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Lara Logan's tale
May 8, 2011 1:52 PM   Subscribe


 
Transcript
posted by Baldons at 1:54 PM on May 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


A bit of context would have been useful for those of us unfamiliar with the CBS and their reporters. It seems an interesting story that I want to know more about, but I didn't know until I clicked through and read the transcript.
posted by Jehan at 2:01 PM on May 8, 2011


As nasty as most of this is to read, it's worth sticking through the incredibly graphic description of her assault. The part on page 3 where the women in the crowd start putting themselves in front of the attackers to protect her, the parts on page 4 where this assault becomes representative of attacks other journalists had gone through and stayed silent about ... that's powerful.
posted by kafziel at 2:14 PM on May 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


As nasty as most of this is to read, it's worth sticking through the incredibly graphic description of her assault.

Not to take anything away from her incredible bravery in telling the whole story, but for those who feel like they do not need to read the description, you can just skip to page 3.
posted by grouse at 2:27 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pelley: Tell me about that moment when you saw your children again.
Logan: I felt like I had been given a second chance that I didn't deserve. Because I did that to them...I came so close to leaving them, to abandoning them.


Wow.. just... the ... this is incomprehensible, she thinks that being the victim of an attack is somehow a betrayal of her children? I mean, I know that assault victims frequently blame themselves, but this just took my breath away. Incredible.
posted by desjardins at 2:32 PM on May 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


I chose not to read the transcript, so I went to wikipedia for an answer the question that (perhaps incorrectly) was foremost on my mind.
CBS said it remained unclear whether the attackers were from the regime targeting a reporter, or whether it was simply a criminal mob.
posted by jepler at 2:32 PM on May 8, 2011


From the description, it sounds very much like spur-of-the-moment mob mentality.
posted by molecicco at 2:37 PM on May 8, 2011


I shouldn't have read this before Mother's Day dinner with my parents. I feel sick.
posted by gilrain at 2:38 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


From Slate: "A 2008 study found 83 percent of Egyptian women said they had been sexually harassed, while 62 percent of men admitted to harassing women; 53 percent of men blamed women for "bringing it on" themselves... In the same study.... 98 percent of foreign women visiting Egypt reported being harassed."

An Egyptian acquaintance once told me that men in Egypt get riled up when they see white women because they're sexually frustrated and view heathen/liberated Western women as whores (i.e. "bringing it on themselves").

As is typical, I didn't think too much of one person's claims at the time, but later on I learned he was talking about something important. A nexus of sexist and racist violence.
posted by dgaicun at 2:38 PM on May 8, 2011 [15 favorites]


As much as I'm for equal rights, letting female journalists have access to the same stories as the boys, etc., the people at CBS had to KNOW that the level of danger in this assignment would be increased if they sent a (white, blond, pretty) woman into the heart of the fray, especially given dgaicun's data.
posted by Golfhaus at 2:49 PM on May 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


From the description, it sounds very much like spur-of-the-moment mob mentality.

I saw the interview the night it ran and she recounted how the crowd went wild when someone yelled "She's a Jew!" The crowd was certainly whipped into a frenzy spontaneously, but it is impossible to determine whether that yell was a spontaneous act of hate, or an act of an agent provocateur.

This incident seriously upset me when I first heard of it. Logan's coverage from Iraq and Afghanistan was consistently gutsier and more outspoken than any other reporter I know of, with the close second of Kimberly Dozier (who got blown up by an IED, seriously wounded, but has recovered). These reporters risked their lives to bring me their perspective, fought hard against even their corporate masters to bring us news as uncensored as they could, and even faced exceptional risks as women. They deserved better.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:51 PM on May 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


the people at CBS had to KNOW that the level of danger in this assignment would be increased if they sent a (white, blond, pretty) woman into the heart of the fray, especially given dgaicun's data.

Yeah, they had a vague idea, according to page 1 of the transcript:
Logan: We had two Egyptian drivers with us who were purely there to act as security and bodyguards. And then we had a security person, Ray, who's done security all over the world.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:55 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


As much as I'm for equal rights, letting female journalists have access to the same stories as the boys, etc., the people at CBS had to KNOW that the level of danger in this assignment would be increased if they sent a (white, blond, pretty) woman into the heart of the fray, especially given dgaicun's data.

Putting aside for the moment anything to do with victim-blaming, this comment comes across as overly paternalistic. She's an experienced reporter and what's important is that she knew the level of danger, and decided to go ahead anyway and do her job. She herself is one of "the people at CBS."
posted by tractorfeed at 3:01 PM on May 8, 2011 [82 favorites]


Those statistics are incredible - 62% of males admit to harassing a female. What is the survey question exactly picking up with "harassment"? Is it what US law would characteise as sexual assault?

I also only skipped to the Wikipedia article but am reading the 3rd page link now. Thanks for posting the transcript.
posted by scunning at 3:06 PM on May 8, 2011


From the description, it sounds very much like spur-of-the-moment mob mentality.
posted by molecicco at 10:37 PM on May 8


Which in no way excuses the evil behaviour of the reprehensible individual male vermin who made up that mob, of course.
posted by Decani at 3:12 PM on May 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


As much as I'm for equal rights, letting female journalists have access to the same stories as the boys, etc., . . . I'm not really for letting women make their own choices about danger. I mean, would you let a Jew go cover al Qaeda?! Come on! Oh, wait . . . "
posted by jfwlucy at 3:16 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


How one looks has nothing to do with it. Lynsey Addario (photojournalist) was treated no differently by her Libyan captors.
posted by brujita at 3:19 PM on May 8, 2011


desjardins: I don't think she is blaming herself, she is just trying to describe honestly what went through her head at the time, when she realised her life was in danger. It must have been so unimaginably awful and scary. The thought of dying, leaving her children, and the sense of guilt for not being able to fight back -- not that it sounds like she had much of a chance to fight at all, but you know, she must have felt so powerless, your mind hangs on to anything in such a situation. She's recalling those feelings, rather than saying that's how she is viewing the assault now.

At least, I didn't read that has her saying "as a victim of sexual assault I betrayed my children", more like "I felt I would betray my children if I didn't make an effort to get out alive". That's what her mind was telling her while she suddenly found herself in that horrible situation. It's not incomprehensible, it's a survival instinct reaction. You want to fight back, and you feel horrible that you can't.
posted by bitteschoen at 3:20 PM on May 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sorry, Golfhaus, but that reaction is exactly the opposite of what you think it means.
posted by Unred at 3:20 PM on May 8, 2011


An Egyptian acquaintance once told me that men in Egypt get riled up when they see white women because they're sexually frustrated and view heathen/liberated Western women as whores

I find myself wondering how much of this is the result of the insistence by US media producers that whatever they create be pushed around the world in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

We are such an insular society here in the US. We basically refuse as a culture to give a damn about learning about how other places in the world live, or what their expectations or social boundaries are. We are utterly incompetent about opening the life of the regular person to even the most basic understanding of the hopes and aspirations of anywhere on the planet that doesn't produce its television and movies in English. Meanwhile Hollywood insists on disseminating anything it produces as far and wide as it can. The imbalance in our ability to show others what our values and lifestyles are like via movies and television vs. our willingness to experience and digest what other cultures hold dear is gigantic.

So, I read about people sharing this kind of thing, and ponder the kind of movies and television we've exported to places like Egypt, and the kind of impression those stories and depictions have created in the minds of the foreigners who take them in, or who hear about them, or whatever.

And I think that maybe, if we could find a way to be a bit more open to other cultures and what they are producing as media (which isn't equal to, but certainly a good touchstone of, the kind of things they consider important in their culture), whether we might be able to find a way to know better which things to export to where in order to prevent white women being stereotyped as whores in countries such as Egypt.
posted by hippybear at 3:26 PM on May 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


>> As much as I'm for equal rights, letting female journalists have access to the same stories as the boys, etc., the people at CBS had to KNOW that the level of danger in this assignment would be increased if they sent a (white, blond, pretty) woman into the heart of the fray, especially given dgaicun's data.

> Putting aside for the moment anything to do with victim-blaming, this comment comes across as overly paternalistic. She's an experienced reporter and what's important is that she knew the level of danger, and decided to go ahead anyway and do her job. She herself is one of "the people at CBS."

It's a football player's job to want to go into the game no matter how injured they are.
It's the coach's job to say, "no, you can't."

Likewise, it's the journalist's job to want the assignment and to get the story.
It ought to be someone higher up's job to have the distance and perspective to be able to make the call that, "no, it's too dangerous".

It has nothing to do with male/female, and it definitely has nothing even remotely to do with "victim-blaming".
posted by legion at 3:26 PM on May 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


Golfhaus, the end of the transcript addresses just this point: that women in journalism who suffer sexual violence are scared to speak out because they believe it will call into question their career as journalists and the whole idea of women being able to make their own decision to follow their calling.

Being a journalist is a good thing. Risking your life to pursue journalism is not only a good thing, it is heroic, and something I am not brave enough to do myself. I admire her greatly for putting herself in harm's way to pursue the truth for me. I admire male journalists who do the same.
posted by alasdair at 3:26 PM on May 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


urgh I feel sick.
posted by ruhroh at 3:26 PM on May 8, 2011


There's more online too:

After the assault: Lara Logan comes home
"The "60 Minutes" correspondent on her life since the attack, new fears as a reporter, and the people who helped restore her dignity"

It's extra footage from the same interview, but no transcript, just a synopsis.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:28 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hmm, next time I will be a little more careful about exposing myself to details like that.
posted by zeek321 at 3:33 PM on May 8, 2011


Man. I wish the best for Lara Logan in her recovery.
posted by salvia at 3:37 PM on May 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Likewise, it's the journalist's job to want the assignment and to get the story.
It ought to be someone higher up's job to have the distance and perspective to be able to make the call that, "no, it's too dangerous".


Or even just "Given the nature of the story we're trying to get, a male reporter will be able to get the story whereas a female reporter will just get attacked." It's not sexist to acknowledge the existence of sexism.
posted by kafziel at 3:38 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


What is the survey question exactly picking up with "harassment"? Is it what US law would characteise as sexual assault?
Last time we had this discussion, I hunted down the survey, and the answer is no. The most-common form of harassment to which Egyptian men admitted was "ogling women's bodies:" about 50% admitted to that. The second most common form was "whistling or shouting comments:" about 25% admitted to that. So at least some of what they call sexual harassment would be characterized as sexual harassment, not sexual assault in the US.

I'd post the link, but it seems to be dead.
posted by craichead at 3:38 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rape-aXe
posted by jeffburdges at 3:43 PM on May 8, 2011


Likewise, it's the journalist's job to want the assignment and to get the story.
It ought to be someone higher up's job to have the distance and perspective to be able to make the call that, "no, it's too dangerous".


And yet, some brave people do dangerous things because they consider them to be important.

Some world we live in, huh?
posted by entropone at 3:43 PM on May 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Equal rights include being able to go wherever, whenever, and dressed however one pleases without being blatantly treated as though one were nothing more than one's vulva.
posted by brujita at 3:46 PM on May 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't see Logan expressing any regret or intimidation.

She's been an impressively brave combat reporter. This interview extends that reputation, and I'll bet she goes back into the field.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:52 PM on May 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I find myself wondering how much of this is the result of the insistence by US media producers that whatever they create be pushed around the world in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

I'm sorry, but this is just plain old bollocks.

There's never been more choice of content available to people, from all over the world. Fire up your favourite Bittorrent client and you can download TV and movies from all over the globe, pretty much immediately, pretty much for free.

If people are sucking down US dreck, it's because that's what they're choosing to watch. Though I do understand that they might hate themselves for doing so, blaming it on the producers is a complete cop out.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:56 PM on May 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Disgusting. Anyone who can live with themselves after participating in that doesn't have the capacity to safely function in any society. It's too bad Ray didn't have a gun - maybe they would have stopped if he had splattered a few heads all over the pavement.

Ok, think I need to step away from the computer for a while and think about something else.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:56 PM on May 8, 2011


...and having listed to some shrewd comments about women in questionable jobs, situation, areas of the world, let's turn to what happens to women in our very own army and how often what gets done to them by Americans is under reported to their officers and ignored by our military.

women have a right to be on the line in reporting.
women taking assignments in cultures known to be indifferent or hostile to women ought to be protected by those sending them on assignment.

if men in Egypt are hostile to white women, they are also hostile to non-Muslims, as shown by the 12 dead Christians killed in Egypt by Egyptians...This week. And this is the new Democracy in the Middle East in the making, at least so the army (in control) says.
posted by Postroad at 3:59 PM on May 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


I love how a discussion of a sexual assault has morphed into calls to deny career opportunities to women. That's awesome.
posted by craichead at 4:03 PM on May 8, 2011 [35 favorites]


By "calls" you mean one unenlightened commenter?
posted by Justinian at 4:05 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


And this thread of "it's too dangerous for women, the network should've denied Lara the assignment" is in effect transferring the blame from the perpetrator to the employer. It's victim-blaming through proxy and it's gross and sexist.
posted by artificialard at 4:07 PM on May 8, 2011 [20 favorites]


PeterMcDermott: Nah, you're generalizing things, probably based on your own experiences.

You live in England, and I don't know your background. I'm sure you see many non-US movies in the megaplexes. I'm sure you see many non-US programs on televison. But living in the US, I don't see many, not at all. But I'm pretty sure that US movies are playing VERY regularly at movie theaters and US shows are playing on televisions all over the world.

Fuck, even the ONLY channel we have regularly available in the US which is supposedly a window onto another culture, BBC America, has devolved into endless reruns of Top Gear and Gordon Ramsay shows, interspersed with supposedly "British" movies such as Superman II (selected because the actor playing Zod is from the UK).

Just because things are available via bittorrent doesn't mean that the average person has any knowledge of how to find them or any inclination to seek them out. But if you're in a foreign country, you can't escape the influence of US media creators.

Tell me, living in England... how many German television programs do you find running as regular series on any of the television channels available to you? They're a Westernized country with plenty of media produced for internal consumption. Do you see any of it where you are? I promise you, we don't see ANY of it here. Maybe a DW news show produced in English on Free Speech TV or the oddball PBS station, but it's not the norm.

Do you want to know what the giant show was on German TV during the year (1986-1987) I lived there? Miami Vice. Dubbed into German. It was Teh Shizznit and all anyone was talking about. The favorite TV show of my host family? Quincy M.E. The general attitude of the other kids in my class at the high school I was an exchange student at? German shows are stupid; American shows rule.

Having watched the way the media landscape has developed over the past 25 years, I seriously doubt that the general atmosphere has become one where fewer US shows and movies are available in such places. And the octopus arms only continue to extend their reach, never pull back.

Perhaps you're in a position in your life where you cannot understand that there is a significant portion of the population who only will view television shows or attend movies which are immediately available for consumption and won't bother to self-educate enough to know that there are other sources for media, let alone self-educate about other cultures enough to know what they may or could seek out from places such as Egypt, or India, or even France or Germany for that matter.

But I'm pretty sure, you living in England, that you're not really clear on exactly what the media landscape is here in the United States. Most people living here don't know that they're even swimming in water, let alone that they're in a fishbowl. A fishbowl with non-transparent sides and mirrors pasted all around, so the only view for those who live their lives casually consuming media is one which reinforces what they already know.
posted by hippybear at 4:13 PM on May 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


By "calls" you mean one unenlightened commenter?
At least two, actually: golfus and legion. And they had too many favorites to just be favoriting each other.
posted by craichead at 4:14 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


hippybear wrote: And I think [...] we might be able to find a way to know better which things to export to where in order to prevent white women being stereotyped as whores in countries such as Egypt.

