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Thread: Rape in the military

  1. #1
    Groundskeeping Dept. SWCAdmin's Avatar
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    Default Rape in the military

    Received this from a fairly flaky correspondent. What say you?
    (Edited to clarify -- the "flaky correspondent" was an obtuse anonymous emailer that I have NO reason to believe was the author.)
    http://www.alternet.org/rights/98603/?page=entire

    Rape rates in our forces are twice "normal", and that article asks
    WHY, pointedly.
    I almost didn't post this, because I scanned ahead to the recommendations and they are so pedantic and/or impractical that it is hard to take seriously. However, there is at least some serious discussion in there, and no doubt a serious issue.

    BTW, no DACOWITS tie I have discovered.

    This is not strictly a Small Wars issue, but a larger military one as this article is written. However, I wonder if the underlying violence / background issue highlighted therein has larger impacts on the challenges of the 3-block war, etc.
    Last edited by SWCAdmin; 09-23-2008 at 02:33 PM. Reason: Clarification to avoid misinterpretation

  2. #2
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    Default The Profession

    Thank you for beginning this discussion thread.

    There are no easy answers for the "Rape Crisis" our entire military culture is facing. The most recently unveiled US Army I.A.M. Strong campaign misses the mark. This is not an objective that we can attack with quippy marketing. It is a culture problem. Men need to police other men and kick them the ____ out of our most humble profession when they violate this sacred trust. Of course, many rapes become "He said, she said" but through an emphasis of changing our culture to look at all women as equals, sisters at arms, we may begin to diminish this crime.

    VIGNETTE: As leader of Soldiers in units with men and women, I have always told them to "look to your right and left....do you see women....YES...well they are your sisters at arms. You will protect them like a sister. This is not the time for fraternization in this company, but to look out for one another as if you were brother and sister....And if I have to deal with anyone of you....I will be dealing with you as if you have done something to my very own daughter."

    This only begins culture change. Concerning the posted article by Ms. Benedict, I believe she is recycling a few older examples to dogpile on a conclusion. I believe she has a few suggestions that may help culture change. Specifically taking charge of our profession and not tolerating this type of behavior by expelling sexual predators, treating women with respect at all times.

    More importantly, we have a rape myth crisis, where many male commanders believe the women victim is to blame for getting into the circumstance that led to rape. For example, a women is raped. But the commander dwells on how many regulations violates occurred to get to that point...are you getting it yet? Underaged drinking...fraternization, flirting...all of the little things that lead a male Soldier to believe that this is OK. Then it goes to far and the women feels violated. A commander with a fundamentalist back ground looks at the victim and says, "you shouldn't have been drinking under age...you shouldn't have been alone with this married man." Missing the mark on the real crime....punishing the victim sometimes more than the perpetrator. This is one reason why our profession is where it is today, in a "Rape Crisis," because we have leaders with a fundamentalist lens that looks at women as objects. Leaders that believe a women's place is the home or not in the military and if they're raped, it was their fault? We need to change this culture.

    Thanks for listening,
    MSL--A brother at arms that looks out for sisters at arms

  3. #3
    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Default

    This is a very important and intersting issue, but this writer comes to this article with a lot of baggage. She also fails to understand (like many of the studies she quotes) the difference between a "correlation and causation." I don't have time this second to go through the article item by item, but I'll get to that a little later.

    Edited to Add: After further reading, I am shocked by some of the statements and conclusions in this article. I think you should take a look at her site.

    Adam L
    Last edited by Adam L; 09-20-2008 at 02:50 PM.

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    Default Rape in the media

    Rape is obviously an incredibly serious issue and I agree with everything MSL said. I think we all know how we'd react if it was our sister, daughter, wife or girlfriend that was sexually assaulted and it is up to us all to be vigilant with respect to the sisters, wives, girlfriends and daughters of others.

    Having cleared my position on that up, I would also add that rape is traditionally a "hot button" issue with a history of being abused by the media to make a point. ie misuse of statistics, blaming rape on a particular group etc.

