The Movement

Nicola’s Got Nerve | Issue 4

Lara Logan’s Courage

Last night, I, as well as millions of other women sat on the edge of our seats as we listened to the Emmy award-winning CBS journalist tell the harrowing story of her sexual assault in Cairo. I clearly remember watching the footage of that celebration in Tahrir Square on February 11, thinking that this was a shining moment for humanity at large, not just Egyptians, never believing that that particular moment in history could be sullied by something like this. But when the news first came out about the assault, it was not widely talked about, having been overshadowed by the jubilance surrounding Egypt’s independence. Having visited Egypt three times in the past, I was very aware of the problems that Egyptian society has had with sexual violence, and was keenly disappointed that not more attention was brought to the attack on Lara Logan. When the announcement was made that she was ready to tell her story in her own voice, I felt extremely grateful for her candor and courage.

In the 60 Minutes interview, Lara shows great poise, not mincing words or using euphemisms for her experience. She talks about how the mob of more than 200 men tried to tear her limb from limb and in her own words “raped her with their hands,” for more than twenty-five minutes. She endured this assault after being separated from the protection of six men, including a local Egyptian fixer, her producer, the cameraman, two Egyptian drivers that acted as security, and a former Special Forces bodyguard, which shows the brutal force of the mob attacking her. Only when the mob dragged her into a fence, and she fell into a group of Egyptian woman, and then was finally carried out by Egyptian soldiers did she escape further assault.

Immediately upon news of the attack, there were those who asked what she was doing in that situation, somehow insinuating that she had no place there. But Lara Logan, named CBS Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent in 2008, has reported from some of the world’s most dangerous combat zones, including Zimbabwe, Kosovo, Angola, Mozambique, Gaza, the West Bank, and the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has been intrepid throughout her career, and has been committed to giving others a voice in the midst of conflict. The fact that she was able to speak so openly about her life-threatening experience should give other women hope in similar circumstances. While my own experience of assault on the subway does not even approach what Lara went through, I can speak from personal experience and say that being able to express what happened to you is not only cathartic, but is profoundly helpful to so many women who are told to keep their mouths shut and live in shame for what was done to them.

Around the same time as Lara’s assault, another woman, a Canadian tourist, was raped in the back of a taxi cab in Cairo, and upon her return home, she was told not to speak about it. This is unacceptable. How are we to heal, and own every part of our experience, without turning in on ourselves? How are we going to open society’s eyes and thereby bring about a change in the way women are viewed ~ not still as chattel, but as equals? Monkey see no evil… It’s time to lift up the rotting log in the forest of misogyny, and see what lies beneath.

It must have been an uncomfortable experience for the viewers of 60 Minutes last night to hear about such a terrifying experience, in graphic detail. But I for one appreciated this bare-bones honesty ~ Lara made no effort at covering up what happened to her, and because of this, she was able to literally bring into people’s homes the brutal reality of sexual assault. She mentions how her female colleagues thanked her for breaking her silence, because usually “women never complain about incidents of sexual violence, because you don’t want someone to say, “Well, women shouldn’t be out there.” In fact, there were those in the media and in academia who immediately jumped on the victim-blaming bandwagon, including right here in New York City.

Nir Rosen, a fellow at NYU’s Center on Law and Security, had to resign his fellowship because of wildly offensive comments he made on Twitter, belittling the seriousness of the attack on Logan. Even during his apology, he said that the comments were just meant to be a joke between friends, which is perhaps even more disturbing.

Simone Wilson of LA Weekly felt the need to point out her Lara Logan’s physical attractiveness and rumored sexual history, leading the “report” with one of Logan’s glamour shots. Besides being unforgivably tacky and insensitive, Wilson’s response shows the persistent misunderstanding by many that sexual assault is somehow motivated by sexual desire, merely akin to how a man would approach someone he found attractive for a date. This is simply not the case, as women and girls have been subjected to sexual assault at all ages, in all manner of dress, at all times of day and night, in isolated surroundings, and as in Logan’s case, in dense crowds.

Nir Rosen and Simone Wilson join the ranks of victim-blamers everywhere, but I can tell you with some relief, that their odious views have been roundly censured by everyone with a conscience. I send my warmest thanks and support out to Lara Logan, who has given a voice of empowerment to every woman who has survived sexual violence.

one comment 
demonstration, The Movement, Verbal

Pen’s story from Sydney: Not taking any shit this train ride!

