Lara Logan’s Tragic Sexual Assault: Apparently the Fault of CBS News, for Sending a Purty Young Thang out in Public

Tellingly, the first person to send me the story about Lara Logan’s sexual assault and beating did so in an email whose subject line read “this story is horrible, but I think the comments are even worse.”

And so they were. The internet, it appeared, was largely in agreement: what happened to Logan was terrible, but hardly surprising – what else could possibly be the result when a girl with “model good looks” is “sent” to a public place full of unrestrained Muslims?

Never mind that the risks to foreign reporters covering the Egyptian revolution were well known. This, after all, was the story that brought us Jack Shenker reporting from the back of a police van, Anderson Cooper being punched repeatedly, NY Times reporters being arrested by the Mukhabarat, and Al Jazeera English correspondents crouching behind walls to shield themselves from gunfire as they reported from Tahrir square. No, this story was different – hadn’t we seen that there was a youthful blonde in it now?

Excuse me while I roar with frustration. Not just at the extreme cases, well covered elsewhere, like Nir Rosen’s astonishingly bad-taste tweets, or Debbie Schlussel’s unhinged racism. No, what really has me ticked off are people like my twitter follower @brainofmatter, who lamented other people’s “outrageously sexist” comments, before launching into a tweeted mini-tirade about how “idealistic and dumb” it was for CBS to “send” Logan to report on the story, because she was “chosen largely for her model good looks,” and that “made her more of a target.”

ROARRRR!

I am attempting to be nice, because I’m sure that @brainofmatter doesn’t think that he’s being sexist. No, he’s just telling it like it is – that pretty women are irresistible to rapists, so it’s irresponsible for them to go places where rapists might find them. If that means that they can’t be permitted – sorry, “sent” – to do jobs like report from the scene of revolutions, well, that’s too bad. Obviously, we must all do anything within our power to prevent women from being raped, even if we must undermine their autonomy, livelihoods, and professional integrity (“model good looks” my ass) to do it.

But you know what? I don’t think I’m going to succeed in being nice, because that’s just fucking ridiculous. First of all, to say that Lara Logan was in Tahrir Square largely because of her “model good looks” is pretty much just textbook misogyny. Her looks do not cancel out any, much less all, of the myriad other relevant facts. Such as her four years of reporting from the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq; her job title, which, last time I checked, was “Chief Foreign Correspondent for CBS News;” or that she had bravely returned to report on the story despite being arrested earlier in the month, and expelled from the country. To discard all of her hard work, and deny her accomplishments, merely because she is an attractive woman, is damn sexist.

And second of all, guess what? If women never went anywhere where we risked being sexually assaulted, we’d never go anywhere, period. We certainly couldn’t go to work on foreign aid projects. Or to U.S. military academies. Not to college. Not on dates. Not to parties. Not to bars. Or on cruises. Not to work as models. Or security contractors. Except that even if we never went any of those places, we’d still be screwed (pun intended) because of course a high percentage of rapes happen in the home, committed by perpetrators whom the victims know. Putting the responsibility on women to prevent sexual assault by restricting their own behavior – or on their employers to limit it for them – won’t actually solve the problem, it will just reinforce gendered norms about what “good” women “should” do.

And, finally, the idea that Lara Logan was “more at risk” of sexual assault because she was attractive is laughable. I’d be interested to know what fuckability threshold women should stay below in order to be safe from rape. Could Logan have just added some thick glasses? What if she had spinach in her teeth? How about if she gained 20 pounds – then would she be safe from the mob of 200 people who apparently decided to subject her to a prolonged beating and repeated sexual assaults because her delicate beauty stirred their romantic longings? Give me a break. Rape is about power, not how cute the victim is.

So seriously, internets, pull yourselves together. Lara Logan is a professional who suffered a horrific attack in the course of doing a dangerous job. Women all over the world take similar risks every day. We do so because we don’t see “vulnerability to rape” as our most salient characteristic. It’s about time everyone else picked up on that too.

72 thoughts on “Lara Logan’s Tragic Sexual Assault: Apparently the Fault of CBS News, for Sending a Purty Young Thang out in Public

  1. @Morning Quickie: While I enjoyed your article, I'm not sure I agree with your assertion that Logan's assault could have been avoided if CBS had invested in sexual-assault-specific training. Safeguards minimize the risk of harm, but they don't eliminate it.

