Rape, Shmape.

by: canadian gal

Thu Aug 13, 2009 at 13:10:28 PM EDT

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

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?"
canadian gal :: Rape, Shmape.
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?

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Rape, Shmape. | 10 comments
i know.... (2.00 / 5)
this has been covered here - but its just so appalling i had to write about it again.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

It needs a voice, so keep writing. (2.00 / 3)
The REAL issue has been drowned out by everyone.

I know that sexism and misogyny are playing roles here.  When I think about the release of the North Korea journalists, I was reminded of how North Korea hurled insults at Hillary Clinton on July 23.

The spokesman called Clinton "by no means intelligent" and a "funny lady."

"Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping," the statement said.

Then on August 5, Bill Clinton returned to America with the freed journalists.  I KNOW that HRC played a large role in coordinating this effort, and I also KNOW that North Korea wanted Bill, and not Hillary.  It's not a large leap to claim that North Korea and its leaders' misogyny KNEW that they were poking her in the eye with this move.  But, it was more important to bring those women home than to continue the battle of the sexes.  Thank GOD, the MSM and apparently most everyone else were able to carry on that battle.  Those assholes in North Korea are probably laughing at what they created and how they really got her this time.

Now, that said, HRC cannot afford to lose her temper like that in public.  Regardless of how pissed off she is at being treated like a second class citizen, she undoubtedly knows that all her good work gets lost in the scandal-craving America.  And the same goes for Obama.  Somehow, it was OKAY for McCain and Palin to lose their tempers and act like complete assholes, but it is NEVER okay for Obama.  Look at all the shit he got for Henry Gates!  The entire health care debate got lost because he showed his disgust for what happened to Henry Gates.

It is most unfortunate that our public figures have to suppress their righteous indignation, but it seems to be the price they have to pay.  That's where WE come in because we are free to write passionately on their behalf.

(and here you have an example of a righteously indignant rant :) thanks, CG)

[ Parent ]
did you see the video? (2.00 / 3)
i don't think she acted out of bounds. she said something along the lines of - i am not going to channel what my husband thinks about something - but if you have a question for me, the secretary of state - i can answer and moved on.

considering how rude the question really was - i feel she handled it quite well.

"I spend my days and nights pondering the meaning of life, the state of the universe, and the Home Shopping Network." -- Donald Roller Wilson

[ Parent ]
It isn't really an issue of how she handled the question. (2.00 / 4)
It is about the media's handling of her answer. And that is a big fail, as you and Denise have pointed out in your diaries.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
I did see the video. (2.00 / 2)
And I thought that she looked really angry.  And I sat there shaking my head and being pissed at Jon Stewart when I watched it there too.  She just can't huff and puff like that without expecting to have the media jump all up in her shit.  I'm not saying that the media are being fair, because they certainly are not, but public profiling is rarely fair...for anyone...and I will go so far as to say that women get a more unfair shake in public profiling than men.

Granted, I would have answered the same way, but lots of people think that I am "angry".  It wasn't so much what she said as the manner in which she said it.  She was clearly annoyed and pissed.  People ask politicians rude questions all the time.  I think about those town hall meetings where the pols are getting questions or comments about how skeery Obama is.  I would TOTALLY lose my cool, but that's what the person asking the question is banking on.  And that's also why I will never be a politician.

[ Parent ]
You think that's unfair? (2.00 / 2)
I'm not trying to minimize the obvious sexism involved in this situation, but what Hillary endured here is nothing compared to what is happening to Rahm Emanuel's brother. Every conservative mailing I receive has painted him as an evil person who wants to kill off disabled people. Sarah Palin used a completely slanted NY Post article by Betsy McCaughey to make Ezekiel Emanuel look like the boogie man.

As I said earlier, what the media has done about this non-issue is ridiculous. But I get frustrated when people point to something like this and say, "This wouldn't be done to a man." That's plain silly.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
I never said it wouldn't be done to a man. (2.00 / 3)
If I would go so far as to make any generalization in those kinds of black and white terms, I would say that Democrats/Liberals are smeared far and wide moreso than Republicans.  Mocking Orly Taitz for the words coming out of her mouth is not smearing.  Saying that Obama wants death panels is smearing.

I used the Henry Gates nonsense with Obama as another example of how it would be done to a man.  I do think that women get a more unfair shake than men do on balance, but that's not the same thing as saying that "This wouldn't be done to a man."

[ Parent ]
And there I would agree with you completely. (2.00 / 3)
I shouldn't have posted that comment as a reply to your comment. It was more of a general observation.

BTW, the MSM isn't completely blind to the way this is being handled. The NY Times has a pretty good article about it - http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08...

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
I thought Hillary's reaction was certainly human; (2.00 / 3)
it was not Secretary of State-ish.

She's had to endure (if that's the right word) Bill's larger-than-life persona and, yet again, the everyone focuses on him and she's shuffled into his shadow a bit.  I'd have been testy, too.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
I'd have been testy if I'd just been t hrough the experience (2.00 / 3)
she had gone through shortly before that question was asked.

There could have been no more dramatic setting: Overruling the security fears of her aides, she traveled to eastern Congo, where hundreds of thousands of women have been raped over the past decade. She visited a refugee camp and met with one woman who was gang-raped while eight months pregnant; she heard of another who'd been sexually assaulted with a rifle. She was told of babies cut from their mothers' bodies with razors. She spoke of "evil in its basest form"..."

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

[ Parent ]
Rape, Shmape. | 10 comments

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