Female Journalists Who Have Been Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault May No Longer Be Invisible, Thanks to Lara Logan

If we talk about rape, maybe people will stop raping one another.

The attack on Lara Logan has been the rape cause célèbre1, and has has underscored the misogyny that exists on both sides of the spectrum. The reaction that has most troubled me is that Logan “should have known better” than to put herself at risk. This is an abjectly stupid reaction.

Women are ALWAYS at risk (as Emily notes in this post). In order to not put ourselves at risk, we would have to, essentially, not do anything — ever. Moreover, the same could be said of any journalist who covers any newsworthy event steeped in chaos. If Anderson Cooper had been more severely attacked than he was, would we be saying “well, he should have known better than to cover the Egypt Revolution from Egypt; he should have just covered it remotely.” Did the media-at-large blame Daniel Pearl for putting himself in danger? No.

When it comes to the rape and assault of women, however, it seems the first reaction is blame-shifting. One misguided blogger has even called the coverage of Logan’s attack “overblown” and then goes on to complain that male journalists have been attacked and murdered since time immemorial and where is the “overblown” coverage about that!?

And it’s all another big step back for women. The over-the-top coverage says that women, by virtue of their gender, should be immune from harm even though men aren’t. It’s the same mentality that tells our college-aged daughters they must “Take Back the Night,” even though it’s always been theirs — our sons have always been at far greater risk of physical assault, and everyone knows it. Women can never hope to be truly “equal” so long as they are plopped up on a pedestal to be worshipped [sic] and adored, free from the risks men are expected to face.

We really know nothing about what happened to Ms. Logan, except for what CBS told us in a released statement:

“On Friday, Feb. 11, the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan was covering the jubilation in Tahrir Square for a ’60 Minutes’ story when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy. In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.”

Thank goodness for that group of women! (Oh, and for the 20 soldiers, too.) No other witnesses have come forward, and even the nature of the alleged attack has not been made public.

Setting aside the fact that the author’s regard for women is steeped in disdain, the author’s premise is foolhardy. It is, quite simply, ridiculous to argue that calling attention to the sexual assault of women somehow does an injustice to the fight for women’s rights by casting women as the weaker sex. It is ridiculous to argue that because men face a greater risk of physical assault (notice that it is physical, and not sexual assault), calling attention to the crimes perpetrated against women somehow cheapens the fight for equal rights. And, to the extent that the author is talking about physical and not sexual assault, comparing women being raped to men being “beaten up” not only is a false comparison, but also, it is intellectually dishonest.

The fact of the matter is, rape is a grossly underreported crime. And the fact of the matter is, it is a crime that while not the exclusive province of women, certainly is wielded against women in a way not comparable to men.

Among journalists, it seems, the same is true. Journalist Kim Barker of ProPublica relays her experiences covering the conflict in Pakistan (reposted in full):

Thousands of men blocked the road, surrounding the S.U.V. of the chief justice of Pakistan, a national hero for standing up to military rule. As a correspondent for The Chicago Tribune, I knew I couldn’t just watch from behind a car window. I had to get out there.

So, wearing a black headscarf and a loose, long-sleeved red tunic over jeans, I waded through the crowd and started taking notes: on the men throwing rose petals, on the men shouting that they would die for the chief justice, on the men sacrificing a goat.

And then, almost predictably, someone grabbed my buttocks. I spun around and shouted, but then it happened again, and again, until finally I caught one offender’s hand and punched him in the face. The men kept grabbing. I kept punching. At a certain point — maybe because I was creating a scene — I was invited into the chief justice’s vehicle.

At the time, in June 2007, I saw this as just one of the realities of covering the news in Pakistan. I didn’t complain to my bosses. To do so would only make me seem weak. Instead, I made a joke out of it and turned the experience into a positive one: See, being a woman helped me gain access to the chief justice.

And really, I was lucky. A few gropes, a misplaced hand, an unwanted advance — those are easily dismissed. I knew other female correspondents who weren’t so lucky, those who were molested in their hotel rooms, or partly stripped by mobs. But I can’t ever remember sitting down with my female peers and talking about what had happened, except to make dark jokes, because such stories would make us seem different from the male correspondents, more vulnerable. I would never tell my bosses for fear that they might keep me at home the next time something major happened.

I was hardly alone in keeping quiet. The Committee to Protect Journalists may be able to say that 44 journalists from around the world were killed last year because of their work, but the group doesn’t keep data on sexual assault and rape. Most journalists just don’t report it.

The CBS correspondent Lara Logan has broken that code of silence. She has covered some of the most dangerous stories in the world, and done a lot of brave things in her career. But her decision to go public earlier this week with her attack by a mob in Tahrir Square in Cairo was by far the bravest. Hospitalized for days, she is still recuperating from the attack, described by CBS as a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating.