I'm disappointed to see you suggest this. It's censorship, it's paternalistic, and it would effectively require that we import their attitudes into our culture. Also, as someone else pointed out, it would be totally ineffective: people get whatever they want off the Internet.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:15 PM on May 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I never heard of Lara Logan before this attack. She is one of my heroes now.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:16 PM on May 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


hippybear, I don't know what your point is. Do you expect US media producers to say "No, don't distribute our media in other countries!"? The solution is to make less sexist media in the first place, not to selectively target its distribution.
posted by desjardins at 4:19 PM on May 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


As much as I'm for equal rights, letting female journalists have access to the same stories as the boys, etc., the people at CBS had to KNOW that the level of danger in this assignment would be increased if they sent a (white, blond, pretty) woman into the heart of the fray, especially given dgaicun's data.

Anderson Cooper was attacked in Egypt during the protests. Daniel Pearl was beheaded in Pakistan years ago. The number of male reporters who have been attacked while on the job is countless and I've yet to hear anyone question whether or not male journalists should be reporters.

Women who are journalists are fully aware of the violence reporters are exposed to, and of the sexual violence that is often specifically targeted against women. This is a risk they accept for their job. If you want to decrease the risk, you don't continue to treat them as if they are separate, special creatures. This only feeds into the treatment of women as The Other that leads to sexual violence in the first place. You address why the hell people think it's acceptable to attack anyone that way.
posted by schroedinger at 4:22 PM on May 8, 2011 [99 favorites]


I'm disappointed to see you suggest this. It's censorship, it's paternalistic, and it would effectively require that we import their attitudes into our culture. Also, as someone else pointed out, it would be totally ineffective: people get whatever they want off the Internet.

It's neither censorship nor paternalistic. Censorship actually is practices by the Egyptian government, but having media creators take cultural norms and morés into account when they select what to export isn't that. Not at all. But if you don't see that not all cultures will digest the same piece of media as carrying the same messages, then I can't do anything about that.

Plus, you're in Australia. What do you know about whether the US has enough equitable cultural exchange to allow for quality cultural sensitivity when it comes to matters such as media?

Anyway, I ask you... why would an apparent meme within Egyptian culture be that white women are whores? I'm willing to bet it has much more with the media we send overseas than any real experience with white women as a group.

hippybear, I don't know what your point is. Do you expect US media producers to say "No, don't distribute our media in other countries!"? The solution is to make less sexist media in the first place, not to selectively target its distribution.

Less sexist media? Surely you jest. It is the image of the liberated woman in western media which I posit has led to the image of white women as being whores in restrictive countries such as Egypt.
posted by hippybear at 4:27 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anderson Cooper was attacked in Egypt during the protests. Daniel Pearl was beheaded in Pakistan years ago. The number of male reporters who have been attacked while on the job is countless and I've yet to hear anyone question whether or not male journalists should be reporters.

Unless I'm grossly misinterpreting Golfhaus's original post, you're not hearing anyone questioning whether female journalists should be reporters, either. What you're hearing is questioning the degree of oversight that would send a female reporter into a situation where it should have been known she would be sexually assaulted, with the knowledge that a male reporter would not undergo that assault and would be able to cover the situation itself.

Women who are journalists are fully aware of the violence reporters are exposed to, and of the sexual violence that is often specifically targeted against women. This is a risk they accept for their job. If you want to decrease the risk, you don't continue to treat them as if they are separate, special creatures. This only feeds into the treatment of women as The Other that leads to sexual violence in the first place. You address why the hell people think it's acceptable to attack anyone that way.

And given that that's not an instantaneous process, what do you do for coverage in the meantime? Do you continue to send your female employees off to be attacked, and curse the fact that they're being raped? Do you send the black reporter to cover the Klan rally and lament his death, or do you send the white reporter and get the story instead?
posted by kafziel at 4:35 PM on May 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do you send the black reporter to cover the Klan rally and lament his death, or do you send the white reporter and get the story instead?

. . . and then the white reporter gets the Pulitzer prize, while the black reporter is left covering whatever events are "black enough" to be non-controversial? This is how women get glass-ceilinged, is by being "protected" from the most vivid and high-interest stories.
posted by KathrynT at 4:38 PM on May 8, 2011 [63 favorites]


Well, while we're waiting for an entire culture to change, can we agree that sending female reporters into anarchic situations in Egypt might not be such a great idea? That someone would say this is blaming the victim is baffling to me.

I studied in Cairo once, and remember my female friends there constantly reporting harassment. One told me while she was sitting on the beach at Marsah Matruh, she heard a noise and turned to see some Egyptian guy jerking off right next to her. She screamed, threw sand at him and ran.

Young Egyptian men, and there are a lot of them, don't have any good outlets for their sex drives. Combine that with law and order breaking down and you're asking for trouble. Why sacrifice someone on the altar of our expectations of what's right and wrong? I mean, if you're going to say decadent American media provides the trigger, you're saying something completely patronizing about that culture and its ability to absorb or reject mores imparted by those media. So to then say that those reporters should interact with them and expect to be treated as we would be treated in America is to contradict your own argument.
posted by atchafalaya at 4:43 PM on May 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


The issue of sexual harassment against Egyptian women is beginning to get more attention within Egypt. 678 is a 2010 Egyptian film about this problem.
posted by gudrun at 4:46 PM on May 8, 2011


can we agree that sending female reporters into anarchic situations in Egypt might not be such a great idea?

Nope. We can agree that informing female reporters of the risks and then treating them like the grownups they are and allowing to make their own risk assessments is a good idea, though.
posted by KathrynT at 4:46 PM on May 8, 2011 [43 favorites]


hippybear: “Anyway, I ask you... why would an apparent meme within Egyptian culture be that white women are whores? I'm willing to bet it has much more with the media we send overseas than any real experience with white women as a group.”

I don't understand. What does it matter why that's an apparent Egyptian cultural perception? How is that important in any way in this case? It just seems like it's completely beside the point.
posted by koeselitz at 4:48 PM on May 8, 2011


allowing THEM to make their own risk assessments. Jeez. I need a nap.
posted by KathrynT at 4:50 PM on May 8, 2011


Nope...?

And if they decide "No thanks," they're right back to square one with respect to the glass ceiling you referred to.

Like I said above, sending men and women into those situations expecting that the risks should be equal is in itself a patronizing act, overlaying our mores on a foreign culture in order that we should feel we're treating our reporters equally.
posted by atchafalaya at 4:55 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


An employer is more than within its rights to limit its liabilities. Corporations are intrinsically paternalistic. Should an employee want to have full autonomy, the employee should self-employ.

That said, I am not blaming anyone but the perpetrators, and it's clear no one could have anticipated the size or frenzy of that mob.
posted by blargerz at 5:02 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


As much as I'm for equal rights, letting female journalists have access to the same stories as the boys, etc....

To me, the most salient attribute of this comment is the idea of "letting" someone do something (or not) on the basis of gender, regardless of the gender of those making that decision.

sending men and women into those situations expecting that the risks should be equal is in itself a patronizing act

But that's not what happens. Women know very well to expect a specific array of risks due to their gender. Do you really imagine that women reporters in the vast majority of the Middle East would harbor any illusions at all about that fact?
posted by perspicio at 5:03 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Something to remember, this was Logan's second visit to Egypt to cover events there within a short period of time. She has stated that the mood on this second visit was very different to the first. When you work "in the field" (whether it be as a reporter, a researcher, a medical practitioner etc etc) your environment can be be unpredictably variable: it's the nature of the kind of work that folks like Lara Logan do. Only the individuals on the ground can calculate the risks they are willing to take.

On a different note, I'd recommend that you watch the video rather than just read the transcript - Logan is an impressive woman and her story is even more remarkable when you hear it from her.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 5:03 PM on May 8, 2011


An Egyptian acquaintance once told me that men in Egypt get riled up when they see white women because they're sexually frustrated and view heathen/liberated Western women as whores (i.e. "bringing it on themselves").

Young Egyptian men, and there are a lot of them, don't have any good outlets for their sex drives.

Are we never going to stop with this nauseating characterization of men as irrational, at the mercy of overwhelming libidos, and unable to control themselves? Sexual frustration is a state of mind, not a medical condition, and any person in possession of one hand or something to rub up against has a ready outlet for any nagging libidinous urges.

"Gee, I sure wish I could get laid" is about a billion miles away from what motivates a mob to rip a reporter's clothes off and brutally assault her/him.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:03 PM on May 8, 2011 [69 favorites]


sending men and women into those situations expecting that the risks should be equal

Who's doing that?
posted by KathrynT at 5:03 PM on May 8, 2011


I don't understand. What does it matter why that's an apparent Egyptian cultural perception? How is that important in any way in this case? It just seems like it's completely beside the point.

Um.... Because the perception of white women being sexually permissive may be helping feed into situations where, when they are found in the midst of a large number of men in a country where that is a meme, could contribute to them being raped?

In the 4 pages recounting the incident which I read, I don't recall any mention of the local women who worked to protect Lara from assault being raped. Maybe that point was left out. Or maybe those women weren't raped because they aren't white.

It's an ugly situation all around. I just wonder why this particular thing seems to exist within cultures such as the one in Egypt, and wonder what could be done to keep such a perception from being propagated from the casual interaction people in such places. It wasn't my assertion. dgaicun passed it along as an anecdote, but that's far from the only source for such a perception.
posted by hippybear at 5:05 PM on May 8, 2011


Wow.. just... the ... this is incomprehensible, she thinks that being the victim of an attack is somehow a betrayal of her children? I mean, I know that assault victims frequently blame themselves, but this just took my breath away. Incredible.

Not being the victim. Admitting defeat. I think she was referring to this moment:

Pelley: Pulling at your hair?

Logan: Oh yeah, not trying to pull out my hair, holding big wads of it, literally trying to tear my scalp off my skull. And I thought, when I thought I am going to die here, my next thought was I can't believe I just let them kill me, that that was as much fight as I had. That I just gave in and I gave up on my children so easily, how could you do that?


She feels like she gave up on life in that moment, and *that* was the betrayal of her children. Because she feels like she didn't go down fighting.

Still terrible. But understandable.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:06 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Gee, I sure wish I could get laid" is about a billion miles away from what motivates a mob to rip a reporter's clothes off and brutally assault her/him.

I get your point, but I don't fully agree with this. Sure, they're different things, but one requires the other. The my car's transmission is meaningless without the gas in the tank.
posted by perspicio at 5:09 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


An employer is more than within its rights to limit its liabilities. Corporations are intrinsically paternalistic.

How is limiting liability intrinsically paternalistic as opposed to maternalistic?

Perhaps limiting liability is not intrinsically gender-specific at all.
posted by perspicio at 5:15 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]



After watching and reading all of this I am not going to hold my breath in anticipation of any working democracies flourishing in the middle east.
posted by notreally at 5:16 PM on May 8, 2011


perspicio: Sure, they're different things, but one requires the other.

I disagree that the need to get laid has anything to do with sexual assault. It's about anger and the desire to dominate, humiliate, control and/or destroy women. It's not about having an orgasm.
posted by jessian at 5:18 PM on May 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


In the 4 pages recounting the incident which I read, I don't recall any mention of the local women who worked to protect Lara from assault being raped. Maybe that point was left out. Or maybe those women weren't raped because they aren't white.

How do you know this? There are plenty of people out there saying that women are being harassed and raped in Egypt at an increasing rate.

The reason you haven't heard about the Egyptian ones is because Western culture is predominantly interested in its own people. That doesn't mean they don't exist, though.
posted by dflemingecon at 5:18 PM on May 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


At the end of the interview, Logan said that female journalists underreport sexual assault for fear of not being allowed to continue going into the field. Could those who are calling for women to not be allowed to go into the field consider that it is that very attitude that is leading to women suffering from assaults in silence? They may even fear taking advantage of medical and psychological resources. Surely you who are so concerned about the welfare of women could come up with alternative solutions to the fact that women face greater risk of certain kinds of assault (perhaps lesser risk of certain others) -- solutions that don't require women to choose between career damage and suffering without support?
posted by salvia at 5:20 PM on May 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


After watching and reading all of this I am not going to hold my breath in anticipation of any working democracies flourishing in the middle east.

Any Western democracy you can name has problems with rape and sexual assault. For example.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:20 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


hippybear: “It's an ugly situation all around. I just wonder why this particular thing seems to exist within cultures such as the one in Egypt, and wonder what could be done to keep such a perception from being propagated from the casual interaction people in such places. It wasn't my assertion. dgaicun passed it along as an anecdote, but that's far from the only source for such a perception.”

I guess I was just more than a little shocked to see you positing that maybe it's US culture causing Egyptian rapes. Maybe that's not what you were saying, I don't know. But shouldn't a nation be held responsible for its own acts? And isn't saying that US media is responsible for the rape of a member of the US media a little too close to victim-blaming for comfort?
posted by koeselitz at 5:21 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


jessian, testosterone has a lot to do with pretty much all of those things.
posted by perspicio at 5:21 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


hippybear wrote, "We are such an insular society here in the US. We basically refuse as a culture to give a damn about learning about how other places in the world live, or what their expectations or social boundaries are. We are utterly incompetent about opening the life of the regular person to even the most basic understanding of the hopes and aspirations of anywhere on the planet that doesn't produce its television and movies in English. Meanwhile Hollywood insists on disseminating anything it produces as far and wide as it can. The imbalance in our ability to show others what our values and lifestyles are like via movies and television vs. our willingness to experience and digest what other cultures hold dear is gigantic."

It's interesting that you wrote this, hippybear, because the Quarterly Journal of Economics had a study published in 2009 written by Robert Jensen and Emily Oster entitled "The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India" which addresses some of what you suggest. Specifically, they are wanting to better understand how importing Western media into India affected female self-reported status. They find that access to Western media had very large positive impact on females - more schooling, more autonomy, and fewer beatings, as well as decreases in son preference. The abstract is below.

Given that study's findings, I am inclined to see this very different than hippybear. Even media companies interested only in maximizing profits may have extremely positive externalities on females in developing countries. Lara Logan's work there - both as a journalist and as an advocate now against sexual violence - may be extremely valuable for improving welfare of women.

Abstract: Cable and satellite television have grown rapidly throughout the developing world. The availability of cable and satellite television exposes viewers to new information about the outside world, which may affect individual attitudes and behaviors. This paper explores the effect of the introduction of cable television on gender attitudes in rural India. Using a three-year individual-level panel dataset, we find that the introduction of cable television is associated with improvements in women's status. We find significant increases in reported autonomy, decreases in the reported acceptability of beating and decreases in reported son preference. We also find increases in female school enrollment and decreases in fertility (primarily via increased birth spacing). The effects are large, equivalent in some cases to about five years of education in the cross section, and move gender attitudes of individuals in rural areas much closer to those in urban areas. We argue that the results are not driven by pre-existing differential trends. These results have important policy implications, as India and other countries attempt to decrease bias against women.
posted by scunning at 5:23 PM on May 8, 2011 [32 favorites]


Sexual frustration is a state of mind, not a medical condition, and any person in possession of one hand or something to rub up against has a ready outlet for any nagging libidinous urges.

"Gee, I sure wish I could get laid" is about a billion miles away from what motivates a mob to rip a reporter's clothes off and brutally assault her/him.


There has been a lot of psychological research about the the ways that repressed sexual urges may be related to dysfunctional or antisocial impulses. Psychologists spent most of the 20th century arguing about this -- some believe sexual repression causes neurosis, others believe sexual dysfunction is the result of neurosis. Either way, this isn't about conscious thoughts being perverted into something else, it's about conditioning someone from a very young age so that their sexuality remains off-limits to them in every way except those sanctioned by their society.
posted by hermitosis at 5:23 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


notreally: "After watching and reading all of this I am not going to hold my breath in anticipation of any working democracies flourishing in the middle east."

