Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hillary Clinton Says Lara Logan Case is of 'Paramount Importance'

Hillary Clinton has turned the alleged sexual assault on Lara Logan, the CBS reporter who said she was attacked in Cairo February 11 in the jubilation following the resignation of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, into an issue of "paramount" importance for women.

As you ponder that, you need to remember that journalists from Egypt, Great Britain, the United States, India, Australia, Greece and other countries, including US newsman Anderson Cooper, have been jumped, beaten, detained and interrogated while reporting on the uprising against Mubarak. For example, in just a one-day span, attacks on reporters included 26 assaults -- almost all of them on men.  How many of those men, aside from Mr. Cooper, have shared the spotlight with Ms. Logan?

Female war correspondents have weighed in on the Logan case: "I categorically do not believe that women war correspondents are more vulnerable than war correspondents who are men," said veteran war reporter and author Anna Badkhen. "Female and male correspondents have been raped. . . . . Male colleagues I know have been subjected to torture that involved their sexual organs."  Susan Milligan, a political reporter who has covered war in Iraq and the Balkans, said this about war: "It's a risk for everyone. I was at greater risk for being raped, probably. But [compared to her male colleagues] I was at lower risk of being killed."

As for this particular alleged assault, Leila Fadel, the Cairo bureau chief for The Washington Post, explained that the alleged sexual assault against Logan "appears to be an isolated incident." A woman's rights activist in Egypt suggested the alleged attack might have been rooted in xenophobia.

None of that stopped  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's grandstanding by singling out the Logan case to champion women's rights. Clinton, we are told, "has dispatched a team of diplomats to help in the hunt for Egyptian protesters who sexually assaulted CBS journalist Lara Logan.  She is taking a personal interest in the Logan case and has turned up the heat on Egyptian authorities searching for the attackers.  The Secretary of State has made violence against women a top priority since she took office, and the latest incident is said to be of ‘paramount’ importance to her."  http://blogs.babble.com/famecrawler/2011/02/20/what-happened-to-lara-logan-update-hilary-clinton-gets-involved/

One feminist was critical of Clinton's approach, but not for the right reasons, of course. She was critical because Clinton failed to use the attack "as an opportunity to call for an improvement in women’s human rights in Egypt."  http://www.feministpeacenetwork.org/2011/02/21/beynd-lara-logan-how-we-address-and-talk-about-the-pandemic-of-sexual-assault-in-the-u-s-and-egypt/

And all of the over-the-top attention -- from the call from President Obama to Clinton's grandstanding -- is as wrong as can be for women. The over-the-top coverage says that women, by virtue of their gender, should be immune from the same dangers men are expected to face in silence.

It's the same mentality that tells our college-aged daughters they must "Take Back the Night," even though it's always been theirs. Our sons have always been at far greater risk of physical assault than our daughters, and even though everyone knows it, everybody pretends it isn't so.

Logan is an unlikely feminist pin-up girl. She has a history of calling attention to her own considerable sexuality. In the Afghanistan war, she was accused of showing off her body in a deliberate attempt to call attention to herself -- not difficult in a cauldron where thousands of hot-blooded young males had been away from wives and girlfriends for months. 

One time, Logan was trying to obtain a favor from a US officer. She did this with her "boobs" half out, and then by bending over a computer in her low-cut top. It backfired on her: the officer marched out of the room, red-faced. "Ma’am, that is not the way we do business here," he said.  One source said: “She did the same with a few British officers and it didn’t go down well with them either. Lara is a gorgeous-looking woman, there is no denying that.But a military base in a war zone is not a place for being flirtatious.  She was very keen to get exclusives but had a funny way of going about trying to get them. One guy told her, 'I feel sorry for your husband’ after she tried the bending over his computer trick in front of him. To be honest it became an embarrassment.”

Nevertheless, America has a new patron saint of atrocities against women. Even though whatever happened to this particular women -- if anything -- wasn't typical, and wasn't as bad as what happens to male reporters more frequently. 

When you put women on a pedestal for your own political aggrandizement, Ms. Clinton, you are just insuring that they can't be treated equally.