Several commentators have suggested that Ms. Logan was somehow at fault: because she’s pretty; because she decided to go into the crowd; because she’s a war junkie. This wasn’t her fault. It was the mob’s fault. This attack also had nothing to do with Islam. Sexual violence has always been a tool of war. Female reporters sometimes are just convenient.

The CBS correspondent Lara Logan has broken that code of silence. She has covered some of the most dangerous stories in the world, and done a lot of brave things in her career. But her decision to go public earlier this week with her attack by a mob in Tahrir Square in Cairo was by far the bravest. Hospitalized for days, she is still recuperating from the attack, described by CBS as a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating.

Several commentators have suggested that Ms. Logan was somehow at fault: because she’s pretty; because she decided to go into the crowd; because she’s a war junkie. This wasn’t her fault. It was the mob’s fault. This attack also had nothing to do with Islam. Sexual violence has always been a tool of war. Female reporters sometimes are just convenient.

In the coming weeks, I fear that the conclusions drawn from Ms. Logan’s experience will be less reactionary but somehow darker, that there will be suggestions that female correspondents should not be sent into dangerous situations. It’s possible that bosses will make unconscious decisions to send men instead, just in case. Sure, men can be victims, too — on Wednesday a mob beat up a male ABC reporter in Bahrain, and a few male journalists have told of being sodomized by captors — but the publicity around Ms. Logan’s attack could make editors think, “Why take the risk?” That would be the wrong lesson. Women can cover the fighting just as well as men, depending on their courage.

More important, they also do a pretty good job of covering what it’s like to live in a war, not just die in one. Without female correspondents in war zones, the experiences of women there may be only a rumor.

Look at the articles about women who set themselves on fire in Afghanistan to protest their arranged marriages, or about girls being maimed by fundamentalists, about child marriage in India, about rape in Congo and Haiti. Female journalists often tell those stories in the most compelling ways, because abused women are sometimes more comfortable talking to them. And those stories are at least as important as accounts of battles.

There is an added benefit. Ms. Logan is a minor celebrity, one of the highest-profile women to acknowledge being sexually assaulted. Although she has reported from the front lines, the lesson she is now giving young women is probably her most profound: It’s not your fault. And there’s no shame in telling it like it is.

Talking about one’s experience with rape or sexual assault is a difficult thing to do. Talking about it, knowing that everyone in the world will know that you were raped is an even more difficult thing to do. This point often goes unrecognized. If you take stock of all of your female friends and relatives, I’m sure you would be shocked at the percentage of them who have been either raped or sexually assaulted. It is never something to be mocked or denigrated.

The coverage of Logan’s attack is not overblown, nor is it an attempt to turn Logan into some sort of martyr, or an attempt on her part to garner some attention for herself. Only the most cynical2 or twisted individuals would presume such.

I don’t know Logan, and normally I wouldn’t attempt to speak for someone I don’t know, but I feel comfortable saying this with absolute certainty: If Lara Logan could go back in time and NOT BE RAPED, I’m 100% certain she would choose not to have been violated in the most personal and horrific manner, if it would mean living as a “minor celebrity” for the rest of her life. Anyone who thinks otherwise should get his or her head examined.

1 It seems odd to use the word “cause” — let’s not go holding any rape fundraisers, mmkay?

2 I understand that being falsely accused of rape is traumatic, but the answer is not to minimize the experiences of rape victims. The only way to stop rape is for people to stop raping people. The only way to get people to stop raping other people is to talk about it — ad nauseum, if necessary. And logically, if people stop raping other people, then women will not be able to use false accusations of rape as a weapon.

[cross-posted here at Angry Black Lady Chronicles]






65 replies
  1. 1
    Yutsano says:

    The only way to stop rape is for people to raping people

    Missing a crucial word in here. Otherwise righteous writing.

  2. 2
    The Dangerman says:

    Not to minimize this horrible event, but calling this the “rape cause célèbre” would appear to state facts not in evidence. There was one report that this was NOT a rape.

    Now, a sexual assault is obviously bad enough, but … gotta be careful, I think.

  3. 3
    efgoldman says:

    Lots of excellent commentary on this very thoughtful post by Coates:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/nat.....man/71433/

    As I’m not the first to say (and won’t be the last): Rape is the only crime in which the victim first has to prove that a crime was committed.

    When the cops came to my house, and found all the stereo equipment on the back porch, I didn’t have to prove, first, that there was a break-in and (attempted) robbery.

  4. 4
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    ABL, even if women just stayed home and did nothing, some assholes would still rape. Since staying home isn’t going to keep you ladies safe, you should probably just get out there and do things, and, like you said, we should stop rape by stopping the rapists.

    Great writing on this, but I fear that this thread will become toxic.

  5. 5
    hildebrand says:

    Surely rape is the most corrosive of all attacks, and should likely always be labeled a hate crime, as it is clear that the perpetrator despises, hates, and wishes to belittle the victim in the most horrific manner possible.

  6. 6
    Chet says:

    I’m a little surprised – and relieved – that nobody seems to have yet advanced the fatalistic Camille Paglia line, that rape is basically something women just have to accept as part of the natural order of things, and the price of their being out in the world.