I was taking the train from my hometown to Sydney (a 2 hr ride), having a nice chat with a friend and enjoying having my feet up in the quite empty carriage. At the first stop after I boarded, a man came down into my carriage and stood in front of me, gesturing wordlessly that he wanted me to move my feet so he could flip the seat over, sit in front of me and put his feet up instead (in New South Wales we have seats on trains that flip so you can change the direction you’re facing or create a four-seater.)

I hesitated, not wanting to move my feet just for the benefit of his but yielded I guess more out of habit of giving in to men than anything else. As I did, I said “oh, so you want me to move my feet so you can put yours up?” and as he sat down he said to me “that’s how it goes.” I was infuriated and responded at a normal volume “f–king male privilege.”

This must really have pushed his buttons because he then rose out of his seat, turned around to face me with his hands on the back of the seat in front, leaned right in over me in a truly threatening stance and was about to express his misogynist mind but never had the chance. As soon as he towered over me I put my head back, made myself tall in my seat and at the top of my voice but controlled and firmly and with pointed finger I said “HOW DARE YOU STAND OVER ME LIKE THAT! SIT DOWN! DON’T YOU THREATEN ME! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT…” I continued until he shrunk away and sat down.

It was a victory for me and I’m thrilled that I instinctively got my hackles up and stood my ground with emotional control. I was very shaken and quite upset that no one else in the carriage wanted to assist me but ultimately the threat was gone. He remained in that seat for the duration of the trip and when it came time to alight in Sydney I was ready with a piercing stare but he avoided my gaze completely. I had properly shamed him out.

no comments 
groping, Verbal

Girls Night Out’s Story from Denver, CO: “Drinking isn’t an excuse for disrespecting others”

I was visiting my home town in Denver, CO. and my girlfriends decided to take me out to dinner and drinks afterward. While we were at a local bar, some random guy slaps my butt twice. I turned around the first couple of times to a few guys saying, “It wasn’t me! It wasn’t me, it was him!” So I said sternly, “Look, whoever it is, quit it.” I turned around just in time to see where the third slap was coming from. Once I caught the guy red handed, I slapped him hard across his silly face and asked how he now felt to be touched inappropriately. He just looked away; not even one sorry breathed from his mouth. His friend apologized for his bad behavior but drinking isn’t an excuse for disrespecting others. I’m sure he felt dumb, girls and guys were snickering at him. I probably wouldn’t have slapped him if I was alone with him but there was a crowd and I felt like it was a safe place to do so.

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groping, Verbal

Elsa’s Story: Touch my ass and be prepared to face my umbrella

I have many, many stories on shouting and verbal harassment – but the one I will share is the only physical one.

Walking on my own to meet some friends at the theatre, I passed a man on my way down the road into town. I saw him look at me – never mind. then I quickly became aware that he had turned around behind me and was following. I knew something was coming and clutched my umbrella tight in one hand and bag in the other, thinking he might try to snatch it. But no! Instead I felt him touch my behind and comment ‘nice bum yeah’. Like lightning I whipped around and hit my umbrella at him, shouting “WHAT THE F*** DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!”. It worked – he ran away – but hey, it still ruined my night.

Unfortunately, harassment is frequent in the area, which is a known vice district with prostitutes walking the streets. I have had cars pull up and ask me if I’m ‘looking for business’ (not seeming to care that I’m wearing a coat, hat mittens, jeans and carrying a huge bag), which is always a bit scary.

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demonstration, Verbal

Erika’s story from Berkley: It actually made them speechless

It’s a rare day that a man on Adeline doesn’t express sexual interest in me when I walk to and from work. Listening to my iPod and wearing sunglasses doesn’t dissuade them, either. Today I passed a group of about five men and every single one of them felt the need to shout something to me as I passed. It kept going until finally I stopped and turned around to face them.

Usually I’ll drop some foul language that my mother would hate and nearly start a fight. But today I think my guard was down because I am getting over a cold and simply exhausted, plus I was just overwhelmed by the tidal wave of sexually aggressive macho attitude. Instead of cussing, I said, “stop commenting on my appearance, it’s really rude.” It actually made them speechless.

I really hate that in my own neighborhood, I can’t see a man on the street without thinking to myself, “oh great, what’s he going to say?”

