As more details emerge about Lara Logan's assault, a predictable debate begins: should female journalists be barred from war zones?
The Australian has more specifics on Logan's attack — sources say she was stripped, beaten with poles, and pinched so hard it looked like she'd been bitten. The paper rounded out this upsetting news with — you guessed it — more discussion of Logan's looks. Specifically, onetime Logan colleague Martin Fritzell tells The Australian, "even though she happens to look like a model, she has bigger balls than most men." It's less obnoxious than what we heard just after news broke of her assault, but can't we leave Logan's beauty alone for the length of a single story?
This is especially important because there are bigger issues at play. In the Times, Kim Baker writes about her fear that in the wake of Logan's assault, "there will be suggestions that female correspondents should not be sent into dangerous situations." These suggestions are already circulating. A CBS source told PopEater that network honchos were considering pulling their female reporters out of the Middle East: "It's terrifying what happened to Lara, and we would be irresponsible to not have internal conversations about if young female reporters should ever be put in such dangerous situations." Another source added, "the simple fact exists that in certain environments, being a woman is more dangerous, and one such place is the Middle East."
However, Sabrina Tavernise, also in the Times, points out that sexual assault and harassment are realities for women around the globe, not just in the Middle East. She writes, "In my experience, Muslim countries were not the worst places for sexual harassment. My closest calls came in Georgia with soldiers from Russia, a society whose veneer of rules and civility often covers a pattern of violence, often alcohol laced, toward women." It's also true that hundreds of thousands of women are sexually assaulted right here in the US every year.
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Kim Baker argues persuasively that pulling female journalists out of war zones would be a loss for journalism:
Look at the articles about women who set themselves on fire in Afghanistan to protest their arranged marriages, or about girls being maimed by fundamentalists, about child marriage in India, about rape in Congo and Haiti. Female journalists often tell those stories in the most compelling ways, because abused women are sometimes more comfortable talking to them. And those stories are at least as important as accounts of battles.
However, it would also be a loss for women's rights. The message women so often get after a high-profile sexual assault is if we just behaved slightly differently, this kind of thing would never happen. If we didn't have dangerous jobs, if we didn't go to dangerous (read "foreign," or lately "Muslim") places, then we'd be totally fine. But the truth is that women can be sexually harassed right in their newsrooms, they can be assaulted in their neighborhoods, they can be raped in their homes. And every time we respond to sexual assault by curtailing what women do, we add injustice to injury.
Reporting While Female [NYT]
Why We Need Women In War Zones [NYT]
Mob Beat Journalist Lara Logan With Flagpoles And Fists [The Australian]
Network Execs May Pull Female Reporters From Egypt After Lara Logan Attack [PopEater]