  7. 7
    sturunner says:

    . . .

    depending on their courage.

    Exactly.

    And it is time to stop talking talking about rape, & just start stopping it.

    But that won’t happen until rapists know that there will be consequences, seriousconsequences.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Agreed. It’s one reason I really like TNC’s moderation policy.

    That said, you’re kicking ass and taking names, ABL. You are right in that we need to keep talking about this. My post to come soon.

  10. 10
    junebug says:

    Did the media-at-large blame Daniel Pearl for putting himself in danger? No.

    Thank you for just saying that. I haven’t read the rest and I will, but thank you for saying just that.

  11. 11
    Bill Murray says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: yeah wasn’t their a Repub politician or a fundamentalist minister that would wait until his wife fell asleep and then screw her in the ass, even though when awake she had specifically said she wouldn’t do that?

  12. 12
    Nerull says:

    There isn’t any other crime that brings people out of the woodwork like rape does, to lecture about ‘shared responsibility’. I’m sure they will be here shortly.

    No one feels the need to spam blog comments when someone gets robbed that they ‘share the responsibility’ for living in the wrong city, the wrong neighborhood, or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. No one feels the need to comment on it when people are murdered. Only rape gets this treatment.

    It is exactly the same mindset that results in young women being stoned to death for the crime of bring raped.

  13. 13
    The Tragically Flip says:

    I can’t resist a little nutpicking in that thread:


    Anonymous said…

    If Lara Logan said she saw a UFO would everyone assume it was true? No. But they assume it’s true when she says she was sexually assaulted. Why? Because women don’t lie about rape.

    Oh, wait. They do.

    Apparently claiming you were sexually assaulted with multiple reliable witnesses and no remotely plausible reason to lie is now tantamount to a UFO sighting. Because rape is JUST THAT RARE!

  14. 14
    The Tragically Flip says:

    (fixed above, html weirdness…disregard)

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bill Murray: I believe there was, but am slightly disturbed that anyone would think that this kind of thing is my area of expertise.

  16. 16
    sfinny says:

    The whole ‘let’s not talk about it’ has been around a long time. So here is a first for me: I was raped. Never said it to anyone except officials, but I was referred for counseling for problems at my college. Their effort was to help as long as I didn’t make a big deal, or a legal deal of it. It worked. I took the counseling and kept quiet about the whole rape thing. Never happened in my mind. Except for the dreams. Except for the fear when I saw certain people on campus.

    Well this is long ago, and long dealt with. But the treatment of Lara Logan is a great reminder of the inherent pressures there are to hide, to forget. Bringing to the forefront is a valuable thing.

  17. 17
    junebug says:

    I have found in my life as a female that females are my best allies and worst enemies.

    I was raped as a teenager. I never told my parents or any authority. It was a long time ago and there was no way I could explain how I found myself in the position to let it happen.

    It never happened again because I learned how to throw a punch — just like that reporter did. I gave as good or better than I got for years. Now I have the ferocious pups to protect me at home and my attitude at work to protect myself.

    Sometimes I worry about getting older. Older women get raped and robbed because they are seen as weak. As I get older, and given I live alone, I have to stay strong and nurture my pups. It’s the best defense I have.

  18. 18
    Ecks says:

    @The Dangerman: No, I don’t think we need to get hung up on this point really at all.

    As a culture we tend to reduce sex to a matter of “tab A going into slot B”, seeing it as the bright line that divides sex from not-sex. But we’ve known for a long time now that this isn’t really the case. Just as loving partners can manage to have intimate sex without this particular arrangement of slots and tabs, so a rapist can achieve exactly the same level of violation and humiliation without it too.

    In fact, the physical damage from rapes is often (not always) less than from other forms of assault. Yet if they had to choose, many people would rather a pretty severe beating than being coerced into sex – even if is not the Tab A / Slot B kind.

    So no, I don’t think we need to get too hung up on the prurient details of whether this is rape or “just” sexual assault at all. I think the underlying crime is the same either way. It’s a distinction without a difference.

    Note: legally speaking there is no standard meaning for “rape” vs. “sexual assault”. In some jurisdictions they are considered synonymous, in others not so.

  19. 19
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @sfinny: I’m sorry you had to experience that. I’m glad you’ve gotten help for it.

    And, since we are sharing, here is my post about my experiences. I cross-posted at ABL’s place.

  20. 20
    El Cid says:

    @Bill Murray: That was David Hager, the Bush Jr. administration Talibangelical nominee for a position in the FDA having to do with reproduction and contraception.

