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Blaming Lara Logan

February 16, 2011

The newswires are full of reports that war correspondent Lara Logan was sexually assaulted in a crowd in Egypt by a group of strangers.  It’s a very straightforward story, right?  A violent attack by a mob can’t possibly invoke the specter of slut-shaming, right?  If you thought that, you thought wrong.  There is no rape so clear-cut that somebody won’t slut-shame and victim-blame.  There is no woman or girl who won’t get dragged through the mud.

LA Weekly’s Simone Wilson wallows in material that is transparently irrelevant except to evoke the very specter she disclaims.  She says, now that people are calling her out on it, that she doesn’t mean to blame Logan.  But what other relevance to the story could there be for Wilson’s recounting of earlier reports of Logan’s alleged dating habits while on foreign assignments?  We’re talking about a stranger rape here, so her dating history has no bearing, right?  But it’s in the story.  Dragging that stuff out again, now that she’s been sexually assaulted by strangers and is in a hospital, serves no proper purpose.  It’s a smear.

In the same vein, Nir Rosen, who had a fellowship at NYU, made a nasty remark on twitter about “all the attention she’ll get.”  And of course Debbie Schlussel (I’m not linking, you can get there from the link below) went red-meat racist and victim-blaming at the same time.

But I could be too grim here.  In fact, while the smears are not surprising, I’m surprised that people are reacting to them.  Mary Elizabeth Williams’ piece in Salon calls Wilson, Rosen and Schlussel out for their filth, and she’s not the only one.  Criticism of Rosen has been so withering that he has resigned his fellowship!

Maybe in the future, these sorts of smears will be considered unacceptable and potentially career-limiting, the sort of thing that serious people can’t say.  It will still take a long time to get from there to where people don’t say it in private, but at least this points to a trend in the right direction.

Now if Wilson was forced to resign, too, then we’d really be getting somewhere.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Spiffy McBang permalink
    February 16, 2011 12:03 pm

    “In fact, while the smears are not surprising, I’m surprised that people are reacting to them.”

    It’s the good side of the internet. We think about the idiot trolls that show up and ruin comment sections, but when people post painfully incorrect (or worse) material in relatively neutral settings, they get lit up.

    But it really is the flip side of the troll problem; just like trolls are a much smaller proportion of the population than you’d think just looking at how many of them infect certain threads, the aware people are a much smaller part of the population than you’d think watching the outcry against the inappropriate treatment of stories like this.

  2. February 16, 2011 2:43 pm

    Rosen didn’t make “a” comment; he made several, many of which said she deserved what she got because of her prior pro-war reporting, or that she was trying to out-do Anderson Cooper, or that Rosen would be happier if what happened to Logan had happened to Cooper.

    He’s deleted them, but a student (last name Kelly, IIRC) did screen caps and sent an open letter to the ptb at NYU.

    • February 16, 2011 3:17 pm

      Thanks for clarifying. I hadn’t known about Rosen’s tweets until I read about them in blog posts this morning, so I hadn’t realized the extent.

      • ginmar permalink
        February 16, 2011 5:38 pm

        So I guess men in other countries never rape women? I mean, that’s apparently what all the Muslim-bashing is about. And all these guys (and people like Schussel, who’s a revolting waste of skin) who are so eager to attack Logan again aren’t exactly covering themselves with honor, are they? Where people verbally attack rape victims, they also back up rapists. Attacking assault victims aids the attackers and the culture that supports them. That’s pretty glaringly obvious.

        Rape in this context —-especially after hearing the news about servicemembers sueing Rumsfeld, et., al., over lack of equal protection—-is an act of war. Some people only want to acknowledge the rapes that ‘those other guys do.’ But when you look at stuff like the female servicemembers’ stories, you realize it’s a war against women, and rape is nothing less than torture. Lara Logan ‘s story reminds me a lot of them. They won’t protect women in this country, but they’ll sure get outraged when one of our own women gets raped by….what? A trespasser? Is that what it is?

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