    Prof. Victoria Fontan has researched this phenomena extensively if anyone can dig up some of her work. I believe she has a book just out, or coming out through Praeger.

  5. #5
    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Multi-skilled Leader View Post
    This only begins culture change. Concerning the posted article by Ms. Benedict, I believe she is recycling a few older examples to dogpile on a conclusion. I believe she has a few suggestions that may help culture change. Specifically taking charge of our profession and not tolerating this type of behavior by expelling sexual predators, treating women with respect at all times.
    The problem is that this is a lot more complicated and difficult than it sounds. The first thing I have to ask is what you mean by respect? Do you feel male service members are treated with respect at all times? Aren't there times when it is appropriate to not treat someone with respect? Also, if you are going to have any type of movement towards certain standards of treatment, it must be coed. The last thing needed is even more of a double standard to divide people. I don't know if the rape and abuse crisis is that different or unique from other problems that always exist. People who come from very different backgrounds, or are just different, often take abuse. Women are different (don't call me sexist for saying this) in many ways socially, etc. than men are and I feel this is what is greatly contributing to the problems. I do believe that the result in the latter is far more perverse and dangerous, but it is none the less very similar. I feel we are dealing with this crisis as if it is all too unique, rather than recognizing that rape and abuse in many of these cases is an extension of underlying social problems.

    Adam L

  6. #6
    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    I have some issues with this as well. First, I'd like to see the reports she relies on for her information. The age disparity she refers to doesn't comport with my own experience and knowledge. Maybe someone else has some different experiences, but from what I've seen the vast majority of rapes are what might be called date rapes and involve alcohol. This means that the attacker and victim knew each other and often were at a function together where alcohol was served. Mostly its our younger folks and they're all within a couple of years of each other. The statement that rape is twice as prevalent in the military is also suspect.

    The second thing I immediately noticed was her discussion of the difficulty in reporting a rape. The article makes no mention of the changes in reporting that were made 2 or 3 years ago to allow for restricted reporting. This means that a victim can report the rape and receive medical attention and counseling, but her command will not be informed (thereby dispensing with most of the concerns raised by the author). Of course, the downside is that there can be no prosecution, but it still allows the victim to receive the help she needs. It's a DoD-wide regulation. I guess this little bit of information doesn't fit within the overall political agenda that forms the basis of the article so it wasn't included.

    She is right that rape is a serious issue but slanting your work isn't a viable method for getting to a solution. But then again maybe a solution isn't as important to Ms. Benedict as merely getting rounds downrange.
    -john bellflower

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    It's a culture thing.

    In the British Army, they have a number of issues that relate directly to this, that will probably never be tackled. If you allow and encourage your blokes to act like a bunch of alcohol fuelled morons, they will comply. Very often the culture of some infantry units in particular, is an enabler.

    IMO, men who rape (or hit women) are very likely to commit war crimes. Men who can't control their drinking are the same risk.

    It would be very easy to put in place rules, norms, and ideas to change the playing field. I just guess we choose not to.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    Default Helen Benedict - Backgrounder by her

    I tend to background people and things - not to launch ad hominems - but to see what makes them tick; and whether their ticking keeps time.

    So, here is a bit of background on Ms. Benedict - from her.

    Her writing on this topic (in book form) goes back a ways - she is no rookie. It started with a critique of her profession.

    Virgin or Vamp
    How the Press Covers Sex Crimes Helen Benedict
    ISBN13: 9780195086652
    ISBN10: 0195086651
    paper, 320 pages Jul 1993, In Stock
    .....
    In Virgin or Vamp Benedict examines the press's treatment of four notorious sex crimes from the past decade--the Rideout marital rape trial in Oregon, the Big Dan's pool table gang rape in Massachusetts, the "Preppy Murder" in New York City, and the Central Park jogger case--and shows how victims are labelled either as virgins or vamps, a practice she condemns as misleading and harmful. Benedict also looks at other factors that perpetuate the misunderstanding of rape.
    http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/genera...=9780195086652

    She has a website, which describes her most recent book and her prior works, here

    Helen Benedict is the author of four novels and four books of nonfiction. She is now at work on a nonfiction book, THE LONELY SOLDIER: THE PRIVATE WAR OF WOMEN SERVING IN IRAQ, to be published by Beacon Press in April 2009. Her article on the subject, "The Private War of Women Soldiers" (Salon, March 2007) was awarded The James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism in 2008. For other articles on women soldiers, see Essays.
    http://www.helenbenedict.com/

    The Biography heading from her website goes here - and adds nothing to what is on the homepage.