    I agree that SA-specific training is a worthy cause for investment on the part of news organizations sending reporters to dangerous locales, but receiving anti-rape training doesn't make you "immune to rape" any more than a flak jacket makes you immune to bullets.

  2. I think you raise fair points — but I also think you ignore one facet to the (seemingly misogynistic) argument. If you have a mob of Muslim people — and I use that term literally, because that throng of people was whipped into a political and ideological frenzy — and the seed of an idea of lashing out against things Western/American germinates, I think there is a legitimate increased likelihood that an attractive, blond, white, female report will be the subject of that negative attention. No one can ever speak to the rationality of the attack — because there was none, and that is not how mobs work — but when it comes to minimizing risk, I think it is disingenuous to completely dismiss the practical reality of her presence.

  3. Well said. It was reassuring at least to see that there are people willing to show Rosen the consequences that soon after he decided to be so nasty. It's a pity that having to face the consequences of your sexism are less frequent among the trolls.

  4. Wait wait wait… " I think there is a legitimate increased likelihood that an attractive, blond, white, female report will be the subject of that negative attention."

    So an ugly female reporter wouldn't get sexually assaulted? Or a non-white one? How much of this "increased likelihood" would you attribute to her being white, and how much to her being pretty, and how much to her being blonde? Maybe we can make an algorithm out of this that will help me figure out if I should die my hair black before I take my next assignment.

    Also when you say "If you have a mob of Muslim people — and I use that term literally, because that throng of people was whipped into a political and ideological frenzy" you make it clear that you think the word "Muslim" signifies a political ideology. I've been lax on the Twitter lately, but isn't what we're seeing across the Arab region a demonstration of precisely the opposite? There's a lot of Muslims out there in Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain… and they seem to have very different politics and ideologies from each other. A fact which we should have known, of course, but which has been made rather abundantly clear, no?

    Putting to rest the problems in the sloppy language of that comment — this makes me wonder what's happening to other women we haven't heard about. I saw some action on Twitter, in the late days of January, to share albums of photos of women in the Cairo protests, and clicking through them made it abundantly clear to me how missing their images were from my news sources (note: I don't have access to TV, which I know has been the lead on this).

    If we don't see images of women claiming agency at a remarkable moment, what else are we missing?

  5. Sexual harassment/assault endemic for a number of reasons in Egypt?

    The violent sexual assault on CBS correspondent Lara Logan in Cairo last week has highlighted a huge problem in Egypt.

    According to one recent report by a women's rights group, some 80 percent of Egyptian women and 90 percent of foreign women visiting the country have been sexually harassed. And the former government did little to stem the problem.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/02/17/133845499/women-hope-harassment-will-end-in-new-egypt

  6. Thank you – you put into words what I was unable too every time I read another account of this horrible incident and people's idiotic comments which pretty much boiled down to "she asked for it".

    Thank you Thank you

  7. when Christianne Amanpour reported from Muslim countries SHE WORE A HEADSCARF out of respect and a sense of self-preservation. Lara Logan did not, as far as I know, since the pictures I have seen of her don't show this. not to make that issue as an excuse for the attack, which I do agree what wrongly horrific. BUT I do wonder if it would have happened had she simply bothered to wear a headscarf. in not doing so, she sent a message of Western arrogance (I am guessing here, I am not trying to preach) to those rowdy Muslims in the crowd.

    remember the now famous Texas granny who had been trapped in her apartment in Egypt. when she went out in public SHE WORE A HEADSCARF. she had respect for the culture.

    • I have to disagree to this. Egypt is actually one of the more progressive Arab countries and most people especially in Cairo are used to having tourists who do not wear headscarfs when they are walking around. Even my Egyptian friends did not wear headscarfs when they’re around. Also, I don’t think that would matter whether or not she wears a headscarf, since when it comes to sexual assaults, anyone can be a victim, regardless of how they are dressed.

  8. great post.

    i have only two things to contribute to this discussion (that haven't otherwise been said).

    1 – saying that cbs or any employer should invest in 'sexual assault training' to protect its employees reiterates the victim blaming that happens when a woman is assaulted – that it was her fault that she didn't stop it or prevent it from happening. and the fact is, no amount of training or awareness is going to keep women safe because this type of assault is the manifestation of power differentials and socially ascribed roles. only teaching women how to avoid being raped is only speaking to one side of the equation. you have to speak to those who are at risk of committing the crime if you want to prevent it.

