Musing about My Reaction to News of the Attack on Lara Logan

Woman protesting in Cairo

Yesterday in the early evening, as I was surfing the ‘net, I came across the announcement by CBS that their foreign correspondent Lara Logan had been brutally sexually assaulted and beaten in Cairo on the day Mubarak resigned.

Normally, I would have posted this at Sky Dancing right away, but at first I hesitated because the description of what happened, although vague, sounded so awful and I thought it would be insensitive to rush to the keyboard to spread the news.

Within a short period of time, it became clear to me that both mainstream news sources and blogs were all posting the story and discussing it. Still, I hesitated. I checked with the other frontpagers to see what they thought, perhaps subconsciously hoping one of them would write the post that I didn’t want to write. Meanwhile, I continued reading reactions to the story at other sites.

Finally I realized that I was really blocked about this story for some reason. I simply couldn’t find the words to write anything coherent about it. I felt a very deep sadness and a sense of foreboding that I didn’t quite understand.

I usually react strongly to stories about violence against women, but normally I don’t have a problem writing about them. Why was I having writer’s block over this one? Thankfully, Minkoff Minx wrote a very sensitive and compassionate post last night, and I stopped obsessing about my “problem” and went to sleep.

This morning as I was driving to work, I again started thinking about the feelings I had had last night; and I was able to begin to better understand my strong reaction. I had been so thrilled by what took place in Egypt–that the protesters had been able to force the ousting of Mubarak and that they had done in relatively peacefully. I had also been excited to see women taking an active role in the demonstrations. I now realized that learning about what had happened to Logan, had tainted my enthusiastic feelings about the Egyptian protests. I also began to wonder if anything would really change for Egyptian women even if there were real changes in their government.

In my reading last night I had learned that Katie Couric had also felt in danger among the crowds in Tahrir Square. She had been pushed hard by an Egyptian man whom she described as being extremely angry, his eyes full of rage.

Even more disturbing, I read that Egyptian women are regularly accosted and groped by men when they go out in public. In fact, 86% of women in Egypt say they have been sexually harrassed. From Sarah Topol, at Slate:

Egypt has a sexual harassment problem. In a 2008 study, 86 percent of women said they had been harassed on Egypt’s streets—any woman walking through a crowd of men in Egypt braces to get groped. But in the square, crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder, men apologized if they so much as bumped into you. After wandering around the protests for days, it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t been groped, a constant annoyance when I’m faced with large crowds in Cairo. When I pointed this out to other women in the square, we all took a moment to reflect. “I hadn’t even thought of that,” one woman in Tahrir told me. “But it’s because we’re all so focused on one goal, we’re a family here.”

Here is another piece about sexual harrassment of women in Egypt (h/t Dakinikat). In the article, Mary Rogers, a CNN producer and camerawoman who has lived in Egypt since 1994, wrote about her own personal experiences of being sexually harrassed. Be warned, it’s pretty disturbing.

Again at Slate, Rachel Larrimore asked whether the attack on Lara Logan was a “bad omen” for Egyptian women. She wondered if in the end women would really be empowered by the “revolution.” Or would they be sent back home with a “thank you” and a pat on the head?

As I continued thinking about all this, I recalled how as a young girl I had tried reading science fiction novels. I liked them a lot, but I was disappointed that male science fiction writers wrote about women in the future performing pretty much the same roles and working in the same jobs that women in the 1960s. I wondered why these supposedly imaginative writers were unable to imagine that future women might actually do exciting, stimulating jobs instead of continuing to be teachers, nurses and clerical workers eons into the future.

And yes, I know there are female science fiction writers now who imagine women of the future in adventurous situations–and perhaps there are even male writers now who can imagine such things. It doesn’t matter. For me the damage was done. I had learned something very depressing about the culture I lived in. Women were bit players–there only to provide foils for men, or to support or comfort men.

That is how I feel now about the Egyptian protests. Women were included for a time, perhaps because they were needed, perhaps because everyone was feeling excited, happy, and inclusive. For a time, even the groping of women stopped. But then, on that day when Mubarak resigned it began again. And a very famous American woman was horribly attacked by men who screamed “Jew! Jew!” as they violated and beat her.

And the day before, Logan had told that Egyptian soldiers hassling her and her crew had accused them of “being Israeli spies.” Logan is not Jewish.

After the attack, Logan returned to the U.S. where she spent the past several days in the hospital. It has been reported that according to network sources she was at first unable to speak and that her injuries were “serious.”

I want to be very clear. This isn’t just about the Middle East or Muslims. This could easily have happened here. Women are brutally raped every day in the U.S. Many more women are sexually harrassed at work or on the street.

Most women have experienced this–I know I have. I’ve been groped by strangers in public places. It is a terribly traumatic, degrading, and humiliating experience that can stay with you forever. I still occasionally flash back to times when this happened to me, and feel the remnants of helpless rage followed by sadness and even depression that follow such experiences. The trauma of actually being raped is, of course, far worse, and can change a woman’s life forever.

I’ll wrap this up for now. I just thought I’d share my thoughts on this, in hopes that others might relate to them.

Finally, I want to note some positive reactions following this heartbreaking event.

