Lara Logan Should Have Stayed Home Because She is a “Mommy”

I have been following the story of Lara Logan and the horrible assault that she survived in Egypt.  I have read the articles about people questioning what she was wearing, the asserting that her “good looks” played a role in the assault, claiming that she deserved it because she was in a Muslim country (never mind that rape happens in North America)  and the debates that women reporting in that area represent a potential lawsuit to their employers. Each new round of misogyny and victim blaming has been difficult to read and until now I have found myself too triggered to write a response. But Peter Worthington of The Toronto Sun wrote a piece that so enraged me I decided that my silence is no longer acceptable.

In “Women with Young Kids Shouldn’t Be in War Zones,” Worthington suggests that mommy status means that women need to think of their children (typical conservative claptrap) and just stay home:

Apparently, against the advice of her bosses, Logan insisted on staying with the crew when they returned to Egypt.

It was the right thing for her to do journalistically—unless, of course, she had small children, which was the case. Her son (from a second marriage) was born in 2009 and should have taken precedent over her wishes to cover the world’s biggest story for the moment.

This holds true for any woman covering wars or revolutions.

Fine and commendable for, say, the Calgary Herald’s Michelle Lang to cover the Canadians’ war in Afghanistan, where she was killed during the first few days she was there. But she was single and prepared to take her chances. Were she the mother of small children, plain and simple she should not have been there.

I would argue the same should apply to mothers of young children who are in the army. They should not be in combat zones or away from their domestic responsibilities. A double-standard, perhaps, with men, but that’s the way it is. Or should be.

As I read this incredibly sexist assertion, I kept waiting for him to suggest that men had the same responsibility to put their children ahead of their careers, but of course that was just wishful thinking. The truth of the matter is that it takes a man and a woman to create a child, but it is only mothers who are set up with the narrative that they must be continually self-sacrificing. We appease women by claiming to celebrate Mother’s Day once a year, but this demands that women continually put aside their personal desires or ambitions. It depoliticizes motherhood and keeps women compliant.

Lara did not leave her child unattended; she left to do her job, just as male reporters have been doing for a very long time. Men calculate the risks before embarking on each trip and so do women–yet Worthington suggests that only women can fulfill the unique role of parenting and thus we belong at home in our own special gilded cage. It comes down to asserting that women don’t have the same rights to personhood that men do, rather than an attempt to elevate the role of mother. It enslaves women for using their choice to reproduce.

One need not leave the country to work in a job that is dangerous. Every day truckers drive highly explosive materials across the nation’s highways. These jobs are largely done by men. They receive hazard pay because the job is dangerous and yet I have not heard a suggestion that these men are not thinking about their children. Firefighters run into burning buildings when others run the opposite direction. Once again, patriarchal gender disparity means that this is yet another job largely done by men. We consider these men to be heroes, not risking their lives irresponsibly. The same can be said of law enforcement. It comes down to the fact that part of the discourse surrounding masculinity highly affirms taking risks. Boys are specifically raised to be adventurous and aggressive, while girls are prepared for motherhood with baby dolls to enforce a gender performance that is submissive.

I also believe that part of the angst regarding Lara’s rape is the fact that she is a white woman. Historically speaking, the hyper-feminization of the supposedly frail white woman has helped to limit opportunities offered to them, whereas no such concern is offered to women of color in similar situations. Consider the fact that when Jessica Lynch, a white female private first class was captured in Iraq, she quickly became a media darling, while Shoshana Nyree Johnson, the first Black female prisoner of war serving in the United States military, was quickly forgotten–even though a video of her being beaten by her captors was released to the public. Where was the concern that her womanhood should necessarily preclude such treatment? The fact of the matter is that, despite the suggestion that we now live in a post-racial world, Black women are resoundingly considered un-women who are unworthy of concern. When Worthington talks about women avoiding dangerous employment, he is really directing his commentary at white women, because they are overvalued at the expense of women of color. The rape of women of color continues to be ignored because our bodies have been socially constructed as available for assault, while white women continue to be assumed the property of white masculinity. The horror to many is not that Logan was raped and assaulted, but that it happened at the hands of men of color.

