“The horror!”

I don’t blog often–once or twice a month and about the most random topics or issues. But then a former professor, prompted by a former student of his (though I don’t think any one of us can admit that we’re no longer his students), prodded us into taking on the 90-in-90 challenge. Post something on your blog every day for 90 days. That’s about 3 months. That’s a lot of time. Actually, no, that’s not a lot. My fear is that I’ll run out of things to say or that I’ll repeat myself and you, the loyal reader, will commit treason by instead reading some RHONY recap on Gawker.

And, anchors aweigh! (Yes, I also thought it was ‘away,’ until I Googled it. )


A cursory glance at my Twitter feed, and there it is. I pause. I think. And I take action.

My tweet reads: “Srsly? RT @changewomen Editor: #LaraLogan was asking to be raped bc she showed cleavage @ awards show. chn.ge/jZyTA2 via@LaurenWolfeCPJ

You cannot begin to understand my rage. Unlike many people, I am not afraid of dying. I am acutely afraid of getting raped. Rape, to me, is a form of dying actually, or at least a part of me would be numb after such an event. I know someone very close to me who was continuously raped when she was just a kid, and it baffles me how she was able to become such a strong and independent person despite her harrowing past. But she’s not the only one, sadly. Many women have had to deal with this power struggle–because that’s what it is. It has nothing to do with sex, and yet we have a 21st-century ignoramus who attempts to, in a way, justify rape.

He begins: “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. “

My heart is racing just reading this. I’m infuriated. I’m flabbergasted. I can’t believe what I’m reading. First of all, “liberated women”? He uses the phrase pejoratively, as if being a “liberated” woman was a bad thing. It’s 2011, and, honey, we’re still not liberated because of buffoons like you who have justified a man’s sexual urges. We’re still incarcerated by your unyielding chauvinism.

Now, the more important part, the part where skimpy clothes = screw me. I know the author is not talking about himself, at least not directly. But, he is apologizing for the rest of the male population when he should be re-evaluating this very statement. Why is it that men still look at women like objects instead of the humans that they are? But no. The author just attempts to write a how-not-to-get-raped-in-modern-society piece, a sort of instructional article that can be printed and framed and followed.

Now, let’s get to Lara Logan’s cleavage, because that’s an entire section all on its own, including those three words as the subtitle.

The author warns that, basically, Logan could have avoided getting raped. You know, by taking “sensible precautions.”

“For example: 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.”

My heart won’t stop racing. I don’t even know where to begin. Is he serious? I mean, wow. So, ok, make note to self, “Don’t dare become a masseuse. It’s a euphemism for ‘prostitute.'” Oh, and “I must wear turtlenecks at all times, especially when taking pictures and even in the scorching heat, or I will look like I’m selling my body.” Got it. Look bud, the reason I shouldn’t trust my male friends is because you’re justifying their behavior. Also, what about men who have been raped?  What about babies and children!? How can you justify that? Rape is impartial to clothing, gender and age. Do you see the problem?

Let’s continue. He tries to make a connection between rape and war, where Man ends up being the common denominator.

“But in practice, 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.”

Ok, Mr. Rottenberg, so you basically just proved yourself wrong. Cleavage has nothing to do with power (which is at the heart of war AND rape). It’s the “male animal’s” craving from “conquering an unwilling sex partner.” Conquer or be conquered. Cleavage (and anything related to sexual appeal) is just an excuse, the scapegoat, Rene Girard’s “le bouc emissaire.”

And now, ladies and gentlemen, la piece de resistance. The author uses the story of two women who lived on his block to make a point. One was “good,” conservative, and installed an alarm. The other “dressed like a flower child (she wasn’t a druggie, but she looked like one),” he says. The latter was almost raped. This is what he suggests women like her do:

In the short run, I would suggest, it’s usually easier to change your own behavior than to change someone else’s.

This is perhaps the only time we will every agree, Mr. Rottenberg. Don’t try to change what you deem as women’s bad behavior. Change you and your other male counterparts’ backwards thinking.

And leave Logan’s cleavage alone!



Read it yourself here at the Broad Street Review. 

Thanks to Lauren Wolfe, who works for the Committee to Protect Journalists, for tweeting this, and of course, for her report on sexual violence and journalists.

What we should take away from this sad episode in Logan’s past.

A column I wrote for The Brown and White a while ago similar to this post.

Here’s a petition to get Rottenberg’s article removed.




One thought on ““The horror!”

  1. Excellent post. Found it because I follow Lauren Wolfe on Twitter. Keep writing. And yes, the 90 posts in 90 days is a huge challenge, but not all of them have to be long. It’s a good challenge for a writer!

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