Nir Rosen, the “journalist” who sent out horribly offensive tweets attacking both Logan and Anderson Cooper was forced to resign from his fellowship at NYU today. He gave an interview to Fishbowl DC in which he tried to explain the unexplainable.

Egyptian activists have condemned the attack on Logan.

“It’s incredibly sad that this has happened, and it’s something that the spirit of Tahrir and the spirit of revolution was resolutely against,” Ahdaf Soueif, an author who spent a great deal of time in Tahrir Square, told the Guardian. “Women in the square were rejoicing that they felt freedom on the streets of Cairo for the first time, and [this is] definitely something that we want to stamp out alongside corruption and all the other social ills that have befallen Egypt during Mubarak’s regime.”

Mahmoud Salem, a well known Egyptian blogger, was one of many of the January 25 activists to express outrage. “Lara Logan, what happened to you was reprehensible, & I hope u don’t judge the egyptian people or Tahrir because of it,” he tweeted under his moniker Sandmonkey.

Finally, Logan is now home with her family and talking to friends about what happened to her–a healthy sign. And she is determined to go back to her job after a few weeks. Clearly she is a very strong woman with a good support system. I hope that her husband will stand by her and that she will be able to heal from this and go back to doing the work she loves.

77 Comments on “Musing about My Reaction to News of the Attack on Lara Logan”

  1. Beata says:

    Thank you for this eloquent piece, BB. I had a similar reaction to the story. I really can’t write anything about it. Words fail. I can’t read or watch news reports about it either. As a women, it strikes so deep at my core. I am shaking.

    • Beata says:

      As a “woman”. Sorry. Can’t write.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I knew I wouldn’t be the only one. It could be a common reaction for women, because most of us have experienced some form of sexual harrassment.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Yes, BB this is true. I have a story about sexual harassment. It has a funny ending, and with the sadness of recent events, maybe we all need a laugh.

        When I was in middle school, I had scoliosis and needed to wear a back brace. It looked a lot like this:

        Anyway, during middle school it seemed every boy was out to slap any girls ass. (Can you all remember that? I know this had to have happened to many of you.) One day, while walking to Science class, one of the boys felt that my ass was his next target. He slapped it very hard, and to his surprise, his hand came in contact with my back brace. It was magnificent…his expression was priceless. I could tell his hand hurt, the way he grasped it and the look in his eyes. I just remember smiling real big and telling him, the next time he slapped a girl on the butt, he should think twice. I know it is a sad and common occurrence, but I can still remember the loud sound his bony little fingers made across the bottom of my back brace.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That is really funny, Minx. I did need a laugh. Thanks.

  2. dakinikat says:

    It’s amazing how a discussion of one people’s struggle for freedom has turned into a story on sexual assault. It’s very hard to put feelings to that. I’m glad you’ve articulated what so many of us feel.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks, Dak. Yes, it is very sad. I’m still rooting for the Egyptians, but I do hope that women will be empowered by the changes there.

  3. Sima says:

    Learning about the attack on Logan, and perhaps attacks on others, made me so very upset and sad.

    I didn’t want to examine it, or examine things that happened to me in the past either. It is, indeed, as if the knowledge has tainted the joy that the Egyptian people peacefully got what they demanded.

    I suppose I should acknowledge that this is the real world and people don’t change overnight. Certainly cultures don’t. I still hope for the best for the Egyptian people and believe they should be rightfully proud of what they’ve accomplished and I still weep for Egyptian women, women everywhere, that they are not treated or regarded as human beings.

    • boogieman7167 says:

      i hate scum pricks like that who abuse and rape women the way i was rasied any man that hits a women is a coward .

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s true, Sima, and certainly all Egyptians should not be blamed for this. It’s an emotional reaction that I hope I can get past. Sadly, this could have happened anywhere a huge crowd was gathered, anywhere in the world.

      And that is what I think makes me so very sad. It’s a reality check after feeling so euphoric about the uprisings in the ME.

      • Sima says:

        Yes, a reality check indeed, and very sobering. Now that the protests are spreading to other countries, I’m wondering what is happening to women in the dark corners and back alleys, in the shadows created by the masses of protesters.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        A reality check indeed. The more you read into the lives of women in many of these countries, it becomes even more apparent that it is ingrained in the culture. Sadly, it will take more than a uprising and ouster of a dictator to make a difference for the women.

  4. madamab says:

    BB, this is exactly right. The acceptable narrative about the Eyptian revolt and popular overthrow of Hosni Mubarak did not include the fact that Egyptians do not respect women as a general rule. That figure of 86% of women being sexually harrassed is horrifying beyond belief.

    Long ago I wanted to go to Egypt, but I was told that my life would be in danger because I am female and Jewish. This is the sad reality behind the happy fantasy of enlightened democracy and equality descending instantly upon Egypt.

    I do hope this changes too. The fact that it was done to a prominent journalist – a TV journalist at that – proves that the problem will be very difficult to eradicate.

  5. zaladonis says:

    Like so many other situations under discussion the past few years, what happened in Egypt was narrowed to a simplistic reading — protesters good, Mubarak bad, get rid of Mubarak all will be well. Life just isn’t that simple, video games yes but not real life, and certainly Egypt isn’t. As I kept trying to say, the range of problems that need addressing there are complex and I believe the great opportunity that the protests created were squandered by the very people who made the movement so potentially effective.