    Hager’s appointment to the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs in the FDA was controversial with women’s right groups protesting his selection from the start. Hager’s appointment became more divisive when on May 6, 2004, the FDA rejected the December 16, 2003 Advisory Committee 23 to 4 vote to drop the prescription-only status of emergency contraception, and refused to approve the sale of Plan B over the counter.
    __
    First, The Nation, and then The Washington Post and Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Hager spoke at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, about his role in persuading the FDA to keep Plan B a prescription-only drug. Hager said, “I was asked to write a minority opinion that was sent to the commissioner of the FDA. For only the second time in five decades, the FDA did not abide by its advisory committee opinion, and the measure was rejected.”
    __
    Additionally, in The Nation, Linda Carruth-Davis, Hager’s ex-wife from a thirty-two-year marriage, alleges that between 1995 and their divorce in 2002, Hager repeatedly sodomized her while she slept.[2] The article’s author Ayelish McGarvey puts forward the premise that Linda Davis’s allegations are of additional concern due to Hager’s public role as an advocate for women’s health.
    __
    To The Nation, Hager responded “My official comment is that I decline to comment”, but in his local newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader, Hager stated “As I said before, the allegations as stated do not reveal all of the information and therefore they’re incomplete and not true. No one likes to be criticized, no one likes to be torn apart privately or publicly and I think that it’s disappointing that my former wife has chosen this avenue to vent her anger and bitterness.”
    __
    Further concerns with his candidacy arose with his beliefs and medical assertions penned in the book “Stress and The Woman’s Body“, co-written with his ex-wife Linda Carruth-Davis.
    __
    In the book, his writings emphasized the “restorative power of Jesus Christ in one’s life” and recommended specific Scripture readings and prayers for such ailments as headaches and premenstrual syndrome.

    I have no idea why any liberals would accuse Christian fundamentalists and Republican officials of being sexist and reactionary on women’s rights.

  21. 21
    The Dangerman says:

    @Ecks:

    Legally speaking there is no standard meaning for “rape” vs. “sexual assault”. In some jurisdictions they are considered synonymous, in others not so.

    I’ll have to confess to being quite surprised; I’d always heard that rape was clearly defined legally (IANAL)

    I do think words matter, however. Once things get blurred, bad things can happen. For example, there are cases of sexting where the sender ends up being on a Predator list. That is terrible, too.

  22. 22
    El Cid says:

    To Logan and any other woman here and anywhere who feel that it’s the right time to speak up, to not be silent about being sexually attacked, my gratitude and admiration.

  23. 23
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @El Cid: Oh my god. I’m going to be ill.

    @sfinny: I also wanted to say thank you for speaking up.

  24. 24
    Yutsano says:

    @The Dangerman: I think what he was meaning is that rape sometimes equals sexual assault legally in some jurisdictions and in others that synergy isn’t as clear. Almost every jurisdiction has a clear legal definition of rape, that has been true for at least decades. Sexual assault, by itself, can be more nebulous, and can mean something quite distinct from rape. Which is why the CBS hedge is even more insidious here.

  25. 25
    Gian says:

    one of the blessings humanity has is the ability to forget things. Sometimes, it doesn’t work, I can still remember holding my newborn daughter at 20 months, as she died, unable to breathe on her own… forgetting the details of really bad things is a true blessing. Had I ever been raped, I’d hope to forget the worst of it…

    Look, girls and women can have the absolute worst thing ever happen when they do nothing anyone would consider risky – Mr. John Gardner raped and killed two girls in california, one he kidnapped as she walked to school, the other as she ran in a local park. They didn’t do anything “wrong”

    Will I teach my daughter born full term and a wiggles fan right now that getting shit faced at a frat party and not being with her girlfriends is a bad idea – you bet. and like her brother, she’ll get martial arts training. (one of Gardner’s intended victims elbowed that breating piece of shit in the face, broke his nose and escaped) we’re all part of a hyper-intelligent hunting species, and you never know who has wires slightly crossed. and really, google “mary bell” ANYONE and I mean anyone can be evil

    (from wikipedia as to Mary – On 25 May 1968, the day before her 11th birthday, Mary Flora Bell strangled four-year-old Martin Brown. She was believed to have committed this crime alone. Between that time and the second killing, she and her friend Norma Joyce Bell (no relation), age thirteen, broke into and vandalised a nursery in Scotswood, leaving notes that claimed responsibility for the Brown killing. The Newcastle police dismissed this incident as a ‘prank’.

    On 31 July 1968, the two took part in the death, again by strangulation, of three-year-old Brian Howe. Police reports concluded that Mary Bell had gone back after killing him to carve an “N” into his stomach with a razor; this was then changed using the same razor but with a different hand to an “M”. Mary Bell also used a pair of scissors to cut off bits of Brian Howe’s hair and to mutilate his genitals. As the girls were so young and their testimonies contradicted each other, what happened has never been entirely clear. Martin Brown’s death was initially ruled an accident as there was no evidence of foul play. Eventually, his death was linked with Brian Howe’s killing and in August, the two girls were charged with two counts of manslaughter.)

  26. 26
    El Cid says:

    @asiangrrlMN: We forget sometimes just how awful it was under Bush Jr.

    We somehow still get to hear about how Obama’s taking over the nation like Joe Stalin because other people call appointees to positions “czars”.

