Previous Entry | Next Entry

Rape in the Media

Snoopy

I’m talking about sexual assault and the coverage of rape in the media.  Both the description of rape and the victim-blaming in the reporting are likely to be anger-inducing and/or triggering for some readers.

Shadesong pointed out two very different news stories about CBS reporter Lara Logan, who was separated from her crew and repeatedly raped during the protests in Egypt. The difference between the CBS News report and the LA Weekly report is obvious from the images chosen for each story.

For CBS, Logan was one of their own.  Not a sexual object but a human being, a colleague.  They present the facts in a concise article.  Logan was reporting on the celebration in Tahrir Square.  She was separated from her crew.  She was raped and beaten before being rescued by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.  The story concludes with, “There will be no further comment from CBS News and correspondent Logan and her family respectfully request privacy at this time.”

Contrast this with Simone Wilson’s “report” in LA Weekly. “South African TV journalist Lara Logan, known for her shocking good looks and ballsy knack for pushing her way to the heart of the action, was brutally and repeatedly raped…”

Wilson emphasises Logan’s appearance, calling her “the gutsy stunner” or referring to “her Hollywood good looks,” while at the same time sensationalizing/sexualizing the rape with phrasing like, “…Egyptian protesters apparently consummated their newfound independence by sexually assaulting the blonde reporter.”  (Emphasis added.)

Of course, it was really Logan’s fault, because she should have known better, right?  Wilson brings up an Esquire interview in which Logan was called “insane” for wanting to return to Egypt.  (Um … she’s a reporter.  This is her job.  Would a male reporter be similarly criticized for choosing to report in Egypt?)

No report of rape would be complete without an attack on the victim’s sex life.  The longest quote in Wilson’s article is reserved, not for anything to do with rape, but for an excerpt from a New York Post article from 2008 about Logan’s sexual history in which she’s called a “sultry” “home-wrecker,” a lurid piece which sounds more like the setup for an erotic romance than actual reporting.

The pathetic thing is how normal this is.  This is how rapes are reported in this country.  Sensationalized and sexualized, deliberately playing into readers’ rape fantasies.  (Why else would Wilson include the following quote from Mofo Politics: “OMG if I were her captors and there were no sanctions for doing so? I would totally rape her.”)

This is the story we tell, again and again — that rape is about sexually attractive women getting what they deserve, for being sluts or for being unavailable or for just being where women don’t belong.  This is how we treat survivors of rape, blaming them and sexualizing/fetishizing what they’ve been through.  This is how we encourage rapists, fantasizing and justifying the act of rape.

The next time someone asks what “rape culture” means, tell them to go read LA Weekly.

#

ETA: For those wondering if there’s anything they can do, Laura Anne Gilman writes:

I just wrote a rather scathing letter directly to the reporter, via the newspaper’s website.

“…Well played. I’m sure you’ll get a Pulitizer for that. Or maybe a Penthouse award. It’s clear which one you were going for…”

I encourage others to do the same. And cc the publisher of the newspaper while you’re at it.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Tags:

Comments

( 134 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 1 of 3
<<[1] [2] [3] >>
suricattus
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
I'm torn between wanting to link to this [and add my own snarl], and respecting the wishes of those involved to not be shoved further into the spotlight...

Mind you, LA Weekly isn't something I'd ever read, but the bits you quote make me ill.
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:50 pm (UTC)
I struggled with that conflict a bit as well. My take was that it was a request not to be hounded for interviews and such, but of course, that's a self-serving interpretation since I wanted to write this blog post. I don't know...
(no subject) - suricattus - Feb. 16th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 16th, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - suricattus - Feb. 16th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - suricattus - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - trinker - Feb. 16th, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - suricattus - Feb. 16th, 2011 05:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - trinker - Feb. 16th, 2011 05:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
mtlawson
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:45 pm (UTC)
(Um … she’s a reporter. This is her job. Would a male reporter be similarly criticized for choosing to report in Egypt?)