    This issue you raise, bb, is one of the important changes that could have begun, should have continued out of the protests but I believe became part of the opportunity that was squandered. As you point out, we all saw women standing equally with men, elderly standing equally with youth, poor standing with middle class, to achieve attention and force change. But the only change the leaders seemed fully committed to was removing Mubarak, and there’s so much more that needs to happen or circumstances for most in Egypt will largely be more of the same. The first thing I thought when I read about Lara Logan is I’m glad people are concerned about her, and how about the same level of concern for the countless women who can’t leave Egypt or other places where they’re unsafe, don’t have access to a way to be taken out of danger, receive good health care and recovery as Lara Logan does?

    BB, you also mention that this way of seeing women and treating women is a problem here in the US as well. Obviously differently but none the less a problem. I couldn’t agree more, and further I believe it’s something that changed for the worse in the wake of the 1970s, and I think some women, and also some men who consider themselves supportive of women’s rights, unwittingly contributed to it and continue to contribute to it.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Egyptian women fear return of frequent harrassment and assault

    While only the most dedicated had turned up in the preceding 18 days – overcoming fear of arrest and bound by the shared goal of bringing down Mubarak – hundreds of thousands from all parts of Cairo flooded the downtown area to celebrate the president’s downfall.

    In some areas, men formed human chains, cordoning off groups of women and children from pushing hordes. But it wasn’t enough protection, and women reported later that they were sexually harassed – stared at, shouted at and groped – that night.

    “All the men were very respectful during the revolution,” said Nawla Darwiche, an Egyptian feminist. “Sexual harassment didn’t occur during the revolt. It occurred during that night. I was personally harassed that night.”

    During the uprising, women say they briefly experienced a “new Egypt,” with strict social customs casually cast aside – at least among the protesters.

    Young women in jeans and tight shirts smoked in public, standing next to bearded Islamists who didn’t bat an eye.

    Women who said they had never slept away from home before were spending nights in tents pitched in the centre of the square, as protesters tried to maintain control of the strategic location. The women said at the time they felt perfectly safe, even bringing their children.

    Egyptian women’s rights campaigners now worry that the reprieve they experienced during the uprising was a fluke, and that their society will quickly revert to oppressive social mores that leave women vulnerable to sexual violence, with little recourse.

    • Sima says:

      I’m afraid the women’s rights campaigners fears will come true, that the acceptance of women was just a fluke.

      That fluke does show that acceptance is possible. Maybe they can build on that. I hope so.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I hope so.

      • Branjor says:

        Would be nice.

      • zaladonis says:

        I didn’t see it as a fluke so much as an opportunity.

        Women were accepted because they were needed. Same happened with gays and Obama. So, rather than getting all giddy about being accepted, the smarter response is to use the opportunity to advance your own power. When women were needed during the Egyptian protests they should have demanded what they needed – a place at the leadership table. Same for gays with Obama – they should have demanded he speak out in his rallies for all his supporters to support gays in their effort to vote down Prop 8.

        It is a cruel twist that when the oppressed finally have real opportunity for change we tend to believe it’ll be there forever but in truth if we don’t seize it quickly then opportunity is a brief visitor.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’m watching cnn and piers Morgan and the program is about the appalling amount of rape and harassment in the military of women and men. Female complainants being interviewed and there’s a law suit against Gates and rumsfeld.

  7. Branjor says:

    Sadly enough, I was expecting something like this all along. It didn’t deflate me too badly because I was prepared for it. I would have been delighted to see change for women in Egypt.

  8. paper doll says:

    Great post…thank you!!!

  9. Sabah says:

    it amazing how you American can put everything is negative light. this was and still is a fight for freedom and self-determination. we apologize that Katie Couric was “bothered” by Egyptian protesters’ have you ever been to a RED SOX game darling!
    the Egyptian protesters have achieved what the US could not achieve in 10 years in Afghanistan and Iraq with Trillions of US $$ wasted. you just worry about yourself not being harassed when you go to a SOX game.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yes Sabah, I’ve been to many Red Sox games over more than 40 years. As it happens I’ve never been shoved into the middle of a mob the way Katie Couric was and I have never been brutalized as Lara Logan was or kicked in the head as Anderson Cooper was. Do you know why that is, Sabra? Because if someone did one of those things, they would be arrested and taken right to jail by the police who are stationed around the ballpark.

      But that is hardly the point. If you had ever read out blog before, you would know that we have been and are still very supportive of the uprisings in Egypt and other countries. But we would also like to see Egyptian women be empowered by the changes that take place.

      You come across as extremely callous and uncaring about the harrassment that Egyptian women have to deal with. Perhaps you should work on your own lack of empathy and leave us to deal with what we face here.

      Believe me, we have plenty more to deal with than what you imagine (but doesn’t) takes place at Red Sox games. Good grief!