    Pretty much any big issue you can think of which shows the idiocy of our conservative and ‘free market’ establishment gets forgotten.

    So, you know, big and constant right wing attacks on women at any level get a patronizingly small bit of media attention, but– but— the deficit!

  27. 27
    junebug says:

    I forgot that there is selective mechanical ignore on this blog.

  28. 28
    jenn says:

    @sfinny: @asiangrrlMN:

    Thank you both for sharing. I don’t know what to say except digital hugs heading your way for whenever you might need them! I was boggled in TNC’s house the other day, with how many people waved their electronic arms in the air, and said “I was sexually assaulted”, women and men. It’s not that I didn’t know on a statistical level how prevalent rape is, but to have to think to myself, “oh, god, you too? and you, too?” was heartbreaking. And eye-opening. And eventually — sadly, not nearly soon enough, but eventually, having survivors speak up so that we can see the effects all around us, will result in changes for the better.

    Thanks again (and another hug or listening ears/eyes, whichever is needed more).

  29. 29
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @El Cid: I know. For me, personally, I didn’t pay really close attention to him except to automatically assume that everything he did and said was fucking wrong. Finding out the details of his shit now is just icing on the damn shit cake.

    @jenn: Thanks. Always appreciated.

  30. 30
    The Dangerman says:

    @Yutsano:

    Which is why the CBS hedge is even more insidious here.

    I find their hedge odd on a few levels; for example, they talk about “separation from her security”. Well, who’s fault was that (hint: not her fault)? I don’t know how the media handles their security (i.e., in-house or contractors), but someone messed up badly here.

  31. 31
    sfinny says:

    @jenn: Thank you to all that offer thanks. This is worth more than you can know.

  32. 32
    Ecks says:

    @Nerull: Well it’s RARE for those other types of crimes. If you leave your laptop unattended at the park, or walk around a “bad” neighborhood, late at night while wearing lots of expensive clothes, people will think you foolish. The idea that we should all be responsible for not putting ourselves in overly dangerous places is not inherently insane.

    The difference, though, is that in all those examples, the bad things are contained to a very few specific small areas of time and space, and the steps to avoid them are pretty easy – you don’t go somewhere at night that you wouldn’t go anyway, you lock your house in passing on the way out, you take your bag with you to the bathroom when you’re out in public.

    But it breaks down totally when the crime you are trying to avoid could come at any time, from nearly any person in your life. You can lock strangers out of your apartment, but you can’t lock all the people of one gender out of your entire life. You can’t never ever run into any stranger on the street, any acquaintance in the workplace, or any friend or relative in your house.

    Men telling women “just avoid risks and everything will be safe,” is like someone who can never leave rural Kansas announcing: “what’s wrong with you, only crazy foolish people risk their necks going anywhere near car traffic” to someone who can’t leave Manhattan. It may be practical advice an hour outside Topeka, but it is insultingly absurd when you are stuck living an the corner of 4th and 83rd.

  33. 33
    Ecks says:

    @junebug:

    You are right that you COULD still be raped as you get older, but the odds of it happening go down dramatically. I don’t say this to delegitimate your fears, but to try to help partially allay them.

    It’s one of the oddities of the human condition that people’s actuarial risk of crime bears almost no relationship to their fear of it.

    Old women are the demographic group that is most scared of violent crime, and the least victimized by it. Young men are the group least scared of violent crime and most victimized by it (they both perpetrate and receive most of it).

    Again, it’s not wrong that you should be wary of crime, because nobody is immune, and I’m conflating in all kinds of assaults and robberies and fights along with rape here. I’m just making the general point that as you get older and older you become more at risk of being taken advantage of by financial fraud, and far safer from attacks or rapes (again, “safer” not equals “totally safe”).

  34. 34

    @sfinny: Thank you for sharing that. It’s a hard thing to say out loud, even if only to a bunch of People on the Internet. I’m glad you got the help you needed.

  35. 35
    Ecks says:

    @Yutsano: I was reading up on this after the last thread on the topic.

    The history of it is that it used to be the case in the bad old days that rape was defined as a man on woman activity that involved intercourse in which the woman struggled and fought but was overpowered. As the modern era has dawned it became clear to people that this was far too strict. It didn’t cover men getting raped, sometimes it didn’t cover rapists using other orifices or sex acts, and sometimes the fact that the victim didn’t put up a “big enough” (whatever that means) physical fight is because he or she was intimidated or blackmailed or threatened or incapacitated, or just plain scared. Before the law changed to reflect this there were all kinds of trials where people were let off rape charges because the woman didn’t fight enough, so it couldn’t have been rape. Really. In a few places these laws still hold like this I think.

    Over time the definition has evolved at different rates and in slightly different directions in different jurisdictions, and in the direction of tending to see the crime as a violation of sexual autonomy broadly writ, rather than the canonical big strong man holding down the canonical screaming clawing woman. Some states don’t use the word “rape” at all, it’s all considered variations of sexual assault.