It does take practice. I hope they get a lot of it and get up to speed.

I'm reading all the Shocked! replies, wondering if there's a disconnect between people who have seen mobs in action, wars happen, etc. and those who live in cultures that settled this hundreds of years (decades, maybe?) ago.

When human males get together, get riled up, then come across a human female of any stripe, this is not unexpected. There's a huge amount of cultural filters and training that goes into eliminating this. Modern Egyptian culture, in this case, didn't hold back the baser actions. I make no claim this is ordinary for the locale, it could be a "perfect storm".

I hope Lara Logan doesn't let this stop her.
posted by graftole at 5:26 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm perfectly willing to accept that my thesis is incorrect. But if that is the case.... where does this perception that all white women are whores come from? I have yet to see anyone address that question, and that seems to be central to the issues in this FPP.
posted by hippybear at 5:26 PM on May 8, 2011


jessian, testosterone has a lot to do with pretty much all of those things.

It does, yes, but I presume that the men there who didn't participate in the assault had adequate amounts of testosterone, as well.

I feel as if I'm missing your point.
posted by jessian at 5:27 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the 4 pages recounting the incident which I read, I don't recall any mention of the local women who worked to protect Lara from assault being raped. Maybe that point was left out. Or maybe those women weren't raped because they aren't white.

Page 3:
Lara was dragged along by the mob until they were stopped by a fence. At that spot, a group of Egyptian women were camped out.

Logan: And I almost fell into the lap of this woman on the ground who was head to toe in black, just her eyes, I remember just her eyes, I could see.

Pelley: Wearing a chador.

Logan: Yes. And she put her arms around me. And oh my God, I can't tell you what that moment was like for me. I wasn't safe yet, because the mob was still trying to get at me. But now it wasn't just about me anymore. It was about their women and that was what saved me, I think. The women kind of closed ranks around me. And I remember one or two, maybe three men standing with them and throwing, the women were throwing water in the crowd.
The women were in a group and they were wearing the chador so this was what probably kept them safe from being raped by the crowd.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:28 PM on May 8, 2011


I'm not sure where the U.S. media comes into it (hating to generalize on an entire country's male population and their relationship with popular media), but have you ever been to a houka house? Those scantily clad middle eastern music videos? All Egyptian, but the bizarre-sexualization of any western women doesn't come from Hollywood but from their own internal culture.

In any case : some general context on how economic corruption and cultural repression mix in Egypt. It's literally impossible to get a girlfriend or to get married unless you have a job that pays enough to buy your own place, which means that for many many men that doesn't happen until they are in their 30's or older: getting a job in the "formal economy" is near impossible, and getting harder, and combine that with a pretty severe housing shortage....
posted by stratastar at 5:29 PM on May 8, 2011


When human males get together, get riled up, then come across a human female of any stripe, this is not unexpected. There's a huge amount of cultural filters and training that goes into eliminating this.

I would more say, I think more accurately, that there's a huge amount of cultural filters and training that goes into creating this. I don't think there's anything particularly natural or biologically created about a gang rape, as the framing quoted above seems to imply.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:32 PM on May 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that a difference in how they perceived the shame of raping a group of Egyptian women vs. one western woman had more to do with it than a chador...
posted by stratastar at 5:33 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


this isn't about conscious thoughts being perverted into something else, it's about conditioning someone from a very young age so that their sexuality remains off-limits to them in every way except those sanctioned by their society

I agree with this, but I also think that it's important to be honest about what male sexuality is, in the raw. People often want to pretty things up...but the truth is not necessarily very pretty. (Witness male moose mounting statues of bison, male jumping spiders mounting dead females, and myriad other non-human examples of un-pretty male sexual drive.)

Males are driven to act in irrational ways by their sex drive. It takes a well-tailored cultural overlay to temper this in a way that doesn't also marginalize women.

(jessian, does that clarify where I'm coming from at all?)

I don't think there's anything particularly natural or biologically created about a gang rape

Why not?
posted by perspicio at 5:35 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think there's anything particularly natural or biologically created about a gang rape, as the framing quoted above seems to imply.

And I'm not sure "natural" or "biologically created" is a useful way to look at things in the first place. If other animals engage in gang rape (which they do), does that make it natural or biologically created? If it did, would that make it okay? There are many natural things which we rightly find abhorrent. I have no idea whether gang rape is "biologically created" or not because I don't know what that means. I do know that I don't care if it is; it's awful either way.
posted by Justinian at 5:35 PM on May 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


hippybear: “I'm perfectly willing to accept that my thesis is incorrect. But if that is the case.... where does this perception that all white women are whores come from? I have yet to see anyone address that question, and that seems to be central to the issues in this FPP.”

Isn't that the common sexist reading when presented with a more-permissive society? "Western culture is more sexually permissive, therefore its women are whores" – that seems to me to be the faulty equation here.
posted by koeselitz at 5:36 PM on May 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Males are driven to act in irrational ways by their sex drive.

Most people, particularly young ones, act in irrational ways because of their sex drive.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:38 PM on May 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


...a penguin: "I would more say, I think more accurately, that there's a huge amount of cultural filters and training that goes into creating this. I don't think there's anything particularly natural or biologically created about a gang rape, as the framing quoted above seems to imply."

I disagree, but I could most definitely be wrong. I see male vs female disparity of force in the context of the social and cultural norms to advance it. Ie: "females are for breeding" then "this is my female(s)" then "we divide up females thus" then "females are people" then "females are equal(ish)."

If you protect your females in a social sense by sequestering them, maybe a familiar female presence is "safe". In this case, she wasn't familiar. That's just my thinking. I've seen mobs do worse, so I can't even pretend to know the rules and mechanisms.
posted by graftole at 5:40 PM on May 8, 2011


Isn't that the common sexist reading when presented with a more-permissive society? "Western culture is more sexually permissive, therefore its women are whores" – that seems to me to be the faulty equation here.

Sure, I'll accept that. But where does that perception come from? What do you mean, "presented with a more-permissive society"? A female reporter standing in a crowd of not-her-culture people isn't exactly somehow presenting or representing anything, unless the seeds are already in place for groupthink based on prior exposure.
posted by hippybear at 5:44 PM on May 8, 2011


myriad other non-human examples of un-pretty male sexual drive

It's illogical to talk about what animals do as if it's what humans are biologically predestined to do. There are vast differences in the behavior of even very closely-related species (e.g., wolves vs. dogs). The female praying mantis eats her partner after mating. Is that what human women are biologically driven to do? No.
posted by salvia at 5:45 PM on May 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


That interview was amazingly powerful and shocking. I am in awe of Logan's bravery and determination. You would not have held it against her if she had chosen never to address this appalling episode and walked away from a job in the media. Logan is every inch a hero for speaking out and I hope she can move on in a tolerable fashion.

(Lara Logan is not Jewish, just by the by)
posted by peacay at 5:45 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Either way, this isn't about conscious thoughts being perverted into something else, it's about conditioning someone from a very young age so that their sexuality remains off-limits to them in every way except those sanctioned by their society.

See, I just don't think that many types of sexual assault are "about" sex at all. They're about proving masculinity, men showing off for men or proving something to the Big Other about their power. It's not that these guys want sex and so they're like "gee, let's all together grope and maybe murder a white blonde reporter!" The rape was a collective act, and IMO collective acts of sexual assault are about the group, not about individual, personal sexual urges or about sexual repression per se - more about power manifesting itself through a sexual gesture.

I never used to understand the whole "rape isn't about sex, it's about power" thing---because IME pretty women are magnets for a lot more sexual harassment and assault than I am. But the point is that power over women manifests itself in different ways depending on the woman. Power over me is about yelling homophobic insults and body-checking me on the sidewalk because I am not feminine enough; it could end up in sexual assault but historically plain old assault has been sufficient. Power over a pretty blonde woman more often gets worked out other ways. But it's the same act of "I get to decide what happens to you, not you".

I am perfectly content to say "something is wrong in Egyptian society - in this specific respect more wrong than in US society, although the US also has plenty of problems with rape and assault against women". I refuse the subtext of "therefore the US and the white West need to step in and control things, and therefore US actions in the Middle East are justified".
posted by Frowner at 5:48 PM on May 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


But where does that perception come from?

What are you suggesting? That we should try to keep Egyptian men ignorant of our western sexual freedoms, lest they conclude our women are whores and try to rape them?
posted by ericost at 5:49 PM on May 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


“Anyway, I ask you... why would an apparent meme within Egyptian culture be that white women are whores? I'm willing to bet it has much more with the media we send overseas than any real experience with white women as a group.”

Another data point: Costa Rican men also perceive North American women to be easy/slutty, even though it's North American *men* who travel to Costa Rica as sex tourists. Costa Rican men have ample access to local sexual outlets (including legal prostitution) and the harassment is nowhere near as bad as it sounds like it is in Egypt, but somewhere along the way they also picked up the meme that "gringas are easy." A significant portion (perhaps as much as half?) of the TV and movies available in Costa Rica are dubbed or subtitled North American productions.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:51 PM on May 8, 2011


peacay: "Logan is every inch a hero for speaking out and I hope she can move on in a tolerable fashion."

I agree that this is a good thing. Even for "western" societies to remind us of what we aspire to.

There's so many little things that could have kept it from escalating, and there's really no one to blame. Her account makes her security detail look okay. Things got out of hand incredibly quickly, which ironically you can *expect* in a fluid situation.

I hope this keeps her on her course, and doesn't take her out of reporting in difficult situations.
posted by graftole at 5:52 PM on May 8, 2011


I am ashamed for some of you who think this is some how endemic to Egypt, or that Egyptian men are repressed and seeking an outlet. Lest we forget , this happens in America as well.

In 2000 over 50 women were assaulted at a single event in central park.

What do you armchair sociologists make of that.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:53 PM on May 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's illogical to talk about what animals do as if it's what humans are biologically predestined to do.

I don't know that I'd ever call it illogical, but I agree there are limits to the benefit of doing so.

My point was about male sexuality in the raw. I took it beyond the human species because people are generally too anthropocentric to really evaluate themselves objectively. So I do think there is utility in the comparison.
posted by perspicio at 5:54 PM on May 8, 2011


A female reporter standing in a crowd of not-her-culture people isn't exactly somehow presenting or representing anything, unless the seeds are already in place for groupthink based on prior exposure.

Could it be that she's different and stood out? We have enough historical evidence to prove that, in many situations, that's all it takes to be targeted.
posted by dflemingecon at 5:54 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ad hominum "What do you armchair sociologists make of that."

I think it's not just a "Shocking!" "Foreign!" thing. It has been an undercurrent in all our wars, all our "mob actions" even recently in what we consider civilized nations.
posted by graftole at 5:59 PM on May 8, 2011


What are you suggesting? That we should try to keep Egyptian men ignorant of our western sexual freedoms, lest they conclude our women are whores and try to rape them?

I'm suggesting that our cultural exports are conflicting with local mores which combine to create a situation in which stereotypes create situations in which bad things may happen. I'm also saying that we don't have enough clear vision of how other countries' cultures operate here in the US to make clear judgement calls about exactly what they may believe about OUR culture based on what they may take away from exposure to our media.

That they conclude that white women are whores... isn't really anything I've made up. But I wonder why, and what we can do to rectify that notion, or whether we might have had a bit more of a sensitive approach across the years which could have alleviated this misperception.
posted by hippybear at 6:00 PM on May 8, 2011


"What do you armchair sociologists make of that."

That you don't know what endemic means and do not reason well.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 6:01 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are people doubting that Western women are thought to be slutty in non-Western countries? This is a pretty common stereotype and I don't think it's so hard to understand where it comes from when you have shows like Sex and the City being exported to countries where women who have premarital sex are equivalent to prostitutes. It's called culture clash.

And there are absolutely issues with sexual assault all over the world, in all countries, but it's worse in some countries than others and in Egypt the situation is just fucking awful. Shit, you can go somewhere in Saudi Arabia and experience less harassment than you would in Egypt (and that's not to imply at all that Saudi Arabia has a handle on it). Everything I've read about Egypt indicates sexual harassment is not an "if" or a "when" but a "how much at any one point in time at any one location." Not just for Western women, for all women.
posted by schroedinger at 6:04 PM on May 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


My point was about male sexuality in the raw.

In response to many above who have commented on my comment, basically I think there's no such thing as "male sexuality in the raw." ALL human sexuality (like all human everything else) exists in the context of culture. There is no such thing as what humans would look like with no culture at all. All we know is that everything that exists or has existed -- from gang rape culture, to asexuality, to essentially equal monogamous partnerships, to polygyny, to polyandry is consistent with our biology. If it weren't it couldn't exist.

As for what some animals do (and some do not), I don't think this is a good basis for speculating about what humans would be like without culture since humans without culture would be different than they are in far more fundamental ways (for starters, it's unlikely we'd have our giant brains, and language would be kind of useless).

So, some cultures overlay on whatever biology exists, all sorts of things that end with some people feeling entitled to rape some other people. Some don't. Neither the entitlement nor the lack of it is somehow imprinted on our uncultured selves.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:05 PM on May 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


This story just makes me sick. I was riding a wave of positivity watching the coverage of the events destined to be remembered in history that were happening in that square, but in the end all I could think of was this.

A mass of people doing something very good, and among them another mob doing something very bad.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:06 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


schroedinger "Everything I've read about Egypt indicates sexual harassment is not an "if" or a "when" but a "how much at any one point in time at any one location." Not just for Western women, for all women."

There's that, too. Egypt is a big place, though, and there's certainly a way, WAY more urbanized and.."westernized" population compared to a majority that probably isn't.

I wonder, in this reporter's case, if it is really a mater of different socialization among protesters/counter-protesters, or if it is a situation where all those social filters broke down in a fluid situation.

Social filters break down in a funny way, at least in my experience. It always starts with something small, but ends up in action that no one involved would think they'd do. A crappy avalanche, if you will.

At any rate, I doubt that Egyptian society is completely poisonous, but I do think it's a few decades behind what we in the "west" consider acceptable.
posted by graftole at 6:10 PM on May 8, 2011


"That they conclude that white women are whores... isn't really anything I've made up. But I wonder why, and what we can do to rectify that notion, or whether we might have had a bit more of a sensitive approach across the years which could have alleviated this misperception."

Fuck everything about this. It is not the responsibility of western civilization to explain itself in inoffensive terms to the rest of the world. Middle eastern Muslim men do not consider western women whores because of misperception, they consider them whores because of the personal liberties western women enjoy, liberties no one should have to apologize for, least of all to people who still treat women like chattel property.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 6:13 PM on May 8, 2011 [31 favorites]


"I was riding a wave of positivity watching the coverage of the events destined to be remembered in history that were happening in that square, but in the end all I could think of was this.

A mass of people doing something very good, and among them another mob doing something very bad."


We're a long way from knowing whether the "revolution" will be a positive or negative for the world.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 6:15 PM on May 8, 2011


In 2000 over 50 women were assaulted at a single event in central park.

What do you armchair sociologists make of that.


I agree it can happen anywhere, but for the record, the event you're citing was linked to NYC's Puerto Rican Day festival:

The Central Park assaults of June 11, 2000 happened after a crowd of men, started dousing women passing by with water and then escalated to pulling off the women's clothes and sexually molesting them, after and during the Puerto Rican Day parade.