    2 – not wearing a headscarf has nothing to do with this. there are egyptian women who don't wear hijab and disrespect for a culture does not inherently open the door for sexual assault. regardless of which country you are in.

  9. Dear Headscarf McGee (aka Anonymous 11:22),
    If, after reading this post and all the comments, you honestly can't resist blaming Logan's looks and behavior for her assault, (anonymously! so brave!), then you're an idiot. I suggest you seek out further reading material on someone else's blog. I don't think this one is going to work out for you.

  10. The bottom line is, she was raped. She could have been walking around naked, and that wouldn't make what was done to her any less wrong. As for not wearing a headscarf; again. Doesn't make her any more in the wrong.

  11. The author clearly understands very little about the nature of violence, or a mob.

    Your point is that she was extremely qualified, and that's why she was there? So the f*** what! She still choose to put herself in situation where the odds were extremely high that something dangerous, if not deadly, were going to happen to her.

    Obviously, rape is a terrible, horrible, crime, but in this case it's personal responsibility we should be looking to. CBS, and Lara Logan, should have been smarter, and because they were not, she has suffered some atrocious consequences.

  12. Hi there, this story is sad. No excuse for what happened. BUT, I DO think that we have to be careful in the situations we put ourselves in. You are correct that a woman can get raped anywhere, but that does not mean we shed off common sense and put ourselves in vulnerable situations. I am not so much talking about the sexual assault of Ms. Logan but the fact she was assaulted. Just like Anderson Cooper. We accept "risk" when we put ourselves in "risky" situations. Both Cooper and Logan accepted that risk.

    If we want to jump the fence to get closer to the lion in the zoo, we accept risk. If we drive too fast on icy roads we accept risk.

    All I am saying is that the assaults on Cooper and Logan did not come as a shock to me.

    Still unfortunate though.

  13. Anonymous 4:21 (who, I can't help but notice, sounds awfully similar to the twitter follower I called out in my post),
    Thanks for providing such a helpful illustration of the phenomenon I was talking about. Let's recap:

    1) you say that I "clearly understand very little about the nature of violence, or a mob" – insulting my intelligence, and presuming that I don't know what I'm talking about, as a way of undermining my arguments? Classy! Not to mention bound to be convincing!

    2) Lest anyone be confused about why, in your opinion, the assault happened: "in this case it's personal responsibility we should be looking to. CBS, and Lara Logan, should have been smarter, and because they were not, she has suffered some atrocious consequences."

    Saying that the rape resulted from a lack of "personal responsibility" is blaming the victim. That attitude is not welcome on this blog.

    Buzz off.

    • Agreed.

      I always end up asking myself why I read the comments on articles about rape, because I know I will have violent thoughts towards the commenter and then feel like crying. This guy sounds just like my uncle, who used different charming analogies. People have free will, the analogies are invalid.

      Why are they commenting? Why do they feel they need to educate us on the inevitability of rape? Educating victims on how they were stupid and had it coming doesn’t solve the “inevitable” problem. Educating potential perpetrators does. If they need to comment, they should seek out a men’s rights group and educate them on how to not rape people.

  14. Well said
    Rape has nothing to do with looks or sexiness.NOTHING!
    It's all about power and control.
    It's as if these people think that only "attractive women" get raped.
    What about ugly women, old women, fat women, girls, boys ARGH!
    The ignorance saddens me.

  15. What I find crazy about all this (besides all the stuff you've mentioned) is everyone seems to see Logan's courage as a bad thing. Yes, she knew she was going into a dangerous situation, and yes, she paid a price for it. That's called being brave. When soldiers do it, they get medals. Why is it that a girl who did it (to do a job that I consider as necessary as the military's) gets scolded?

  16. Thank you for being the voice of reason. This assault was the fault of the rapists and those that encourage and tolerate this type of behavior. Period.

  17. @Ccredential

    "If we want to jump the fence to get closer to the lion in the zoo, we accept risk. If we drive too fast on icy roads we accept risk."

    If we show up in a part of the world where global history is being made and decades of national political shenanigans overturned, and we have a vagina, we accept the risk… ?

    Just like Anderson! (He's so dreamy.)

  18. @Jina

    Risk –noun
    1.
    exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance: It's not worth the risk.

