This isn’t so much just a crush, since merely calling it a crush sounds silly or superficial, but an expression of deep admiration. By now, you have probably heard about CBS News correspondent Lara Logan and the terrible sexual assault she suffered while covering the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt this February. The terse yet horrifying statement CBS released at the time read that she had “suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating.” The word “sustained” chills me still. After the news broke, the same tired cycle of victim blaming began again. Women shouldn’t cover wars. Women are asking for negative attention in certain cultures. Women who are beautiful should be more careful. It’s a little-known fact that many news organizations automatically turn off commenting on stories about sexual assault and rape because the things people post are so offensive it’s beyond the pale of decency. For some reason, we haven’t yet evolved past this stigmatization of the victim. We humans can be so inhuman sometimes.
But that’s where my respect for Lara Logan comes in. I’ve written about her before, back in 2008 when her sex life inexplicably became the headline instead of her professional abilities. Now the veteran war correspondent is going public about her sexual assault, sometimes she does not have to do. The identities of sexual assault victims are not routinely publicized in media accounts. This is to protect survivors from further victimization. But in other ways, it stigmatizes them again. As if it’s something so shameful to must be carried around in secret. I’m not saying, necessarily, that this policy should be changed. But I commend women who speak up publically about what has happened to them. Rape, as we know, has nothing to do with sex. It’s about power, subjugation, dehumanization. It’s been a weapon used in war for centuries, but not one you’ll hear read bout in the history books. And it is something that female journalists have encountered again and again when working in combat zones. You may not hear about it much, but it happens and the risk is very real.
And that often unspoken reality is one of the reasons Logan said she wanted to come forward. She said she wanted to break the silence for the “millions of voiceless women who are subjected to attacks like this and worse.” She has given an interview to The New York Times and will also appear on “60 Minutes” this Sunday. You can read her account of her ordeal yourself, but it involved by her estimation a mob of 200 to 300 men. She said, “What really struck me was how merciless they were. They really enjoyed my pain and suffering. It incited them to more violence.” And that’s an important thing to note. Because by showing the lack of humanity involved in this heinous act, we hopefully wake up our own universal humanity. She has said these two interviews will be the only one she gives on the topic, because she does not want it to define her. And that’s understandable, too. But that she is speaking out at all is commendable. It’s easy to call her decision brave, which it is, but what it really is is strong. Women are strong, they can survive this and much worse, but they should never have to. Happy weekend, all.