[TW for sexual assault, gang rape]
UPDATE: I’m just trying to say what Amanda Marcotte is saying so feel free to go read her reminder post about “Why Rape Happens.”
The attack on Lara Logan brings Middle East attitudes toward women into sad focus. http://wapo.st/ftwbzN
And I call bullshit. Okay, maybe not complete bullshit, but definitely exaggerated bullshit.
Here’s what the article Ebert links to says about
Middle Eastern Egyptian attitudes toward women that I guess led those men to brutally rape and beat her in Tahrir:
Egypt is not a free society. Yes, it is free of Mubarak’s rule. But its women – even when shrouded in the hejab – are not free to pass through the street without being groped and catcalled. In 2008, as Slate reporter Sarah Topol noted, a study by the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights reported that 83 percent of women experienced harassment – and that 98 percent of foreign women visitors did. And 62 percent of men admitted to perpetrating it. Living in the United States, I take for granted my ability to walk unmolested in the street. I don’t believe this could have happened here. And the idea that such a horror could take place in the midst not of pervasive violence but of celebration is especially shocking.
Yes, this is only one vivid and shocking incident. And one bright spot in this bleak narrative is that it was Egyptian women who helped rescue her. But there is still a long way to go.
It is not cultural imperialism to state that women have the right not to be assaulted, regardless of race, creed, or country.
Yes, those are worst stats than we have in America. But the patriarchal ideas that create a culture that is blind to the harassment and assault that occurs – they exist here in America, too. So, while we may read an article like this and feel superior in lots of ways to those sexually harassing and assaulting Egyptians or people in the Middle East (as Ebert extrapolated), we are ignoring a whole lot of shit if we think that we, too, don’t still have a long way to go when it comes to “women hav[ing] the right not to be assaulted, regardless of race, creed, or country.”
- In today’s news, once again our military is being charged with not caring that female soldiers are WAY too often sexually assaulted.
- And this is an ongoing problem for the military.
- A month ago it was revealed that the Peace Corps (that corps of peace itself) routinely ignored charges of sexual assault and actively covered them up.
- 10 boys gang-raped a 15-year-old girl outside of her high school dance in California while witnesses did nothing.
- Halliburton/KBR, that contractor that our government can’t pay enough money to, covered up a brutal gang rape
- Rape kits sit on shelfs, often untested.
- Women on college campuses in the US have a 1 in 5 chance of being sexually assaulted.
These are just the things that either came quickly to mind or I had recently blogged about them.
So, yeah, the statistics are more bleak for Egypt. But ignoring what we know about the US so that we can make sweeping statements about Egypt and the Middle East is dangerous. And it is cultural imperialism. One of the greatest powers of imperialism is that empire and imperial aspirations strike the imperialists blind when it comes to examining their own culture because they are so in awe of the colonial culture which they are trying to “fix.”
I wish a story like Logan’s could be about more than the dangers to women in a specific place, especially a place that we are so quick to condemn as it is. Yes, that place may be more dangerous when we rank them on a scale but that doesn’t mean we aren’t on the same scale. That doesn’t mean we aren’t that far away on that scale. It just means that from our vantage point, we get to look down at the people we judge to be doing worse than us. But it’s relative and we need to be more aware of that.
For Lara Logan’s sake, in the aftermath of her ordeal and her bravery for sharing that story, let us pay attention to the reality for women all around the world. Rape happens everywhere. And every culture that I know of works to either ignore that fact or cover it up.