Friday, May 16, 2014

Sexual Assault in the Military

In a Yahoo News report today:
Chuck Hagel: Combatting Sexual Assault in Military 'As High a Priority as There Is'
At a time when sexual assault in the military is at an all-time high – with more than 5,000 reported incidents last year – Chuck Hagel says that fixing the problem is one of his highest priorities as defense secretary.
“If we can't protect our own people, then we're going to have a problem,” Hagel said. “We owe it to each other; it is accountability; it is a responsibility of all leaders at every level to deal with this.”...
...“We're not where we need to be yet. We will get there,” he said. “I've made it as high a priority as there is. I meet with all our sexual assault prevention office people once a week for an hour.”
“Our institution … is a different enterprise, the military, from any other,” Hagel also said. “That doesn't mean that they should not comply with laws. Sexual assault is a crime, pure, simple, no matter if it's on a military base or college campus. So you start there.”...
Note that no-one is mentioning the now widely-discredited estimate, from the Defense Manpower Data Center, of 26,000 service members experiencing "unwanted sexual contact."  The "more than 5,000" figure comes from a May 1, 2014 from the American Forces Press Service:
Hagel: Numbers Reflect Victim Confidence in Reporting Assaults
A 50-percent increase in sexual assaults in the armed forces reflected in the Defense Department’s latest annual report indicates growing willingness among victims to report the crime and increasing confidence the military is providing them with support and taking action against perpetrators, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today.
The latest report -- which covers the period from Oct. 1, 2012, through Sept. 30, 2013 -- says there were 5,061 reports of sexual assault in the Defense Department, a 50-percent jump from the previous year. More than 70 percent of all cases in which the military had jurisdiction resulted in criminal charges, officials said.
“We have a long way to go before we get close to solving this problem,” Hagel said at a Pentagon news conference today where the report’s findings were announced, linking the sharp increase in reports of the crime to steps the military has taken to encourage reporting by victims and prosecution of offenders.
“We believe victims are growing more confident in our system,” the secretary said. “Because these crimes are underreported, we took steps to increase reporting, and that’s what we’re seeing.”
But Hagel said the nearly two dozen directives he has issued over the past year intended to reduce sexual assaults within the military -- including ensuring an appropriate command climate and improving victim support -- have not been enough. “We must do more,” he said, and he announced six additional directives.
“They include a departmentwide review of institutional alcohol policies, which will be revised where necessary to address risks that alcohol poses to others. … They also require new methods to better encourage male victims to report assaults and seek assistance,” he said, noting that DOD officials believe sexual assaults against men constitute half of all cases....
“When commanders took disciplinary action on sexual assault offenses, they moved to court-martial a record 71 percent of alleged perpetrators,” Hagel said. “These results indicated that our investments in training investigators and attorneys are continuing to make a difference in holding offenders accountable.”...
...Ultimately, military officials want to make the Defense Department “the last place a military offender wants to be,” Snow emphasized, adding that victims should know the department is doing everything it can to provide support and eliminate the threat.
“To the offenders: We don’t care who you are or what rank you hold. If you don’t understand our core values and are not prepared to live by and enforce those values every day, then we don’t want you in our military,” Snow concluded.
And, yesterday (May 15) the American Forces Press Service released a report on sexual harassment:
 DOD Releases Figures on Sexual Harassment in Military
Emphasizing that the Defense Department continues to encourage victims to come forward, Pentagon officials released a report today that says just under 1,400 cases of sexual harassment occurred in the military last year.
The congressionally mandated report defines sexual harassment as an unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that can affect a career, job performance or create an abuse workplace.
Of the 1,366 cases reported, 59 percent were substantiated, the report says. The numbers of people who formally reported a case of harassment and those who made informal complaints were split nearly evenly. Informal allegations are those that were not submitted through a service’s equal opportunity office, but reached commanders through other means.
In releasing the report, a senior Defense Department official told reporters those who alleged sexual harassment were predominately female enlisted members from the same unit as the alleged offender, with the majority holding the pay grades E-1 to E-4. The alleged offenders were predominantly male co-workers in pay grades from E-5 to E-9.
As with cases of sexual assault, DOD officials believe harassment in the military is often under-reported. “We want a climate where everybody reports whenever they’re offended,” one official said.
The reported harassment cases militarywide were significantly lower than the number of reported sexual assaults. Earlier this month, the department reported 5,061 cases of sexual assault for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013, a 50-percent increase over the previous year. Defense officials said assaults often are preceded by harassment and that they are determined to stamp out both.
“We aren’t leaving any options off the table to prevent sexual harassment,” one DOD official said, with the department expected to place a greater emphasis on improving oversight and training, as well as putting stronger mechanisms in place for managing sexual harassment incidents.
Note that the term sexual harasssment includes actual or attempted rape or sexual assault.  According to the Department of Defense (DoD), there were a heck of a lot more cases of sexual assault in the armed forces than there were instances of sexual harassment.  Given that sexual assault is a subset of sexual harassment, there should have been at least as many cases of sexual harassment as there were of sexual assault.  When I asked Nick Simeone, the author of the above two articles, about the discrepancy, his response was that there was a "legal distinction."  As previously discussed, the DoD's lawyers aren't exactly the universe's most intelligent beings.  Mr. Simeone shouldn't really be paying any attention to them, if he takes his journalism at all seriously.

