Rape, Shmape.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

On a recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo this week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged 17 million dollars in new funding to combat sexual violence. Sadly though that's not the story most of the media is covering.

Instead there has been intense focus on Clinton's snippy response to an apparently rude question from a Congolese student during a forum in Kinshasa:

"We've all heard about the Chinese contracts in this country -- the interferences from the World Bank against this contract. What does Mr. Clinton think, through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton, and what does Mr. Mutumbo think on this situation?"

Although ther standard media line was that the question was mistranslated, that has since been debunked.

Given that it now appears that the question was translated correctly -- and that the male student wanted to know not just what Bill Clinton thought of Chinese relations with Congo but also what the former N.B.A. star Dikembe Mutumbo, who was present at the event, thought, too, but expressed no interest in the perspective of America's female secretary of state -- is it possible that Mrs. Clinton has gotten a raw deal from commentators in the United States for her angry reply?

More to the point, while most of the derisive commentary on Mrs. Clinton's flash of temper contextualized it by noting that her husband had just been lauded for his trip to North Korea, few noted that she was in the middle of a trip to Congo, where the plight of women, many of whom suffered violent sexual abuse during recent fighting, is a major issue.

Perhaps more absurd is the news media coverage that followed. "I'm the Boss!" headlines screamed, even Jon Stewart disappointingly joined on the bandwagon.

As the documentary The Greatest Silence: Rape In The Congo points out:
Since 1998, tens of thousands of women and girls have been systematically kidnapped, raped, mutilated and tortured by soldiers - both from foreign militias and the Congolese army that is supposed to protect them. But perhaps the greatest tragedy, and danger, is that victims almost all remain silent about what they have suffered, too afraid and ashamed to speak out. As a result, the world is largely ignorant of their horrific plight and of the political conditions that allow it to continue.
The question remains, is Clinton's announcement and focus on the crisis of sexual violence against Congolese women not newsworthy enough?

Tags: Congo, Hillary Clinton, Jon Stewart, Media Fail, sexual violence (all tags)



just appalling.

by canadian gal 2009-08-13 09:14AM | 0 recs
Yeah, I had the same question...

by Ravi Verma 2009-08-13 09:20AM | 0 recs
media's sexist frat boy conspiracy at work again

Thanks for this diary.

by fairleft2 2009-08-13 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Rape, Shmape.
good find cg.  I think that media types are possibly the stupidest and most useless people in America.  That includes the wanna be media who blog and use their blogs to ingratiate themselves to msnbc and cnn so they can get a bit of air time.  I also include dopes who think calling Clinton or any woman a mad bitch funny.
All I know is that I yelled thank you to her from my living room when I saw her say "it".  I don't think she was angry, snippy or inappropriate in any way.  Even men in Africa need to learn something about human rights.  We do not have to accept "cultural differences" as an excuse for sexism and inequality.
by Teacher1956 2009-08-13 12:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Rape, Shmape.

Thanks, C.G., for this diary.  The distraction of that student's foolish, sexist question and the way it has taken over the narrative of HRC's Congo trip has proved just how foolish and sexist our media is.  I'm just sad that the attempt to illuminate the rape crisis that is currently facing women in the Congo is being ignored in favor of a gossip piece.

I wonder if the media will take it more seriously when it becomes common knowledge that men are now getting raped in large numbers as well.

by mtnspirit 2009-08-13 01:50PM | 0 recs

You were expecting the American media to cover an important humanitarian story rather than the 327th episode of "Hillary is suuuuuch a bitch"?  

by JJE 2009-08-13 04:37PM | 0 recs
Re: What?

apparently i have exceedingly high expectations.

by canadian gal 2009-08-13 05:14PM | 0 recs
happens to girls at every level

I used to work for a hospital, and in staff meetings i had the frequent experience of my input being credited to some guy who said the same thing, right after me.  when my son was a baby, I once took him to a dentist and had a male friend with me. The dentist kept talking to my friend about my son, even though I had introduced him as a friend, and not my son's father.  The guy just could not bring himself to address a woman when there was a man right there.

I understand Hillary's frustration, all women have this experience, over and over.  The question could not have been more clear, the translator asked, what does your husband think?

She might have been kinder if she weren't actually human, but we always get that one too.  If we're slightly annoyed and show it, we're 'defensive,' or 'bitchy,' or 'insecure."

I don't know that any man who has lost his temper even big time has been called insecure.  

This just shows that the struggles of any woman are the struggles of all of us.  

by anna shane 2009-08-14 08:21AM | 0 recs


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