Dr. Dawg

Rape culture and Amanda Lindhout

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An amateur journalist who was looking for a story in Somalia, but who ended up in the hands of a psychopathic gang of young Islamists, has written a book about her experiences—which I have not read.

From reports of her account, however, it was a descent into hell. She was starved, repeatedly tortured and gang-raped over a period of months. Through a complex set of manoeuvres, including raising money for her ransom, she was eventually freed.

One can only imagine how deeply traumatized Amanda Lindhout remains: the psychological damage inflicted upon her by the teen-age sadists who held her may well be permanent. There are wounds so deep that they never entirely heal. One’s entire psyche can be re-shaped around such a wound, and, as her book—as reported—indicates, Lindhout has become, in a very real sense, what was done to her.

You might think that a person who has suffered so much might engender profound sympathy and compassion. And indeed she has, in many quarters. But, shockingly, she has also become the butt of ridicule and contempt by journalists, for the way she has expressed herself and for getting herself into the situation in the first place.

Chris Selley has just had a go at those comfortable commentators, in a fine column in the National Post. His sense of decency has been affronted, as it should be in every one of us.

For quite a while, I believed that the notion of “rape culture” was overblown. But I have been disabused of that by too many recent events—various frosh chants are only the tip of that polluted iceberg. Think of the abuse still showered upon the dead Rehtaeh Parsons, the incessant sniggering, the creepy journalist who dared to suggest that what happened to her isn’t, you know, rape rape. Recall the postering campaign by rape apologists in Edmonton recently, and their disgusting follow-up activities. These examples can be multiplied a hundredfold.

Rape culture is real.

Lindhout is now being pilloried by various commentators and on Twitter for not expressing herself in a manner that they approve of. Gosh, her book is all about her. She’s so full of herself. She’s a narcissist, an amateur posing as a journalist.

She got herself into this mess, she lacked judgement. It was all her own fault. Sound familiar? It should.

Never mind that some experienced journalists in Somalia at the time concede that they may have inadvertently gotten her into the trouble she found herself in. Or that her book is, first and foremost, an account written by a person with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Or that she is a victim of prolonged savagery, including repeated sexual assaults: her colleague Nigel Brennan, in the next dirty little cell, was forced to listen to her agonized screams for weeks on end.

What we get from the safe, smug commentators is what every victim of rape hears from the unibrows:

She was asking for it.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on September 20, 2013 11:21 AM.

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