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Posts Tagged ‘Lara Logan’

Ladies, we need them.  Friends of the double-X variety, that is.  Three cases in point.

Case No. 1 brings us back to Lara Logan, the foreign correspondent who was brutally attacked and raped in Egypt, and then tsk-tsked by many observers for, you know, being there in the the first place to do her job.  Writing for both ProPublica and the New York Times, foreign correspondent Kim Barker tells us precisely why we need women in jobs like hers — and why they need to speak out.  She writes of a time when she herself was groped by several men while covering a story on the Chief Justice in Pakistan:

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.

You caught that, right?  To complain means to be sent home.  As in:  See, girls?  This job, it’s not for you.  Barker continues:

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.

And then there’s the case of 17 former and active duty military women who have filed a class-action suit against the defense department for, according to the Washington Post:

…alleging that the military had failed to stop rapes, investigate reported crimes or prosecute perpetrators. Despite ample evidence of the problem, the suit alleges, Gates and Rumsfeld “ran institutions in which perpetrators were promoted . . . and Plaintiffs and other victims were openly subjected to retaliation.” While the suit is new, the problem of sexual assault of service members by other service members has long been known to the military leadership.

But nonetheless, kept quiet.  When women soldiers bring such stuff to light, it just verifies the outdated notion that they shouldn’t be there in the first place.

And finally, there’s the (appropriate) firestorm over last week’s House vote to deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood because they provide (whisper) abortions.  No matter that Planed Parenthood also provides a number of other health services, including contraception, for poor women who have no other access to health care.  (And no matter that while funding was denied to Planned Parenthood, funding was approved for Pentagon sponsoring of NASCAR) It took California Congresswoman Jackie Speier to stand up and courageously talk about her own “procedure” — something she says she did not take cavalierly nor did she welcome — to make the debate real.  As Amy Davidson writes on a New Yorker blog:

Is there a way to talk about the health of women and children that is about women and children’s health, and not about politics? Part of the issue is abortion, of course, as when the House voted today to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, even for other services. (It still has to pass the Senate.) In the debate over that measure, right after Chris Smith, of New Jersey, made a graphic anti-choice speech, Jackie Speier, a California congresswoman, had her turn: “You know, I had really planned to speak about something else, but the gentleman from New Jersey has just put my stomach in knots.” She said that she had had an abortion, years ago, because of complications in a pregnancy:

I’m one of those women he spoke about just now…. That procedure that you talked about was a procedure I endured. I lost a baby. But for you to stand on this floor and to suggest, as you have, that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous.

That was brave of her. That is also why it would be helpful to have more women in Congress: to make these discussions normal.

Our point exactly.  Whatever our jobs, we need to be part of the conversation in order to normalize it.  And to do that, we not only have to stick around — but like our sister sufragetttes, we need to multiply.

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And that’s why many people are apparently appalled.  Not necessarily because CBS foreign correspondent Lara Logan was surrounded by an angry mob in Cairo, and beaten and raped.  It was because she was taking unnecessary chances.  (Read: risk-taker)  She was doing it to advance her career (Read: ambitious).  She was daring to go where she did not belong.  (Read: brazen)

While none of the naysayers have been so brutal as to come out and say she got what she deserved, the fallout from the news of her hideous assault has been almost as ugly as the assault itself.  Here’s the background via the New York Times:

Lara Logan, the CBS News correspondent, was attacked and sexually assaulted by a mob in Cairo on Feb. 11, the day that the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was forced from power, the network said Tuesday.

After the mob surrounded her, Ms. Logan “suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers,” the network said in a statement. Ms. Logan is recovering at a hospital in the United States.

The evening of the attack, Ms. Logan, 39, the network’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, was covering the celebrations in Tahrir Square in central Cairo with a camera crew and an unknown number of security staff members. The CBS team was enveloped by “a dangerous element” within the crowd, CBS said, that numbered more than 200 people. That mob separated Ms. Logan from her team and then attacked her.

Heinous, right?  And yet.  Comments on talk radio and the interwebs Wednesday were cascading into blame the victim mode.  NPR, for that matter, had to take a number of comments off its site completely, and issue a plea for civility.   Meanwhile, according to Time.com,  reporter Nir Rosen, a fellow at NYU, resigned from his position at the university after he sent an ugly tweet suggesting that Logan was some kind of brazen careerist, trying to outdo CNN’s Anderson Cooper (who had been beaten in Cairo a few days before) and capped it with this:

“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”—a reference to his criticisms of Logan over her coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over at Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams (we love her) took on Rosen and others, too.  (According to Williams, Rosen also tweeted this:  “It’s always wrong, that’s obvious, but I’m rolling my eyes at all the attention [Logan will] get.”  Yeah, ugh.)  She also added this, referring to yet another hater:

And the ever-heinous [right-wing blogger and Fox News regular] Debbie Schlussel was quick to jump on her regular line of racism, noting how the assault happened in a “country of savages,” because that never ever happens anywhere else, and it’s never committed by light-skinned people! She then twisted the knife by going after Logan herself, saying, “So sad, too bad, Lara. No one told her to go there. She knew the risks. And she should have known what Islam is all about. Now she knows… How fitting that Lara Logan was ‘liberated’ by Muslims in Liberation Square while she was gushing over the other part of the ‘liberation.’”

Need we go on?  Yes, lets.  Grazing on some talk radio on my morning run, I heard similarly ugly — and thinly veiled — comments that suggested Logan had put herself in danger because she was trying to play like the boys.  Among them?   “What was she doing there anyway?”  “Didn’t she know the risks?”  And the worst, from a woman who suggested that the difference between a woman who might be assaulted while simply walking though a park (Read: innocent) and Ms Logan was that Logan was doing it for work.
As in, shamelessly ambitious.  Girls, you know, aren’t supposed to do that.

But here’s the thing.  If she is shamelessly ambitious, who cares?  Are we not over that?  If she took an unnecessary risk — and nowhere does it suggest that she did — isn’t that what foreign correspondents are paid to do?  Right?  But that’s not the point.  Or at least not mine.  At the midpoint of the protests in Tahrir Square, when things started going ugly, reporters were roundly encouraged to get the hell out of Dodge.  Many stayed.  Including Anderson Cooper.  He was beaten up.

We called him a hero.

P.S.  Within minutes of posting this, we got an ugly comment suggesting that Logan got what she deserved.  We have declined to approve it.

photo credit:  CBS

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