    Benedict grew up in England, Mauritius, Seychelles and California, the daughter of anthropologists. As someone who has moved between countries often, she is especially interested in the writer's art of entering lives, cultures and skins other than one's own, and in social justice.
    http://www.helenbenedict.com/index.htm

    There is much more about her thought processes and her approach to her topics under the heading Interview, here.

    http://www.helenbenedict.com/bio.htm

    Her works are here

    http://www.helenbenedict.com/works.htm

    Some essays are here

    Female Vets Fight Another Battle at Home: Restoring their Spirits
    by Helen Benedict
    ....
    Over this past year, I have talked to forty or so women soldiers for my forthcoming book, The Lonely Soldier: Women at War in Iraq, and it has become clear to me that they have a set of needs quite different from those of men....

    The Private War of Women Soldiers
    (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/20...en_in_military)
    by Helen Benedict
    ....
    As thousands of burned-out soldiers prepare to return to Iraq to fill President Bush's unwelcome call for at least 20,000 more troops, I can't help wondering what the women among those troops will have to face. And I don't mean only the hardships of war, the killing of civilians, the bombs and mortars, the heat and sleeplessness and fear. I mean from their own comrades -- the men....

    Fiction vs. Nonfiction: Wherein Lies the Truth (The Practical Writer, Penguin Books, 2004.)
    by Helen Benedict
    ....
    "Fiction steps in where the ordinary articulateness of human beings fails. It gives the human soul a voice."
    .....
    Then I shocked them even further. I told them that I had chosen fiction because I believed it could get me nearer to the truth. The kind of truth I am talking about is the subjective truth of what it means to be a human being in the world. It is the substance of what happens to people not just on the outside, but within: the longings, the moral decisions, the defiance, suffering, pain and triumphs of the human soul. ....

    The Frightened Muse (2001-2006)
    by Helen Benedict posted on Featurewell.com
    UPDATED, 2006
    ....
    “The deaths in New York were horrible and irreparable, but they did not make us special. They did not make us more important than any other country in any other war. This is what Primo Levi understood about his war, and what we need to understand about ours.”
    ....
    The week after I left New York to live and write in Paris for a year, the World Trade Center was destroyed and one of my French cousins killed his wife and himself, leaving behind their four children. ....

    Racism Railroaded Justice in Jogger Rape Case
    by Helen Benedict (published in NEWSDAY, Viewpoint, 10/23/02, p.36)
    ......
    Now that new evidence casts doubt on the guilt of the five Harlem men serving time for the rape and beating of the Central Park jogger in 1989, the case is looking like a horrible repetition of this country’s racist history concerning sex crimes.....
    http://www.helenbenedict.com/newsletter.htm

    The 2007 Salon article is here (4 pages)

    The private war of women soldiers
    ....
    Many female soldiers say they are sexually assaulted by their male comrades and can't trust the military to protect them. "The knife wasn't for the Iraqis," says one woman. "It was for the guys on my own side."
    ....
    Editor's note: This story has been corrected since it was originally published.
    By Helen Benedict
    ....
    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/20...n_in_military/

    More recently, her op-ed in the NY Times for Memorial Day is here.