The conversation surrounding Logan’s rape serves as even more evidence that the fight for women’s rights needs to continue. We have yet to reach a state of gender parity if a woman’s motherhood can still be employed to trap her in her home. We have also failed to reach a state of racial equality, because the motherhood of women of color is not considered valuable. Men continue to dominate both national and international discourse, allowed to frame the narrative about women, our bodies and the various roles that we play in society.

Cross-posted from Womanist Musings

Image of Lara Logan from Wikimedia Commons

Comments

  1. I agree with him that she should have stayed home, not because of her kids but because she was DOG TIRED.

    She was sick and puking from being held captive by Egyptian officials just days before she was assaulted. She was in no frame of mind to be on the ground in Egypt, not after enduring torture questioning by Egyptian authorities.

    Yes, she should have gone back home.

    • I hope you would apply these same standards to men. If a man showed up to work sick and puking, he would be considered brave and not irrational.

  2. Every day, some horrible new attack on women. Phylis Schlafly; Mike Pence; Chris Smith; John Bo(eh)ner; and that wretched Michelle Bachmann. Can't we just get a break? Why this push to control us, why this awful backlash? CAN'T WE JUST GET A BREAK?

  3. Did anyone think of The Awakening when Martin cited the typical conservative claptrap, "think of the children?" It's funny that, so long ago, Kate Chopin wrote about how excruciatingly stifling the self-sacrificing "mommy" status can get, and that this discourse is still being reproduced today!

  4. author wrote: The truth of the matter is that it takes a man and a woman to create a child, but it is only mothers who are set up with the narrative that they must be continually self-sacrificing.

    Men are also given a narrow narrative where their value is almost entirely based on their how much income they earn, and the best way to support their family is to earn. It's quite alright with Mr. Worthington if a man's job keeps him from his children. He devalues BOTH parents' roles in the family. Did you notice he said nothing about the NEEDS of children, only a mother's responsibility? A father's responsibility is to work, and if he misses out on his kids because of his job, that's just how things are. It's just fine for a man to miss his baby's first smile, first steps. It's ok for young children to not see their deployed parent for a year (because he has a penis). A man is valued more for being a big wage earner than being a nurturing and guiding force in his children's life.

    Women who work are bad mothers. Stay-at-home moms are lazy simpletons who can't make it in the real world. Men need make work their top priority, not goof off and play with their kids. Patriarchy hurts everybody, especially the people who buy into it. I am a feminist (and a woman) and that's how I see it.

    • Well said!

    • Tamara Connatser says:

      I very much like how you put this, because it isn't even just the fact that they objectify women but the fact that they place everyone into these pre-set molds of what they are supposed to do and how to live and raise their own children.

  5. Pam Redela says:

    Thanks for bringing the race analysis into this. It is very important that our society wake up to the racial prejudice that continues to guide our upbringing and perception of human "value".

    This latest turn in the victim-blame-game is simply infuriating!!! NO ONE, you included "read up", should be judging Lara Logan's decisions – we should be supporting her as the VICTIM of a CRIME.

    Thanks, Renee, for speaking out against the sexist bigotry that upholds male privilege; which is what makes this whole situation even possible.

    • Damn straight. Both racial AND sexual issues regarding women in the home, workplace and military demand attention. __The parties to be blamed here are the rapists, not the victim, and the world needs to stop seeing us women as defenseless vaginas with faces.

    • She is a victim of crime. However “I’m the star” and I’ve got rights seem to give rise to sheer stupidity. You don’t walk in to a cop shop waving a gun because its your right to carry arms…you will get shot. You don’t smoke and do drugs in Indonesia you get hung. You don’t wave the “look at me I’m a beautiful western woman and star reporter” in the middle of a bloody out of control male muslim crowd. Its got nothing to do with sex. Its got to do with sheer bloody stupidity.