3 comments 
demonstration, Nonverbal Harassment

Lisa’s story from San Diego: Leering trolley men

I try to avoid taking the San Diego MTS trolley and buses for that matter because of the rampant undesirable, creepy, criminalistic men who take the trolley. These men will come and try to sit next to me when there are lots of open seats, when this happens, i just move to another seat and sit by a woman who seems sane or if there aren’t any available safe seats, I stand until I reach my destination. These men stare at you, undress you with their eyes, try to start a conversation with you, their attention is totally unwanted. The trolley and bus is not a great ave place to meet men, usually these men have criminal records, do not drive because they owe back child support, are extremely unattractive, unintelligent and do not have legitimate income. I loathe taking public transportation because these are the only types of men you will run into. They know that they have no chance, they are totally out of their league. I have learned to be assertive and not afraid to shout at them to stay the hell away from me if they are persistent, this usually works.

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demonstration, Verbal

Aviva’s story from LA: Taxi driver hurls rape threats

I got in a taxi at LAX and told the guy where I was going. It was within a few blocks and he told me I wouldn’t meet the minimum fare requirement. I asked what my options were and he didn’t answer me and started driving. I asked again and he started yelling at me about how I should’ve researched better before coming to LA. He was then very rude to me for the duration of the trip.

We got to the hotel and he told me that he only had $1 change. I asked why he didn’t tell me that before, since I was already going to be paying so much more money than the meter said. He started screaming at me again saying things like “I came to the airport for a $50-$60 fare and I got YOU!” I took out my $20 and tried to give it to him, but he couldn’t stop yelling long enough to take it. So I threw it in the front seat and asked for my dollar. Admittedly, this was rude on my part, but at this point I had been screamed at for quite some time. Well, it infuriated him and he started screaming more about the bullshit I was giving him and told me to get the fuck out of his cab. I very calmly told him there was no reason to have been so rude to him and got out.

As I was walking away he rolled down his window and said

“I hope somebody rapes you, you little bitch.”

one comment 
The Movement

Czech Pomlázka Tradition: Not So Charming Stick-or-Treating

Easter Monday in the Czech Republic: Not All Women Are Celebrating

by Martina Čermáková

Not too rarely, you’ll find the Czech Easter whipping tradition in one of those stories on odd holiday traditions featured in the corky-news section. From my experience, anyone who’s just learnt about the spanking of girls and women with braided willow sticks (pomlázkas) that goes down on Easter Monday will see it as that: an awkward cultural mainstay that’s probably no fun for the female population.

Within the Czech Republic, though, the pagan tradition of boys and men whipping females in exchange for eggs and ribbons doesn’t seem nowhere near as disputable as foreigners might deem it… read more

no comments 
public masturbation, Stalking

Meg’s Story: No means no. Period.

I was driving home the morning after a really fantastic party at a girlfriend’s house. On my trip a cute guy in a truck passed me. We made eye contact and both smiled and started sort of interacting on the highway. We pulled over and said hello and he more or less asked me to hook up with him. I was completely offended, rejected him outright, got back in my car, and drove away. He quickly caught up with me. I couldn’t lose him. He mouthed words and gestured to let me know he was masturbating. It was disgusting the way he was leering at me while stalking me down the road. It still makes my skin crawl; I can’t remember what he looked like but I remember clearly the way he looked, if that makes sense.

no comments 
groping, Nonverbal Harassment, Verbal

Angela’s Story: Drunken street harassment in Charleston

I first want to say that this is just one saturday night and this is not atypical from any other night any time from 6pm to 6am although harassment is common (sadly) during the day too.

As two friends and I (all three of us female) walked down King St. at about 1:30 pm in Charleston last weekend. During our walk there were at least 20 separate incidents of verbal harassment from men who were drunk leaving the bars.
The first man pretended his pretzel was a blunt of marijuana and offered it to my friend. When she refused, knowing it was food, he and his friends shouted “bitch” after us.
The next comment was about 20 seconds later by a group of guys who tried to convince us to stay with them so they could “show us a good time”. One guy even put his arm around my friend while she was trying to pass.
Next, after 1 block, a guy pointed at the three of us and his friend yelled out “the one on the left”, another said “i call the right” and another yelled “i want the middle”. They were obviously talking about having sex with us.
After this one man told my friends that he would only get out of laying in the road in front of traffic if she kissed him, got up while she was crossing the road, and grabbed her waist pulling her in an opposite direction. She got away quickly because the man was drunk and we moved down the street.
Another block down a man pointed at me and told me that I was going home with him that night.
These are specific things they said besides the other catcalls and disgusting comments. We were called sluts three times walking down the street because we ignored the guy’s comments and attempts at touching us.
This behavior is disgusting and frequent in the charleston area and women need to be aware of the danger that can be present in the city or on the College of Charleston campus.

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