It was just four months ago that CBS reporter Lara Logan was attacked in Tahrir Square while covering the end of Mubarak’s reign. Following the incident, Logan was mocked online by more than one source, most notably NYU fellow Nir Rosen, who found humor in Logan’s rape, and the Mofo Politics blog, which featured a post saying, “I would totally rape her.”
The Internet was outraged when readers discovered Logan’s rape had been treated so cavalierly, and Nir Rosen apologized, withdrew his remarks and submitted his resignation the next day. You would think commentators across the board would have learned a lesson from watching this catastrophe go down, but apparently that’s not the case.
On June 6th, Dan Rottenberg, editor of the online arts magazine Broad Street Review, published an editorial in which he suggests, as the Women’s Media Center put it on Change.org, “Lara Logan is to blame for her gang rape because she once showed cleavage at a US award show.” If you think that sentence is bad, wait ’til you see the actual wording used in Rottenberg’s editorial:
He writes, “having stumbled across a CBS publicity photo for Lara Logan (above), I can’t help thinking that women also need to take sensible precautions before they’re victimized.” Wait, it gets worse:
Don’t trust your male friends. Don’t go to a man’s home at night unless you’re prepared to have sex with him. Don’t disrobe in front of a male masseur. If you take a job as a masseuse, don’t be shocked if your male customers think you’re a prostitute. And if you want to be taken seriously as a journalist, don’t pose for pictures that emphasize your cleavage.
But what if I’m a journalist who goes to a man’s home in the middle of the night to massage him? Should I be raped three times?
Here’s another nugget:
Rape and the notion of sexual conquest persist for the same reason that warfare persists: because the human animal— especially the male animal— craves drama as much as food, shelter and clothing. Conquering an unwilling sex partner is about as much drama as a man can find without shooting a gun— and, of course, guns haven’t disappeared either.
He might be right about this, in terms of how Logan’s attackers felt. But as Tara Murtha of Philadelphia Weekly notes, “In less than 800 words, Rottenberg normalizes the desire to rape; attributes that desire to rape to all men; rates rape just under shooting a gun on the drama scale; and saddles women and girls with the responsibility of avoiding being attacked.”
Rottenberg finishes with an anecdote about a local woman he knew to illustrate his victim-blaming mentality, but before that he writes, “Earth to liberated women: When you display legs, thighs or cleavage, some liberated men will see it as a sign that you feel good about yourself and your sexuality. But most men will see it as a sign that you want to get laid.”
Laid. Okay. Getting laid and getting raped are not the same thing, though, Grandpa. (It’s worth noting that this dude looks old enough to have been around when women got the right to vote, since we’re judging people by their looks and all. In reality, he was writing books in the 70’s, which means he should be enlightened enough to know better.)
If you care about this issue, you can sign the Change.org petition “asking the Publisher and Board of Directors of Broad Street Review to take Mr. Rottenberg’s offensive piece off the site and remove him from his position as editor.”