Unfortunately, yes. CNN's Anderson Cooper was, but the comments on the articles when he was attacked would make your blood boil, calling him 'a gay publicity hound' among other things.
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:51 pm (UTC)
Interesting. As I wrote this, I did figure that some men would be criticized for choosing to enter a dangerous situation ... but my sense is that it wouldn't be the same *kind* of criticism. The fact that Cooper was criticized in part by attacking his sexuality ... well, that doesn't surprise me.
(no subject) - mtlawson - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - daedala - Feb. 16th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mtlawson - Feb. 16th, 2011 04:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
alankria
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:46 pm (UTC)
“OMG if I were her captors and there were no sanctions for doing so? I would totally rape her.”

There are no words.
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
I can think of a few, but yes.
(no subject) - alankria - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dsmoen - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - suricattus - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jmeadows - Feb. 16th, 2011 06:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - corinneduyvis - Feb. 16th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
splinister
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this Jim. I'd read the CBS version of the story, and found the sparse details sickening enough. I just can't imagine what Logan is going through now, but I'm hoping she will pull through what must have been a terrible trauma.

Also fantastic to see it was a group of women and soldiers that rescued her. In particular, that women were involved. This is something that's really important: women helping women in a situation like this. Too often women are reported as being indifferent or ignoring a situation like this.

LA Weekly's version is repugnant, and makes me furious. I'm going to alert some feminist web sites to that.

The media's continued and persistent sexism is seriously at fault, and is helping perpetuate violence against women.

Have you heard about the Miss Representation documentary that was at Sundance last month? It looks good and helpful. I talked about it on my blog here:

http://splinister.com/post/miss-representation
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:52 pm (UTC)
"Also fantastic to see it was a group of women and soldiers that rescued her."

That's an aspect of the story I wish there had been more focus on. Though the flip side is highly disturbing ... if the civilians who intervened were mostly/all women, what does it say about the men?

"Have you heard about the Miss Representation documentary that was at Sundance last month?"

I haven't, thank you!
(no subject) - rowyn - Feb. 16th, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
jessimuhka
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:50 pm (UTC)
Ugh, one of my friends posted about the CBS story on Facebook and it only took 4 comments before it turned into victim blaming. Why must people be so gross. Fuck you rape culture.
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
Definitely don't read the comments at LA Weekly, either. I knew better, and yet...
(no subject) - funwithrage - Feb. 16th, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 16th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mtlawson - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
funwithrage
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC)
Ew and also ew.

Also, use of the phrase "home wrecker" is an automatic Oh, Fuck Off card with me as a general rule. Used to describe a rape victim? Die in a fire, the Post.
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:01 pm (UTC)
I have to call a quick time out so I can ask WTF am I looking at in that icon? I am both disturbed and fascinated...
(no subject) - funwithrage - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - funwithrage - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - threeoutside - Feb. 16th, 2011 06:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - longstrider - Feb. 16th, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Feb. 17th, 2011 04:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - funwithrage - Feb. 18th, 2011 08:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 18th, 2011 08:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Feb. 18th, 2011 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
dichroic
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)
The shining light in that story, that keeps getting lost in her celebrity, is the part where she was rescued by a group of Egyptian woman (plus soldiers).

I hate that she was raped. The only thing that makes me feel a little better about stories like this are the reminders that that good people are there too, generally in the majority.
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
splinster made a similar comment upthread. I do wish they had focused more on the intervention. At the same time, the flip side is highly disturbing ... if the civilians who intervened were mostly/all women, what does it say about the men?
(no subject) - cereta - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ginmar - Feb. 18th, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dsmoen - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marydell - Feb. 16th, 2011 09:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - Feb. 16th, 2011 04:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
rachelmanija
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
LA Weekly put up a defense of their article, totally ignoring the reasons people were angry. (Pro: I'm glad people were angry!)

Update: Well! Never has this girl's inbox been so thoroughly inundated with hatred. Scary stuff, guys.