  6. I just wanted to say that I really appreciated your article. The double standard is absolutely ridiculous. Whether she was tired or not she deserves to be able to pursue the career she wants to. No one asks to be assaulted even if they are tired.

  7. I've been following the going ons in Egypt since the first day of peaceful protest, I had a very strong feeling things would get very out of hand very quickly there.

    I wonder if it had been a man who was DOG TIRED and puking from being kept captive by Egyptian officials days before and then was assaulted and raped, if these same comments would be made. I know most would say yes but unfortunately this isn't the truth, all comments would be enragement and talk of backlash on the people who did it or the people who let such a violent crime happen to a man just trying to do his job. I've heard it before.

    These things happen, going over everything she could and should have done now is time wasting, and only breeds anger. The fact is now we should be supporting her, because right now she is sitting somewhere asking herself the same questions and driving her self crazy with them, because she can't change what happened to herself so there is no point in going over what she should or shouldn't have done.

  8. Lara Logan has a real journey ahead of her, what has happened to her is going to effect her relationship with her husband, because as much as we as woman believe that our husbands or partners are incapable of doing such a thing it still sits at the back of our mind like a tick gnawing at us, sexually their relationship will be effected, emotionally their relationship will be effect, everything he says to her will be analyzed and re analyzed, and at first she is going to take the negative side of her assumptions, it won't matter that he is the kindest most supportive man in the world who loves her to death she will have a hard time seeing this, at the moment she doesn't love herself, this is something that goes along with having such a violent crime happen to a person.

  9. This will effect her relationship with her friends, her family her co-workers, you have to know if people on the media and the Internet are coming up with these crazy to late to discuss comments like what was she wearing (who cares she could have been wearing Iron mans metal suit and this still would have happened to her because it wasn't about what she looked like, what she was wearing, how she was speaking it was about violence and control.) Some of her family and friends may start asking her the same questions, she will also start to analyze what they say to her and only take the negative from it.

    Who knows what this will do to her career, will she be let go and told that it's best for her recovery, or given a different beat a softer one, the career that she spent so long building and was finally given a chance to do something that is still prominently male territory.

  10. She will have guilt, like that reporter said "she should have been home with her children" she will think of what could have happened and become sickened by the fact that she could have left her children with out a mother, Hearing it from some reporter who I have to say I am unfamiliar with but would bet that he has had soft beats an never been in any kind of situations like Lara Logan has covered and maybe his comments come for a deep jealousy that he didn't have the talent or the balls to go do this type of reporting but now sits at his desk, condemning this poor woman, because that is all he can do apart from saving his own wasted career.

  11. Lara Logan I truly hope you seek the help you need to get over this horrible, violent crime against you, and I hope that you always keep in your heart that it had nothing to do with any choices you made, I hate to say this and people reading this may find it disgusting that I would think of it but you never know if Lara had not been there and it had never happened who knows what may have happened they may have gotten a hold of a local woman with a family and she may have ended up dead. I understand that most do not believe that things happen for a reason especially when they are such horrible things like this, but it has always been my opinion that it has to be for a reason, I couldn't bare the thought that there was no reason no great plan for such a tragedy, we may never know the true reason for why we were meant to go through this maybe we will. The first step is forgiving yourself and having faith that there is a bigger plan a bigger picture for it. May be she saved someone life or more then one persons life.

  12. Anyways I'm sorry if I offended anyone I just wanted to respond to this pathetic reporters comments, Renee's wonderful article and the other comments made. I am not christian and have no affiliations to any religion but I am spiritual.

    Again Lara my thought are with you and I will set you in my blessing bowl to help give you strength and trust for your loved ones and yourself.

    Jenn

    PS; sorry the length was so long I had to split it up, it took me so long to write I wanted people to read it!