  36. 36
    Fax Paladin says:

    @sfinny:

    Their effort was to help as long as I didn’t make a big deal, or a legal deal of it.

    Jesus wept. “Now, Sheriff Brody, if you tell people there’s a shark out there we’ll lose business…”

  37. 37
    Gian says:

    @Ecks:
    in the lifetimes of some
    it wasn’t legally possible for male husband to be guilty of the ctime of raping female wife. that’s only been a crime since about 1970 or so.

    society has a long way to go.

    But let me be clear, doing your job, while protected by hired security is just not volunteering to be a victim.

  38. 38
    Nerull says:

    @Ecks: Yes, there are crimes for which the foolishness of the victim can be a factor – the difference I was talking about is that none of those crimes will produce, as a thread here recently did, 300+ posts of heated argument about it. People don’t feel the need to attack, over and over again, the person who forgets to lock their front door. This only happens with rape.

    I’m really surprised they haven’t found this thread yet.

  39. 39
    Ecks says:

    @Nerull: For sure. Methinks they doth protest too much. It is a little more revealing than they mean, no.

  40. 40
    Nora Carrington says:

    ABL:

    Thanks for keeping on about this.

  41. 41
    Mnemosyne says:

    @efgoldman:

    Rape was traditionally called the “fate worse than death,” but it wasn’t because it’s objectively worse than being murdered. It’s because a rape victim would be completely ostracized by her family and friends. Her parents would throw her out of their house because she was now unclean and she would somehow have to try and earn a living — most likely as a prostitute since, hey, she was already a slut so what was she complaining about?

    We’ve gotten a little ways past that, but you’ve been able to see from the response of the trolls here that it’s still a tactic that some people use to try and keep rape hidden away.

  42. 42
    Anne Laurie says:

    Donald Gene Miller, serial killer (but not “significant” enough of a killer to have a wikipedia entry). His first (known) victim, Martha Sue Young, was a “good Christian girl”, a divorced single mother living with her parents, and an acquaintance of the woman I worked with in 1976. When Young disappeared, my boss helped her parents put up fliers and tried to set up a reward fund to help find her. But many of our decent, well-educated, socially-aware, supposedly-liberal co-workers refused to have anything to do with the effort, on the grounds that “Young must have done something to ask for it” (even though, at the time, all that was known for sure was that she had disappeared, “everyone” assumed the worst). After all, why would a ‘good Christian’ be divorced? Who knew what she was “really” like, if she “allowed” something horrible to happen to her?…

    Eighteen months and three other murdered women later, Miller broke into a quiet suburban house ‘at random’, beat & raped a teenage girl, and attempted to kill her younger brother when he came to her rescue. The girl ran naked & bleeding into the street, screaming for help, fortunately in time to save her brother’s life.

    Miller plea-bargained a comparatively light sentence in return for leading the police to the bodies of his victims. Young’s big “asking for it” mistake? She’d agreed to go out to breakfast with him, since they were both members of the same Bible study group.

    And one of the “nice” people who’d assumed the worst back in 1977 told my co-worker that, well, sure that’s what Miller said, but maybe Young was somehow “responsible” for turning him into a serial killer.

    Basically, people want the universe to make sense and their neighborhood to feel safe. Anyone or anything that challenges that sense of safety, even if just by becoming a victim, will be savagely attacked for their social solecism.

  43. 43
    Steeplejack says:

    @junebug:

    No one should have to go through what you experienced. My prayers are with you.

  44. 44
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @junebug: I’m sorry you had to go through that. I’m glad you learned to protect yourself.

  45. 45
    Ecks says:

    @Anne Laurie: Wow. that’s a hulluva story.

    There’s actually quite a lot of psychological research on the “just world phenomenon“, this mechanism you mention by which people feel motivated to blame victims when crimes seem particularly inexplicable and horrible, as a way of maintaining the sense that the world really IS a reasonable and rational place. There’s a lot of evidence that it’s a very real effect.

    From the Wikipedia entry (yes, I realize not the most scholarly way to give the info, but a quick and dirty way):

    Two studies gave women what appeared to be painful electric shocks while working on a difficult memory problem. More women of broadly the same age and social group who observed the experiment appeared to blame the victim for her fate, praise the experiment, and rate her as being less physically attractive than did those who had seen her but not the experiment.[1]
     
    In another study, female and male subjects were told two versions of a story about an interaction between a woman and a man. Both variations were exactly the same, except at the very end the man raped the woman in one and in the other he proposed marriage. In both conditions, both female and male subjects viewed the woman’s (identical) actions as inevitably leading to the (very different) results.[2]

  46. 46

    @junebug: Thanks for sharing, and yes — we as women sometimes don’t support each other the way we should.

  47. 47
    tom p says:

    ABL: I hardly ever comment here, but I had to say, “I think I love you.” (please don’t tell my wife, she wouldn’t understand) You have a knack for saying things that need to be said in a way none could misunderstand (in other words: “F*CK THE B*LLSH*T… this is what I SEE!”