    • zaladonis says:

      Well first of all the event in Tahir Square was a rebellious demonstration for freedom, not a sporting event or picnic and not a celebratory parade. Or was it? I know I’m being repetitive but it seemed more like the youth protesters there and Americans cheering over here wanted to think of it more like a friendly gathering of super likable people who by the mere force of their own wonderfulness would achieve historic change, rather than the kind of rebellion that topples a dictatorship and ushers in a new and different era. If a people is going to genuinely bring down a 30 year oppressive regime, it will be messy and dangerous. That Lara Logan and Katie Couric, or even prissy vain Anderson Cooper, placed themselves in the middle of what they were excitedly calling a revolution spoke volumes about the rampant stupidity surrounding the event. It wasn’t a bloody revolution (though some characterized it that way because that does sound cool) and it wasn’t a calculatedly peaceful demonstration with opposition leaders at the ready to join in talks with those in power and make comprehensive demands. And it wasn’t justifiably a celebration of Mission Accomplished. It was, as is most everything today, a hybrid that looked like the thing but didn’t have the real substance of it.

      What came to my mind, in reading about Lara Logan and your post, Sabah, is not a Red Sox game but the 2000 Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City when several women were sexually attacked at the edge of Central Park in broad daylight – not only did virtually nobody help them but bystanders actually videotaped the women’s distress and cries for help. Ultimately several men were identified (ironically the videotapes by the bystanders helped with that), arrested, tried and punished.

      But your point that it happens here in the US is well taken, as well as it happening all over the world.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I agree with some of your points, Zaladonis, but Sabah suggested harrassment would happen regularly at Red Sox games, indicating that he/she doesn’t understand that sexual assaults can be prevented when governments and/or private businesses take the danger seriously and provide security to protect both men and women from violent attackers.

        I already pointed out in my post that sexual assaults like the one perpetrated on Logan happen regularly in the U.S.

        I don’t agree that journalists are “stupid” to “place themselves” in dangerous situations. They know the risks and they choose to do the reporting anyway. Although I don’t agree with Lara Logan’s viewpoints on U.S. wars, I do admire her courage in covering Iraq and Afghanistan, where she has fearlessly reported under life-threatening conditions.

        I also think you underestimate those of us who applauded the Egyptian protests. I certainly don’t see myself as naive and clueless and I don’t think any of our other writers were either.

        The “game” is not yet over in Egypt. I’m not that optimistic–and I never was. But I still have hope based on the many uprisings taking place in the Middle East right now.

      • zaladonis says:

        BB, I didn’t say that “journalists are stupid to place themselves in dangerous situations,” in fact I’ve said nothing like that. I said specifically that those three celebrity TV reporters with lights and cameras in the middle of a massive demonstration they identified as a revolution, and all three of them getting hurt, was an indication of the stupidity surrounding the event.

        Either it was a facebook party or it was a revolution. They’re not the same thing.

        And I don’t know where you read that I wrote our writers are naive and clueless but I assure it was misattributed to me.

      • It wasn’t a facebook party. It was a revolution. Facebook is just this generation’s way of communicating and organizing. Or, rather I should say it is _part of_ their way of doing so.

        “We are all Khaled Said” was a lot more than a facebook page.

        I don’t see why it being a revolution made it ill-advised for Lara Logan to be there. Covering unrest in Egypt seems to fit her job description. She’s not Anderson Cooper or Katie Couric. She’s a war/chief foreign affairs correspondent. But even in Anderson’s or Katie’s case, I appreciate their taking risks to use their platform to bring a broader sort of attention to the story that they can with their star power. Unfortunately it did seem people took what was happening in Egypt more seriously when AC and Couric et al got out there. I wish that weren’t the way it was, but that seems to be the way things often go.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’m not sure why you call Lara Logan a “celebrity journalist.” She has been a foreign correspondent for years and has been to many more dangerous places than Tahrir Square.

      • zaladonis says:

        Yes it was a revolution, the epicenter of which is a dangerous place. If you didn’t believe me before, these attacks on journalists prove I’m right about that. It was foolish for American celebrity journalists (I call her a celebrity, bb, because she’s been characterized in reports as well known for her on camera work on CBS News and 60 Minutes) who are vulnerable in dangerous situations like that, with lights and cameras drawing the kind of attention that makes them a target. And considering what happened to her it seems odd to say she’s been in more dangerous situations, or was the day Mubarak stepped down just not her lucky day? I mean clearly it was a supremely dangerous situation for her to be in. The evidence of several men sexually assaulting her for something like 30 minutes in the middle of a crowd is a pretty compelling indication that it was a very dangerous situation.

        At the same time this was characterized as a friendly gathering of peaceful protesters and also a bloody revolution. That bizarrely conflicting description should have tipped them off that at the least the situation was unstable in Tahir Square.

        And I have yet to see any reporting by Logan or Cooper or Couric that revealed something unique and enlightening that other correspondents didn’t report.

      • bostonboomer says:


        I tried to e-mail you, but the message didn’t go through.


    • Karma says:

      I rarely post but you couldn’t be more wrong about the intentions of both the author of this post or the funds wasted in wars.

      And as someone who was opposed to those wars and Bush Admin. The revisionist history on that front is more offensive than your falsely perceived slight of the Egyptians. The lives losts and ruined in Iraq and Afghanistan are the true horror show you essentially negated with your response that aligns with very lies used by the Bush Admin to sell those wars.

