This is a series of ongoing women’s consciousness raising sessions. This is how it works:
We are inviting women from diverse cultures, races, sexual orientation, and all who self-identify as women, regardless of birth gender, to share their personal stories about their encounters with sexism, racism, classism or similar forms of discrimination as they relate to the larger issues of women's oppression.
Traditionally the women’s movement has called these moments “clicks” --when it clicks in our mind that we are being oppressed in our day to day lives. If through dialogue, we find ways to work together to move the lives of women forward, great. If not, we can at least listen to each other and become more sensitive to each others' goals.
These diaries are intended to be dialogues among women from their own perspectives. We ask men readers to respect this. Deliberate use of divisive racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic or classist remarks will receive one warning before the might of the daily kos moderation system is brought to bear! Please don't "feed the troll" by responding to them to avoid disruption of the discussion.
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I was horrified by the Lara Logan rape when it first occurred, not just in its severity, but also because of suspicions on who might have authorized and/or funded it. It was drowned in a sea of change, leaving little room for speculation. It’s a huge click for me because of my own experiences which, some 50 years later, are still so very difficult for me to discuss. I keep my past in check most of the time because I worked so hard to do so, but I have tell-tale signs: a very young-sounding voice stuck in the silent screams of a wounded child, fidgeting with my hands to ground myself, pacing to calm haunted memories.
With time and healing, though, I've journeyed from victim to empassioned crusader. I hope after reading this diary, you will join me in signing the two petitions linked below to change the federal government's definition of rape. I know many of you already march for and demand change, and I personally thank you for that. I suspect people like Ms. Logan do, as well.
Lara Logan's initial response appears to have been silenced. I have my own theories about that, but I have no proof, so I'll let that be, but I was anxious to hear more. When she was ready to return to work as Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for CBS News, she gave her only interview to 60 Minutes. I’ve included that video (and an after-video) with a link to the full transcript below the fold. I encourage you to watch it either now or at your leisure. It’s a powerful video and needs to be seen and heard.
I was researching revictimization, healing and empowerment for a future diary on surviving abuse, when I stumbled upon an article by Sarakay Smullens, a Philadelphia therapist. She included a small portion on the Laura Logan rape:
Lara Logan’s ordeal
Recently the CBS reporter Lara Logan bravely defied a code of silence by describing her February ordeal in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, when she believed she would die as hundreds of frenzied Egyptian men raped and violated her with hands and fists.
She also wrote this:
The reasons for sexual violations are complex, but one surely is: Violent, sadistic men behave the way they do because they can.
I then read a deplorable article written by a misogynist in response to the Smullens article. The writer, if you can call him that, saw a photo of Ms. Logan dressed for a red carpet event and decided to go off on some unintelligible rant.
After practically salivating over Ms. Logan’s cleavage in his first paragraph, he states, “I can’t help thinking that women also need to take sensible precautions before they’re victimized.” I don’t know what that statement says to you, but it screams to me that he insists women are neither sensible nor empowered. It’s a simplistic and idiotic statement and especially offensive in its arrogant display of attempted condescension.
He goes on: “Don’t trust your male friends." This portion of his spewed bile was particularly reprehensible to me.
"Don’t go to a man’s home at night unless you’re prepared to have sex with him.” Is this code to his fellow rapist apologists, because I don’t know how else to interpret it?
He also equates massage to prostitution.
Here is where he goes after Lara Logan: “And if you want to be taken seriously as a journalist, don’t pose for pictures that emphasize your cleavage.” He says more about her, but it’s vile and repetitive, hardly worth repeating.
He equates “naïve faith in the power of the modern sexual revolution” to what was “forbidden” to our grandmothers, somehow inferring “that rape and the notion of sexual conquest” persists for the same reason that warfare persists: “because the male animal craves drama as much as food, shelter and clothing” and “an unwilling sex partner is about as much drama as a man can find without shooting a gun.” His equating rape with drama has spurred a plethora of performance art portraying him in all manner of ridiculous scenarios. Whether he gets that the joke is on him is not the point: humor does heal.
His attempt at an “earth to liberated women” paragraph is so nonsensical that I’ve chosen to leave it out, except to say that once again, the word "laid" appears to be his code word for rape.
He ends with some b.s. about two neighbors from the 1980’s, but I’m not going to dissect it here. He obviously left his head up his ass back then.
After the publisher and board of directors of the online arts magazine were petitioned to take his offensive piece off the site and remove him from his position as editor, he first attempted to defend himself and then he apologized, if you want to call it that.
Nice try. No thanks. Remove him. The link to the publication with the articles is appropriately placed at the bottom of this diary.
More importantly is this request for action from change.org to petition the FBI to redefine rape:
Each year, the FBI fails to count hundreds of thousands of rapes in its Uniform Crime Report (UCR)—even missing many rapes that are reported to police. That’s because for over 80 years, the FBI has been using the same fundamentally flawed definition of “forcible” rape: “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will” to track rape statistics in the UCR.
This excludes rapes involving forced anal sex and/or oral sex, vaginal or anal fisting, rape with an object (even if serious injuries result), rapes of men and transgender people and other injurious and degrading sexual assaults. Also, because the definition includes the word “forcibly,” police departments often interpret the rule (against UCR guidelines) as leaving out rapes of women with physical or mental disabilities and those who were unconscious or under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
A recent Ms. investigation revealed that the archaic definition plays a key role in the vast underreporting of rape in the U.S.:
• The FBI’s 2007 Uniform Crime Report listed 91,874 “forcible rapes”, but some estimates suggest the actual number may be 24 times higher.
• Police departments go to great lengths to look good on the UCR, the FBI’s comprehensive national crime report by which all U.S. police departments are judged, and federal funding is determined. Often this means interpreting “forcible rape” even more narrowly than the FBI does when classifying sexual crimes.
• Police departments across the country, notably Baltimore and Philadelphia, have been found to be juking the stats—coding legitimate rape cases as “unfounded” in order to make it appear that rape numbers have declined.
Without an accurate definition, we won't have accurate statistics about rape, and without accurate statistics, we will never have adequate funding for law enforcement to solve these crimes. A change in the definition of rape would lead to better law enforcement response and could thus reduce dramatically the incidence of rape.
It’s high time for a change. For rape survivors, a modern definition of rape at the federal level would acknowledge, once and for all, that rape is rape—and that the stories and experiences of all rape survivors count.
Make sure that all rapes are counted. Sign this petition to tell FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder to update the overly narrow, outdated “forcible rape” definition.
Go here to sign the petition:
Follow this link to join the Ms. Magazine No More Excuses Campaign:
In your comments, I hope you will feel free to speak of your own experiences,
your particular strengths and your thoughts on solutions to this insidious war on women.