All of which makes us wonder whether attacks – both physical and sexual – on women covering conflict are on the rise. Probably, though it may just be that we’re not keeping quiet about it anymore. The Committee to Protect Journalists notes that in most instances the victims don’t want to be identified because of the stigma attacks carry. For that, we should be grateful to Logan and Addario for acknowledging the truth of what happened to them.
I don’t know if early journalism pioneers like Nelly Bly and Martha Gellhorn – or Edith Lederer and the other women who covered the Vietnam War – experienced the kind of threats and challenges that women of our generation face, but I feel thankful for the trail they blazed. By the time I was covering Afghanistan and Iraq for this newspaper, as I did between 2001 and 2005, I looked around and noted with great satisfaction that about half of the correspondents covering the story were women.
The arrival of women in what was once seen as a boys’ bastion, however, is not necessarily matched or welcomed in the places we cover. There are swaths of the globe that are not in sync with the post-feminist realities of the West, though perhaps the dissatisfaction with that lag is one factor fueling the fires of revolution. In almost every place where the Arab Spring has sprung, one can find women (and enlightened men) pushing for change. But this longing for liberation still mingles with a disdain for liberal values that we Western women represent.