    Even without a vagina it required risk taking. As I said, Anderson Cooper assumed same risk. He doesn't have a….well….

    @Melinda, when does courage become poor judgment? I am not talking about this case but sometimes we make bad choices even if it requires bravery.

    • 1) Do you really know Anderson does not have a vagina?
      2)Do you really think men don’t get raped? There are all sorts of orifices on a person and violent people aren’t afraid to make more.

      3)The problem here is probably hatred against women, not being one.

      4)Fuck You. Your comments are poor judgement.

  19. While I agree with the author that we should not blame the victim, I certaintly find it quite stupid that she and others reject SA training given to reporters which could have prevented the incident. Thats like saying a war-correspondent should not go through any training but take the first flight from the streets of New York into the battles of Kabul.
    Taking SA training does not legitimize the crime- just because she was a woman and she was raped doesn't makes this a feminist issue against rape. If you choose to put yourself in harm's way in a dangerous environment where the REALITIES are that you might get raped or worse, take precautions instead. The author seems to feel that since somehow SA training justifies rape, women should continue entering dangerous situations without training. See how many of you are attacked in those situations. A man entering Tahrir Square should undergo training in reporting mob violence.
    A woman IS, and I repeat, IS at greater risk from getting rape and thus should have the training to avoid such a situation. And yes, bitch about it all you like but in a Middle Eastern country, a white, blonde woman will attract more attention than an Egyptian woman. That is the reality- this comment is not trying to undermine women in any way but you have to face realities.
    As for beatnik's comment about running around naked, you must be a child. While the manner of her dressing does not influence the right or wrong of rape, it MAGNIFIES the chance of an attack. Thats like suggesting that a man wear expensive clothes, an expensive watch, have cash falling out of his pockets and walk around the wrong neighbourhood of, I don;t know, Detroit. It doesn't make the inevitable robbery any more legal but it does make you out to be a fool.

    A feminist critique is all great in theory but don't blind youreslf to reality, rape is an issue in certain parts of the world, and in all parts of the world where mob mentalities run wild, and a woman, if she chooses to be there, should equip herself adequately. Don't blind yourself to reality

    • Accepting reality and protecting yourself is one thing but the mentality behind your response is another. See, the problem is not so much whether SA training and taking precautions are the “correct” ways of dealing with rape. The problem is that the first thought that goes through your and the general public’s minds is to “counsel” the victim on HER behavior when the real crux of the problem is left dangling in the air. The first thing we should think is how to stop the perpetrators of rape, how to educate our men to be rational members of society who view women as equals deserving of their respect, how to correct the action of not just men who are angry or responding to mob antics but to inspire a sustained sense of responsibility in our brothers, our male friends/coworkers/relatives, how to use legal action to prevent men from raping women-not arming women to the teeth or effacing them from the face of the earth to indulge the brutal behavior of certain men. By pushing SA training and anti-rape techniques right off the bat, you have shown that you think women are at the root of problem and that personal responsibility on the part of men who commit the rape is only of second or third importance. You are perpetuating the mentality of rape with your own words and thought process. Rapists have the same line of reasoning-“she asked for it, she was wearing slutty clothes, she was standing in my way and I have the right to force her.” Not saying that you are them or they are you, but do understand that your immediate reaction is more than alarming-it breeds apathy and inaction in the face of a dire, dangerous problem. Too often, what you have suggested clogs the conversation on rape, leading people in circles under the banner of self-preservation. When you fight a war, do you build a fortress, retreat into a false sense of security, and hope that no one can ever reach you/waiting on them to reach you first or do you prepare an army to march against the invaders? Taking precautions and undergoing training can indeed be helpful and should be part of a comprehensive plan but they should not take precedence in importance over dealing with the real perpetrators of rape- men who seek control and who have no respect for women.

  20. Amanda – fantastic post. I've been sharing everywhere I can.

    Jeet – When you say, "a woman should equip herself adequately," to what exactly are you referring? If I interpret your comments correctly, you seem to be suggesting that SA training, (plus being something other than white and blonde, natch) would have "adequately" prevented Ms. Logan from attack. Am I missing something?

    In regards to your last comment, seems you're missing the crucial point in the whole SA training issue. I'm going to re-post Lu's comment on the matter, since you seem to have overlooked the main point many of us here are trying to make:

    "the fact is, no amount of training or awareness is going to keep women safe because this type of assault is the manifestation of power differentials and socially ascribed roles. only teaching women how to avoid being raped is only speaking to one side of the equation. you have to speak to those who are at risk of committing the crime if you want to prevent it."

