CBS’s Chief Foreign Affairs correspondent Lara Logan dominated national media last week, not because she was a gutsy news reporter dedicated to capturing the events of a revolution in Egypt, but because she was sexually assaulted in a country where just a little over ten years ago accused rapists in the legal system were offered freedom in exchange for marrying their victims. It should be easy as well, to condemn this event in a nation that was littered with violent thugs as much as it was overwhelmed with Egyptian patriots, in a real revolution attempting to implement values of human rights. Rape is used as a weapon of war and humiliation, and in the Middle East is an indicator of repressed sexuality. Fundamentally however, sexual assault and rape is a weapon of socially primitive people, who still wallow in regressive evolution and misogyny.
Given the fact that Lara is a foreign affairs expert, to assume she did not understand the nature of the culture and the volatility of her work in the region, is an exercise in passive Westernized naivety. Fair enough: not everyone is educated on Middle Eastern culture, or perhaps some need man-splinations on what is appropriate to think, let alone say. However, the outright attack on Lara for everything under the sun including some delusional victim blaming because she’s attractive, represented the most fundamental lapse in civilized humanity that has ever oozed out of the recesses of this culture.
How distorted is our understanding of sexual assault and rape? Last year reports about college campuses revealed that 25% of women are victims of sexual assault including rape, at our institutes of higher learning. Still, ignoring some of the most obvious stories presented as evidence, a few dissenters, in a stroke of social research ingenuity, decided to compare the rates of rape on college campuses across the nation, to the rates of rape in Detroit. How did Detroit get involved? Well, in their opinion, because Detroit is the most “violent city in America” (not the home of Wayne State University or University of Detroit Mercy,) the rates must surely be higher. Thus, in a pathetic attempt in totally unrelated data correlation, they found Detroit had an incident of 2.4% of “violent crimes,” which includes murders and robberies, in addition to rape. Therefore, because no one wants to send their daughter to a “hellhole” like Detroit, all must be well on our college campuses. Those college girls are just sexually confused.
As a result, our understanding of sexual assault is often left up to women to figure out, despite the fact that a majority of the perpetrators are men. What’s even more complacent is the media’s delicate treatment of always referring to rape and sexual assault as “alleged,” to avoid the idea in our heads that one of our sons, our brothers, our friends or fathers, could have possibly raped a woman. Now, it’s boggling to assume why anyone would want to waste her time wrapped up in police stations, court system, medical exams, or under the obtuse microscope of public grilling, over a bad date gone wrong. However, to protect our delicate civilized sensibilities, it’s appropriate to always refer to sexual assault cases as “alleged,” until it slowly wanes into legal jargon and court appearances, transforming into a battle of technical over ethical. Rulings are set, juries vote, science proves this or that, but no one returns to the media spotlight to say, yes, this man raped this woman.
Instead, we dull the story in a gentle taper of tidy avoidance, because we can never fully comprehend the idea that one of our friends, our daughters, our sisters, our mothers, no matter how accomplished and intelligent they are (even if their job is to report the news) was sexually assaulted, and is not lying about it.
Sexual assault and rape exists. Quit avoiding it.
Resources in Detroit:
Take Back the Night Detroit
Women’s self defense training
YWCA resources for victims of sexual assault