I hesitated a few days before writing this blog, lest I become another voice chiming in on facts that are not altogether known about Lara Logan’s assault in Cairo. Ms. Logan is a reporter for CBS’ “60 Minutes” who, while working in Tahrir Square last week, found herself separated from her crew, dragged by a mob and “physically and sexually assaulted”, according to CBS’ terse statement.
While scanning some reputable news sites, among the comments praising Ms. Logan’s courage for addressing head on what happened to her and wishing her well, I came across remarks by punters and private citizens clearly not worthy of a civilized nation. Anything from questioning whether women should cover troubled spots in male dominated societies to “asking for it” for being female, blonde and pretty down to more debasing insults aimed at Ms Logan or Arab men in general which I won’t lower myself to quoting.
The episode gave me pause for several reasons – first, it was treated as a top news item because Ms Logan works in the public eye, she is white and American, perpetuating the myth of the privileged white woman being attacked by dark, ignorant thugs, thereby dismissing the inequality and frequent sexual discrimination women of all colors, at all levels are subjected to on a daily basis around the world.
Secondly, how the fitness of women to perform certain jobs is questioned, once again. Those who choose to report in war zones and troubled areas are usually well versed in the dangers they are facing and skilled at taking the necessary precautions which, as we have seen in many cases since reporting started, are sometimes not enough to protect either sex. In the hands of an enraged mob, two or three security guards are clearly ineffectual. Sitting in the comfort of our homes, opining whether such an attack could have been prevented or whether a woman should have been sent to being with, is worse than Monday morning quarterbacking. Those who choose dangerous professions, whatever their motives, are often tied to higher ideals, in this case wanting to get a story told, and it is not for me to question whether it was worthy. I can only be grateful for the reporter who assesses a danger and takes a leap.
Last night, I was listening to a CNN reporter who managed to get inside Libya despite the ban on all journalists to enter the country. Was it wise to risk his life? Do ego and adrenaline play a part? Probably but it’s up to the reporter and his/her editor to make that choice and live with it and I do hope that editors around the country won’t start questioning whether female journalists should be sent to potential “hot spots”.
As to the “Arab thugs”, an enraged crowd, whatever the motives, is dangerous no matter where and no matter their nationality. Is a woman a second class citizen in the Arab world? No doubt about it but calling for the extermination of an entire race is not the way to go. Somebody tried it before. The outcome was not good all around.