May 022011
 
Authors: Jordyn Dahl

Sexual assault has been a predominant topic on campus this year with the horrible rape of a woman in her home in February and the contentious sexual assault fee going through student government (a topic I reported on earlier this year).

It isn’t just our campus having this conversation, though. Last night Lara Logan spoke out about the sexual assault she suffered while covering the revolution in Cairo, Egypt two months ago.

But Logan failed to make her story a larger issue by highlighting what women face in the journalism field and in places like the Middle East. She could have used her celebrity status and a highly publicized interview to bring to light the problems in the journalism industry and for women across the world. But she didn’t. She made herself the hero of the story, even though she admitted that what happened to her is common practice for the women living in Egypt.

“I had no idea how endemic that it is so rife, so widespread, that so many Egyptian men admit to sexual harassing women and think it’s completely acceptable,” Logan said in the broadcast.

Instead of breaking the “code of silence” among women journalists like she claimed to do, she perpetuated the idea of the “survivor.” Women journalists won’t speak out about their assaults for fear they’ll be taken off assignments.

Judith Matloff, a seasoned foreign correspondent who now works for the Columbia Journalism School, wrote about the issue in “Foreign Correspondents and Sexual Abuse.” Women are raped by sources, interpreters, the police and security officers who are hired to protect them and a variety of other people. One woman was raped after a guard snuck into her room. As Matloff wrote, “… the compulsion to be part of the macho club is so fierce that women often don’t tell their bosses.”

Logan has the opportunity to be an advocate for these women and the women in Egypt who face this on a daily basis, to use her story as a larger
context to bring the issue to light and start a conversation of the issues.

She brought up the larger issues in the end of her segment, but she was still the hero. The rest of her interview was all about her and her one experience. What happened to Lara Logan is horrific, but compare that experience to what other ordinary women face everyday across the world. This issue isn’t just about her.

She perpetuated the “survivor” mentality.

I despise the word survivor; it enforces the idea of the victim and keeps the focus on that person instead of using their experiences for the greater good. Survivors often think they are the only ones allowed to be in the conversation because only they know what it’s like.
Every woman or man who has experienced rape has people close to them who experience it with them, whether that is their family or a significant other. Those people have every right to be in that conversation.

Think I don’t know what I’m talking about it? I do. I was raped my junior year of high school.

Whether people want to admit it or not, people care what celebrities believe and advocate for. Logan should have advocated for the women
journalists who risk their lives to cover events like the revolution in Egypt and women across the world facing sexual violence.

Even in her flimsy attempt to make it a larger issue, she turned the issue right back to her and her story.

Scott Pelley asked her why she was telling her story. Her answer: “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 experience but never talk about.”

This would have been the perfect opportunity for her to talk about that “code of silence” and make it an issue for people to care about.

Those who experience rape rarely talk about their experiences because of the stigma. We need to start having a conversation about rape and it’s implications. Nothing will change if people don’t speak up, but they need to talk about the larger issue, not just their own experience. And people like Lara Logan need to use the opportunities and prominence of being a celebrity to do the same.

News Editor Jordyn Dahl is a senior liberal arts major. Feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:16 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.