  21. Shaina, I totally agree that SA training is only one side of the equation and definitely the short term side of things. But short of hoping to change the human pysche which operates in strange ways when in a mob; or hoping to change widespread and deep rooted cultural norms in certain societies , not only towards women but foreigners.. im suggesting that don't disregard what you, as a person entering a dangerous environment can do.
    And yes, certain forms of training can help in certain situations. I' m not saying its a perfect barrier but certainly having it is better than not having it. So I'm not saying it would have saved anyone. I'm only arguing against someone who wanted to reject it completely.

  22. Jeet – We’re in agreement that some training, in most situations, is better than none. But in extreme cases, like when mobs get crazy and unpredictable, I (and this is just my personal opinion here) doubt there are any skills that could prevent something like this from happening. Save avoidance. And I feel like that’s part of Amanda’s point – if women avoided doing a job, any job, simply because it involved some level of this risk, we’d never go anywhere or do anything.

    The public hangup over the lack of SA training and the focus on her looks rather than her experience/abilities all convey an assumption that Ms. Logan didn't know what she was getting into. Apparently, the opinion is that if she had been properly trained/informed, she wouldn't (or shouldn’t) have gone in at all.

    And therein lies the problem. She’s not some naïve incapable thing who needed someone to tell her what the risk was. She went in as an informed, experienced and mature professional to do an important part of a job. The fact that risk became reality is to be blamed on the attitudes and actions of the perpetrators, not on her for simply being present.

  23. Hi,
    After reading so many reports that fail to grasp the implications of how there coverage is sexist, victim-blaming, etc., it's refreshing to read a response that's both very clear on all these issues and full of anger at the carelessness (or worse) of how this is being discussed. Thanks for a great post. In solidarity (from Dhaka),
    Maria

  24. Roar indeed! Good points. I'm glad you can articulate why blaming the victim for rape is wrongminded. The illogical position that if she wasn't "this" or hadn't done "that" (fill in the blank with whichever feeble reason suggested), she could have prevented the crime from happening to her borders on silliness and ignorance.

    It's akin to suggesting women "need" protecting for their own sake because we are too weak or naïve to grasp the dangers inherent in a man's world, or, in this case, the Muslim man's world. The latter sentiment, that Muslims are savages, expressed in other comments is so blatantly racist and ignorant , it deserves a separate article in and of itself. The men who raped the reporter were brutish thugs. Regardless of their religion. Their sinful act of rape/assault had nothing to do with Muslim culture or religion. Period.

    The notion (and the ideology behind the suggestion) that the reporter should have worn a head scarf (or how about a burka? Those make women safe don't they?) is the same ideology that wants to suppress ALL women in the first place. And isn't that the ideology we're fighting AGAINST in Afghanistan? (In theory I know.)

  25. While rape is always the choice of the attacker, not the victim, some posters are living in a Utopia that doesn't exist.

    To give an example of a lesser crime – if a rich man walked through a poor area with visible displays of wealth, you would question his wisdom, even while not diminishing the responsibility of the muggers.

    There are things that we should be able to do, that we don't because of criminals. Its not right, but it is real. If her bos said "look, we've done a bit of risk analysis, and we think it would be dangerous to send a woman near the crowd.." What do you do – do you place someone in harms way just to prove the point that women should be accorded equal respect to men? You can't reason with a mob – if you could they wouldn't be a mob. Of course if thee was no indication they might rape then there is no way this decision could be made.

    As to Protection training – again yes it isn't needed in an ideal world, but we don't live in an ideal world – anyone who may be put in a position of danger because of their job should have Person Protection Training, because there are plenty of people who don't respect others rights (civilian workers in British prisons get PPT – it shouldn't be needed, but occassionally it is. To say she shouldn't need it is like saying we shouldn't need to provide rape kits to the police – if women were treated as humans, no rape kit would ever be needed.

  26. Do you really take issue with the comment that Logan was chosen (at least partly) for her looks? She may be talented (I am not familiar with her work), but if she were ugly she wouldn't be where she is. That's an unfortunate fact of the entertainment industry (and yes, all major news outlets are there for entertainment). This inconvenient fact doesn't go away just because you wish it weren't so.