    Seriously tho, by the time my oldest sister was my age (52) she had been dead for 10 years… and you remind me so much of her, in your attitudes, in your language, hell… you even kinda look like her (tho you are a little darker complected)(sp?). I miss her so much, every time I write about her (I still mail her letters and post cards from time to time)tears run down my face.

    Can I adopt you? As my metaphorical (digital) “Big Sis”? (despite the fact that I am older than you) You will never take Peggy’s place, but somehow or other, when I hear your voice, I hear an echo of her’s…

    A woman, a STRONG woman, speaking out, and OVER the din… RRFUSING to be unheard… telling all, “You CANNOT shut me up.”

  48. 48
    thalarctos says:

    @jenn: Thank you for saying it better than I ever could.

  49. 49
    thalarctos says:

    @jenn: Thank you for saying it better than I ever could.

  50. 50
    thalarctos says:

    @junebug: I’m also very sorry you went through that. I wish there were some way that my words could help; as it is, all I can say is I’m sorry, and I devoutly hope you never go through anything like that happening again.

  51. 51
    Pat says:

    This is what bothers me about women wanting it all. What I am about to say has nothing to do with the fact that I always thought Logan was just a pretty mouthpiece for the Pentagon throughout her career.

    What bothers me is if you make the conscience decision to bring a child into the world, then you should rethink your career and maybe not go places that might get you killed, because then your child will lose one of the most important persons they have in their lives. Call me old fashioned, but there are still some careers that could deeply affect mothering skills, and going into hostile countries and reporting on uprisings is one of them.

  52. 52
    colleeniem says:

    @Pat: Are you against war as well? Because I’m not going to comment if you have a consistency of mind.

  53. 53
    WereBear says:

    @junebug: Blessings on you and the pups; they are a good deterrent.

    What is even more compelling than the “just world effect” is the simple rationalization that if every single person in the world chose the circumstances by which they were victimized, then “I” don’t have to worry! It’s their fault for living on a flood plain/wearing that dress/leaving the house/not having armed security guards with them/not having better armed security guards with them!

  54. 54
    RedKitten says:

    @Ecks:

    The difference, though, is that in all those examples, the bad things are contained to a very few specific small areas of time and space, and the steps to avoid them are pretty easy – you don’t go somewhere at night that you wouldn’t go anyway, you lock your house in passing on the way out, you take your bag with you to the bathroom when you’re out in public.

    But it breaks down totally when the crime you are trying to avoid could come at any time, from nearly any person in your life. You can lock strangers out of your apartment, but you can’t lock all the people of one gender out of your entire life. You can’t never ever run into any stranger on the street, any acquaintance in the workplace, or any friend or relative in your house.

    Yes, that’s it EXACTLY! That’s what I was trying to explain to those cretins on the other rape threads. They might think that LL was “stupid” to be on the street in Egypt. Someone else might think that it’s “stupid” for a woman to live alone, or to wear makeup, or to go about with her hair uncovered.

    There is absolutely no defining line, due to the very nature of rape. Is your blind date going to mug you at the end of the night? Odds of that are pretty damn low. Is your blind date going to rape you? The odds are still low, but not AS low. And here’s the thing: if I went on a blind date with a man and he mugged me as he was walking me home, not one person would hold me responsible. They’d be shocked and appalled and outraged on my behalf. If I went on a blind date with a man and he raped me on the way home, I bet you dollars to donuts that there would be all kinds of people out there saying that I should have known better than to be alone with a man I barely knew, and that really, I should expect such things if I’m going to engage in risky behaviour like that.

  55. 55
    Ija says:

    @Pat:

    Call me old fashioned, but there are still some careers that could deeply affect mothering skills, and going into hostile countries and reporting on uprisings is one of them.

    What about fathers? Why don’t the same standard applies to fathers? Are you saying that fathers are basically useless in a child’s life and only mother is important?

    You know what, you are not old-fashioned, you are a douchebag hiding behind false gentility. Fuck youi.

  56. 56
    Ija says:

    @Pat:

    This is what bothers me about women wanting it all.

    What a douche.

  57. 57
    Ash Can says:

    @Pat: Do you feel the same way about men “wanting it all” and pursuing careers that can deeply affect fathering skills? If so, then you’re merely unrealistic, as opposed to blatantly and ridiculously sexist.

  58. 58
    Ash Can says:

    Also, to the women in this thread who shared their extremely personal and extremely difficult stories, I am in awe of your tremendous courage and character. Wow.

  59. 59
    debbie says:

    It’s definitely been underreported when it comes to female journalists:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02.....ekinreview

    Scanning these comments as I have points out just how men should sometimes just read and refrain from commenting. Just listen for a change.

    Too old to worry? Are you kidding me? Less of a risk? So it’s better, I guess to have the guy next to you fondling his Glock than it is to have him pointing it directly at you?