      Those wars were never started for the purpose of freedom or any other slogan/excuse. It was pure war-profiteering. Frontline and Nova have shown all the financial moves Papa Bush and his Admin did in their ‘blind trusts’ to profit from the first war. Dubya was just going back to the family ATM with these new wars.

      “Freedom and self-determination” was never the Dubya’s goal with those “Trillions of US $$ wasted.” It was war-profiteering….and that makes it a lot worse than some bs slogan about fighting for “freedom.”

    • it amazing how you American can put everything is negative light. this was and still is a fight for freedom and self-determination. we apologize that Katie Couric was “bothered” by Egyptian protesters’ have you ever been to a RED SOX game darling!
      the Egyptian protesters have achieved what the US could not achieve in 10 years in Afghanistan and Iraq with Trillions of US $$ wasted. you just worry about yourself not being harassed when you go to a SOX game.

      I’ll preface my response to you by saying that there are indeed people exploiting what happened to Lara Logan, trying to use it to promote Islamophobia or use it to cast doubts upon the protests. And, yes, it’s true that in terms of self-governance, the Egyptian protesters did accomplish more than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars did.

      But, that said, as Karma points out, the goals of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was not to free anybody, it was about control, oil, and defense contracts. So those wars, though at great costs to Mideast, to the American people, and to the world really, did accomplish quite a bit in terms of what the war’s propagators actually wanted.

      Furthermore, what happened to Lara Logan has brought into focus a core tenet of any human rights agenda– i.e. there is no lasting progress when women and their civil and human rights are left behind.

      Sexual violence, as a weapon of war or otherwise, is a violation of human rights. For the Egyptian protests to last, and I have been rooting for that very thing, the protesters must make women’s rights a centerpiece of the next stage of the revolution.

      And your comment about Katie Couric and Red Sox games is just crude and illiterate, dude-ling.

  10. Sweet Sue says:

    Great post, bb.
    The rape of Lara Logan has taken the shine off the Egyptian revolution and retarded my own spiritual development.
    I can’t feel compassion for the “animals” who attacked her.
    I’m all out of goodness.

  11. Revolutionary War Vet says:

    The brutality against women (in all its forms) here, there, and everywhere, will not end without the proactive participation of MEN. That is the stark reality.

    I have spent the two-and-a-half decades of my adult life as an American male fighting (literally with my fists, at times) against just such brutal actions, and, equally against brutal words – which can cause nearly as much harm as physical or sexual violence.

    “Sticks and stones can break…”

    My ass. Words hurt, too. And they usually hurt first. First it is said, then it is done. If tolerated. No further proof is needed than the Obot tactics during the 2008 primary and election season.

    I was not in Tahrir Square when Ms. Logan was brutalized, so I was powerless to fight to resist her attackers. But, I am not powerless to fight (and I have) the guy next to me in the bar when I personally encounter his similar abuse, even if “only” in verbal form. And I am not the only one. There are plenty of men out there willing and able to fight. But many more are needed: Men fighting men with swords (fists) or pens (keyboards) alongside women, to defeat this eternal scourge against humanity.

    Women must fight for their rights. But, men must fight for those same rights, only HARDER. Else, nothing will change.

    I close with thoughts of healing to Ms. Logan.

    P.S. Thank you for this site. I read it daily.

    • zaladonis says:

      I agree men’s help would go a long way, but it’s also true that very often it’s women who undermine the way women are considered and treated in the United States. It’s an old fashioned way of thinking but I believe if women don’t have respect for themselves and one another, and the source of their power, then there’s no chance that men will.

    • Woman Voter says:

      I agree, as often it only takes one voice to STOP the violence in front of us, and acknowledge that the violence and its behavior is wrong and must end.

      Thank you for supporting your moms, sisters, nieces, cousins, aunts, daughters, and friends…yup, men have women in their lives and when they see their women, in other women, they will take a stand.

      • zaladonis says:

        I think that although men take cues from other men about how to treat women, men learn how they should treat women from women.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Boys certainly learn a great deal from their mothers. They also learn from watching how their fathers treat their mothers.

        Research shows that the strongest predictor of violence against women is children seeing violence perpetrated against others in the home.

        Furthermore, adults can certainly choose to aid women who are being attacked in public, rather than ignoring such assaults. Adults aren’t passive prisoners of their childhood conditioning. They can make rational, intellectual choices to act differently than their parents or peers did–and some do so. The majority of people who were abused as children or who witnessed abuse in their homes do not grow up to be perpetrators of violence.

        I was once attacked by my male partner in a public place (downtown San Francisco). He shoved me very hard into the side of a building and then struck me. I screamed for help, and even though there was a policeman nearby who looked right at us and there were many other people walking by, no one helped me. It was a devastating experience.

        I think it’s unfair to blame either men or women for societal ills. We all have received cultural conditioning as children and as adults. We are also capable of becoming aware of that conditioning and rising above it. I think we need less victim blaming and more discussion of positive ways to change our society and its cultural attitudes.

      • Woman Voter says:

        I would say it is the father figure, and the mothers do re-inforce the patterning of what is said.

