Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Next Revolution: Sexism & Big Media

Sexism, Rape and Stupidity in the Media:

The Committee to Protect Journalists may be able to say that 44 journalists from around the world were killed last year because of their work, but the group doesn’t keep data on sexual assault and rape. Most journalists just don’t report it.*

The CBS correspondent Lara Logan has broken that code of silence. She has covered some of the most dangerous stories in the world, and done a lot of brave things in her career. But her decision to go public earlier this week with her attack by a mob in Tahrir Square in Cairo was by far the bravest. Hospitalized for days, she is still recuperating from the attack, described by CBS as a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating.

You probably haven't heard much about this story because it gets in the way of Big Media's hagiographic portrayal of the young people in Cairo who helped topple the Mubarak regime (see also: Time Magazine's sickening portrayal of the "Hip Revolution")

I'm familiar with Logan's work simply because I'm a 60 Minutes junkie. She's done some of the best work on that program over the past few years, rivaling Steve Kroft, Scott Pelley and Leslie Stahl (imo, of course). When I first read of the horrific "brutal and sustained sexual assault" she endured on the night of Mubarak's resignation (mentioned in a short Tweet), carried out by a mob of more than 200, I couldn't believe the way the story was ignored by most Big Media outlets.

The attack was swept under the rug and denied at first. Then there were reports that the assault took place before Mubarak resigned (when in fact it occurred afterward), somehow implying that the stodgy old dictator's government was responsible for it.

And then they blamed Logan herself.

Several commentators have suggested that Ms. Logan was somehow at fault: because she’s pretty; because she decided to go into the crowd; because she’s a war junkie. This wasn’t her fault. It was the mob’s fault. This attack also had nothing to do with Islam. Sexual violence has always been a tool of war. Female reporters sometimes are just convenient.
There was also the allegation made by some lobotomized "progressives" that she "did it to further her career."

This shows two things: number one, sexism and stupidity is alive and well amongst so-called "progressives" in the Big Media.

And two, don't get in the way of a feel good story. The breathless (and at times, horrendously naive) coverage of the Egyptian revolution belies this one simple fact of democracy: freedom brings out both the good and bad elements in society.

Let's not kid ourselves that the criminal element in Egypt wasn't jumping for joy too over this new found "freedom." One wonders how many other women were sexually assaulted, raped and beaten during the so called "Egyptian hip hop revolution."

Like other myths being dispelled, revolution is never a simple thing. It's a messy business that can't be captured sitting around in your parent's basement in America, tweeting about how "awesome" revolution is in Egypt.

And it certainly can't be captured by a piggish media which resorts to blaming the victim when an incident doesn't fit their simplistic storyline.

*It's not reported much at all, period. Nearly 2/3 of sexual assaults are never reported by their victims, and even the term "victim" itself is now under assault. Here in Georgia we have a state representative who wants to legally change the status of "rape victim" to "rape accuser":
A Republican state legislator in Georgia doesn't like the term rape "victim." In fact, he has introduced a bill mandating that state criminal codes refer to these people as, simply, "accusers" -- until there's a conviction in the matter.

The legislation introduced by state Rep. Franklin (R-Marietta) would cover a number of crimes including rape, stalking and domestic violence.

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