    I was abused by my pediatrician when I was a little kid, and all these decades later, it still affects me. Not in my everyday life, but when I’m confronted by some people’s appallingly offensive beliefs, I can’t help but get outraged all over again.

  60. 60
    Stefan says:

    What bothers me is if you make the conscience decision to bring a child into the world, then you should rethink your career and maybe not go places that might get you killed, because then your child will lose one of the most important persons they have in their lives. Call me old fashioned, but there are still some careers that could deeply affect mothering skills, and going into hostile countries and reporting on uprisings is one of them.

    By this reasoning, no one who has a child — female or male, because, after all, a father is also one of the most important people a child has in their lives — should be a soldier, a policeman, or a firefighter. And I also assume you think that men who have children shouldn’t work as journalists either?

  61. 61
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Stefan: I like this “every dangerous profession should be celibate” approach. Very totalitarian-dystopia.

  62. 62
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @debbie: I’m sorry that happened to you. And, you are right in that sometimes, the best thing anyone can do is just listen.

    @tom p: This is another reality that is ignored–how rape affects the lives of the people who love the victim/survivor. Thank you for sharing your story.

  63. 63

    “If you take stock of all of your female friends and relatives, I’m sure you would be shocked at the percentage of them who have been either raped or sexually assaulted. It is never something to be mocked or denigrated.”

    I’ve long done this with groups of women and in all cases, nearly every one of them raised their hand and volunteered a story or two or three. Me? 9 years old and my neighbor’s older brother fondled me and threatened to do worse (we were out in the middle of nowhere sledding). I remember telling him that I knew some Karate (true) and my dad was a black belt (also true) and could kick his ass. I’ve often wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t been so plucky. I also remember being very scared.

    Two years later, we were at the beach and I went to find an ice machine. Couldn’t find it, asked some old man who worked there, he showed me it was right where I’d looked (hey, I was 11!), then proceeded to tickle me while repeating “See?” over and over again. And by “tickle,” I mean tickle my tat-tas. Gross. I told my mom and she laughed that I’d been reading too many Nancy Drew novels.

    Oh and when I was six, I was at ballet and waiting for my younger sister to finish her class. A guy was hanging out in the hall outside class and beckoned me. Told me to come with him down the hall cuz he wanted to show me something. I remember every thought I had. I thought he had a treasure and wanted to marry me or something stupid like that. We got to the end of the hall and he dropped his pants, asked me to move closer and touch it. I turned and ran away. Mom called the cops and I looked at mug shots.

    So that’s THREE – count ’em – THREE incidents before I was even a teenager.

    I was date raped once, too, in my 30’s. But here’s the thing – I’ve never considered any of my experiences all that bad. I’ve heard worse and – just like ABL says – ask any woman and we all have stories like this. We’ve all just accepted it as part of the deal.

    I’m over all that and only bring it to say ABL is 100% correct that sexual abuse it WAY MORE COMMON than you realize. Just ask us.

  64. 64
    Hob says:

    I think I may have actually encountered a response to this that’s worse than all the other asshole responses we’ve seen so far. And in real life, yet.

    A guy I know very slightly through work got into a rant about how you can’t trust the media– coming at it from a sort-of-lefty-but-mostly-libertarian angle that’s very familiar to me from living in northern California. That is, they’re all crooks and it’s all lies, so just ignore everything you see anywhere except the Internet– because the Internet lets you “make your own decision.” I should probably mention that he’s a techie… and the more he went on, the more he sounded like a real-life version of the kind of cheerfully unbearable guy-with-all-the-answers you run into on blogs every 5 minutes. He may even be here now, in which case hi.

    Anyway, just when I was starting to pat myself on the back for not losing my shit (since this kind of thing drives me up the fucking wall, but there’s no point in arguing with it and he’s otherwise a decent guy and totally functional in real life, so it seemed like this was just a game for him)… he somehow got onto the subject of Lara Logan, and someone said “The reporter who was raped in Egypt?” His immediate response, in an unusually angry tone: “No she wasn’t. No she wasn’t.”

    He said it the way you’d respond to someone who’d repeated an infuriating and easily disproven canard like “Shirley Sherrod discriminated against white farmers.” And he didn’t elaborate, but based on the rest of his rant (about how 9/11 was just like the Maine and the Gulf of Tonkin– he seemed to think the Maine hadn’t even blown up at all), it seemed like what he meant was “A reporter is not a person, she’s a member of the conspiracy, so anything she said happened to her must just be a lie to manipulate us.” It wasn’t even worth considering how he’d respond if it did happen, because he just knew nothing like that could’ve happened.

    I got out of that conversation right away and later felt like I should’ve said something, but that just blew my mind– half my brain was screaming what the hell is wrong with you, you horrible asshole and the other half was shutting down in “do not feed the troll” mode.

  65. 65

    @tom p: thank you tom, that was very kind of you. i appreciate your comment so very much. :)

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