It was reported this week that CBS correspondent Lara Logan “suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating” while in Egypt. Undeniably troubling news, but we must keep two things in mind. First, let’s hope (perhaps naively) that American media can resist sensationalism and avoid blowing this one incident into reports of how Tahrir Square was a place of unequivocal danger for women. Canonball contributor Annie Gardner recounted last week that the demonstrations in Tahrir were one of the only times in Cairo that she didn’t feel the threat of harassment constantly looming. As we’ve discussed here before, sexual harassment/assault in Egypt is a complex issue, so let’s hope that the high-profile nature of this incident doesn’t lead to a lot of unfounded generalizations.
And secondly — while we’re talking naive hopes and dreams — in the face of public talk about sexual assault, can we all for once just try really hard to avoid saying stupid, insensitive, privilege-blind things? No, Nir Rosen? We can’t? Yeah, guess we were asking too much. While Rosen’s apology ranked above average on the “Sorry I Said Something Dumb and Sexist on teh Twitter” Scale, the whole thing was frustratingly telling of the fact that even a lot of “noted intellectuals” have no idea how to conduct a civilized conversation about sexual assault. It’s awful that this happened to Logan, but now that it has, let’s please turn it into a thoughtful discussion rather than a bunch of Twitter one-liners about Anderson Cooper.
This week we also learned a lot about the differences between men and women. In fact, the differences are so great that boys and girls apparently can’t even read the same poetry. Also, BREAKING: cats are girly and dudes think you’re uncool for liking them. Or can a man’s man with an affinity for felines change your mind? Everything’s cooler when men like it!
Oh, but getting back to truly awful news (welcome to feminism LOL), the House will soon vote on a bill that could take away federal funding from Planned Parenthood or any organization that performs abortions. As Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards explained on Democracy Now, less than 10 percent of the organization’s funds go towards abortions, meaning that this bill could potentially eliminate things like cancer screenings and regular check-ups for women who can’t afford to see another doctor.
Finally, our thoughts are still with the peaceful and impassioned demonstrators in North Africa and the Middle East who are demanding democratic process and humane living conditions. Karima Bennoune reported from Algiers, anticipating the upcoming protests:
[…] this Saturday, when I watch the bloggers and the feminists and the unemployed try to march for a new Algeria, I will think of what Samir Larabi told me: “We need democracy to fight exploitation. Bread and liberty are not alternatives.”
Have a safe and fun weekend, all. Take advantage of those President’s Day mattress sales. Oh, and for a steady stream of online reading recommendations, be sure to follow Canonball on Twitter.