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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why Does Lynsey Addario Have to Justify Her Work?

When Lynsey Addario and three others (Tyler Hicks, Anthony Shadid and Stephen Farrell) were released by the Libyan government, we all breathed a sigh of relief. An accomplished photographer who was honored with a MacArthur Genius Grant, Lynsey Addario is among the premier photojournalists working today. Yet after The New York Times ran an account of the release, several people commented by asking what a woman was doing in a war zone to begin with. I went back to look at the comments from their account, but most of the negative comments have been removed--why is that?.

There was this comment, however: "After the Lara Logan assault in Egypt, I consider it an act of utmost stupidity for any woman journalist to go into any war, combat zone. fighting strips people of much humanity and you should know that. And in an already sexually abusive towards woman region what was Lynsey doing there?? why didn't the 3 male reporters object for her own safety!
And why did NYT allow her to go on this mission!
The men, I dont care about ... thats what they do. The woman, in this region, with this much abuse potential.. someone should be sued !!!"

Coupled with esteemed photograher Harry Benson's recent screed about Lara Logan (who was molested by a crowd during her coverage of the uprising in Egypt): "The last place for a young, attractive woman to be is in the middle of an extremely dangerous situation surrounded by an angry mob. Not only does it put her in harm’s way, but it compromises her co-workers as well, since they have to try to protect her as best they can – sometimes an impossible task."

He continues, "I am all for women doing whatever job that men do. Honestly, many times I find the women I work with to be smarter than the men. But shame on the editors at CBS who assigned a beautiful woman to cover a very dangerous situation. Their lack of judgment should have been tempered with a little common sense. Their decision about whom to send to cover the uprising and political unrest should not have been made for fear of being politically incorrect."

Suddenly I feel like I'm back in the 1950's. Why the constant mention of "beautiful," and what the fuck is he talking about?

As Lynsey herself said: "To me, that’s grossly offensive. This is my life, and I make my own decisions. If a woman wants to be a war photographer, she should. It’s important. Women offer a different perspective. We have access to women on a different level than men have, just as male photographers have a different relationship with the men they’re covering.In the Muslim world, most of my male colleagues can’t enter private homes. They can’t hang out with very conservative Muslim families. I have always been able to. It’s not easy to get the right to photograph in a house, but at least I have one foot in the door. I’ve always found it a great advantage, being a woman."

It is insulting to Lynsey and all the other amazing photojournalists (including Caroline Cole, Carol Guzy, Stephanie Sinclair, Susan Meiselas, Nina Berman, Sara Terry, Mary F. Calvert and many others) who risk their lives, who make great sacrifices and who face danger to say they should not do what they believe in because they are women.

I do not need to recount the amazing bravery and accomplishments of women throughout history--or do I?. This is 2011: take your patriarchal, condescending, asshole ideas and throw them away. Women make choices and they live with them--same as men. We should thank those who are braver than ourselves for the incredible risks they sometimes have to take to show the world to us. Where would we be without them?

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Blogger TheZeitgeist said...

I agree, especially with you calling out Harry Benson's idiocy about Lara Logan. He calls her 'young.' How is going on age 40 'young?' Benson sees a pretty face and assumes its a beer commercial.

Then he goes on to chastise CBS for 'sending' her there? WTF? I can't really agree with a lot of Logan's reporting, but I'd never discount the zeal for the profession she displays. What a paternalistic attitude to assume old men in a room somewhere decide where she goes in the first place? Logan's the Chief Foreign Correspondent for a major media property, has seen shit that would make Harry Benson cry (like a 'girl' I'm sure is how'd he'd describe it) and respect. Or even cognizance of what she is. Just baffles my mind, and I'm a guy.

BTW, that piece Lynsey Addario wrote about her job is a great read. Its how I found this blog.

March 31, 2011  
Anonymous Kate Wilhelm said...

Thank you! That post about Lara Logan was really getting to me.

I also couldn't help but notice that one article I read about Lynsey Addario led with her husband saying something like, "She has to come home. We have to have children." Now, I understand that sentiment in a personal relationship kind of way. But to lead the whole article with that? Seemed pretty 1950s too.

March 31, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a good blog. Keep up all the work. I too love blogging and expressing my opinions. Thanks

March 31, 2011  

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