows what Islamic revolution is really all about.”

Those sentiments hardly compare to the poison spewed by commenters on the articles mentioned above and other editorials and news stories. Just like I said on Sunday, “… I’ve learned that famous entertainers are easily beaten in the offensiveness race every single day by the ordinary online commenter.”

Personally, I think the only appropriate response to Logan’s attack is the one that my husband, MrB, gave on behalf of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ):

“We have seen Lara’s compassion at work while helping journalists who have faced brutal aggression while doing their jobs. She is a brilliant, courageous, and committed reporter. Our thoughts are with Lara as she recovers.”

UPDATED TO ADD: CPJ’s comments on documenting sexual violence against journalists are here.

UPDATED AGAIN TO ADD: Nir Rosen has blown my mind by making things worse with this attempt at an apology/explanation. According to him, the point he was trying to make was:

“Had Logan been a non-white, non-famous journalist, this story would have never made it to the news.  Ahmed Mahmoud, an Egyptian journalist, was killed in cold blood and nobody ever heard of him. Dozens of other women were harassed and nobody will ever know their names. … Countless women (Egyptian and foreign, journalists and others) have reported being harassed and assaulted in Tahrir Square that Friday, mostly, it seems, by non-revolutionaries. (This harassment was a preexisting problem that Egyptian women have been increasingly complaining about.) So why all the focus on Logan? The U.S. media did not care when Egyptian journalists (or any other Egyptian) were being jailed. Only when pretty white people showed up did Egypt really start to matter …”

I have always disliked this way of denigrating one victim — while ostensibly complaining about the media — in the name of bringing attention to other victims. If you want to fight for justice for all, do so! I support it! But do it without pouring scorn on the “pretty” victim for having the misfortune to come to people’s attention via personal tragedy. It’s not like anyone sane wants that experience! If Nir Rosen wants to make amends to Lara Logan and help non-famous, non-white people, he should stop spewing nonsense and consider making a donation to CPJ, which helps journalists of both genders and all races, nationalities and religions. Logan, by the way, is on CPJ’s board, so she’s doing her bit.

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33 Responses to “Thoughts on Lara Logan”

  1. stacy says:

    So, because she was blond, she was asking for it?
    People are idiots.

  2. NancyDaQ says:

    I saw several of the ugly comments in response to Howard Kurtz’s DB column. It made me sick. Lara is an excellent reporter and doesn’t deserve such nastiness from idiots.

  3. Ms. P & C says:

    Yes. Mr B’s statement is perfect. I have a bit of a sapphic crush on Ms. Logan, and I have for quite a long time. This news was so appalling to me when I read it. I’m still stunned.

    The entire situation sounded absolutely terrifying. I may not be afraid of much, but large crowds packed into public spaces with very little law & order is definitely a prospect that freaks me out. (Heck, I couldn’t even muster the courage to go to the SF Giants’ victory parade & you know how I love my Giants!)

    The fact that ANYONE would take a cavalier or insensitive attitude or make statements in kind about this attack is abhorrent and repugnant. Those people should be shamed. And, for the record, Ms. Logan is NOT a “war monger” – she is a war correspondent who ventures to the front lines so chicken-shit people who’d rather serve out their fellowships in 1st-world countries can stay at home.

  4. What troubles me most is the equation of Islamic revolution with the brutality against women. They are not one in the same and for people to think that she bought the assault on herself is sick and despicable.

  5. Lynette says:

    WendyB, you’re a brilliant observer-of-life who never blanches at telling it like you see it. And you’re married to such a smart, good man. I sing your praises every chance I get, using evidence like your post and MrB’s response to this despicable act of uncalled for aggression.

  6. Kionon says:

    Yep, this pretty much made me rage when I heard about it on CNN.

  7. This is just awful. It is never a woman’s fault! We never ask for assault! What kind of thinking is this?! And from supposedly intelligent people, too!

  8. Mary says:

    That US press have bagged this poor woman is unbelievable. Why is considered a war monger? Who the fuck is that Schlussel person? Why so many cuntish, wannabee Palins? Sorry I don’t know enough about what goes on in the US press.

  9. Vix says:

    Too bloody right. Sexual attacks are based on hatred and suppression and not on attraction. She is a journalist and that is her job. I can’t think of many of us that haven’t been glued to the events of the Egyptian crisis over the past three weeks.
    She may have had a more successful career due to her looks but they certainly don’t single her out for deserving to be violated. x

  10. I’m so glad you wrote about this Wendy. All of this makes me sick and I don’t think you need a women’s studies degree to realize what the problem is here. ugh, I’m so outraged. She’s a damn good reporter who I’ve respected over the years and I’m so sick of this misogynist bullshit spewing out of every media corner.

  11. mystyle says:

    Hi there-Mr Bs words are the most wise and heartfelt and my thoughts and prayers are with Lara. xx

  12. It is unbelievable – I agree with everything you’ve said and Mr B’s statement is spot on.

    PS my spam word was prosecco & I drank rather a lot of it last night, I’m thinking your blog is talking to me or rather telling me off!