  13. Sophia Hilton says:

    I read this article & the comments it generated. It's ludicrus that people should even try to put blame on the victim!! From my humble perspective, I would not put myself in undue danger while my son is young (<10yrs of age) because while parenting lies on both parents' shoulders, I would not wish my son to be without me until he is able to reason more soundly (I value my contribution highly). However, I respect Lara's choices and no-one should be blaming Her. Furthermore, while it may have been unwise to push herself if she was tired, WE ALL PUSH OURSELVES beyond our limits sometimes but we do not all get judged for being raped! Love and comfort to Lara & her family from South Africa.

  14. The fact that this man can write such tripe with relative impunity is an indicator of how much ground has been lost in the fight for women's equality.

  15. flchick says:

    Renee: I agree with your commentary until you brought in the race card in stating “The horror to many is not that Logan was raped and assaulted, but that it happened at the hands of men of color.” Violence has been directed at all foreign media sources in Egypt and only because Lara is female did this physical violence escalate into a sexual form. If she had been Black, Latina or Asian the result would have been the same because this assault was mob mentality in nature and sexual violence is the way to dominate women and regain a masculine concept of control. By tipping the argument to the race of the perpetrators we are merely distracting ourselves from the main point: every single one of us is vulnerable to sexual violence and we need to stand together. My heart goes out to Lara and all women working in conflict zones. You are brave and should be applauded.

  16. RedCeres says:

    I was confused about the writer's purpose by the end of the article–was the author angry on Logan's behalf or angry AT her for being a white woman or angry at the media for covering the story because covering the story is disrespectful to women of color?

    By the end of the article, the rant about white women being "overvalued" sort of took over. I don't see how it relates to the rest of the article–at least not the way the writer presented it. The article went from "Logan is being judged unfairly and by a different set of scales than her male counterparts" to something about white women having their opportunities limited by their supposed frailty to a claim that seems to say, "This woman's experience shouldn't even matter because there are women of color who are raped, too."

    It's disconcerting to the readers when you deviate from your stated purpose and go off on a personal rant that's only peripherally related to the established topic. I can see the connection between the issues here, but it's the writer's job to make the connections hold.

  17. WEaring a fur coat does not give someone the right to steal it….
    Being a woman (white, black or green) does not give some self-centered sleazeball the right to rape….
    As in all countries, Egypt has its contingent of male slugs too /// READ NAWALEL-SADAAWI'S great little novel (based on a true story) "WOAN AT POINT ZERO" .
    ALL THE TRIPE ABOUT WHAT LARA LOGAN SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT HAVE DONE IS IRRELEVANT AND OLD-HAT ANTI-WOMAN MALE ARGUMENTS FOR WOMEN STAYING AT HOME AND NOT COMPETING WITH THEM ….. BORING , STUPID AND TIRESOME OLD LIES.

  18. Jacqioe says:

    I especially love how the article clarifies how this child was from her "second marriage" – sort of a suggestion in a way that somehow she is irresponsible in relationships at best, a whore at worst. Why is that even relevant? More thinly disguised misogyny.

  19. aprohricht says:

    What an infuriating passage to read. It is absolutely absurd that this type of thinking pervades American culture, and that fact that he even admits that this is a double standard makes it all the worse because it is clear that these people cannot be swayed by a rational, logical argument for women's rights. As a side note, that he mentions that her child is from her (gasp!) second marriage is also ridiculous and is clearly an attempt to paint her as some sort of hussy.

  20. I think the reason there was more concern for Jessica Lynch was because she was being held in separate location. Shoshana Johnson was held captive with the rest of her unit.

  21. Parents, mothers included, seem to me to be some of the best people to serve as war reporters. They have the understanding that truth must be recorded, documented, and distributed, because it influences the decisions that will be made and will shape the lives of their own children.

    What happened to Lara was disgusting, and for all victims and perpetrators of violence, I wish for justice to be served for everyone.

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