        I recently spoke to a mother that returned to this country, country of birth and left behind 5 children, due to no property rights and the daily beatings, beatings so brutal that suicide was considered. I was told by this young woman, that her two youngest children, a girl of eleven and a boy of about 8 that she should leave, they would be alright, but they feared she was going to end up dead in one of the beatings.

        Sadly, children repeat, what they see, but these two very small children must love their mom so very much that they finally told her it was OK to leave, as in that country she wouldn’t gain custody, and was only staying to be close to her children.

        Life is too complicated, and as Hillary said, it takes a ‘village’ and the village has both men and women, only together can we make the ‘village’ a better placer to live.

      • zaladonis says:

        BB – what you call victim-blaming I call recognizing how we learn what we believe is acceptable and even expected, and the informed basis of smart choices.

        First, while there always will be some who reach for greater self-awareness and higher understanding, I believe that despite trendy books and language the truth is those who seek authentic enlightenment remain few and far between. And I believe the reason that’s the case is because most human beings are not expansive seekers but ordinary go-alongs. I don’t mean that as a put down but as a realistic assessment of the human animal and how our species is hardwired to function and survive.

        Secondly, we learn our individual ideas of male and female roles and relationships from a wide range of sources, our parents and other influential adults and peers as we grow up, from movies and books and such, from a variety of current-event cultural indicators like how an Eleanor Roosevelt or Jackie Kennedy or Hillary Clinton is talked about, and from our personal experiences such as the devastating experience you describe (as well as positive ones). The messages are complex and can be conflicting and yet overall there is a generally agreed-upon norm for any given period in a society. That tells me that by and large people –both men and women– subconsciously accept a prevailing attitude and play their part.

        And finally, I also believe each of us is responsible for not only the way we behave but for the way we’re treated. While in some events people are pure victims – like, I don’t know, the person sitting in her own home who gets attacked by an intruder, for instance – many are in some measure responsible for having used poor judgment. And I believe that’s relevant. IMO Lara Logan is one of those people. What the hell was she, or Katie Couric or Anderson Cooper, thinking? These are celebrity media people who know how to navigate mega American TV careers but have no business in the middle of Cairo during a revolt to overthrow the government. There was ample reporting from the scene from correspondents like Richard Engel who know the territory and the people and have the experience to sensibly assess what he was and was not prepared to handle. I sympathize with Logan’s trauma, and with all victims of attack and oppression, but at the same time we each have a responsibility to assess situations as they are, not as we wish they were, and to make decisions accordingly.

      • bostonboomer says:


        I know I probably can’t change your mind about human potential, but I need to point out that the crime statistics about perpetrators and observers of domestic violence that I mentioned are the result of many years of scientifically designed studies–not merely “trendy books and language.”

      • zaladonis says:

        I don’t disbelieve you and I don’t disagree.

        As I said, how we learn what’s acceptable and expected, and what will get us what we want, is a complicated and sometimes conflicting series of lessons. We choose, consciously and subconsciously, which to apply to our own behavior and decision making. Nothing in what I said assumes someone who grows up with an abuser father and a mother who takes it will grow up to be either abuser or victim. It’s just more complicated than that, especially in the decades since travel and communication opened up to the masses.

        But I do not think that assessing the choices of others (and our own), analyzing cause and effect, recognizing good judgment from bad, well considered decisions from wishful thinking, is victim-blaming. I think that’s part of learning how to choose a better partner or a better way to get home or which assignment we should strive for.

      • WomanVoter says:

        IMO Lara Logan is one of those people. What the hell was she, or Katie Couric or Anderson Cooper, thinking?

        There comes a time, when people decide they are going to do work/advocacy that others shy away from and some times they get hurt, but that is why the Fourth Estate is so vital to free societies, democracy, Human Rights and to their people.

        Logan, had for years reported in war zones and she was no ‘delicate’ flower, she is a professional, and men, even Egyptian men, have faced rape under the culture of torture and abuse that was rampant under Mubarak.

        Also, logan had was exposing what happened to Egyptians that complained about police brutality, she and her crew were followed, detained/arrested, photographed, accused of being spies, tied up, blind folded and then deported. She returned to the country on the day Mubarak stepped down, to continue her story with her co-workers/crew and then was brutally attacked/raped.

        Had Logan not been an effective reporter, she wouldn’t have had the title of Chief Foreign Correspondent and been in charge of what stories they were concentrating on. For years, no news organization dared to touch the subject, and even our VP Biden was defending Mubarak and claiming he wasn’t a ‘dictator’.

        We need a strong Fourth Estate, in my humble opinion.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yes, and as I pointed out the majority of us learn how to alter our early conditioning.

        BTW, I didn’t intend to accuse you of victim blaming. I was talking about the public discussion in general.

        My policy is to do my best to avoid engaging in blaming people personally.

      • zaladonis says:

        I agree we need a strong fourth estate.

        However, aside from discovering in the most traumatic way possible that there were violent men in the crowd (which I just assumed was the case all along – I mean I don’t get why anybody assumed everybody there was sweet and friendly), I’m not sure what Lara Logan as a reporter revealed by placing herself in danger that way. Ditto Katie Couric and Anderson Cooper. There are smarter ways for our Fourth Estate to gather information during an event like that, and report on it, than for celebrity reporters to get in the middle of a crowd and so conspicuously perform for a camera.