So it actually may fit in with what we're saying about cultures defined by their slanted approach to gender relations.
posted by hermitosis at 6:15 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


imperial troops have entered the thread.... PSSSSSSSHHHHT
imperial troops have entered the thread
posted by nathancaswell at 6:16 PM on May 8, 2011


basically I think there's no such thing as "male sexuality in the raw." ALL human sexuality (like all human everything else) exists in the context of culture. There is no such thing as what humans would look like with no culture at all.

That strikes me as akin to saying there'd be no human amygdala without a human cerebrum, so there's no point in talking about the 1st except in relation to the 2nd...but that we can nevertheless talk about the 2nd without referring to the 1st.

The fact is, we absolutely can talk about core human behaviors in the absence of culture, and we can do so precisely because we have so many different points of reference, biological and cultural. Even ignoring the biology of other species, we can most certainly triangulate a great deal about the intrinsic nature of human sexual behavior (and behavior in general) sans culture by looking at the strategies different cultures employ to deal with it.
posted by perspicio at 6:19 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thought of that woman, naked and beaten limp, carried to a tank through a clawing crowd... it's haunting.

I still don't understand why they wanted to do that to her.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:21 PM on May 8, 2011


I've experienced street harassment in a number of countries, both as part of my work and during pleasure trips. I've been stared at, stalked and photographed, gotten wolf-whistles from cops, been touched inappropriately, and nearly punched in the head. But Egypt about a year and a half ago was just a new level of intensity that I'd never experienced.

I'd heard about the attention women, especially foreign women, receive on the streets in Egypt. I researched dress expectations that would minimize that attention. I took it as a design challenge and designed a new travel wardrobe from scratch, one that would be conservative, but be comfortable in the desert heat. In other words, I needed to cover as much of me as possible while avoiding heat-stroke. It sounds nuts, but I like sewing and I like making clothes for new environments.

I made sure that between pants, long skirts and boots my legs would be completely covered. I sewed a jacket with big bell sleeves that would cover my arms and still allow air circulation, and made a hat that would shield my eyes and keep most of my hair covered.

I thought I'd done really well for myself when I was ignored in the trendy parts of Cairo, and even took off my jacket and walked around with half-uncovered arms in touristy Giza. But when we went to the southern part of the country it was a different story. I made the mistake of taking off my cardigan in a market in Aswan (it was hot!) and it was like I'd turned on a magnetic field that only attracted men. When I put my cardigan back on and it was like I just switched it off.

However, even conservatively attired, I would attract attention, and lots of it, if it appeared that I was alone. The best Arabic phrase I learned for deflecting people wasn't 'Get lost!' or 'Leave me alone!', but 'That's my husband!' (that's 'da gozee' if you need it) along with me pointing at my husband. Instantly, I would go from an object to a woman deserving of respect; you could see the change in demeanor wash over their faces as soon as the words left my mouth.

It would not be fair to say that everyone was weird and creepy. Many people were nice, hospitable, and went out of their way to share their country with us, but yeah, there are some (maybe lots of) intense people who will set your teeth on edge no matter what you do, how you act, or how you dress.
posted by Alison at 6:21 PM on May 8, 2011 [19 favorites]


And you know, you'd think maybe she could have a taser at least?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:22 PM on May 8, 2011


That you don't know what endemic means and do not reason well.

You might want to look it up.

"an organism being "endemic" means exclusively native to a place or biota. For example, the platypus is endemic to Australia"

Of course I am not talking about an organism but I am sure you can extrapolate.

So it actually may fit in with what we're saying about cultures defined by their slanted approach to gender relations.

So crowds of Puerto Ricans are more likely to assault a woman than a crowd of white people?
posted by Ad hominem at 6:22 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how it was decided who would interview her for this one and only recounting of her story. It seemed to me that asking her to spill her guts to a male reporter was insensitive. But maybe they were trying to prove some gender-politics point about how the gender of the interviewer shouldn't make a difference, or she should be strong enough to recount her horrific sexual assault to a male sitting a few feet away. Anyway, I really disliked the interviewer and his fake-compassion faces.
posted by parrot_person at 6:22 PM on May 8, 2011


I thought it was pretty widely held that rape was about power, not about sexual attraction.

permissiveness and all of that has nothing to do with it. The bit about "whores" was one commenter's report of something a friend had heard. It's not a "fact about Egyptian men" it's just hearsay BS.

Why were men violently dominating people, lashing out physically to assert power and dominance in that atmosphere? It doesn't seem so surprising to me.

As a responsible adult and trained journalist she knew the horrible risk she was taking to do the right thing. I don't see how people could be confortable with her risking death, but not comfortable risking assault. It's freaking terrifying to me, but I'm not a journalist.

Anyway, the stuff about how one culture sees another seems like a weird take-away from her story.
posted by ServSci at 6:22 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not a "fact about Egyptian men"

That you, that is all I am saying.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:26 PM on May 8, 2011


> Why were men violently dominating people, lashing out physically to assert power and dominance in that atmosphere? It doesn't seem so surprising to me.

Well, congratulations? I find the leap from "yay we overthrew the bastard" to "let's put our hands in this woman's vagina against her will and take some souvenir scalp" to be "so surprising" defined.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:28 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


A few years back, I was in the lobby of a hotel in Masif Salahadin, Iraq watching a communal television. I had the remote and I was flipping through the stations using the up/down keys as those were all that worked on the device. On my way between the BBC and Al Jazeera, I hit MTV and much to my dismay, Baby Got Back was right there in front of my eyes. Four women shaking their butts almost to the point of convulsion. I wanted off that channel more than I'd ever wanted anything in my life, but as soon as I switched it, one of the younger Iraqis yelled "Go back!". I glanced at him with the most obvious 'really? do I have to?' look on my face. For some reason, I flipped back down to MTV. Needless to say, the three older men in the room got up and walked out, while the younger boys just stared at the television like it was the greatest shit they'd ever seen.

Unfortunately, a lot of people in conservative societies get their education about us from the entertainment we put out there, and it completely skews their perception.
posted by gman at 6:30 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought it was pretty widely held that rape was about power, not about sexual attraction.

The critical thing that is missing from this view is, power is itself sexually attractive.
posted by perspicio at 6:31 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So crowds of Puerto Ricans are more likely to assault a woman than a crowd of white people?

You'd like to trap me into saying something I'm not trying to say. What I am saying is that Puerto Rican culture (among many others, including subsets of white American culture) is incredibly steeped in machismo, which has an effect on the way they relate to women -- even women who don't share their background.
posted by hermitosis at 6:32 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're suggesting I'm saying we can talk about culture without acknowledging biology, of course we can't. It's virtually impossible to separate the effects of the two. BUt we know this: If something is not created by culture (i.e. is simply the result of biology), then it will be universal: Nobody breathes through their kidneys and filters blood through their lungs. That's not culture, that's biology.

If something varies in a way that is consistent with genetic variation (e.g. eye colour) or biologically-mediated environmental effects (e.g. skin cancer from sun exposure), then in this case it's still universal that biological cause X leads to outcome Y. Again, that's biology not culture.

Things that vary and do so in ways that are not consistent with biological variation are not wholly biological and understanding its genesis cannot be done without looking at culture. That's not to say that biology has no effect. But the parts created wholly by biology would surely be the universal (or varied in a way not consistent with biological diversity): People find the sensations associated with having their genitals touched pleasurable.

If something varies then every variation that exists is consistent with our biology. If it weren't (like filtering blood through your lungs) it wouldn't exist. If the pattern of variation isn't consistent with something that would be caused by biological variation, then which version manifests itself in a given situation would seem to be culture.

Which version would manifest itself in a human without culture? It's a nonsensical question because a human without culture would in a fundamental sense not be human. Similarly, however, it would be ridiculous to speculate what sexuality would look like in the absence of biological influences since a human without biology is similarly unfathomable.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:33 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


As much as I'm for equal rights, letting female journalists have access to the same stories as the boys, etc., the people at CBS had to KNOW that the level of danger in this assignment would be increased if they sent a (white, blond, pretty) woman into the heart of the fray, especially given dgaicun's data.
Well, being a war correspondent is a very dangerous job.
I find myself wondering how much of this is the result of the insistence by US media producers that whatever they create be pushed around the world in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
That's pretty ridiculous.
It's a football player's job to want to go into the game no matter how injured they are.
It's the coach's job to say, "no, you can't."
First of all, WTF? It's not an athletes job to play injured. Secondly while injuries might happen in football Logan wasn't "injured" when she went into Egypt. You're basically arguing that being an attractive woman is like a disability for covering these kinds of things and they shouldn't be allowed to do it.

She knew the risks and decided to go in. I don't see why Logan should be held to a different standard. She should be able to decide for herself what kind of risk she wants to take on.
Fuck, even the ONLY channel we have regularly available in the US which is supposedly a window onto another culture, BBC America, has devolved into endless reruns of Top Gear and Gordon Ramsay shows, interspersed with supposedly "British" movies such as Superman II (selected because the actor playing Zod is from the UK). Bla bla bla something about german tv (what?)
WTF does this have to do with anything? Complete derail. Rape happens everywhere in the world. The idea that somehow we should control the media in other countries to prevent rape in an extremely rare circumstance (rape of white women in a giant party with no police presence after the downfall of a government) is just bizarre. Beyond that, it's not even clear that white women in Egypt are more likely to be harassed then Egyptian women. Rather then "the media" it could be something as simple as thinking that any women with her hair uncovered is a "whore" just like western men might think about a woman who was scantily clad compared to his cultural expectations.
In the 4 pages recounting the incident which I read, I don't recall any mention of the local women who worked to protect Lara from assault being raped. Maybe that point was left out. Or maybe those women weren't raped because they aren't white.
The women were in a group and they were wearing the chador so this was what probably kept them safe from being raped by the crowd.
They were also in a huge group. One thing I noticed during the coverage of the protests, etc was that usually women in the crowd were in large groups. There wasn't much mingling between men and women. I think that the Egyptian women were more attuned to the cultural situation and grouped together for safety (I noticed this even before the Logan assault happened)
posted by delmoi at 6:34 PM on May 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


If it goes on the table that this happened on some level because there is an Egyptian perception that all Western women are whores, and we should therefore try to point fingers at how they received that idea (with the implication that it came from the West and specifically from America),
then it has to go on the table that the larger frenzy ensued when it was believed that she was Jewish. Does it then follow that American media also gave them the idea that anyone Jewish deserves mob assault on the highest level?

Sorry, I don't buy it. That she wasn't actually Jewish (or Israeli) is irrelevant. I find it really disturbing that so many people are pouncing on 'they thought she deserved it because they thought she was a slut," and avoiding the parallel that they also thought she deserved it because they thought she was a Jew. Finger pointing at ourselves to somehow excuse the barbarism is not a sign of culturally sensitivity. It's willful blindness to what their own culture is feeding them.
posted by Mchelly at 6:34 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


You might want to look it up.

"an organism being "endemic" means exclusively native to a place or biota. For example, the platypus is endemic to Australia"


You look it up. (And re-read your own link, especially the first part.) The common usage of endemic does not denote exclusivity, only its use in specific scientific circumstances denotes exclusivity. Or are you trying to say that's the sense in which you were using it? Because then you're again wrong to do so.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 6:36 PM on May 8, 2011


"Young Egyptian men, and there are a lot of them, don't have any good outlets for their sex drives."

Well, they have each other. It's common for Egyptian men to have sex with one another.

They'll happily tell you how homosexuals should be murdered and will burn in hell too.

The "downlow" scene in the Arab world is something to behold.
posted by bardic at 6:37 PM on May 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hippybear's comment is one of the strangest convolutions I've ever read here. American media is to blame? Not the historic, ingrained cultural attitudes of Egyptian men? Gilligan's Island and Mad Men turns Egyptians into rapists? It's beyond mind-boggling.
posted by stargell at 6:41 PM on May 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


I commend Logan for surviving a horrific event and speaking out. She's already back working and when she talked about almost being ripped limb from limb, it was terrifying.

What sucked for me was how she seemed to completely have no sense of preparation, like Alison describes.

In the video, maybe she was just caught up in the moment, but her whole demeanor (I watched it in its entirety last week) in the video in Egypt and afterward in the interview just made her seem like she was clueless. I felt bad for her because I'm sure she has tons of experience but it seemed like she went in there unprepared. Like she was just completely caught off guard, even as she was in the midst of a mob creating a revolution.

I think that the Egyptian women were more attuned to the cultural situation and grouped together for safety (I noticed this even before the Logan assault happened)

I wish Logan would have picked up on this. Maybe it comes with being a reporter that you put yourself in these situations and exude a carefree attitude, but to me it just seemed like she had not adequately prepared for the danger level of the situation. She is an awfully strong person to have relayed that account of what happened, on national television.
posted by cashman at 6:42 PM on May 8, 2011


Time for some Egypt-specific input.

"Women also face various forms of violence outside the home, ranging from verbal harassment to physical and sexual abuse and rape. The harassment of women in public is a serious problem in Egypt; more serious punishments for verbal harassment should be instituted and enforced. Current statistics on the prevalence of rape, domestic abuse, and "honor killings" in Egypt are rare. Crime pages of daily newspapers show that rape is quite widespread, even if most incidents are not reported or legally prosecuted by the state, victims, or their families. After decades of advocacy, Egyptian feminists succeeded in getting the government to abolish the laws that had previously allowed for the forgiveness of rapists if they married their victims. However, the new law is often undermined by the police, who continue to encourage the marriage of a woman and her rapist and the dropping of charges against the man." (link to Egypt section on freedomhouse.org)

"The proportion of women who ever experienced violence according to the persons identified as a perpetrators of the violence. Almost all women who say they have been beaten, report being beaten by their husband (96%) (for women married more than once, includes beatings by her current or earlier husband) in 1995 EDHS. More than seven in ten women identified their current or a previous husband as perpetrator in at least one episode of physical violence (72%) and more than four in ten women had been hit, slapped, kicked or subjected to some other form of physical violence by male perpetrators other than a husband (father or brother) in 2005EDHS." [italics mine] (link to UN report on Violence against women in Egypt PDF) Also includes a section on rape.

And then of course there is incest, female circumcision and last but not least, honor killings (those these are thankfully fewer than in many countries in the Middle East)...

I don't think this country really needed Western media tutelage in misogyny.
posted by likeso at 6:43 PM on May 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


American media is to blame? Not the historic, ingrained cultural attitudes of Egyptian men? Gilligan's Island and Mad Men turns Egyptians into rapists? It's beyond mind-boggling.
No no no. not the shows themselves, but rather the greedy corporate media companies who force these shows to be popular in Egypt, because obviously there's just so much money to be made in an impoverished country like Egypt with a $5.4k per capita GDP.

I would bet anything that the vast majority of western content in Egypt is pirated.
posted by delmoi at 6:45 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


sorry Ambrosia Voyeur. That poor written on my part. Sorry.
posted by ServSci at 6:46 PM on May 8, 2011


You look it up. (And re-read your own link, especially the first part.) The common usage of endemic does not denote exclusivity, only its use in specific scientific circumstances denotes exclusivity. Or are you trying to say that's the sense in which you were using it? Because then you're again wrong to do so.

You caught me, I used the word in a specific sense. I will only do so in a scientific context from now on.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:48 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ioihap, I have no reason to argue with any of that. But what you're saying has become so abstracted from the issue at hand, that I don't see your point. Can you bring it back around to one?

