Reader el just brought to my attention the following comment left at a feminist site, of all places, regarding the rape of journalist Lara Logan. The comment is so deeply offensive, ignorant, and ridiculous that I'm sure it was written by some crazed Christian fundamentalist who is trying to use this story to promote their hatred of women:
I am an American woman who has lived in various countries, including Pakistan (2 years). The fact is that fundamentalist Muslim societies are very, very different from the Americas and Western Europe, and no one without firsthand experience can really comprehend just how great the difference is. Women ARE at risk in those societies. It’s not fair, it’s not right, but it is true, and until those societies have evolved, women should not be sent into crowded situations there. Not at all, not ever. Not because women are weak or unprofessional, but because the environment is hostile and dangerous and especially so for women.
First of all, what does it mean that "women should not be sent"? Sent by whom? Who is this benevolent, all-powerful authority that decides whether women get or do not get sent anywhere? The idea that somebody should decide for women where they should and shouldn't go based on some perceived danger is deeply patriarchal.
The insistence that the world is too dangerous for women to be in it has been used for millennia to confine women to their kitchens. "Don't leave the house because you'll be raped" is part of patriarchal propaganda. It has always been employed and is still employed by people who cannot deal with the idea that women do not wish to limit their presence to the private sphere of the home. In reality, the majority of rape victims get raped at home by people they know. The patriarchal propaganda that keeps telling women, "Don't go to a bar, or you will be raped," "Don't travel to other countries to do your job, or you'll be raped" conveniently forgets to mention that the most dangerous places for women in terms of the probability of being raped are their own homes or the homes of people they know intimately.
Women should not be blamed for being raped. Lara Logan wasn't raped because she made a bad decision and decided to pursue her profession. She was raped because there were crazed criminals in the square on that day. However, once again, staying home would not have diminished her chances of getting raped. Just the opposite. (If anybody needs statistics on this I address you to Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape that has a bibliography a mile long supporting this well-known fact.)
People get raped not because they are women who should have stayed at home under the protection of all-powerful males. People get raped because other people are criminals. Anybody can get raped. It's not like rape and gang rape have never happened to men. Still, only women are terrorized by the threat of rape to prevent them from leading complete lives.
I knew that people still mostly had completely medieval attitudes to rape but the profoundly barbaric nature of many people's responses to the rape of Lara Logan is even scarier than I could have ever imagined.