  13. Lara says:

    When I first heard about it a few days ago, no one was mentioning rape and I just figured it had been a scuffle like what A. Cooper had endured. Then people were talking about rude comments being made about her deserving it for putting herself in that environment, then yesterday morning tv news finally mentioned rape, and all that talk on Twitter yesterday, I finally saw the full story of what was going on. It makes me soooo mad, I can barely put it into words. Thanks for summing everything up and giving your amazing references. Whatever happened to her, it had nothing to do with anyone’s religion, or the fact that she’s an attractive woman – and anyone who says otherwise is an absolute moron.

  14. liz says:

    Everything I keep reading about the incident is so disturbing and sexist and disgusting. The comments about her appearance, about how no one told her to go there, about her past as a swimsuit model, it’s like jesus christ people, what happened to reporting the facts unbiased, free of sexism and overall assholeness. WHAT THE F***. Where is the compassion, where is human decency? It’s bad enough that the crazies have come out, but it is completely disheartening to hear professors, other journalists, respected news outlets and the like spewing this nonsense.

  15. Maja Piraja says:

    REading about this on various websites has made me sick to my stomach. Makes me think of this wonderful blog post: http://shakespearessister.blog.....e-101.html

  16. athena_ak says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. I am saddened for Ms. Logan, angry at the people who did this to her, and horrified at anyone who would justify it. Ugh.

  17. Rachel says:

    Thank you for posting about this. It must be so easy for the detractors to sit behind their computers and spew such ugliness. I am appalled at the remarks, especially by Schlussel. She may disagree with Ms. Logan’s worldview, but to imply that she somehow deserves the attack because she should have known “what Islam is all about”, that is disgusting.

  18. Susan Tiner says:

    It’s disgusting, but not surprising. Mr. B’s words are appropriate and compassionate.

  19. I can’t believe the negativity by those people. I do think that she’s an experienced reporter who knew the risks when she took the assignment – she’d been there, returned home and gone back after all. But it doesn’t excuse the things done to her and any other women in that country of a similar nature. In fact, in the end, maybe it served a cause by highlighting the problem. But it took balls to go and report from a place so full of unrest and high emotions, especially as a foreign woman and knowing those risks. Knowing the risks doesn’t make it any more acceptable to treat her or anyone else in such a criminal and shocking manner. Those people who say she deserved it or words to that effect, need a swift kick in the pants. I hope she bounces back and recovers from the mental scars and that it was all FOR something. In the end, all it comes down to is a defenseless woman was beaten and sexually assaulted by a group of men and no one has the right to say that’s her fault or that she deserved it, no matter what.

    Thanks miss B. Vent over.

  20. The physical attack on Lara Logan and the ensuing online attacks have been tremendously disturbing and disappointing. I will continue to hold her in my thoughts.

  21. Miss Janey says:

    Sometimes its just beset to follow Mama Janey’s sage advice: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Blaming the victim is despicable- what an atrocious little mind.

  22. Wendy,
    Thank you for commenting on this. I have been thinking about this assault since I read about it. And, while she is a beautiful woman, this has nothing to do with her looks. Women of all shapes and sizes are assaulted on a regular basis. This was an act of incredible agression and violence against an unprotected victim.
    I was shocked by this, as well as by some of the online comments by Nir Rosen.

  23. lisa says:

    Nauseating and dismaying, how these people have responded to such a traumatic incident.

  24. Mardel says:

    Mr. B’s response was perfect.
    I am appalled at the kind of cruel ignorance, insensitivity, and abuse that is spewed out daily by seemingly rational people. These kinds of comments only fuel the kind of environment where this kind of thing can happen. Everyone should take responsibility.

  25. A-Dubs says:

    Thanks for posting this. Yes, many people are idiots. Fortunately, some – like you and your husband, for example – are not.

  26. Kristin says:

    It saddens and disgusts me that the horror and indignity she suffered has been downplayed by supposedly intelligent individuals. If only sexual violence as an intimidation and war tactic weren’t still so alive and well. Amen to Mr. B’s kind words.

  27. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting about this, the whole thing has been troubling me since it was first reported. Seeing the comments from Nir Rosen almost made my head explode. Am I little too sensitive about it? Yes. Should we all be? Yes.

    Hugs at you and Mr. B.,

  28. Eli says:

    I follow npr on twitter and even they had to give a notice of why they took down certain comments on their page about the story – people were leaving awful and cruel things. No one deserves this, period!

  29. Jacqueline says:

    Seeing all the hate and blame that is directed towards Lara and then heaped on anyone and everyone in the comments saddens and disheartens me. Whenever something like this happens I am always amazed at the amount of vitriol that we are able to direct at one another, often as complete strangers. Do people really hold that much hate and contempt in their hearts that at the first opportunity they unleash the flood gates to spew whatever toxic sludge they have built up inside? I’m pretty certain that most women at sone point in their lives have been on the receiving end of sexual assault. And you know what? I bet my life that not one of them was asking for it and they didn’t have to travel to a foreign country to find it. I have been cut down walking to university in broad daylight by passers-by who with a look and a vile comment, that would turn my pacifist dad into a killer, have been able to strip me of my humanness making me feel less than and ashamed. It seems that carrying the XX chromosomes is provocation enough. I hope and pray that Lara keeps her courage and strength during this period and surrounds herself with love and positivity, because the vultures are circling.

  30. Elizabeth says:

    People are insane.