July 25, 2011


Deborah Copaken Kogan is a married woman with children who made her living as a photojournalist covering hotspots around the globe. Millions of people read her reports over their morning coffee without considering the effort it took to bring them the news. She began her career in 1988 at age 22, and since that time she suffered or fended off numerous sexual attacks in the performance of her job. In her early thirties she wrote a biography about her experiences at the hands of violent men called “Shutterbabe.” She thought writing of her experiences wouldbe a therapeutic and shine a spotlight on a problem, but after reading reviews of her book by other women, she became even more traumatized. (“More, July/August, 2011, pg. 72)


Below are some of these women’s comments:

“…I asked if she’s worried that her frankness will get her labeled a slut.”

“Anyone who professes to be as worldly about men as she does shouldn’t be so shocked to find out that men are violent pigs.”

“…could there be something about her that invites these abuses?”

These remarks condemn Kogan as being either too stupid to protect herself from attacks or they accuse her of being responsible for them. The women went further. They implied she was a careless mother because she had a dangerous job — a charge never laid against a father.

In my blog of June 15, I wrote about women’s self-loathing. The abuse foisted upon Kogan by others of her sex is a classic example of a deeply imbedded notion that women are responsible for the violent thoughts and behaviors of others. We need to absolve ourselves of that guilt and of the charge that women are the carriers of sin upon this earth. Until we do, we will never be free, no matter what our professions or our incomes.   

Pogo’s warning is worth repeating: “We have met the enemy and [s]he is us.”