    For Women Warriors, Deep Wounds, Little Care
    By HELEN BENEDICT
    Published: May 26, 2008
    THIS Memorial Day, as an ever-increasing number of mentally and physically wounded soldiers return from Iraq, the Department of Veterans Affairs faces a pressing crisis: women traumatized not only by combat but also by sexual assault and harassment from their fellow service members. Sadly, the department is failing to fully deal with this problem. ....
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/26/op...4BZtz6aWoYJevA

    -----------------------------------------------------
    So, the bottom line is that Ms. Benedict is an expert in her chosen field - which does not mean that she is necessarily right (or wrong); or that the statistics (which she likes to cite) would hold up to critical examination. I imagine she would be a toughee to cross-examine in her area of expertise.

    Of all the things she herself says, the following bothered me a bit:

    "Fiction steps in where the ordinary articulateness of human beings fails. It gives the human soul a voice."
    .....
    Then I shocked them even further. I told them that I had chosen fiction because I believed it could get me nearer to the truth. The kind of truth I am talking about is the subjective truth of what it means to be a human being in the world. It is the substance of what happens to people not just on the outside, but within: the longings, the moral decisions, the defiance, suffering, pain and triumphs of the human soul. ....
    I was reminded of a similar approach in another context. In effect, reality no longer matters because everything is perception - and, "we" shape the perception, and hence the new reality.

    I guess I am just an old Joe Friday guy - "just the facts, ma'am".

    Or, paraphrasing another line, I frankly don't give a damme about why a criminal commits a crime - other than to prove motive.

    I do care about whether there is enough evidence to charge and eventually to convict. I do care about whether evidence is ignored, withheld or fabricated - because all of that can lead to conviction of the innocent.

    And, rape cases are tough - and dirty. Give me a good clean homicide any day of the week.

  9. #9
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    Rape is a serious problem in the military, IMO. Rape is also a serious problem in US society in general. By comparing the statistics reported in the 2004 study on the subject and FBI statistics, we see that the rape rate in the US military is about 1/2 that of the general population. It's still too high and, indeed, one criticism is that rape isn't as comparitively low in the military population as other violent crimes. Of course, many rapes go unreported, and we don't have any reliable information to indicate exactly how many or what difference (if any) exist between the general population and the military.

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    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    And, rape cases are tough - and dirty. Give me a good clean homicide any day of the week.
    Too many people forget or don't think about this. So often there is so little evidence to deal with (evidence of the act isn't always evidence of the criminal act) and it results in a he said she said case (sometimes other permutations.) One thing that I so often find with "experts" in this area is that they completely fail to acknowledge that someone making allegations (of any sort) might be lying. I am tired of having converstions with "academics", "experts". or "students" in this area (Gender/Women's studies especially) and being accused of being "chauvinist", because I say, "My gut says he did it, but there just isn't/wasn't enough evidence." Too many people want to forget about evidentiary requirements when they feel like it.

    Adam L

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    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
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    Default In her polemic...

    she answers the question of why:

    "The economic reasons behind enlistment are well understood. The military is the primary path out of poverty and dead-end jobs for many of the poor in America. What is less discussed is that many soldiers enlist as teenagers to escape troubled or violent homes."

    Rape is a heinous crime under any circumstances but Ms. Benedict takes what is a very complex issue that occurs within an exceedingly unique dynamic and tries to point to a particular causation.

    Yup, it's the fault of us poor uneducated who had no other recourse but to choose between a "dead-end" job (she forgot incarceration) and the military. I’m so glad I chose the Marine “Corp” since their misogynist training really stands out.
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    I am getting so sick and tired of reading the "poor uneducated" refrain as a method of disenfranchising members of the military. What they are saying is the simple act of enlistment means you are to stupid to have other options. I just had a discussion with a kindly academic discussing neo-leftism that pities the droves of troops psychologically unfit for life in the country as EVERY solider has PTSD and needs fixing. Broad swaths of hyperbole tearing apart the fabric of reality to justify an emotional tizzy of grand proportions.

    <sigh>

    I did pre-sentence reports on multiple convicted rapists. It might be surprising but I never saw a pattern to victims or rapists. They came from all over the age, race, economic spectrum. The detectives that worked the cases always had the same glum look as the primary method (in my experience) to get a conviction was a plead out of guilty.
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