  27. As someone who is also young (26), blond and an attractive female who has spent over 18 years growing up and later working in conservative Muslim and Hindu countries, I was very sorry to hear about the incident but at the same time with everything I have learned from my experiences in countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia and Morocco, it wasn't a surprise.

    There are always risks involved when you are in foreign countries where locals can tell you are an outsider by just looking at you but you learn to adapt and take certain precautions. I discovered first hand that blond women carry a form of mystique world-wide. As a child I got my cheeks pinched and my hair petted, as an adult I get marriage proposals, frequent verbal and attempted physical assault. I could fill a book with the things I have experienced. If you want to be in these countries there are risks, you have to always be on your guard in public and there are certain things you absolutely shouldn't do.

    A. As a young woman, you avoid large groups of men when ever possible. Particularly when they are angry. A young woman in the middle of a group of angry men from any country or religion has never been a good idea at any point in history. Particularly any events involving sports or politics. When you sense that people are getting riled up, you GET OUT! (Actually age or nationality does not matter in this.)

    B. As a woman there are going to be limitations to what you can do. Even though in the US women and men can do basically any job, in most of the world you will face cultural and religious barriers. It's not pleasant but if you choose to go against them, you put yourself at great risk of retaliation for breaking norms. If you choose to step out of the set lines, you are going to be at a higher risk. I've had it happen to me, I've taken the consequences because in my risk-assessment, it was worth it. Fortunately, sexual assault has yet to be one of them for me but I don't discount the possibility that I could one day too be a victim.

    C. You minimize your physical differences and ere on the side of conservative when you are in areas of higher risk. When I'm in Muslim countries in areas where risk is higher, I tie back my waist-length blond hair and cover my head and hair with a scarf. The difference in the level of harassment I encounter is drastic when I do this simple thing. Exposed hair is often considered a sign of sexual availability. Exposing your hair makes you more of a sexual target. Some of my other blond friends dye their hair brown or black too to blend in better. As an American woman it can feel like I am bending to sexist ideology and denying what I believe in but in reality it makes me less of an obvious target.

    All of these points are common sense in any female expatriate handbook. No, Lara Logan didn't ask for this to happen to her but that common sense was somewhere lost in the decision making process that led to her being in that situation. You can debate the ideology behind what happened all you want but it comes down to the fact that Lara Logan and CBS chose to take the risk and ignore what has been commonly known by foreign women around the women in countries such as Egypt and this time a tragic thing happened.

  28. Jeff, the degree to which Logan's looks did or didn't play a part in her getting hired is kind of irrelevant to my point, which is that her career is being discussed as if her looks are the most (or only) relevant characteristic. They aren't. And viewing Logan's career through the lens of her physical beauty demeans all of the rest of her accomplishments and hard work.
    (I'm not saying that's what you're doing, just explaining why I'm annoyed that people are focusing on it.)

  29. Dear CoveredUp, I am glad that you have found a way of doing things that works for you. However, I'm sticking to my guns here that criticizing Lara Logan's behavior, clothing, etc., even in the name of "common sense," is an extremely unhelpful angle to take. Please, ask yourself why it's so important to insist that her behavior was partly to blame for what happened to her.

    As to the risk of large groups of angry men, I would note that women were a large and active part of the revolution on which Logan was reporting. Tahrir square was hardly a men-only zone – indeed, it was a group of women who rescued her, along with Egyptian soldiers. It's a good thing that they didn't take your advice about avoiding large groups of men!
    (For some great stories from the women of Tahrir, check out this article http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/02/2011217134411934738.html)

  30. Shooting a reporter a responsible professional reporter doing their job would be totally wrong, always wrong, inexcusable wrong.

    So… why did she wear a flack jacket?

  31. James A. Donald: I have deleted your comment. This blog does not tolerate comments calling Muslims (or any other religious, ethnic, or national group) "savages," or comparing them to animals. Please take your hatred elsewhere.

  32. Great post Amanda. I think the point that some of the commentators are missing here (although others have touched on the issue) is the fact that she is being treated differently because she is a woman, and I think because this was a sexual assault. Yes, it is absolutely correct that Lara Logan should have known (and likely did know) the risks of reporting from a conflict situation. But that doesn't mean that once one of those risks "comes true" she is to blame. All the foreign reporters knew the risks of covering this story but when Anderson Cooper and others were beat up or arrested they were viewed as heroes rather than blamed for what happened to them. Perhaps it is true that female reporters faced more risks but doesn't that mean they deserve more praise and support for covering this important story, rather than less?

