I wondered why the Reader splashed Erin Hogan's epic "Jerked Around" on the cover of the October 27 issue until I realized the reflection was liberally peppered with the words "penis" and "masturbation." I've observed that the Reader, like a gaggle of junior-high boys at the 7-Eleven's magazine rack, has a gleeful propensity for focusing on titillating topics. Thus I think it unfortunate that Ms. Hogan chose the Reader to be the forum for her unresolved anger over an undeniably disturbing event. Through the provocative treatment it gave the article the Reader became a participant in the sexual exploitation of Ms. Hogan. She would have been better off talking through the situation in the privacy of a counselor's office.
I would guess that the incident made her feel abused, taken advantage of and perhaps even a little ashamed, as many women do when similarly targeted. But I can only guess, since she never states this. Instead, she engages in elitist ad hominem attacks that threaten readers' ability to maintain sympathy for her. For example, she notes that the sheriff's deputy had "wide hips"; the defendant's first attorney had "acne-scarred skin"; the second attorney wore a "shiny, ill fitting suit." They are not as beautiful to behold as I'm sure she is in her herringbone suit! In contrast, the good guys--the state's attorneys--were "well dressed," "extremely self-possessed," "give good advice." Furthermore, her indignation over the judge's insistence that he manage the courtroom, not her, is disingenuous. I don't think I'm the only one who is left cold by such accounts of U. of C. demigods descending from their ivory tower to stroll among the mortals. I suspect Ms. Hogan will lose more support than she will gain from her arrogant posturing. (I also suspect that the "smarmy lawyer" at whom she turns her nose up in the final paragraph is just the person she'd need defending her if she ever faced legal trouble.)
I feel sorry for Erin Hogan--in spite of her inability to sort out her feelings. I feel disgust with the Reader--for self-servingly taking advantage of her just as much as the flasher did. But I'm sure this paper has its own "smarmy lawyers" to protect its constitutional rights.
Victoria A. Rebeck