I would say that rape is universally a biologically consistent potential human male behavior, as evidenced in the fact that virtually every human culture has some customary means of addressing it. And my point in saying so is to assert that your earliest comment, that "there's a huge amount of cultural filters and training that goes into creating this" (emphasis mine), is simply untrue. Rather, cultural filters and training either encourage or discourage it, depending on the culture. But they don't create it. It is a behavioral potentiality grounded in biology.
posted by perspicio at 6:49 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


perspicio, it sounds like we've reached agreement. As for the specific issue at hand, I was addressing a specific comment more than the actual report. I heard part of the interview on the radio (a radio station here simulcasts the audio of 60 minutes), and found it quite difficult to listen to. So I haven't made an attempt to watch it or read the transcript. It's a good thing it's not RTFA day anymore.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:53 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would say that rape is universally a biologically consistent potential human male behavior, as evidenced in the fact that virtually every human culture has some customary means of addressing it.
Every culture has a means for dealing with murder and theft (assuming they have any concept of property), too, and yet when people commit murder or theft, nobody ever brings up the biological imperative to kill or steal. Nobody reacted to Daniel Pearl's murder by asking whether Jews should be permitted to be foreign correspondents in Pakistan, either. People respond to crimes against women by arguing that women's opportunities should be limited for their own protection. People minimize crimes against women by pretending they're rooted in biology. This is about hatred, oppression, and marginalization of women, period. And I'm not just talking about the people who assaulted Lara Logan when I say that.
posted by craichead at 6:54 PM on May 8, 2011 [58 favorites]


I guess more specific to the FPP, my point is, no society can deal effectively with the problems associated with male sexuality without creating even greater problems unless it embraces a culture that deals with that sexuality in a realistic fashion - which involves full, unflinching acknowledgment of our animal heritage.
posted by perspicio at 6:58 PM on May 8, 2011


"You caught me, I used the word in a specific sense. I will only do so in a scientific context from now on."

Uh-oh. The lesson I've learned here: Pedantry pays off! (I'd better go do something else.)
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 7:00 PM on May 8, 2011


nobody ever brings up the biological imperative to kill or steal

Who said anything about "imperative"?

People minimize crimes against women by pretending they're rooted in biology.

See the words in bold? Those are where you introduced distortions.
posted by perspicio at 7:01 PM on May 8, 2011


Ok, perspicio. So what do you think we need to understand about rape that is different from what we need to understand about murder?
posted by craichead at 7:03 PM on May 8, 2011


So... biology is destiny, after all.

I don't totally diasgree with you, perspicio, but out of curiosity, how exactly would society "deal effectively with the problems associated with male sexuality"?
posted by likeso at 7:05 PM on May 8, 2011


I don't know that I'd ever call it illogical, but I agree there are limits to the benefit of doing so.... My point was about male sexuality in the raw.

But we are debating whether it is or isn't human male sexuality in the raw. If this were an established scientific fact, then illustrating it via comparisons to violent male (non-human) behavior could have artistic utility. Until then, using spiders as evidence of human tendencies lacks scientific validity.

What I oppose is the way "biological facts" are enlisted to justify oppression of women. Suppose it was scientific fact that "male sexuality is naturally violent" -- what then? Would that mean that women should have to cover up their bodies lest they trigger this natural, biological instinct? Would that mean that women should not be reporters in war zones? OR would that mean that men should not be allowed to leave the house without a female chaperone, congregate in groups with other men, serve in the police forces, nor hold public office? I'm not personally arguing for the oppression of men, but I never hear anyone propose the policy that I have bolded -- why not?
posted by salvia at 7:07 PM on May 8, 2011 [15 favorites]


Suppose it was scientific fact that "male sexuality is naturally violent" -- what then? Would that mean that women should have to cover up their bodies lest they trigger this natural, biological instinct?
No one is saying that.
would that mean that men should not be allowed to leave the house without a female chaperone, congregate in groups with other men, serve in the police forces, nor hold public office?
I don't see anyone saying anything like that.
posted by delmoi at 7:10 PM on May 8, 2011


Hippybear's comment is one of the strangest convolutions I've ever read here. American media is to blame? Not the historic, ingrained cultural attitudes of Egyptian men? Gilligan's Island and Mad Men turns Egyptians into rapists? It's beyond mind-boggling.

If that's what your takeaway is from what I wrote, then you didn't actually read my words.

Obviously the idea of "there are cultural differences between a country like Egypt and a country like America, and maybe our media is delivering messages about us which we don't intend" is too sophisticated a concept for a lot of people commenting in this thread.

I don't hope to be able to explain this to those who can't see outside their own pond, so I'll let y'all continue to work within the paradigm which makes you most comfortable.
posted by hippybear at 7:12 PM on May 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


My god, hippybear, that is the most childish bow out I have ever witnessed.
posted by ericost at 7:14 PM on May 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


I don't see anyone saying anything like that.

Hmm, maybe I am seeing something that isn't there. I associate (from past experience) "it's biological" with "men can't help themselves once triggered" with "therefore women shouldn't wear short skirts." Can someone explain why "male sexuality is inherently violent" entered the discussion then?

I'm not accusing anyone in particular, either, but I do see the biological argument itself as being one step away from excusing perpetrators and arguing that the responsibility for stopping rape falls on women. In general.
posted by salvia at 7:17 PM on May 8, 2011


Wow.. just... the ... this is incomprehensible, she thinks that being the victim of an attack is somehow a betrayal of her children? I mean, I know that assault victims frequently blame themselves, but this just took my breath away. Incredible.

Hmm. Yeah, is she referring specifically to the incident, or is she talking about being a reporter in a revolution zone?

Its really messed up how she was assaulted, and I can't even imagine any reasonable person being able to argue that it was her fault. But entering a politically tumultuous area as media, there are risks. I'm wondering if she was referring to THAT.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:20 PM on May 8, 2011


And here is a link to Elisabeth Lloyd's refutation of Thornhill & Palmer's theories as stated in A Natural History of Rape.

Convincing counter argument to the evolutionary explanation of rape.
posted by likeso at 7:23 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


ericost: it's not childish. it's weary. But you can interpret it any way which makes you feel good.
posted by hippybear at 7:24 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is great to read so many fine comments. I thank the site for this.
Left out: Egypt in great state of flux...army in control but standing back and doing precious little at the time. Add to that: mob scene. There is always the potential for violence, fights, sexual assaults etc when large groups of people gather ...perhaps all of this added to the assault upon her.
posted by Postroad at 7:25 PM on May 8, 2011


(still waiting for perspicio's answer to: how exactly would society "deal effectively with the problems associated with male sexuality"?)
posted by likeso at 7:25 PM on May 8, 2011


So, I read about people sharing this kind of thing, and ponder the kind of movies and television we've exported to places like Egypt, and the kind of impression those stories and depictions have created in the minds of the foreigners who take them in, or who hear about them, or whatever.

Yeah, she got raped because some Egyptian dudes saw 'Sex in the City' and figured she was on like Donkey Kong.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:27 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Delmoi, that's Salvia's point. Instead of saying, "men are dangerous for women so therefore women should avoid dangerous jobs near men" shouldn't it be, "Men can be dangerous so they should be kept under survellience" rather like tigers in zoos?

I don't think perspicio was pointing to biology in order to say women should go into hiding which Salvia was pointing out IS a common ideology. (I've seen that too Salvia, but I don't think that was were perspicio was comming from)

I think perspicio was pointing it out to say, maybe domination and power themes are commonly part of human sexuality and it's not because because we teach it, it's just there like hiccups, or fear of spiders. (Correct me if I understood you wrong!)

Meaning we might be approaching the problem the wrong way if we assume rape has nothing to do with sex. I think it's perfectly valid. I like Salvia's idea too, if it were proven men can't stop themselves raping then it's the men who should be kept under servellience by society not women who should have to go into hiding. Cool idea.

I don't think the idea here is that men can't stop it, but that culture is what teaches them how to deal with their urges. In order to prevent people murdering, we teach young children to see the feelings of others as important and to see hurting, grabbing toys, or acts that make their friends cry to be unacceptable behavior. Many people get angry and want to beat the crap out of others. We don't teach them they are horrible for the urge but that they need to find a responsable way to deal with that. (I.e. not beating people.)

Sexuality in the media certainly contains a lot of domination and violence and that is often interwoven with sexual imagery. Our culture that sees sex as something to trick women into "giving up" and submitting would seem to teach that domination and power are part of sex. Maybe teaching people that sex as a conquest to exploit someone hurts feelings and not a good way to look at sexuality, could potentially help more men(initiators) think about the feelings of the people they are inflicting sexual acts on?
posted by xarnop at 7:29 PM on May 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


So what do you think we need to understand about rape that is different from what we need to understand about murder?

I don't think you need to understand anything at all. Like your earlier comment, you seem to be ascribing an agenda to what I say, and why I say it.

how exactly would society "deal effectively with the problems associated with male sexuality"?

If there were any final answers to conundra like this, I suppose a culture could stop evolving. But history is a series of short term solutions to long term problems. I just think dealing with the facts on the ground is the best strategy for converging on solutions to difficult problems. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe that's just the way that appeals most to me.

But we are debating whether it is or isn't human male sexuality in the raw.

You're right, salvia, and I tripped over my own...um...feet in bypassing that fact.

What I oppose is the way "biological facts" are enlisted to justify oppression of women.

Yeah, um...justifying oppression is not at all what I'm doing. Understanding what role male sexuality innately plays in it is.
posted by perspicio at 7:30 PM on May 8, 2011


Hmm, maybe I am seeing something that isn't there. I associate (from past experience) "it's biological" with "men can't help themselves once triggered" with "therefore women shouldn't wear short skirts." Can someone explain why "male sexuality is inherently violent" entered the discussion then?
I think the argument is that there is an intrinsic drive to do this kind of thing that's controlled by social rules, so you shouldn't claim that there is something uniquely awful about Egyptian culture that could cause this to happen where it wouldn't happen in the U.S. In fact, it does happen in the U.S. So the point is completely moot.

---

Regarding hippybear's comments, there a couple of problems: The biggest one is the assumption that Western women somehow actually get harassed more then Egyptian women. Is this actually the case? I kind of doubt it. Egyptian women have to cover up and maybe they know how navigate and send off the correct signals so they get harassed less. But I'm guessing they still get street harassment quite a bit.

The other problem is the assumption that says because Egyptian men think of western women as being "whores" there's a greater chance for them to get raped. But just because you think a woman is slutty is no excuse for raping her.

It also totally ignores the whole "She's a Jew" thing.
posted by delmoi at 7:34 PM on May 8, 2011


I think the argument is that there is an intrinsic drive to do this kind of thing that's controlled by social rules, so you shouldn't claim that there is something uniquely awful about Egyptian culture that could cause this to happen where it wouldn't happen in the U.S. In fact, it does happen in the U.S. So the point is completely moot.

Unless, of course, you're suggesting that there's something in Egyptian culture that causes it to insufficiently control that drive.

The other problem is the assumption that says because Egyptian men think of western women as being "whores" there's a greater chance for them to get raped. But just because you think a woman is slutty is no excuse for raping her.

Speaking of things absolutely nobody is saying?

Trying to explain something, or to find the root cause of it, is not even related to excusing it.
posted by kafziel at 7:38 PM on May 8, 2011


If there were any final answers to conundra like this, I suppose a culture could stop evolving. But history is a series of short term solutions to long term problems. I just think dealing with the facts on the ground is the best strategy for converging on solutions to difficult problems.

Seriously? That's your answer?

You stated "no society can deal effectively with the problems associated with male sexuality without creating even greater problems unless it embraces a culture that deals with that sexuality in a realistic fashion - which involves full, unflinching acknowledgment of our animal heritage."

The honey pot, the entire point of your argument was that by accepting the biological origin of rape, we could then "deal effectively with the problems associated with male sexuality".

Uh-huh.
posted by likeso at 7:39 PM on May 8, 2011


Ever heard the phrase, "Necessary but not sufficient"?
posted by perspicio at 7:41 PM on May 8, 2011


LOL!

Good boy.

Now go read Elisabeth Lloyd.
posted by likeso at 7:43 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


By the way, "acknowledgment of our animal heritage" was an inartful on my part, as it might seem to almost imply needing some knowledge of evolution or something. All I'm trying to say is, you can't deal with problems effectively by pretending they aren't what they are.
posted by perspicio at 7:44 PM on May 8, 2011


I think it's worth it to remember that western societies' enlightened ideas about gender equality are relatively new, and are still wildly foreign concepts in some parts of the world. So in some respect, a woman doing what Lara Logan was doing in a crowd in Egypt was indeed "asking for it," at least in the context of that particular culture where women typically do not engage in such activities.

That's not to say that I like it or agree that it should be that way, just that when we superimpose our ideas on other cultures and then get outraged when they don't live up to our expectations, it's not tremendously useful.

On preview, what perspicio said: you can't deal with problems effectively by pretending they aren't what they are.
posted by Balonious Assault at 7:53 PM on May 8, 2011


xarnop: "Many people get angry and want to beat the crap out of others. We don't teach them they are horrible for the urge but that they need to find a responsable way to deal with that."

I think a big part of the problem is "dick in the mashed potatoes" syndrome. Since sex itself is supposedly evil and bad and not to be talked about in polite company etc. we don't learn how to apply reasonable ethical standards to how we express sexual feelings.
posted by idiopath at 7:54 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is merit in some of your reasoning, which is why it's worth discussing this. :)

The main sticking point is that you seem to be arguing that we should accept rape as a natural consequence of male sexuality. But this is based in neither widely held current biological nor evolutionary theory. And the inference some folks are making is that your "acceptance of biology" results in excusing this behavior, i.e. men can't help it.

Others (including myself) argue that culture/conditioning has a major role to play in forming inclination /disinclination to rape and gang rape. We are not totally at the mercy of biological drives.
posted by likeso at 7:59 PM on May 8, 2011


As an aspiring female journalist, I thought it appropriate that the first ad was for Pfizer. Like Ellen Degeneres says in one of her acts, regarding ads for pills during watching the news, "Well, now I need it."
posted by JLovebomb at 8:07 PM on May 8, 2011


So in some respect, a woman doing what Lara Logan was doing in a crowd in Egypt was indeed "asking for it," at least in the context of that particular culture where women typically do not engage in such activities.

Um, actually: women accounted for 34 percent of the general assembly of the Egyptian Press Syndicate. 2,400 women are members of the press syndicate out of a total 7,000 members. (bikyamasr.com) So though still in the minority, Egyptian women most certainly are journalists.

And:

"Egyptian women have made advances during the last few decades through the work of an active civil society, women's rights advocates and organizations, and the dedication of the [former] president's wife, Suzanne Mubarak. Highlights of recent achievements include the passing of the khul' law, which permits women to divorce without a husband's consent; the establishment of a family court; and the revisions to Egypt's nationality law, which now extends nationality rights to the children of Egyptian mothers married to non-Egyptian fathers. Egyptian women have enjoyed nearly two centuries of education, and today women constitute an important part of public and private employment and labor. Egypt has a woman judge at the Constitutional Supreme Court level and a gender-ombudsman office to which women victims of gender discrimination can send confidential complaints. In two years, the office has received 7,000 complaints." (freedomhouse.org)
posted by likeso at 8:12 PM on May 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Um, actually: women accounted for 34 percent of the general assembly of the Egyptian Press Syndicate. 2,400 women are members of the press syndicate out of a total 7,000 members. (bikyamasr.com) So though still in the minority, Egyptian women most certainly are journalists.

How many of them are field journalists that enter riots to report on location?
posted by kafziel at 8:15 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


God, this is hell to listen to.
posted by JLovebomb at 8:15 PM on May 8, 2011


How many of them are field journalists that enter riots to report on location?
I dunno, but a lot of the prominent "citizen journalists" reporting from Tahrir Square were women: people like Gigi Ibrahim and Israa Abdel Fattah.
posted by craichead at 8:23 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


A man can spend minute raping a woman. A woman will spend the rest of her life battling the horror. That is the reality of rape.
posted by JLovebomb at 8:24 PM on May 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Were any of these people caught or filmed doing this?
posted by clavdivs at 8:24 PM on May 8, 2011


I don't see anyone saying anything like that.