  33. "rape is about power." how true. sex in general can be boiled down to one thing.

    but, valid or not, how is it misogynistic to suggest looks might have something to do with rape? i fail to see how that sentiment in any way indicates a hatred toward women.

  34. @ccredential The definition is enlightening. But I was objecting to the metaphors. Equating a "risk of rape" to the risk from driving too fast on icy roads is preposterous. Equating a "risk of rape" to jumping in a lion's cage, which is something only a moron would do, is insulting.

    On the other hand, you managed to bring the lions back into the fold. Rape + lions. You must be a regular reader.

  35. Amen. I am so glad you wrote this post, debunking many of the myths surrounding sexual assault, including the very infuriating "she was pretty and deserved it." I have been an admirer of your writing for a while and linked to this post in one of my own. Thank you for shedding light on this issue!

  36. I stopped reading once I read this sentence with an emphasis on [full of unrestrained Muslims ] . It revealed your understanding or at least your perception about muslims/islam, represented by you or equated with lust and lechery, therefore must be restrained . (just like an animal with an unrestrained sexual desire ).

    " what else could possibly be the result when a girl with "model good looks" is "sent" to a public place full of unrestrained Muslims? "

  37. @jina

    Bottom line of my post is that the "risk" of attack is elevated in hostile environment.

    Some of the comments seem to think that because rape is wrong women shouldn't take precautions.

    And as i said before, I was not merely commenting on the sexual assault but assault period.

  38. I'm curious, can someone show me the headline that states that Lara Logan was raped? Amanda uses the term "rape" and "sexual assault" interchangeably in what she wrote, yet I have yet to see any report actually making a distinction. Everyone commenting here has jumped from this being a sexual assault (which includes any number of things from groping to worse) to it being a flat-out gangrape. I'm not saying that didn't happen nor do I want to downplay the seriousness of what happened nor do I think that Logan shouldn't have been there, but I'm curious if making this immediate association doesn't reflect poorly on what I'm assuming to be the generally American (and most likely Caucasian) lot of us to assume the worst out of those in non-Christian, non-Caucasian societies? And maybe this is part of the reason that these things happen in the first place? But, by all means, if someone can cite a real news wire about this, I will stand corrected and shut up.

  39. Two quick questions: 1) Was she in fact raped? The wording from the CBS release is ambiguous. 2) I saw one report stating that the "mob" that attacked her was screaming "Jew! Jew!" Does anyone know if there's anything to that?

    I wonder if a large part of the negative reaction to the news of Logan's attack doesn't stem from resentment at her astonishing success–a success that in all honesty doesn't seem entirely earned on her merits. Though I can't be sure, I doubt whether an attack on Amanpour would have elicited such a negative reaction. We all have inappropriate thoughts, at times. Last week, for example, when Scott Brown published a memoir about his abuse as a child, I couldn't help but think how convenient the timing was relative to his reelection. A terrible and unworthy thought–and fortunately one I didn't give voice to. But the internet, and twitter, tempt us to make public what we ought to keep to ourselves, and a certain amount of tolerance for people's ill-considered remarks seems wise.

  40. I don't see what her being attractive has to do with anything… but I gotta wonder, if it's a largely Muslim crowd, isn't it a slap in the face to even have a woman there without proper head-coverings, or is that just a Taliban thing and not a Muslim thing? I confess to some confusion on this point.

  41. That reporting the Egyptian revolution has been risky for journalists is clearly true. But the nature of the risks different journalists run are clearly not identical. There is a lot of misogyny within Islam-as-it-exists-in-the-world which also changes the level of particular risks. Women are not responsible for that misogyny (which is the biggest single reason why blaming 'Muslims' is offensive) but to treat it as a non-factor is surely to belittle a harsh reality.

  42. Having lived in Egypt, as a foreign (though not blonde) woman, I would offer a few remarks:

    I would agree that some measure of sexual harassment is endemic in the society; I've heard it described as "Egypt's cancer", as in, a particular social problem in that country, and the various bits of north Africa and the Middle East I've been through so far have shown it to be more pronounced in Egypt than elsewhere; it's supposedly linked to the larger social problem that men are unable to marry until they have 'established' themselves (hard to do in a poor country). There are no excuses for it, and Egypt is going to need to deal with this sooner rather than later.