Of course, alarming stories of sexual assault in the military have been all over the news.  For example, the Deseret News:
'Clear Threat': Reports of Military Sexual Assault leap 50 percent

Reports of sexual assault in the military leapt by 50 percent last year, according to a much-anticipated Pentagon study that came out last week.

The report was released on the heels of a Pentagon campaign to get victims to come forward, but the startling numbers have the attention of politicians and activists...

...more than half of women in the military experience unwanted sexual contact during their service, but it's not only women who are victims: Of the 26,000 reports of sexual assault and harassment made from 2011 to 2012, some 52 percent came from men.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel declared sexual assault a "clear threat" to both male and female service members.

A serious threat

New research shows that women in the military often experience trauma that's not battle related: Half of women that served in Iraq and Afghanistan reported being sexually harassed or assaulted by their peers,...

...the numbers have to be put in context, and include a range of behaviors. "Unwanted sexual touching could be hair stroking, groping, or an attempted or completed rape," she says. Unfortunately, she notes, young women in their early 20's report similar numbers that are alarmingly high in other situations, too. One in five college women report having been sexually assaulted, for example, prompting questions about "rape culture" and a plea from the White House last week asking colleges to seriously address the problem of campus rape.

Across organizations, Street says, those that are historically male-dominated and have a strong hierarchical culture are associated with more sexual harassment — from fire and police departments to Fortune 500 companies...
...The circumstances for sexual assault in a military setting might be especially problematic, says Street, especially in terms of the consequences of reporting attacks. "One of the things that's a real strength in the military is the esprit de corps and sacred purpose of the mission, but when [sexual trauma] happens, it can feel like quite a betrayal," Street says. "It can also make it difficult for victims to report and compromise their team, or make sense of it in the aftermath."

Women report "internal barriers" to reporting, she says. They may ask themselves, "If I report this will it have a negative effect on the mission, or the group's cohesion?"

"Women in the military take their jobs incredibly seriously and think carefully and cautiously," Street says.

There is also a history of "retaliation" toward women who report sexual misconduct, says Sarah Blum, a nurse psychotherapist and Vietnam veteran, and author of "Women Under Fire: Abuse in the Military."...

...Sexual assault in the military has been cast as a women's rights issue, but the latest data shows that men are affected as much as women — or more. In analyzing the Pentagon study's data, the Associated Press found that many more men were victims of assault in 2013 than women.

“About 6.8 percent of women surveyed said they were assaulted and 1.2 percent of the men,” according to the AP. “But there are vastly more men in the military; by the raw numbers, a bit more than 12,000 women said they were assaulted, compared with nearly 14,000 men."

"I think most men are embarrassed, especially because of homosexual stigma in the military," says Rinckey. He notes that men were especially silenced because of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," policy, which banned homosexual behavior in the military. More men may be coming forward now, he says, since "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been "insular" institutions like the military, it is sometimes easier for those in authority to sympathize with perpetrators. "People who find out about [a sexual assault] say, 'Do we want to ruin this guy's career? What about his family? He made a mistake.' Then sometimes people start to rally around the offender."...
The author, Lane Anderson, is using the numbers from the discredited-but-more-dramatic-looking Defense Manpower Data Center survey.  Half of the women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan reported being "sexually harassed or assaulted by their peers", and these instances of sexual harassment or assault may have included "hair stroking."  And, there were thousands of cases of men being buggered by their superior officers.  There weren't any women harassing men:  the clear implication is that men are rapists.

We seem to be operating under two somewhat contradictory assumptions, of which the first must remain understood but unspoken, or you're a "misogynist":
  • women are poor, weak, delicate creatures who have to be protected and sheltered from the filthy habits and foul words of men; and
  • women should be entitled to hold the exact same (or higher) positions as men in the military.
Has everyone forgotten about Lynndie England and Abu Ghraib?

Miss England was convicted of conspiracy, maltreating detainees and committing an indecent act, and consequently spent 18 months in prison and received a dishonorable discharge from the Army.  And, she remains unrepentant:  "saying sorry to the victims of her ridicule would be 'like saying sorry to the enemy'."  The fact that she was involved in torturing people wouldn't ordinarily have bothered anybody.  Vice President (and celebrated chicken hawk) Dick Cheney was a big booster of torture.  Her only real crime was taking pictures that were circulated on the internet, and that embarrassed President Bush.  Particularly after President Bush had gone to so much trouble to portray Saddam Hussein as the evil villain who went around torturing people.  As Barton Gellman and Jo Becker point out:  "Many of the harsh measures [Dick Cheney] championed, and some of the broadest principles undergirding them, have survived intact but out of public view."  The photographs proved so distasteful that even The Economist, which ordinarily takes a pro-Republican view, called for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign:

Yeah, right.  Fat chance of that happening.  Interestingly, rather than accusing Miss England of having committed "sexual objectification", Feminists like John Howard and Laura Prividera accuse the "media" of "sexually objectifying" Miss England,  for the sake of "obfuscating military culpability", "preserving patriarchal militarism", and "subordinating women in the US military."  From the Feminist perspective, a woman is never responsible for anything:  it is always "society", or the "patriarchy", or the "media" that are at fault.  Women can do no wrong.