        Maybe I seem like an old fogey but I also criticize Anderson Cooper and others for flying to places where hurricanes and other dangerous events are happening and reporting for the camera while crazy winds and such are imperiling their lives. I don’t think that’s cool or courageous and admirable, I think it’s foolish.

        (BTW, I should be clear that in no way do I believe Lara Logan deserved to be attacked or deserves less sympathy for her trauma because she chose to be there. IMO a discussion of cause and effect like this is unrelated to the empathy a decent human being feels for the pain and suffering of those who’ve been hurt while doing no harm to others.)

      • I think Anderson Cooper is a good field reporter–I like him better in the field than behind a desk personally. I appreciated his coverage of Egypt, as did many Egyptian protesters from what I can tell.

        As for Lara Logan and what was she thinking–I’m pretty sure she was just thinking about doing her job. She’s a war correspondent, not a celebrity media person.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thank you so much for reading, Revolutionary War Vet. I hope you will comment more often in the future.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Lara Logan is a foreign correspondent and has years of experience reporting from war zones all over the world. She is not in any way analogous to Anderson Cooper. She was in Egypt as part of her job, and she was able to breaks some very important stories there.

    • zaladonis says:

      I’m glad you posted that.

      In that clip Mona Eltahawy demonstrates exactly the thought process I thought ineffective at best, and counter productive at worst.

      Contrary to her claim, and I’m glad she herself used the term, she all along has been romanticizing what happened through Facebook, Twitter and in Tahir Square. There were many who did that, in fact most that I heard and read on TV and online, and that disabled the use of opportunity to effect real change. She is obsessed with Mubarak, even going to the trouble of tying sexual harassment of women directly to his name, his regime, when the truth is the problem is much more widespread and culturally ingrained than that. She seems hopeful that Logan’s attackers will be identified because she appears to believe they’ll be supporters of the Mubarak regime, which only shows she misses what the problem is for women in Egypt. Mubarak is not the problem and his followers are not the problem, it’s so much more complex than that. What she’s doing is as simplistic and unhelpful as Obama supporters and other Democrats who go apeshit about Sarah Palin or Teapartiers or birthers — they’re all convenient and easy targets but even if you hit them it’s not the bullseye, and I question if it’s even close.

      Mona Eltahawy, all through the protests, was among those who advanced the notion that getting rid of Mubarak was essentially the end game, the big event from which good things would naturally follow, but I believe if real change is desired then removing that 82 year old dictator is only one part -and a rather symbolic one at that- of a much larger revolution that would need very active participation and leadership to happen.

      When she tweeted that, sitting in New York, she couldn’t decide whether to stay there or go to Cairo, I thought she’s just another narcissist who thinks where she personally is located during this potential revolution is important enough to message the musing to her Twitter followers eager for news or insight into what was happening in Egypt.

      • I think Mona Eltahawy has been wonderful. She’s been writing on feminist issues and is well aware of the situation of sexual harassment in Egypt. She wrote this before the protests:

        Edit: For some reason the link isn’t loading right now–don’t know if that’s temporary or not, but here’s a Toronto star link to the same piece…–herspace-mideast-women-log-on-speak-out

      • Woman Voter says:

        I think you are misreading what Mona said, and frankly I think she has been a breath of fresh air, because before the person speaking as an expert on Egypt was Donna Brazile!

        The problem is GLOBAL, and we here have our issues, albeit, we don’t talk about it, nor like to point out that it is our ‘MOON BEAM’ Democratic candidates that FAILED WOMEN, shoot, MINORS and still no justice:

        The 2007 De Anza rape investigation was a police inquiry into allegations of sexual assault of a minor arising from an off-campus party on March 4, 2007. The investigation focused on eight members of the 2007 De Anza College baseball team. The allegations were investigated by the Santa Clara County, California Sheriff’s Department, and reviewed by Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr. June 4, 2007, Carr stated that no charges would be filed. This decision was questioned by many, and the Office of the California Attorney General Jerry Brown was invited by the prosecutor to perform an independent investigation of the available evidence. May 2, 2008, the Attorney General’s office determined that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone present with a crime.

        So, now, Jerry Brown, as Governor gets a free pass and no where is it mentioned that he NEVER interviewed THREE witnesses to the GANG RAPE of a Minor!

        This is not just here, but currently we have this case of Berlusconi, that has the Italian women in an uproar and yet I never see it in the news;some of the minors being sent to his ‘parties’ were in State CARE!

        Sex Teen: ‘Berlusconi Knew My Real Age’

        A teenage belly dancer at the centre of the Silvio Berlusconi sex scandal told prosecutors he knew she was a minor – a claim denied by the Italian PM.

        So, I fore one am glad Mona, an Egyptian is speaking for Egyptians and whether or not, she returns to Egypt, is fine with me. I think of Oprah, who made her money via an audience of women and when the time came to support the first viable woman candidate for POTUS, she went with the man, just as Pelosi and others did.

        So, women face a global entrenched problem and only by being united will we begin to make progress and we need men’s support to do it, as it really is a family problem.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I think Mona has been great too, Wonk.