    But regarding covering up – yes, wearing a headscarf makes you blend into the crowd, at least until they see your face and/or hear your accent, so it is unlikely a woman (in a headscarf or not) speaking into a television camera for a foreign station in English would go unnoticed. Wearing a hijab is not a question of (respecting a) culture, it's a question of religion (any time I was wearing a hijab and not in a mosque I was repeatedly asked why), though covering up otherwise is expected. And finally – my colleagues and friends told me that women in niqabs (the burqa-like covering with a little window for the eyes, or sometimes with mesh over the eyes) were often harrassed more "because the men were convinced they were missing something". Headscarves do not make it go away.

    That said, mob violence isn't a reflection of culture. It has absolutely nothing to do with Egyptian, or Muslim, or anything else – genocide can be committed in Germany or Cambodia, massacres happen in Algeria, Congo, and East Timor, torture happens in Argentina and China and all kinds of other places, and a vast majority of the more "heinous" atrocities is related to mobs and mob dynamics. The fact that it was expressed as a sexual assault is probably because she's female, but men have been raped in these kinds of attacks as well. I can refer you to extensive literature on this subject if you're curious.

    Bref: she's a journo, she went to a dangerous place in full cognizence of the risks. It's nothing about "deserving" what she got, it's respect for putting herself at risk while we all sit on our asses in some country far away and appreciate the fact that other people are taking bullets for our news coverage. It's horrible what happened to her, and I have no doubt she'll be in the Congo next year, reporting on some other story. It has nothing to do with training at all – a frenzied mob will take down a special forces commando or a black belt in karate with little difficulty, so it's laughable to expect a little "training" would have "saved" her.

  43. Great to see wronging rights getting an intelligent dialouge going (as usual! :)

    Thought the whole post was spot on – and esp that this was noted:

    "And second of all, guess what? If women never went anywhere where we risked being sexually assaulted, we'd never go anywhere, period. We certainly couldn't go to work on foreign aid projects. Or to U.S. military academies. Not to college. Not on dates. Not to parties. Not to bars. Or on cruises. Not to work as models. Or security contractors. Except that even if we never went any of those places, we'd still be screwed (pun intended) because of course a high percentage of rapes happen in the home, committed by perpetrators whom the victims know. Putting the responsibility on women to prevent sexual assault by restricting their own behavior – or on their employers to limit it for them – won't actually solve the problem, it will just reinforce gendered norms about what "good" women "should" do.

    Yep, so true.

  44. it was never stated that she was raped. CBS stated that she had been sexually assaulted. in today's world that can include groping, leering, and whistling.

  45. There has been a big focus on Lara Logan's status as both beautiful and blonde, without any acknowledgment of the fact that standards of both beauty and blondeness vary between cultures. I can't speak of Egypt specifically, since I've spent only a couple of weeks there, but I have medium-brown hair, but am considered a blonde in much of the world. This isn't just a question of words. In Indonesia, where I lived for three years, I discovered that when my (blonde American) friend Mary was not physically present, many of my Indonesian friends couldn't remember whether her hair was darker than my (medium brown) hair, despite the fact that they knew us both very well. So, I am skeptical as to whether a brown-haired or red-haired woman would receive substantially less attention. As for beauty, again, standards vary. While Lara Logan is undeniably very pretty by US standards, and is likely thought beautiful in much of the world, many women who are not considered remarkably attractive by Americans might be scored as irresistably sexy by men from other cultures.

    Of course none of that matters. It is no more justifiable to rape a beautiful woman than an ugly one, however defined.

    As for wearing a headscarf, in some countries (e.g., Indonesia and according to Vivyenne, Egypt), headscarves are specifically considered to be a religious symbol, not a sign of modesty, so a non-Muslim wearing a headscarf is inappropriate.

  46. @Jeet

    rape is not a "problem in certain parts of the world", it is a problem in all parts of the world.

    which brings me back to the point that any type of sexual assault prevention training is never going to be sufficient. and i would be keenly curious to see what the agenda of such a training would be. if it is all about avoiding dark alleys and not talking to strangers, it would completely miss the mark that most sexual assaults are commited not by strangers or in dark alleys, but by people we know in familiar surroundings.

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