Meanwhile, the US military is stepping up its actions against sex offenders:
US Military Punished Nearly 500 for Sexual Harassment

The US military fired or disciplined nearly 500 workers for sexual harassment in a 12-month period, and nearly 13 per cent of the complaints filed involved repeat offenders, according to new data.

The Pentagon on Thursday released its first formal report on sexual harassment amid months of criticism from Congress over how the department handles sexual assaults and related crimes. According to the report, there were 1,366 reports of sexual harassment filed in the fiscal year that ended September. 30, involving 496 offenders across the services and National Guard...

...The report reveals that in the vast majority of the cases the victim was a young, lower-ranking woman and the offender a senior enlisted male service member, often in the same unit. The most frequent location of the harassment was a military base. More than half of the complaints involved crude or offensive behavior, and another 40 per cent were described as unwanted sexual attention. Most involved verbal behavior. Nearly 60 percent of the complaints were substantiated, and the punishments ranged from court martial and firing to pay cuts, rank demotions, letters of reprimand and other administrative actions....

Oh, the military is on a serious mission, now.  Going after sexual deviants, who might have behaved crudely or offensively, in front of women.  Don't hold back, ladies:  Mr. Hagel wants you to report on them, so that he can gratify himself by hanging some more derrières on the line.  Soldiers: mind your P's and Q's.  Especially when ladies are present.  And, ladies are always going to be present.  Never touch a woman's hair!  And, don't bugger any of the male soldiers!  That's really poor taste!

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is a veteran of the Vietnam War, and was apparently complicit in a fair amount of murder and mayhem, including the machine-gunning of an orphanage.  He was a squad leader in the 9th Infantry Division, which systematically slaughtered huge numbers of people in the Mekong Delta.  Gang rapes “were a horrifyingly common occurrence.”  What sort of training did our soldiers receive regarding sexual conduct during those less-enlightened times?  Well, here is a training video from that epoch:

Most military recruits are 18-year-old boys who are away from home for the first time.  They have hormones surging through their bodies, and, these days, will have spent much of the previous six-or-so years watching porn clips on the internet.  Of course they want to touch a woman's hair.  And, probably more than that.

In fact, rape was routine during the Vietnam War.  As mentioned previously, since 2005, American soldiers are no longer permitted even to employ a prostitute.  Compared to the 1960s, American soldiers are already quite tame and docile.  From Daniel Denvir:
 ...Rape was also a weapon of war and an enormous number of Vietnamese women, including children, were forced into prostitution.
They were forced into catering to the US war machine one way or another, and one of the prime ways was prostitution. A lot of girls who were sent to it, their villages had been destroyed and they were forced into the cities. And this was a way to provide for their families. The Americans had lots of money to spend and these were young guys, 18, 19, 20 years old.
So it was this flourishing sex trade and then out in the countryside there was what seems to be a tremendous amount of rape and sexual assault.
What I found was extremely disturbing. I recount a few cases where the sexual violence is really shocking. A lot of times I found myself, I felt I didn't have the language to describe exactly what I found in the cases, because rape or even gang rape didn't seem to convey the level of sexual sadism. These are extremely violent gang rapes, or raping women with inanimate objects like bottles or even rifles...
 Now, we seem to have gone completely in the other direction, with a highly Feminized military force, where a man doesn't even dare touch a woman's hair.  The people who say that sexual assault in the military is "at an all time high" don't have the slightest idea what they are talking about.

In January, 2017, we will have a new president, who will choose a new chucklehead to serve as Secretary of Defense, who will have some new silly obsession that will cause a lot of military members to jump through metaphorical hoops.  If it is a Republican, then we will go back to enriching contractors. There is still plenty of time to superordinate women while smashing patriarchal militarism.  As Cynthia Enloe observed in 2000:
There are very few instances in any country of military wives joining in an alliance with military prostitutes and together devising a joint action along with women soldiers, all for the sake of dismantling the usually elaborate ideology of femininity constructed by military authorities to serve their own institutional interests.
Well, that day has come.  As previously mentioned, "women are both the objects and the subjects of their experience of sexual harassment."  The determination of whether a woman has endured "sexual harassment" or "sexual assault" is entirely at the discretion of the woman.  If she claims that you did, said, or thought something that she felt was "sexually harassing", then you're guilty.  There is no way around it.  Just get out of her way, and do your best to stay out of her way.  The women possess a very powerful instrument, entirely at their disposal, to get whatever they want.  In the present case, what they want is to smash the military patriarchy, and turn it into a full-blown matriarchy.

The military is becoming the "behavioral sink" described by John B. Calhoun in his rat experiments.  Aggressive females are taking over, while the males are withdrawing themselves, to engage in solitary pursuits, and to abstain from sex with females.  Glory, Hallelujah!


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