    • WomanVoter says:

      Reporting from Bahrain @nickkristof told me he witnessed dr brutally beaten stripped threatened with rape while treating patients

      Well, it is clear that RAPE is being used as a weapon here, just as the pro-Mubarak thugs groped and molested women in the first day of the protests in Egypt.

  12. Fannie says:

    I am always deeply emotional and deeply saddened when I hear of women being raped.
    That is because I have had the same assault on my body, and I know what it does to your mind and your soul. Adding to that is the hurt when you receive no justice in the court house, and they walk FREE.

    Lara situation sparked me to see what the media was saying. Thanks to the link about
    Nir. I didn’t know about his remarks.

    Alot of people were saying how horrible Egyptians and Muslims were. I have been blogging about how horrible Americans men are. And then comes Kori D. Cioca story of being raped while serving in the Coast Guard. If you haven’t seen the video, do so.

    Here’s what I’ve been battling, the idea that these women shouldn’t have put themselves in harm’s way. Does that sound familiar to any of you. She shouldn’t have been in Egypt, she souldn’t have joined the
    Coast Guard. Shouldn’t is the big word when it comes to women rape. And it’s coming not only from men, but other women.

    I just have a need to plunge this attitude of shouldn’t.

    • bostonboomer says:


      Thank you, and I’m so sorry that happened to you. I also think women should continue to do any job they aspire to. Lara Logan has reported from far more dangerous environments than Tahrir Square. She knew the risks and felt it was important to cover what was happening.

  13. Fannie says:

    Exactly BB…….and it really doesn’t matter where they work, or what kind of work they are doing, because as we are seeing no place is safe, not even our homes.

  14. WomanVoter says:


    monaeltahawy Mona Eltahawy
    I wrote this 2010 about rape and taboos in #Egypt
    (pls b patient w blog!)

    Taboo and Rape in Egypt
    Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

    By Mona Eltahawy
    The Jerusalem Report.
    Oct. 28, 2010

    A WOMAN, COVERED head-to-toe in a black veil, appeared on Egyptian television this summer to drop a bombshell: two policemen, she said, had raped her.

    It’s unclear if she normally wears the niqab, the face veil, or if it served to protect her anonymity. But there was no doubt that her allegation served as a sledgehammer to strike two of Egypt’s sorest spots of late: sexual assault and police brutality.

    The latter has been the subject of outcry and unprecedented protest since Khaled Said, a young businessman, died on June 6 from what his family and witnesses say was a police beating. Two plainclothes police officers went on trial on July 27, charged with illegal arrest and excessive force.

    Standing up to the police in a country that’s been under emergency law for 29 years comes with considerable risk. Said’s family says he was targeted after posting an online video allegedly showing police sharing the profit of a drug bust.

    Reporting rape anywhere is difficult but in Egypt’s conservative culture, women keep quiet rather than risk arousing blame or humiliation, and at times rape again at a police station. In some cases, they risk being killed by a relative to rid the family of shame.

    I think Mona’s Tweet, shows she and all Egyptian women are keenly aware of the problem and aren’t shying away from it. I do think that stories, that omit the fact that it was Egyptian women who initiated the rescue of Logan have an agenda and that too is sad. This problem is global and we as women must support one another and our men, need to support us in this fight.

    • WomanVoter says:

      womensmediacntr womensmediacenter
      EXCLUSIVE: Rape Myths Persist—Reactions to the Assault on Lara Logan:
      via @womensmediacntr

      Very good piece with many insightful statistics:”Anyone can be sexually assaulted. Sadly, there is data that men, women, old people, children, virgins and sex workers can all be raped. Studies of the general population suggest that approximately 22 percent of women and 4 percent of men are sexually assaulted as adults. As many as 25 percent of girls and 8 percent of boys are victims of childhood sexual abuse. Most people, regardless of their gender or ethnicity react to sexual assault in a similar way—with depression, anxiety and shock. What does seem to make a difference is whether victims have help—people around to love and support them.”

    • bostonboomer says:


    • WomanVoter says:

      JShahryar Josh Shahryar
      #Sudan: Just received a disturbing report about attack and brutal gang rape of an activist in Khartoum. Will update in a second.

      He will post the confirmation once he goes through his contacts, but I must say this sick use of rape as a weapon of war is the lowest form of warfare and it should be prosecuted to the fullest.

  15. WomanVoter says:

    I was feeling very low about this situation with this act of violence, then I received this video from a lovely young lady (Egyptian, living in Australia/gen Y) and realized that many of the young wimminz and young men are seeing more possibilities…that they are truly taking the next step, and have less fear and bigger dreams. It is these young dreamers that make it all worth it, the young of today, don’t want wars and have grown up with the world wide web and don’t look at others as ‘them’ and ‘us’. I think Egypt can make, and Hannah is a testament to this dream via her creativity and for being inspired by the events in Egypt.

    WE ARE EGYPTIANS – Sung/Composed in English/Arabic by Hannah Magar (gen Y)

  16. votermom says:

    BB, I was late in reading this post, but you may be interested in Lola-at-Large’s (formerly of Peacocks & Lilies) insight that men and women are talking about Lara Logan’s rape very differently.