Yes, on second read, Graftole's point seems to be that this behavior would be unsurprising to people who have seen mobs in action. Graftole doesn't want to see it stop Lara. It takes "a huge amount of cultural filters and training that goes into eliminating this."

perspicio's use sounds similar: "Males are driven to act in irrational ways by their sex drive. It takes a well-tailored cultural overlay to temper this in a way that doesn't also marginalize women." So again, it sounds like perspicio puts the responsibility for finding a well-balanced solution on society. On preview, I agree with you perspicio, that "justifying oppression is not at all what [you're] doing," and since it was you I was quoting, I apologize if I seemed to imply that.

atchafalaya does seem to be using this to argue that women in particular should not go into these war zones. That usage does seem to be an example of what I dislike about where this argument sometimes goes.

Personally, I'm not convinced that violent sex is a "biological drive," or if it is, how that fact is meaningful. It surely wouldn't be unique, as one could argue just as well that there is a biological drive behind murder and theft (as craichead did so well above), and behind love, passion, tenderness, protectiveness, and empathy. All those things could be present when the social veneer is lower. In fact, all human behavior must have some biological basis. But why which ones when? That seems more worth discussing.

My other question for the "biological drive" people here is: does this biological drive absolve individuals of responsibility? After all, it's how they were born, and it was society that failed to control it.
posted by salvia at 8:24 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Biological drive, what nonsence. What about the biology of restraint...it must exisit, hot stove and all that.
posted by clavdivs at 8:28 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


@hermitosis

WTF?!?!?!??! WE PUERTO RICANS ARENT A SUBSET OF ANYTHING WHITE IN THE UNITED STATES.

carajo.

at people berating @hippybear: why shouldnt the US media (and americans in general) be held responsible for the myths of american women they invent and promote around the world?

but ... but ..

am going to put on my latinoamericana hat on right now and speak as "the other" here.

am amazed NOBODY in this thread seem to even posit the possibility of giving ARAB AMERICAN JOURNALISTS --WOMEN AND MEN-- the opportunity to cover events in arab countries.

if CBS were truly serious about giving women journalists opportunities within their ranks, they would have hired, groomed and promoted ARAB AMERICAN WOMEN or heck, how about a black or latina or asian woman who knew arabic. i mean, tell me when was the last time CBS sent a spanish-speaking latin@ "celebrity reporter" to cover events in Latin America or an arabic-speaking Egyptian american "celebrity reporter" cover events in Egypt.

yeah.

and it's not just CBS.

CNN's anderson cooper landing in Haiti like a white explorer or anthropologist among the natives, not knowing the language nor the history nor the geography smacks of 1800s "Heart of Darkness"-rism.

but to you he's just the brave reporter.

to us "others"? outside of the US we just look at these US celebrity reporters you send to our lands and do nothing but roll our eyes. for you to not get that, to not get how condescending their presence is, makes you part of the problem.

because, you know what? we expect americans to only send the whitest reporter to the blackest country. we expect "your people" to not look like us. because, we know by the faces in US media; particularly TV. the US logic of journalistic truth seems to be that the less reporters look like the people they are reporting on, and the more culturally and linguistically foreign they are, the more they are considered to be qualified to report "the truth"

hundreds of reporters and bloggers are imprisoned and tortured around the world, in their own countries, for what they do. so it is not far fetched to say that had Logan and Cooper not been white, they could have anyway been attacked and assaulted. that is true. but this is not the history of US-media-military complex.

US journalists who cover conflict zones, who cover "the big stories" almost never look like the people they are reporting on. rare cases are the Ling sisters and their work in China. but there's a whole can of worm and reasons for that.

news companies are very much like the business of fashion: the majority of the faces selling the idea of "truth in journalism" or "taste in fashion" have a certain hue and a certain look. this isnt a coincidence.

so, to go back to my initial point: why arent any of you considering that at least, if US news outlets were serious about promoting women journalists in conflict zones, why wouldn't it behoove them to promote journalists in the US who are not just from those ethnic, linguistic and even racial backgrounds but fluent in them?

why isnt that alternative possible?

why are only Anderson Cooper and Lara Logan necessary for "good" journalism? why should they be entitled to be one of the few faces of "journalistic truth" in the US?

this is not a derail. this is basically positing @hippybear's point from a different angle.
posted by liza at 8:31 PM on May 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sexual assault: What tips exist for journalists

Reporters & Sexual Assaults:
This discussion on The Current (CBC program) is a thoughtful discussion, asking if such events are possibly more common than those that are reported.

Jenny Nordberg is a freelance journalist from Sweden. She's normally based in New York City. But she was in Stockholm this morning. Judith Matloff is an adjunct professor of journalism at Columbia University. And Lauren Wolfe is a senior Editor with the Committee to Protect Journalists . They were both in New York City.


This discussion (difficult sharing of the events of her capture, and assault) from the current on CBC, featuring Lynsey Addario (photojournalist)
posted by infinite intimation at 8:32 PM on May 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Were any of these people caught or filmed doing this?

Apparently not, but this suggests a possible engineering solution, or at least safeguard: Why not have external indicators of camera power fed by a longer-lived auxiliary power supply? That way the crowd doesn't need to know when the camera has lost the ability to record.
posted by perspicio at 8:34 PM on May 8, 2011


How many of them are field journalists that enter riots to report on location?

Yeah, that's what I've been digging around for... but I so far can only find statistics on totals of women journalists and the lack of women in leadership positions in the media. Still digging.

The point is that Egypt - and riots, for that matter - can be dangerous for women (foreign or domestic), but major steps have also been taken in achieving womens' rights. Egypt is complicated. I don't see that the influence of Western media was the crux, here. Rather presumptuous to assume that the West/US has so completely influenced the nation that its own culture and cultural history re women has no bearing.

And a further complication: please don't forget that one of the rallying cries was "She's a Jew!"
posted by likeso at 8:37 PM on May 8, 2011


am amazed NOBODY in this thread seem to even posit the possibility of giving ARAB AMERICAN JOURNALISTS --WOMEN AND MEN-- the opportunity to cover events in arab countries.

Christiane Amanpour is a good example, although she's Iranian
posted by delmoi at 8:38 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


WTF?!?!?!??! WE PUERTO RICANS ARENT A SUBSET OF ANYTHING WHITE IN THE UNITED STATES.

Read more carefully, that is not what I said at all.
posted by hermitosis at 8:39 PM on May 8, 2011


My other question for the "biological drive" people here is: does this biological drive absolve individuals of responsibility? After all, it's how they were born, and it was society that failed to control it.
The problem with that argument that the answer can't have any effect on whether or not there is a "biological drive". It's a matter of science, not morals. Whether you think it would be bad or good has no baring on whether or not it's true.
posted by delmoi at 8:45 PM on May 8, 2011


Delmoi, don't be disingenuous. You know full well that even were this "drive" to rape somehow be proven (and once again, I emphasize that this is NOT current theory), salvia is speaking of "responsibility" in a legal sense.
posted by likeso at 8:51 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Personally, I'm not convinced that violent sex is a "biological drive,"

I don't think I said violent sex is a biological drive. But sex itself is. And taking what one wants, even over the objections of what others want, is certainly natural; any toddler can teach us that. I think that's all it takes to argue for violent sex as a potential natural outcome of human male sexuality, and that arguing substantive against it actually requires the intercession of some additional idea. Which is not to say that it couldn't meaningfully be done, but I am unaware of any robust argument of that nature.

or if it is, how that fact is meaningful.

In short, I think it's meaningful because of what idiopath said, more or less. I think the assumption that violent sex as an expression of power is so deeply wrong that it's somehow unnatural allows us to address instances of it by punishing individuals, but actually weakens our ability to deal with it culturally, as we are effectively saying it's a personal aberration, not a predictable consequence of adverse social conditions.
posted by perspicio at 8:53 PM on May 8, 2011


"at people berating @hippybear: why shouldnt the US media (and americans in general) be held responsible for the myths of american women they invent and promote around the world?"

What myths? The myth that American women are allowed to have sex with men before they are married? That American women are allowed to choose which men they will have sex with? The myth that American women are allowed to choose which man they will marry? That American women enjoy the liberty of being raped without receiving punishment for "tempting" their attackers?

"US journalists who cover conflict zones, who cover "the big stories" almost never look like the people they are reporting on."

US journalists look like US journalists, film at eleven.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 8:59 PM on May 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


And by predictable, I don't mean "to the man", so to speak, but quantifiable in the sense that under certain conditions, some people will do it, while under certain other conditions more or less people will.
posted by perspicio at 8:59 PM on May 8, 2011


Christiane Amanpour is a good example, although she's Iranian

Iranians don't consider themselves "Arab". So I don't know what your point is.

As for all you sociological biologists:

Sex and violence are both biological drives...as is hunger.

Excusing or contemplating a biological component to this horrible incident is no different than excusing or contemplating a biological component to killing and cannibalizing a human.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:00 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe, but excusing is quite different from contemplating.
posted by perspicio at 9:06 PM on May 8, 2011


delmoi, good you mentioned Christiane Amapour because she proves exactly the OPPOSITE of what am talking about. via kabobfest: Christiane Amanpour: The Dictator’s Pet.
posted by liza at 9:11 PM on May 8, 2011


I am unaware of any robust argument of that nature

Please read Elisabeth Lloyd. I can't copy/paste any of it, the only link to the text I found is a google book.

we are effectively saying it's a personal aberration, not a predictable consequence of adverse social conditions

I see what you're getting at here. Our difference is that I believe it is precisely social conditioning which can inspire rape. And by your reasoning, you would regard all males as potential rapists and legislate accordingly?

I think we're arguing at cross purposes. There is a biological component, certainly, to domination. Survival. Competition. But just as salvia said, we are also biologically driven to sociality and even altruism.
posted by likeso at 9:18 PM on May 8, 2011


Delmoi, don't be disingenuous. You know full well that even were this "drive" to rape somehow be proven (and once again, I emphasize that this is NOT current theory), salvia is speaking of "responsibility" in a legal sense.
I'm not really concerned about what salvia is or is not talking about. I'm only pointing out that morality has no impact on the truth or falseness of a fact. Obviously I think men who rape women should be put in jail.
posted by delmoi at 9:18 PM on May 8, 2011


I'm not really concerned about what salvia is or is not talking about.

Ah. I thought you were responding to her comment?

Neither salvia nor I is arguing about the morality of fact. But the fact is, that a "biological" imperative/drive/whatever to rape has not been proven.
posted by likeso at 9:22 PM on May 8, 2011


likeso, I sent you MeMail a while ago with regard to Lloyd's argument.

Our difference is that I believe it is precisely social conditioning which can inspire rape.

If you look back, I said that "cultural filters and training either encourage or discourage it, depending on the culture". To my ear that sounds a lot like "it is precisely social conditioning which can inspire rape."

Also, we're arguing?
posted by perspicio at 9:26 PM on May 8, 2011


.
posted by willhopkins at 9:31 PM on May 8, 2011


Nah, not arguing. Enjoying an exploration together. :)

As I said, I think we're er- discussing at cross purposes. Our divergence is probably a matter of degree.

And hey - memail. Goody.
posted by likeso at 9:31 PM on May 8, 2011


The problem with that argument that the answer can't have any effect on whether or not there is a "biological drive". It's a matter of science, not morals. Whether you think it would be bad or good has no baring on whether or not it's true.

But it hasn't been proven.

From what I've seen, it is sometimes used to excuse individual male behavior, or to suggest the burden of protection falls on the women. So if it's merely something to ponder, and if the act of pondering it appears to ally a person with some fairly victim-blaming, apologist attitudes, then is it really worth going around saying? Or at least, in the midst of saying it, it might be worth being aware that the statements bear some resemblance to something that might be said in defense of a more odious attitude, and clarifying that one does not hold those negative views (as Decani did above).

Also, I love the Freudian "baring." :)
posted by salvia at 9:40 PM on May 8, 2011


CBS served this video to me with a 1 minute ad for Viagra, of all things.
posted by ancienteyes at 9:41 PM on May 8, 2011


Yes, nice filtering of advertising, I just got the Viagra ad and emailed CBS a complaint.
posted by faithnomore at 9:44 PM on May 8, 2011


No trigger warning?
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:56 PM on May 8, 2011


No trigger warning?

"Lara Logan breaks the silence and tells about her horrorific rape in Tahrir Square." Do you think this is somehow not enough?
posted by kafziel at 9:59 PM on May 8, 2011


Oh, god it's worse than that. The first ad that comes up is for Viagra!
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:59 PM on May 8, 2011


No trigger warning?

You mean the phrase "tells about her horrific rape" isn't enough of a trigger warning?

Sometimes basic sense needs to be applied. Kind of like how spray paint isn't labeled "do not spray on soup as a flavoring".
posted by hippybear at 10:01 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Read more carefully, that is not what I said at all.

But you did imply that all the sexual assaults that happened that day were committed by Puerto Ricans, because it was the Puerto Rican day parade. Or perhaps it's that our Puerto Rican culture rubbed off on others?

I'm not interested in making this into a derail, at all, because I think Laura Logan's story deserves to have the focus be where it belongs: on what happened to her. But I will ask you to please consider how you phrased your comments, in the event that you were indeed not trying to say that Puerto Ricans were responsible for every single assault because, hey, we're so machista.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:12 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be on topic here, I saw her 60 Minutes interview when it aired last week, and it was harrowint to listen to. During that broadcast the news ticker started to air alerts that there would be a Presidential address shortly about Osama bin laden. Within about 15 minutes the talking heads were on the air, talking about his death - and all of a sudden there was Laura Logan, talking about bin Laden. How surreal must it have been for her to follow her own 60 Minutes interview about her assault? She is courageous beyond what most of us can imagine and I hope she's around for a long time to come.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:18 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


What a brave woman.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 10:29 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look, Ad hominem cited the Central Park attacks as an example of "it could happen here." I corrected him by pointing out that the attacks were connected to a non-American cultural celebration. And I did also point out that the culture in question is one that handles gender issues differently than what's normal for many Americans.

That's the extent of my contribution to this thread. I don't know much about the attack itself, or the attackers, or the attackees. I also said that I think there are subsets of white American culture in which attacks like this could occur. If you want to read into that in some completely uncharitable way, be my guest, but you'll have to do it on your own because I'm not interested in discussing it any further.
posted by hermitosis at 10:33 PM on May 8, 2011


I corrected him by pointing out that the attacks were connected to a non-American cultural celebration.

Puerto Rico is part of the United States of America. A Puerto Rican cultural celebration is an American cultural celebration.
posted by KathrynT at 10:39 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh for fuck's sake.
posted by hermitosis at 10:44 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


It seems to me that this was a case of opportunism on the part of the crowd. They didn't attend the rally specifically to assault Logan. After the camera went out and the crowd closed in, the men had the opportunity to assault her without fear of retribution and took advantage of it.
The Central Park incident is different. There was a gang of around 15 to 25 youths perpetrating these crimes (assault and robbery). There are several reports in the NY Daily News: June 12, 2000 - the initial report; June 13 - videotape seized, 2 people held; June 14 - opinion piece, mob now 20 to 50; June 14 - inquiry into police conduct.
posted by unliteral at 10:46 PM on May 8, 2011


That I am perceiving your words to go in a particular direction doesn't mean I am being uncharitable.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:49 PM on May 8, 2011


"I researched dress expectations that would minimize that attention. I took it as a design challenge and designed a new travel wardrobe from scratch, one that would be conservative, but be comfortable in the desert heat."

Best advice I ever got for countries where such issues exist is to find out what the local women wear and wear exactly that. If you can't obtain such outfits in advance, pack very little and buy the clothes you need once you get there. Not only will you blend in better but they've had centuries of experience tweaking their customary dress to be suitable to both their climate and their culture.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:56 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


KathrynT: "Puerto Rico is part of the United States of America. A Puerto Rican cultural celebration is an American cultural celebration."

That's sort of like saying that when India was a colony of England, an Indian celebration was an English celebration. You are willfully ignoring the cultural difference that does exist.
posted by parrot_person at 11:05 PM on May 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


(Note: The above should NOT be read as saying that if she was dressed "inappropriately" that she was somehow "asking for it" ... I'm just passing on the tip that if blending in is your goal, buying and wearing the same clothes that the locals wear is generally much more effective than attempting to customize Western clothing to local mores.)
posted by Jacqueline at 11:05 PM on May 8, 2011


A cultural difference might exist, but it's ridiculous to say that Puerto Rico is non-American. America is a political entity, and that political entity includes Puerto Rico. Otherwise, how are you defining American such that Puerto Rico is non-American?
posted by KathrynT at 11:07 PM on May 8, 2011


No one's saying they're not American. Ugh. This poor thread never had a chance.
posted by june made him a gemini at 11:12 PM on May 8, 2011


"A cultural difference might exist, but"

No, stop right there and you won't look stupid.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 11:19 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


KathrynT: You seem uninterested in the actual point that was originally being made by hermitosis, that Puerto Ricans have their own unique cultural identity which may include certain views on acceptable behavior towards women that differ from common American cultural values (as taught in schools, encoded in law, expressed by the average person-on-the street, etc). It would be great if you stopped hyper-focusing on a single word ("non-American") and instead took into account the entirety of what was being conveyed.
posted by parrot_person at 11:31 PM on May 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


She feels like she gave up on life in that moment, and *that* was the betrayal of her children. Because she feels like she didn't go down fighting.

Still terrible. But understandable.


Before I was pregnant with my son, I used to think that if I were sexually assaulted I would go "crazy, mad-dog on the motherfucker's ass". If it scared them off - good; if the killed me - good. I'd rather go down in a blaze of glory than let someone do that to me.

When I was pregnant, I read a blog posting about trying to survive a sexual assault when you know that the kid waiting for you to come home would be destroyed if you were killed by your assailant. It scared the shit out of me, thinking that I might have to endure an assault without resisting in order make it home alive for someone who really needed me. That realization really fucked with my head.
posted by echolalia67 at 12:01 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


"It seems to me that this was a case of opportunism on the part of the crowd. They didn't attend the rally specifically to assault Logan. After the camera went out and the crowd closed in, the men had the opportunity to assault her without fear of retribution and took advantage of it.
The Central Park incident is different. There was a gang of around 15 to 25 youths perpetrating these crimes (assault and robbery).


Different how? Weren't the Central Park attacks also opportunistic? Was premeditation determined? This documentary includes footage that indicates otherwise. (Trigger warning!) The men participating in the attacks were almost all African-American & Dominican, whose cultures are both notorious for looking the other way at callous objectification of women and misogyny. (Manuel Vargas, a Dominican American who was the suspected ringleader was quoted by the press as saying he "was just having fun.") Doesn't that sound like Egypt, another place where the culture leads me to expect to be able to get away with sex assault & harassment? Doesn't it reinforce what hermitosis was pointing out before the literalists moved in?
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 12:03 AM on May 9, 2011


Pelley: Your daughter and your son are one and two years old?

I can't imagine what would bring a woman to leave children that young at home to go work in a possibly-dangerous foreign country. But sorry, it's taboo to say anything about how women's personal choices can affect their children negatively, so I'll just bow out.
posted by melissam at 3:25 AM on May 9, 2011


How old would her children have to be before she is allowed to do her job? Would it be all right at 3? 12? 18? She had a tremendous opportunity for a foreign correspondent and she took it-- I would never dream of faulting her for that.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:43 AM on May 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


I say we find out the names of every one of that mob involved in the rape and the send seal team 6 into their house and take their balls fight club style. Same goes for those village elders in Pakistan who authorized retaliatory rape on that woman for her brothers transgression.

Also Lara Logan is heroic and amazing person. I wish her a speedy recovery from the physical and psychological wounds. I hope she is able to continue being a first rate international correspondent. This was at it's core a mob that assaulted her. That could have happened to any correspondent make or female.
posted by humanfont at 3:48 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


What gets me is that it turned bad almost as soon as the camera-lights went out. It went dark and it turned bad. When the lights are on, everyone is cheering to the camera, the lights go off and suddenly there's hell on earth. Would the bad people have scattered like cockroaches if the lights when on again?

echolalia67 and a few others have understood what she's saying about her kids. I saw that quote, alone and without the context of the assault story, in a Swedish newspaper and interpreted it wrong in my head. My mother-heart, or gut or whatever we might call it, understood exactly what she meant though.
posted by dabitch at 3:59 AM on May 9, 2011


Well maybe it should indeed be a "taboo" to preach about anyone else's own personal and professional choices, men or women (I don't think children are gonna be that much happier about losing their dad rather than their mum to a risky job, are they?), because it's such a tiresome old boring attitude. It's individual choices. People responsibly choosing their own life.

And we're talking reporters here, this is her job, and it's no ordinary job either. She chose to do this, and succeeded in doing this, it's her life, her family, her husband, her own children. Who am I to say she shouldn't be doing this, for the sake of her children? really? why? What's it to me?

I for one believe her children, if they've taken even a bit of her own character, will only be proud of their mother, not just for wanting to do what she's doing and succeeding in it, but also for the courage it took her to speak out and describe this awful ordreal in such detail and with such honesty -- well knowing there'd be reactions and comments in the line of "oh women shouldn't be doing this, especially women with kids" or "what's a pretty young blonde American journalist doing there anyway, god, what was she thinking".

(Nevermind the depressing and unnecessarily overwrought discussion on what made that mob of men in that situation act like that.)

The irony is, she even openly says this fear of judgment is what makes other female reporters fearful to denounce violence or harassment, precisely because they don't want to get their professional choice called into question. So, all the more respect to her for speaking out.
posted by bitteschoen at 4:18 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


What gets me is that it turned bad almost as soon as the camera-lights went out. It went dark and it turned bad. When the lights are on, everyone is cheering to the camera, the lights go off and suddenly there's hell on earth.

Yeah, it sounds like it really all started to get crazy so suddenly, that's the scary part. It doesn't sound like anyone there really anticipated that kind of danger. It's a bit pointless anyway to second-guess that part. I can imagine her crew must have felt really horrible that they couldn't do anything either.
posted by bitteschoen at 4:26 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I say we find out the names of every one of that mob involved in the rape and the send seal team 6 into their house and take their balls fight club style.

Another genius committed to the rule of law.

I suppose it saves time and brain cycles that could be devoted to actual thought.
posted by Wolof at 4:47 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ, this thread is a cesspool.
posted by craichead at 4:53 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


All this talk about the biological imperative issue reminds me oddly of The Screwfly Solution.
posted by solarion at 4:55 AM on May 9, 2011


I'm not sure I'm following Perspicio's arguments, but I think I am. Is the argument that as a matter of theory, male-initiated rape evolved to serve some genetic survival goal? I'm struggling to understand what the normative implications of this would be, even if accurate. That it once may have allowed for more propagation or selected on some characteristics does not change necessarily how societies respond to the prevalence of rape now.

I was curious what the arrest rate, conviction and sentencing for rape in Egypt is. If rape is as cOmmon as I'm hearing from comments to Lara Logan's rape imply, but real convictions are rare and sentencing penalties mild, then that seems a start there. If you want women safer from rapes you need laws with high consequences applied impartially and consistently, which means allocating more resources to law enforcement. It could be that Egypt is in simply a bad equilibrium that could be changed through more enforcement.
posted by scunning at 5:19 AM on May 9, 2011


I think it was just a counter to the "rape is not about sex" statements. Which is a really subjective statement really, and it's often stated as a fact. I'm not sure what the statement "rape is not about sex" changes about anything either. Whatever it's about it's equally awful.
posted by xarnop at 5:49 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is equally awful, no matter how you explain it, I agree.

What focusing on the power dynamic might have changed is that people might have focused on the upheaval of the moment and the power struggle going on, and see the attack of an unwelcome outsider in that light. I'm not sure we can really fully understand what happened, anyway, but I made the comment because I felt people were working very hard to pin the sexual assault on some reification of "Egyptian culture" and then starting looking for causes in "American culture" and finally in "male biology". None of those constructions have the power to explain why this woman was so viciously attacked at that moment, in my opinion.

Anyway, that's what I thought "power not sex" might have added when I made the comment upthread.
posted by ServSci at 6:08 AM on May 9, 2011


Well maybe it should indeed be a "taboo" to preach about anyone else's own personal and professional choices, men or women (I don't think children are gonna be that much happier about losing their dad rather than their mum to a risky job, are they?), because it's such a tiresome old boring attitude. It's individual choices. People responsibly choosing their own life.

Mothers and fathers are not equal in importance. Biology dictates that. In fact, our legal system recognizes this by giving women priority in custody decisions, for example.

How old would her children have to be before she is allowed to do her job? Would it be all right at 3? 12? 18? She had a tremendous opportunity for a foreign correspondent and she took it-- I would never dream of faulting her for that.

Luckily there are studies that show differential effects on losing a mother or not having a mother around based on the age of the child.
posted by melissam at 6:51 AM on May 9, 2011


Logan’s son and daughter, ages 1 and 2, visited her after a four-day stay in a Washington, D.C., hospital. On seeing them for the first time, she said “I felt like I had been given a second chance that I didn’t deserve…because I did that to them. I came so close to leaving them, to abandoning them.”

I wonder if she'd recommend other young mother's make similar decisions? I doubt it.
posted by melissam at 7:06 AM on May 9, 2011


melissam: as has already been pointed out by others as well, she is talking of that feeling of being overpowered by these men and feeling her life was at risk:
Logan: Oh yeah, not trying to pull out my hair, holding big wads of it, literally trying to tear my scalp off my skull. And I thought, when I thought I am going to die here, my next thought was I can't believe I just let them kill me, that that was as much fight as I had. That I just gave in and I gave up on my children so easily, how could you do that?
She most certainly is not talking about her choice of profession as "abandoning" her children!

Whatever your point of view on that may be, at least, let's not misquote her. In fact, she is specifically saying at the end that she is speaking out in support of other women in her profession:
Pelley: Why are you telling this story now?

Logan: One thing that I am extremely proud of that I didn't intend is when my female colleagues stood up and said that I'd broken the silence on what all of us have experienced but never talk about.

Pelley: What did they mean by that?

Logan: That women never complain about incidents of sexual violence because you don't want someone to say, "Well women shouldn't be out there." But I think there are a lot of women who experience these kinds of things as journalists and they don't want it to stop their job because they do it for the same reasons as me - they are committed to what they do. They are not adrenaline junkies you know, they're not glory hounds, they do it because they believe in being journalists.
posted by bitteschoen at 7:24 AM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


xarnop, you understood what I was saying pretty well. There was no "biological imperative to rape" in it. No "rape as an evolutionary adaptation." But the idea that rape as a phenomenon doesn't have any of its underpinnings in the biology of male sexuality rather facilely ignores mountains of evidence to the contrary.

graftole suggested, I think correctly, that this may have been a "perfect storm" situation. Beyond this particular event, I think there's obvious value to attaining an understanding of the elements that were necessary to producing it.

The rape of Lara Logan is understandable when the biological, cultural and immediate contextual elements are all looked at together. idiopath and bardic, among others, shone a light on some key cultural elements. A few others pointed out some immediately contextual elements dealing with mob mentality and the lawlessness of the moment (although truth be told there is much yet unsaid on that front.) I focused where I did because I think that the biological element is the one that people are least willing to face up to, but that doing so is nevertheless important to understanding rape in a fashion that allows us to guard against it effectively.

Certainly, individuals fail each other when they fail to control their own drives to prevent harm, just as cultures fail individuals when they fail to provide the tools to do so by suppressing or subverting those drives rather than channeling them constructively. But if we want healthy individuals and healthy societies, we have to account for what we fundamentally are. Short of that, we don't even know what it is possible for us to be.
posted by perspicio at 7:30 AM on May 9, 2011


Much of this threat is about what people could have done to prevent Lara Logan's sexual assault, what people can do to prevent other women reporters from getting raped in the future, etc.

What I have not seen, here, is acknowledgment of what Lara Logan has done and is doing, right now, to make the world safer and better for women, by taking what has traditionally been considered a man's job, excelling at it, and refusing to give up even in the face of huge personal risk, this specific terrible near-death experience, and constant calls from every direction (even from supposed supporters) for her to step back and let men handle the more dangerous work.

Men haven't handed women the equal rights progress we have made so far on a silver platter. Men didn't wake up one day and form some committee to magnanimously bestow upon women equal social and political power, once they thought it would be safe for us to have it. We have by and large had to fight for our equality ourselves, often at the risk of harassment and violence. And the women on the front lines of that fight are women like Lara Logan, women who know they will be shamed and reviled and threatened and possibly raped or killed for daring to break the cultural barriers standing in the way of women's equality, but break those barriers anyway, personal risk be damned.

The American suffragettes who marched in the streets for women's right to vote knew men would spit on them and beat them and throw them in jails where they would be tortured. They marched anyway. Now women in the U.S. vote in safety. The first woman firefighter in New York City -- who was only allowed to join in 1982 -- faced her own fellow firefighters sending her death threats. Someone even drained her oxygen tank on the job. She kept fighting fires. Now women firefighters work in every major city, with far less fear.

Women who face misogyny and the constant threat of violence toward women head on and don't let it stop them from doing extraordinary things are cutting out a path for future generations at enormous risk to themselves. The women who do this are heroes. Lara is a hero among them.

We're sitting here talking about how to make the world a more equal place for women while she's putting her own life on the line on a regular basis to make that happen, whether the rest of the world rises up to help her or not.

In my opinion the best thing we could do to support Lara and for that matter women everywhere is to assert that, absolutely, one of the world's most experienced war correspondents had the right to be reporting in the middle of an historic revolution and, absolutely, the act against her was abhorrent and immoral and those who committed it should be publicly shamed, whether or not we ever know their names.

As for the women in this thread or elsewhere with the temerity to suggest that Lara Logan is a bad mother (and therefore, it is implied, a failed woman) for going off to do a dangerous and important job while her children are safe with loving relatives at home: Lara Logan has a daughter. Who will one day be a woman. Who might one day live in a world that is freer for all women -- freer for all people -- because of what her mother dared to do. As a mother myself I am appalled that any mother would criticize Logan for risking her life to make the world freer for her children.
posted by BlueJae at 8:25 AM on May 9, 2011 [37 favorites]


What gets me is that it turned bad almost as soon as the camera-lights went out. It went dark and it turned bad. When the lights are on, everyone is cheering to the camera, the lights go off and suddenly there's hell on earth. Would the bad people have scattered like cockroaches if the lights when on again?

See, that's the thing. They're the same people. The violent emotional storm those people let loose when the lights went out might well have been re-suppressed if they had come back on.

echolalia67 and a few others have understood what she's saying about her kids. I saw that quote, alone and without the context of the assault story, in a Swedish newspaper and interpreted it wrong in my head. My mother-heart, or gut or whatever we might call it, understood exactly what she meant though.

Note also that calling for help agitated the mob further. I think it's especially poignant to realize that, in the case of rape, not fighting one's attacker(s) is a form of fighting for survival.

This demonstrates in harsh, unequivocal terms how utterly, reprehensibly wrongheaded cultural architects can be. In fact, if any good can come of Logan's ordeal, perhaps it is in part by illustrating that such proposals quite literally and directly condone and encourage rape.

I'll say it again: If we want healthy individuals and healthy societies, we have to account for what we fundamentally are.
posted by perspicio at 8:29 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oops, forgot the italics:

echolalia67 and a few others have understood what she's saying about her kids. I saw that quote, alone and without the context of the assault story, in a Swedish newspaper and interpreted it wrong in my head. My mother-heart, or gut or whatever we might call it, understood exactly what she meant though.
posted by perspicio at 8:29 AM on May 9, 2011


I know it was said a ways upthread, but it deserves to be said again: My deepest respect goes out to Ms. Logan, both for her work and her candidness. I hope she is able to heal and recover to the fullest extent, because she is awesome.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:32 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't know that journalist before and I can't see but reasons to appreciate her work. Nevertheless, there's a lot to say about the way the team functioned and was trapped into this nightmarish evening. What do you think about a spot of light travelling through a huge crowd, centered on a young woman, dressed pretty sharp, made-up. Was such a potential outcome that hard to anticipate ? What about putting something on her hair ? (what about a veil ? ) Isabelle Eberhardt dressed herself like a man to be able to go unnoticed. Richard Burton used a disguise too. It was long ago, but I still think that a little discretion can be of use. She's delivering a powerful message right now, but she could have done the same and protect herself at the same time. The problem certainly isn't the fact that she's a woman doing her work, I mean, that's the way these issues haven't been dealt with beforehand by the persons she's working for / with. What's the point in neglecting the cultural divide ?
posted by nicolin at 8:51 AM on May 9, 2011


"What I have not seen, here, is acknowledgment of what Lara Logan has done and is doing, right now, to make the world safer and better for women, by taking what has traditionally been considered a man's job, excelling at it, and refusing to give up even in the face of huge personal risk, this specific terrible near-death experience, and constant calls from every direction (even from supposed supporters) for her to step back and let men handle the more dangerous work."

I took "Lara Logan totally rocks" as a given and thus unnecessary to discuss at length. FWIW, after reading this post yesterday, I added her to my "Inspirational People" list in my Facebook profile. Does that make you happier?
posted by Jacqueline at 9:29 AM on May 9, 2011


Argh. Live preview and I still missed it. I meant "most of this thread" not "most of this threat." Sorry.
posted by BlueJae at 9:35 AM on May 9, 2011


What happened to Logan -- and to Nordberg, and so many other women who aren't reporters -- is horrific. But we can't find the solution in disguising women as men or saying that they should not be reporters or go down dark alleyways or go out at night or wear mini-skirts. Because if we call for that, we could regress to what the world was like in the 1700s, when a woman could not even travel alone without fearing attack - and many did disguise themselves as men, then, for just that reason. I can't live like that, and I don't think anyone should be telling Egyptian women they should live like that.

It's the men who have to change their behaviour, not the women.
posted by jb at 10:01 AM on May 9, 2011 [15 favorites]


Saying "Egyptian men can't help it because they can't marry/don't have jobs/were exposed to Sex and the City/were born male" infantilizes an entire group of people who are still responsible for their actions, even if their culture appears to condone them.
posted by desjardins at 10:07 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think there's an analogy to be made here with the debate going on in the Military, on whether or not women should be allowed in combat units. While personally I don't have an opinion on the matter, I tend to think that they should be allowed, but I acknowledge the logistical issues (separate quarters are expensive and impractical, etc).

But here's something that bothers me. Let's say we consider, as society tends to, that sexual assault is worse than regular assault (simply saying, being raped is considered to be a worse predicament than having the shit kicked out of you). Let's also assume female soldiers run an increased risk of sexual assault if they fall in the hands of the enemy*. With those assumptions, isn't combat an unfair situation for female soldiers where they have more to risk than a man in the same situation? If so, how do you mitigate that risk, other than removing women from dangerous situations?

(It could be, of course that the assumptions are wrong)
posted by falameufilho at 10:09 AM on May 9, 2011


It's the men who have to change their behaviour, not the women.

Thank you jb for putting it so succinctly.
posted by ambrosia at 10:14 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


desjardins: "Saying "Egyptian men can't help it because they can't marry/don't have jobs/were exposed to Sex and the City/were born male" infantilizes an entire group of people who are still responsible for their actions, even if their culture appears to condone them."

Continuing my previous post - there's another analogy here. If you go to Rio and stay in a hotel in Copacabana, there will be a sign everywhere in your hotel telling you avoid using fancy jewelry (among other external displays of wealth). The assumption is that if you go out on the back streets on the way back from the beach wearing your diamond necklace, it will be taken from you. And if that happens, you probably could rationalize that circumstance - this is a poor country, people are hungry, there's no rule of law, the police is inefficient, the inequalities in Brazilian society drive people to crime - whatever rocks your boat. But the fact is: someone stole your diamond necklace because he's a thief.

I think this is an interesting analogy because the same piece of jewelry that gets you in trouble in Rio could be worn without a care in Manhattan, and that's the crux of the issue - things have different meanings in different contexts. A diamond necklace in Rio is a trigger for armed robbery, an "unclaimed" western woman in Tahir Square is a trigger for rape.

We can debate whether people in Rio should stop robbing tourists or whether men in Cairo should stop raping women until the cows come home. It won't make an iota of a difference: given the opportunity, if the triggers and the context is right, robbers gonna rob and rapists gonna rape.

This is not blaming the victim. The thief in Copacabana and the rapist in Tahir Square were not upstanding individuals, respectful of life, liberty and property, driven mad by a flash of a diamond or blonde hair. The thief was a thief before the act. The rapist was a rapist before the act. They were just waiting for the planets to align.
posted by falameufilho at 10:32 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I was in journalism school, I decided to give up my long-held dream of becoming a foreign correspondent. That's right - I took a "safer" career route because of fears of just what happened to Lara Logan. I had learned about the risks of the profession for women and I realized what a toll it would take on my relationships and homelife. What I didn't realize then is that, for women, the "risks" in our most intimate relationships can be just as devastating, just as life altering, just as cruel for our inner and homelives and perhaps more mind boggling in the betrayal.

Sending women into war zones isn't dangerous. Being a woman is dangerous. And it shouldn't be. And we need to send women into war zones and to board rooms and everywhere else if that's ever going to change.
posted by acoutu at 11:14 AM on May 9, 2011 [13 favorites]


The thief was a thief before the act. The rapist was a rapist before the act. They were just waiting for the planets to align.

I couldn't disagree with this more strongly. It's a seductive point of view because it allows us to view whole classes of people (in this case criminals, both petty and not) as "other" and someone with whom we having nothing in common. And because of that lack of commonality, it is inconceivable that we could ever engage in that sort of activity.

The view that a thief or a rapist was always a thief or a rapist and was just awaiting the opportunity is preordination. It's awfully Calvinistic and is generally used to explain why the poor and misfortunate deserve to be poor while the rich fortunate deserve to be rich.
posted by Justinian at 11:17 AM on May 9, 2011


Nevertheless, there's a lot to say about the way the team functioned and was trapped into this nightmarish evening.

I occasionally think about how things could have been different for her and for them, but it occurs to me that her team will dwell on what happened forever.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:18 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Justinian: "The view that a thief or a rapist was always a thief or a rapist and was just awaiting the opportunity is preordination. It's awfully Calvinistic and is generally used to explain why the poor and misfortunate deserve to be poor while the rich fortunate deserve to be rich."

Still, you leave your diamond necklace safely stored in the vault of your hotel room. And you wouldn't think of doing so as 'patronizing'.
posted by falameufilho at 11:23 AM on May 9, 2011


Still, you leave your diamond necklace safely stored in the vault of your hotel room. And you wouldn't think of doing so as 'patronizing'.

How exactly does a western woman journalist leave her western womanhood safely stored in the vault of her hotel room, and still do her job?
posted by ambrosia at 11:37 AM on May 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


How exactly does a western woman journalist leave her western womanhood safely stored in the vault of her hotel room, and still do her job?

Well, some precautions were taken, but clearly not enough. Above, Alison mentioned how she went about this, and how (un)successful it was for the most part. She also offered some insight as to what things were useful. The men are the problem. The men need to change. Until they do or are forced to, I think Alison's post serves as a great point of experience and place to start.
posted by cashman at 11:56 AM on May 9, 2011


jb: "What happened to Logan -- and to Nordberg, and so many other women who aren't reporters -- is horrific. But we can't find the solution in disguising women as men or saying that they should not be reporters or go down dark alleyways or go out at night or wear mini-skirts. Because if we call for that, we could regress to what the world was like in the 1700s, when a woman could not even travel alone without fearing attack - and many did disguise themselves as men, then, for just that reason. I can't live like that, and I don't think anyone should be telling Egyptian women they should live like that.

It's the men who have to change their behaviour, not the women
"

Given time, things may change. In the meantime, I'd say, let's adopt some pragmatic behaviour and not cut right across the grain. Change isn't necessarily the outcome of a confrontation. Let's try to communicate to make things evolve. Seems that the spreading of new technologies, and access to different media has done a lot for the recent evolution of middle-eastern youth.
I do agree that things should be different, but the facts are here.
posted by nicolin at 11:56 AM on May 9, 2011


ambrosia: "How exactly does a western woman journalist leave her western womanhood safely stored in the vault of her hotel room, and still do her job?"

I ask myself the same question, honestly. Someone upthread made the analogy of a black reporter covering a Klan rally. Is this a similar situation?
posted by falameufilho at 12:03 PM on May 9, 2011


let's adopt some pragmatic behaviour and not cut right across the grain

How about let's have those taking the risks decide whether they are worth taking or not.
posted by grouse at 12:57 PM on May 9, 2011


Someone upthread made the analogy of a black reporter covering a Klan rally. Is this a similar situation?

If it wasn't for black reporters like Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Walter White investigating lynchings and race riots, much of America and the world would not have known how blacks were being terrorized. I'm sure someone tried to tell Ida Wells that it would be better for a white person to do it (or at least a man), but thankfully she didn't listen.
posted by Danila at 2:18 PM on May 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


How many Klan rallies did she walk into to report on? Because there's a rather big difference between investigative journalism and reporting on location from something like that. One can get you a story, but the other guarantees an attack and gets you no story except your attack.

Lara Logan's story is a big deal, but it's the story of her attack, not of the demonstration she was sent to report on.
posted by kafziel at 2:31 PM on May 9, 2011


How many Klan rallies did she walk into to report on?
Walter White attended Klan rallies. He could pass for white, which is what allowed him to do the reporting that he did, but it was incredibly dangerous, and if he'd been discovered it's very likely that he would have been killed. Generally, people think of that as heroic, not stupid, but maybe that's just because he got away with it.
posted by craichead at 3:31 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reading about her attack gave me a mild anxiety attack. I'm a male and have never been sexually assaulted. I can't imagine what a description like hers would do someone who had been assaulted.

She is a remarkably brave woman to recount her tale. At heart, she really is a reporter, in the best sense of the profession.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:35 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"...do to someone..."
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:36 PM on May 9, 2011


ambrosia: "How exactly does a western woman journalist leave her western womanhood safely stored in the vault of her hotel room, and still do her job?"

falameufilho: I ask myself the same question, honestly. Someone upthread made the analogy of a black reporter covering a Klan rally. Is this a similar situation?


Well, I would like to think that's a bit of a strech as a comparison!

For one thing, these were demonstrations by Egyptian people in general against their own regime. It wasn't a specific protest against Americans or women or reporters.

Also, there had been women participating in the protests - for instance, there are videos on youtube including interviews (in English) with women in the square in the beginning of February, same time period Lara Logan was there. There are articles about the participation of women in the protests that paint a picture that was relatively safe:
But whichever camp they find themselves in, this unprecedented moment in Egypt's history has also been a momentous time for Egyptian women, who I saw in droves at both the anti- and pro-Mubarak protests.

Over the last week, women joined men in the square and on the streets, calling for an end to the Mubarak regime. They brought their children—including young girls. Some even camped out in the cold. (...)

Egypt has a sexual harassment problem. In a 2008 study, 86 percent of women said they had been harassed on Egypt's streets—any woman walking through a crowd of men in Egypt braces to get groped. But in the square, crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder, men apologized if they so much as bumped into you. After wandering around the protests for days, it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn't been groped, a constant annoyance when I'm faced with large crowds in Cairo. When I pointed this out to other women in the square, we all took a moment to reflect. "I hadn't even thought of that," one woman in Tahrir told me. "But it's because we're all so focused on one goal, we're a family here."
Then again, things did get ugly when there was a demonstration on Women's Day on March 8 in the square (just quoting from the first search results):
More than 200 men charged on the women – forcing some to the ground, dragging others out of the crowd, groping and sexually harassing them as police and military figures stood by and failed to act.
Now, here's something to ponder: if we're wondering whether Logan's reporting at the antiregime protests is like "a black reporter covering a Klan rally", what does that question become in relation to Egyptian women themselves demonstrating on Women's Day and then getting attacked by men? Should they have stayed at home instead?
posted by bitteschoen at 4:02 AM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Peace Corps Volunteers Speak Out on Rape - very related to this discussion.
posted by falameufilho at 7:35 AM on May 11, 2011


Anyway, I ask you... why would an apparent meme within Egyptian culture be that white women are whores?

In Egypt, you basically do not have sex until you are married. This takes a very long time because marriages are generally extensive social affairs, and most men must save up for many, many years before they can even think of getting married.

Egyptian women are part of the culture, aware of social nuances and, nevertheless, get harassed constantly.

However, it is known that overwhelmingly they do not engage in pre-marital sex. Foreign women, on the other hand, do engage in pre-marital sex. Furthermore, they interact on a very regular basis with men, whereas in Egypt it's very uncommon to do so.

Anytime there were foreigners living in a flat, it was very common that they had to be non co-ed. In cases where the flat was co-ed, it was commonly assumed that they were sleeping together. If a woman came to visit a man, they were being sexually active. All interactions across the gender line were assumed to be sexual.

I think this is a common thread in any psychological construct -- be it a rigid society like Egypt or just a home where the mother has crazy ideas about sex -- where sex is taboo. The assumption is that people "flaunting" the set rules are doing so for the "worst" possible motives. Just like a crazy mother will call her daughter a "whore" for wearing a tank top, some Egyptian people assume that white women are "whores" because they spend a lot of time with men in public, don't cover their bodies, and worst of all allow men into the privacy of their home.

I want to add that Egyptians as a people are very nice and friendly and this is 100% of the perception you will have there if you are a man. But if you are a young foreign woman staying there or any amount of time more than a week, it is guaranteed that you will be the object of sexual harassment or worse. And it is generally worse if you are blonde. I can't help but think that people in the US who look at our current society and bemoan our "lapsed morals" have it all wrong: sexual empowerment goes hand in hand with women's rights, and the more uptight about sex we are, the more likely we are to see things like exploitation, objectification, and sexual abuse.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:42 AM on May 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


permissiveness and all of that has nothing to do with it. The bit about "whores" was one commenter's report of something a friend had heard. It's not a "fact about Egyptian men" it's just hearsay BS.

It's not BS. As someone who lived in Egypt for a year and had many, many female friends continually harassed, I can tell you that it is indeed a fact that many Egyptians regard foreign women as whores.

Either that, or Western women exude a "sex-driven rave party" force field that only Egyptian men can sense.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:06 AM on May 13, 2011


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