Monday, March 19, 2007

The Problem With Straights in the Military




Yesterday's Sunday New York Times magazine featured a story on PTSD in women serving in the military. It was gut-wrenching to read. The article reported that nearly one third of women receiving care at a VA hospital reported that they experienced rape or attempted rape during their service. "Of that group, 37 percent said they were raped multiple times, and 14% reported they were gang raped." Out of over 3000 charges filed by women against men in the military for sexual harassment and assault, "only 329 - about one tenth -- of them resulted in a court martial of the perpetrator."

Rather than worrying about the consensual relationships of gay and lesbian military personnel, it's past time for the military to acknowledge its problem with straight men. Need I remind you General Pace that rape is immoral -- as is sexual harrassment or exploitation of any kind? My heart breaks for the continued failure of the military to address sexuality from a moral, ethical perspective that understands that it needs an ethic and laws based on relationships not acts? General Pace, we're waiting for your response.

4 comments:

Bill Baar said...

You just resurrected the old case for keeping women out of the military, and reinforced one of the current ones for keeping gays out. They'd get raped in a a necessarily violent male culture. Therefore they should not serve.

It's not true.

The stat on Women seeking care at the VA particlary sly as the VA has made long standing efforts to outreach of victims.

I suggest you make a phone call to the pentagon and make some site visits to Military installations. You need some first hand experience.

And do leave Pace out of it. He simply gave his personal views which he's certainly entitled too.

We have Don't Ask, Don't Tell by Act of Congress; not act of Gen Pace. If Speaker Pelosi doesn't like it, she should lead congress in changing it. It's not Pace's place or job to lead that fight.

Steve Caldwell said...

Bill,

I served 20+ years in the US military through the end of the Cold War along with combat duty during DESERT STORM in 1991.

The military is not a " ... necessarily violent male culture."

The male-on-female violence currently happening in the military is simply a reflection of male-on-female violence that's already prevalent in civilian society.

Keep in mind that the Army recruiting needs have forced us to enlist soldiers with prior criminal convictions. I suspect that this is partly responsible for the violence we're seeing.

General Pace's comments are eligible for public scrutiny. As a senior military officer, his opinion carries a different weight than an E-5 or O-3 would. As a minimum, it's fair to ask him to explain his reasoning behind his opinion.

And General Pace and other senior officers on the Joint Chiefs of Staff do have the power to lobby congress to change the current law. One could make a case for this based on military necessity (e.g. we need every qualified person we can get for the global war on terror).

Before you suggest that military senior officers cannot lobby Congress, remember that they did lobby Congress to keep President Clinton's proposal allowing openly gay and lesbian citizens to serve back in 1993 from happening.

Kitt said...

Steve -

Thanks for responding to Bill. My comment got 'eaten' by the computer monster. I couldn't much follow his comment. I'm always suspicious of men who want to make the case for women, especially on issues of like rape and sexual harassment, by suggesting to 'play within the boundaries' - e.g., contact the Pentagon....about what?

I have much first hand experience; I did file a complaint with the IG's office in 1976 and got results damn near immediately - as in that day. Now, it may have had much to do with my medical MOS. It also had to do with my senator - who was chair of the Armed Forces Committee, whose name I was not afraid to throw around.

The VA has NOT reached out to women veterans on the par it has with men, and in some areas has NOT at all. This has had to come with a fight. Women do not always seek out traditional methods/venues.

As for General Pace - he commented on a 'rule' (or policy) that is defined within the military. He and his comments are fair game. He is, after all, in charge (Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff).

If Rev. Deb is interested - start at veteran outreach centers.

OT - Picked up 'Lucky's Higher Power' today.

Anonymous said...

I find it particularly noteworthy that the military uses abusive tactics to break new recruits. Soldiers are doing what they have been trained to do... violence.

Every soldier that graduates from boot camp is traumatized. This is the cheap and dirty way to train a military. It is no wonder that there are abuses all around. From hazing to war crimes to street crime when they return home, soldiers have a rampant problem with abuse.

What would a military look like that does not use harassment as a training technique?

Martial arts training teaches restraint and respect and the setting of appropriate boundaries.