Lara Logan, the CBS correspondent who was assaulted in Cairo, Egypt during the “Egyptian revolution” has finally come out and spoken about what happened to her. It sounds very dramatic and Logan does an excellent job of provoking the imagery, stimulating the schemata but it rings flat on my dead old ears. Not because I assume the typical attitude of many who don’t believe a rape victim’s story or dismiss it but because Logan, a member of the main stream media elite, has a job that depends on her exciting such mental images of noble wars of empire and chivalrous soldiers intent on serving the Nation or rescuing damsels like herself from the hordes of grabbing, prodding savages of far away place.
Initially we were told she was raped or suffered a violent assault. Now we are told, by her, that she was ‘raped by hands’ an equally evocative expression. It’s second nature to her, it’s her job to blur distinctions and make things equivalent when they are not. Cairo, the city where the ‘rape by hands’ took place is 20 million strong and about a million of them were in Tahrir Square the night Logan’s attack took place. Raping by hands undoubtedly happened to a lot of people there, men and women, who were jammed in an area not meant for their numbers.
Logan had previously been expelled from Egypt by the Mubarak regime, who at that time was an ally with America in its war on terror, but she was able to re-enter the country shortly thereafter. It appears even from her account she was recognized or identified as being a spy, an Israeli, a Jew or any other appellation to single her out from the rest and then set upon, but how and by whom it is not clear. One account seems to suggest that Logan wasn’t raped by hands, but rather man handled as she was led away from the place where she was reporting. Another female reporter claims she too was groped, fondled, sexually assaulted by the crowd but certainly not to the extent that her clothes were ripped off or that she felt fear for her life. Instead, this female reporter claims, defiance at how she was violated;
In the middle of that crowd I suddenly found hands in the intimate parts of my body. When I realised that this was not a one-off incident, but that many people were interested in touching me, I felt vulnerable and became angry.
In an instinctive response, I wanted to smack the molesters, but they disappeared fast. Touching and pulling went on for some minutes when people around me started to notice what was happening.
My Egyptian friends and other friendly Egyptians closed the space around me, and gave precise instructions: while I was pulled forward, they told me to finger point to those people who were molesting me. They looked different from the bright, celebrating faces. After taking me out of the crowd, my new bodyguards turned against the attackers. An awful quarrel started.
With the right embellishment, the account above can turn into ‘rape by hands’ as well as a fear of an impending death, but the above account doesn’t give one that impression; moreover, she doesn’t seem to have assumed the role of victim and is far too combative to warrant collective sympathy. I get the impression she would and could readily wipe the floor with her attackers and instead of pitying her want to cheer her on to just such an end. Yet that’s not what I feel when I listen to Logan.
What happened to her reminds me of an amplified Adela Quested of A Passage to India, the book by E.M. Forster. Quested an adventurous woman visiting colonized India became confused after venturing alone into one of the Marabar Caves and emerges from it accusing her host of raping her. What really happened is a story of human psychology, where a young woman backed up by a cultural belief in her absolute desirability focuses her rage and confusion on one man because of the damage he and by extension everyone in his group, i.e. Indians have done to her emotional well being. Logan reminds me of that Quested character , as she spoke of how she was penetrated front and back by the hands of rape during her 60 Minutes interview. Yet all we have is her word. None of the people who were with her have been interviewed, she does identify them and one was American, nor do we hear from any of her rescuers even though she speaks pointedly of how they helped her. Do we, the general public need to hear any of this or that? Is it necessary to be allowed into Logan’s pain and suffering? No, but Logan chose to reveal it to us, to take us there, and give a face to rape. For me it’s hard to disassociate it from the other faces she’s given us in her role as a reporter.