Just so we're clear: Rape is awful. Logan's rape was not her fault. Nothing she did before or during the February 11 attack could have possibly invited or justified the heinous crime that was committed against her. And, just so we're clear, nowhere in providing links to her highly publicized past did we mean to suggest those facts had somehow led to her assault.

Seriously though. We may be wordy and over-saturated, but we know our human rights.


Edited at 2011-02-16 03:03 pm (UTC)
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:10 pm (UTC)
Lovely. I don't know what people have e-mailed her directly, so I can't speak to whether or not she's been getting "hatred" or if she just thinks that criticism of her "reporting" = hate mail.

I do appreciate her flat-out statement that rape is awful and it is not Logan's fault. I just wish I got a sense that she had any clue why people were upset, or that she could have reponded without all of the random linking to "But look what these other news outlets did!"
(no subject) - cathshaffer - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
meallanmouse
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:04 pm (UTC)
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:12 pm (UTC)
Good. Wilson has already updated her post, so it's clear she's getting some strong feedback ... even if I'm not convinced that she gets it.
(no subject) - graymary - Feb. 16th, 2011 05:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snobographer - Feb. 16th, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - meallanmouse - Feb. 17th, 2011 03:02 am (UTC) - Expand
dichroic
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
You ask :"Would a male reporter be similarly criticized for choosing to report in Egypt?"

I don't have to answer that hypothetically; a couple of weeks ago I read a book that was inspired by the death of reporter Daniel Pearl (I am Jewish: Personal Reflections inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl). Remember, Pearl endured even worse violence than Logan; he was held hostage and then beheaded. 146 people contributed to that book and not one so much as hinted that he shouldn't have been there doing what he was doing.
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that link/information.
(no subject) - sylvia_rachel - Feb. 16th, 2011 04:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snobographer - Feb. 16th, 2011 11:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
sabaceanbabe
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
Even knowing it would make me sick, I read the LA Weekly thing, fully intending to comment on it, but then I got to the update and found it so disgusting and enraging that I can't even think of a single coherent response. They actually managed to fauxpologize for the way the original piece of work came off as victim blaming, etc., and yet make it all about how right they were in the first place.

I definitely feel sick.
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC)
Saying flat-out that Logan was not at fault is a good statement to make.

Giving any indication that you understand *why* people are mad at you (mad =/= hatred), or responding without having to resort to "But OMG, look at what these other news outlets did," or simply *listening* to what people were saying would have been far better.
(no subject) - guinwhyte - Feb. 16th, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
tinylegacies
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
What makes me even more angry about this than the fact that the news outlets are (1) not respecting her request for privacy and (2) victim blaming is that the only reason this is news is because she's famous.

How many other women were raped during those protests and celebrations? And does anyone care?
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:18 pm (UTC)
"...the only reason this is news is because she's famous."

And attractive. And white. And working somewhere she *shouldn't* have been, as a female.
(no subject) - tinylegacies - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dsmoen - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tsubaki_ny - Feb. 16th, 2011 05:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
cat_mcdougall
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
Between this, and the Thunt thing on Twitter/his blog this morning, I regret getting out of bed.

The victim blaming isn't shocking to me any more and that worries me. Of course they did. "Because she was a victim, she had to have done something to provoke it." It's the same thing, over and over again, when something horrific like that comes to light.

Maybe hiding in blankets really is the way to go today.
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
"...and the Thunt thing on Twitter/his blog this morning."

I hadn't seen that, dammit.
(no subject) - cat_mcdougall - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - longstrider - Feb. 17th, 2011 12:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cat_mcdougall - Feb. 17th, 2011 05:42 am (UTC) - Expand
genarti
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:24 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, that's sickening.

I wish I were more surprised, and less cynically resigned -- but I'm still surprised anyway, because that's egregious even for modern American reporting. That Mofo quote is horrific.
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:44 pm (UTC)
I think that, in general, reporting in the U.S. has gotten a little better. And I appreciate that this kind of reporting *does* get a strong negative reaction from the public today. But we've got such an awful long way to go.
sleigh
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:35 pm (UTC)
Well said. Linked.
winters_queen
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:39 pm (UTC)
I really, really hate that some humanity shows what a big FAIL they've done yet again.

