Lara Logan speaks out about sexual assault in Tahrir Square

*Trigger warning*

“My sweater was torn off completely. My shirt was around my neck. I felt the moment that my bra tore- they tore the metal clips of my bra. I felt the air on my chest, on my skin… They literally just tore my pants to shreds.”

CBS reporter Lara Logan spoke to 60 Minutes last night about being sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square in Cairo earlier this year. Logan has said that she will only tell this story once, but I hope that this one telling is heard by as many people as possible.


Transcript available here.

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7 Comments

  1. Posted May 2, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    At first, I was totally moved by this story. Ms Logan went through something all too common, but never spoken about, and I was happy and honored to bear witness to her story. But at the end, it took a nasty turn. They began talking about how sexual assault and victim blaming is a large problem and that the perpetrators would never be brought to justice, in Egypt. Just in Egypt. I found it incredibly disappointing that this interview had to go to such a racist, xenophobic, islamophobic place. I would have liked to see a little critique on that from y’all. It’s important to treat all survivors with respect, but not at the expense of people of middle eastern descent, or muslims.

    • Posted May 3, 2011 at 4:03 am | Permalink

      I’ve never been to Egypt or any predominantly Muslim country – and Islamophobia is certainly a tremendous problem pervading the West – but is it never okay to talk about how some cultures are more misogynistic than others?

      I lived in France and quickly learned that what I would deem sexual harassment was FAR more prevalent there than in Germany or the U.S., where I’ve also lived. Smiling at a man often made him think he had the greenlight to touch you anywhere he wished, and on New Year’s Eve in Paris, my friends’ parents had to stand behind us so our backsides wouldn’t be grabbed every ten seconds. I have been harassed on the street in Germany and in all three cases it was by men with non-German accents who looked Mediterranean. Admittedly, as a result, I’m much more careful to not make eye contact with Mediterranean men in public than with Northern European, Eastern European, Asian, or African men. It feels like racial profiling – and I certainly DON’T think all Mediterranean men are harassers – but I’m desperately trying to be aware of cultural differences and just don’t want to be followed. Mediterranean women have to put up with loads of shit and, according to those I’ve spoken to, they don’t like it either.

      Is it possible to discuss these things, to openly say, “Yes, misogyny is much more tolerated in x culture than in y, and as a visitor I was shocked”? Or is it always a slippery slope toward racism and the victim shouldn’t ever mention it if she doesn’t belong to that culture?

    • Posted May 3, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      I saw it not as Lara trying to say that all Muslim men are rapists, or that all men in Egypt are rapists, but I do think that women are treated pretty poorly in Egypt and have been for some time. It seems as if she made the point that after talking to many Egyptian women she learned how often this happens there and how acceptable it is in their society. While women are treated poorly in many places, it does not seem fair for Lara to not speak out about how prevalent rape culture is in Egypt for fear she be labeled racist. I believe she can critique the rape culture of a predominantly Muslim society without it necessarily being Islamophobic. This is just my perspective, however, and I definitely see your point, I just wanted to offer mine.

  2. Posted May 2, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    I cried my eyes out watching this. Kudos to her for being so brave and telling her story. Remarkable.

  3. Posted May 3, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Haven’t actually read/watched the whole thing maybe I am mistaken but I don’t see that as islamophobic Meagan. I’m more disappointed that they only pointed out that rapists get away with raping over there when in fact they get away with it everywhere. I would have liked to see this tie into how rape victims don’t get justice even if they were assaulted in the UK or America. This is a world-wide thing. It pisses me off that the public assumes if you’re in a western country then everything gets treated as it should do.

    Back to Lara, what can I say. She’s a very brave woman to speak up about this so publicly. We need more people to do the same thing, I think and to tackle all the issues surrounded rape – the myths and lack of justice!

  4. Posted May 3, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    I was really moved by this. While I was also disappointed that they focused the narrative on Egypt in particular and that may obscure rape and sexual assault in other places, I think it wasn’t xenophobic, islamophobic or racist. I think noting that the assault in Egypt is severe and as being a journalist who has traveled many places and endured a particularly brutal attack in Egypt this reporter was justified in bringing that to light. It isn’t wrong to say to hold a country accountable when it is a place where sexual assault is rampant and severe– especially if you happen to be a person who endured violence there. We should also talk about America, but to call the report “racist, xenophobic, islamophobic” because it highlighted sexual assault in Egypt is misguided.
    Even with the severity and prevalence of rape and assault in America, there are definitely places where rape and assault are more prevalent, less talked about, and where men are held accountable in even fewer instances. This woman felt like she was in particular danger in Egypt and that Egypt was a particularly hostile place for women. I don’t think that comes from a racist or islamophobic place. I think that comes from a reality that she survived.

  5. Posted May 7, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    If this were not in any sort of context, I would agree that it is not racist. But it fits into a cultural narrative in America of Middle Eastern men being unequivocally oppressive toward Middle Eastern women. It’s racist because essentially at the end, they were saying “oh, those middle eastern men over there, they’re dangerous.” This fits the “perfect rape” scenario we’re so fond of in this country (that is also racist) of the white, blonde, young, smart, high-achieving, virginal woman gets stranger raped by a man of color on the street. By viewing rape this way, white people distance themselves from responsibility by saying that “if those dang people of color could just civilize themselves and control their sexual urges then rape wouldn’t happen.” (Which is also used to justify that people of color can’t be raped).

    In addition to that, there’s an extremely orientalist vibe to this (if you haven’t read it, you should http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism_%28book%29) both in what I mentioned above and the idea that the assault rapes in Egypt are something Americans should even be dealing with (which takes away the agency of women of color to advocate for and defend themselves. Which they have. Most Egyptian feminists don’t want our involvement. They understand their culture better than we do, and they live with the benefits and consequences of any action. We have our own work to be doing here. We should not be pushing American notions of anything onto their culture.

    “I don’t expect the power or support or interference of anyone, of any government. We here in Egypt are fed up with U.S. colonialism.” -Nawal El Saadawi.

    I don’t think I’m being very eloquent, but I hope you understand my point. I don’t think it was intentionally or blatantly racist, but I believe that by fitting so perfectly into the racist cultural narrative. Like how Disney movies in and of themselves aren’t necessarily sexist or sizeist, but the fact that kids are getting those same messages from a million other places makes them damaging.

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