I have a small plaque on my desk at work: The more I know about people, the more I love my horse.

And it's so very true that I would prefer my pets than dealing with people who think rape is something to make light of. How many assaults don't get reported because people are afraid that they'll get THAT kind of response. Cripes.

And it's bad enough that in my local area, a woman had reported that she was raped late in a parking lot and then it turned out a week or so later she lied about it.

I like in the Salon article where Ms. Williams busts on another woman who was calling Egypt a 'country of savages' and doing the victim blaming bit. Yeah, because the US doesn't have it's share of 'savages' at all. (and I'm not talking about the Native Americans.)

Debbie Schlussel, what's it like to be so liberated from the burden of having either a mind or a soul?
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
"How many assaults don't get reported because people are afraid that they'll get THAT kind of response."

Often from the same people who then turn around and point to "official" statistics on reported rapes to "prove" that rape isn't really a problem.

::Epic Headdesk::
(no subject) - winters_queen - Feb. 17th, 2011 01:40 am (UTC) - Expand
cathshaffer
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
“…Egyptian protesters apparently consummated their newfound independence by sexually assaulting the blonde reporter.”

That sentence doesn't even parse. Consummate what? How? Huh? What does a criminal act have to do with political independence?

I recall a recent story about how women were able to participate in the protests without the usual harassment that happens on the streets in Egypt. Apparently, they had a false sense of security. What an appalling crime.
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
"I recall a recent story about how women were able to participate in the protests without the usual harassment that happens on the streets in Egypt."

I wondered about that too. I believe that this was probably a safer environment, but safer =/= safe, and as a few other commenters pointed out, how many other rapes and assaults took place during the protests?
jhetley
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:44 pm (UTC)
I have considered resigning from the human race, but can't find out where to send the forms . . .
jimhines
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
I think I'm going to put in the transfer paperwork to become a squirrel.
(no subject) - jhetley - Feb. 16th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
nelc
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
The ironic thing about this is that (in the British media, at least) there was much talk of the number of Egyptian women who were taking part in the demonstrations without being molested or even harassed.
dsmoen
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:58 pm (UTC)
I'd believe that of the younger generation of Egyptian women, btw. I met several nice ones when I was there (only 2 days, sadly).
etumukutenyak
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
I've left a comment on their article. Thanks for posting this -- CBS deserves kudos for reporting this without sensationalizing any of it, and LA Weekly deserves to be shamed.
chant_1
Feb. 16th, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you for always being a voice of reason on this issue.
la_marquise_de_
Feb. 16th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC)
That's not journalism, it's soft porn. Racist, sexist and exploitative. Ms Logan has my sympathy and all my support.
marthawells
Feb. 16th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
It's just so frustrating and infuriating.
stillnotbored
Feb. 16th, 2011 04:44 pm (UTC)
Holy shit. Ms. Logan's rape is a tragedy for her and a disgusting comment on how low some specimens of humanity can sink.

And Simone Wilson...doesn't get it. At all. She's sensationalizing the brutality against Lara Logan as if what happened was a spectator sport and the victim was a willing participant. Wilson's "statement" in the face of criticism doesn't change that.

She still doesn't get that what she did and the way she handled it is dead wrong. She never will.
sylvia_rachel
Feb. 16th, 2011 04:48 pm (UTC)
Ugh. UGH. UGH. Quadruple cyber-ugh.

And I'm not sure this bit isn't just about as horrible in terms of what it says about the rest of the protesters and Egyptians generally: "Egyptian protesters apparently consummated their newfound independence by sexually assaulting ..." Really, LA Weekly? Really? (Also, < history geek > Egypt has been independent since 1922 < /history geek >.)
Page 1 of 3
<<[1] [2] [3] >>
( 134 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

Snoopy
jimhines
Jim C. Hines
Website

My Books

Tags

Latest Month

September 2014
S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930    
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow