Women in War

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[Thanks to hurley and valkyrie607 for pitching this idea.]

female soldier

In Iraq [Mary Godwin / Flickr]

American women are serving, getting injured, and dying in Afghanistan and Iraq in numbers far greater than in any previous war. Over 160,000 women have served there, and so far 72 have died in Iraq. Most significantly — because there are no front lines but plenty of ambushes and roadside IEDs — many women are, for the first time, engaging the enemy even though they’re not in ground combat units.

Women were allowed in the peacetime military soon after WWII, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that they were admitted to the service academies and integrated into regular units in all of the forces. Women were prohibited from any combat position until the 1990s, when they were allowed to fly combat aircraft and serve on combat ships. They now make up roughly 15 percent of the armed forces, but they still don’t serve in several combat arms branches — most notably the infantry.

Because so many women are experiencing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s adding tension to a longstanding battle over women’s right to serve in every part of the military. At issue — from the perspective of men who’d rather not see women in the infantry — are on-the-ground realities of unit cohesiveness; distraction because of sexual attraction; women’s physical strength; problems of women and men sleeping, showering, and using bathrooms together in the field; and men’s willingness to send women into dangerous situations. In other words: anything that might detract from a mission’s effectiveness. Military women who want all doors open to them say these arguments echo old ones against integrating black and white units — and that all of them have ready answers. Other countries (like Canada and Germany) already allow women in ground combat.

The elephants in the room here are sexual harassment and assault. Some believe they bolster arguments against allowing women in the infantry. Others feel they’re a symptom of a macho military culture that refuses to accept women as equals. Rape and harassment are unquestionably a problem [pdf file] in the military, but they’re part of civilian life, too. So are they any more prevalent in the armed forces? If so, what are the reasons? How significant is the fact that women are a small minority and therefore easy to pick on? Is the background of the typical enlisted man — or woman for that matter — relevant? How much of the solution lies in better training? Or in leadership at all levels?

All of these questions about women in combat and sexual violence are slippery and fraught and surely more layered than we can get at in an hour, so what are you most curious to know or ask?

Update, 3/21

After a fair amount of smiling and dialing (as Mary calls it) and trying to figure out how to put this show together, we’ve decided that we want to talk to as many Iraq veterans as possible rather than stacking the hour with military experts.

So because we won’t have room for a statistics wizard to explain the confusing sexual assault numbers — and because many of you have been asking about them in the comment thread — here’s what we’ve found out: The Miles Foundation — an NGO dedicated to research on, education about, and services for military victims of sexual and domestic violence — put it this way: It’s basically impossible to compare the military numbers reliably with the civilian numbers. This is because different organizations are collecting the data (DoD, VA, a variety of civilian institutions) and using different methodologies (various survey or self-reporting methods). The Miles people stay on top of all the data, and their best guess, based on the numbers, is this: The rates of sexual assault are higher in the military than in the civilian world. And the rates go up during wartime.

The Miles Foundation was also, by the way, one of two sources that told me the story in the Salon piece Potter mentions about the women dying of dehydration in their cots is false, completely unsubstantiated by the death records.

Toby Johnson

Former Captain, Army (Apache helicopter pilot)

Iraq veteran (deployed in 2003)

Student, Harvard Business School

See our photo feature on Toby here

Sonya Foster

Tech. Sergeant, Air Force

Iraq veteran (deployed in 2006)

Blogger, Diary of the Deployed Mama

Tina Bean

Former Senior Airman, Air Force

Iraq veteran (deployed in 2006)

Jason Hartley

Specialist, New York Army National Guard

Iraq veteran (deployed in 2004)

Author, Just Another Soldier

Blogger, Jason Christopher Hartley

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  • Military women who want all doors open to them say these arguments echo old ones against integrating black and white units — and that all of them have ready answers.

    I’d like to hear them. A black man and a white man .. the only diff is the skin color. A man and a woman .. there are physical and mental differences. Some of that can be erased by conditioning, but the physical issues remain.

    And yes, I’m aware that the same arguments were raised by against integrating the armed forces. And the guy who raised those arguments was sure that there were racial differences that proved (scientifically no doubt) that this race or that was inferior in some way.

    I’m always willing to be wrong.

    One argument that favors integration of ground combat units is that women who don’t see combat would be aced out later in the promotion race in favor of men who have. I note this is true for only women who aspire to be senior officers in the service and not generally true for NCOs.

    Other countries (like Canada and Germany) already allow women in ground combat

    Two countries who have an admirable military tradition, but who have not seen their armed forces sent off to war for a very long time. For a better look at how women would serve in war (which is the point of having an army) we should probably look at countries that have actually been to war with women serving in combat.

    Question: Canada does deploy packets of troops on peacekeeping missions – do they include women?

    Others feel they’re a symptom of a macho military culture that refuses to accept women as equals.

    No question the military can be seen as macho – but the term is used as a slur. I submit the military is that way not because of outdated concepts of manhood but because it’s been an attitude that works.

    Or in leadership at all levels?

    In my experience lax leadership (at any level) promotes a lot of shenanigans, including harassment. When your leadership team is effective, when the troops know that the Man does not tolerate the crap (whatever it is) it stops.

  • A black man and a white man .. the only diff is the skin color. A man and a woman .. there are physical and mental differences. Some of that can be erased by conditioning, but the physical issues remain.

    yes. let’s focus on the physical: black and white males are about the same size. whatever differences in endurance and physical strength there are (the average black male has a lower body fat %, the white male can endure cold better, etc.), they are pretty small compared to the difference in distributions between male and female. the key point is this: you don’t need to sample equally from the distributions. that is, some women can compete with the typical men, just not the average women, because males and females differ on average. play with a normal distribution calculator, and you’ll see what i mean.

    (equal standards can mitigate many of these issues obviously – one reason racial tensions are lessened in the military is that the difference between blacks and whites in regards to educational and class qualifications is relatively dampened by the fact that, until recently, the military standardized tests simply rejected a larger proportion of the black applicants, who tended to be less academically prepared)

    How significant is the fact that women are a small minority and therefore easy to pick on?

    uh…well, i have a friend who went to MIT, where females were in a small minority. on the one hand, there was a lot of chauvanism. on the other hand, they got asked on dates constantly…no matter how ‘hot’ or ‘not’ they were. this changed some women’s perception of themselves (getting this attention). you can connect the dots, no?

  • tbrucia

    The phrase ‘women in combat’ seems a simple one, but is actually quite complex. Warfare ihas increasingly become more mechanized (technologized) and more impersonal. If a woman flies a bomber aircraft she is in a combat arm, but may spend her evening back in Missouri having dinner at the officers’ club with her husband. If a woman launches computer viruses at an enemy’s communications network, she is in combat, but she may be drinking a coffee and meeting friends for breakfast an hour later. And if a woman serves in an artillery unit, doing her thing, she is ‘in combat’ even though she has only the foggiest idea of what it’s like to have a barrage of shells landing all around her. (You get the idea…) The Iraq War is not what is considered ‘classic modern warfare’, where one’s success is dependent on the addition of ever bigger piles of increasingly sophisticated capital to a base of ever more highly educated military technicians controlling these ‘combat systems’. This was where Donald Rumsfeld went wrong — assuming that ALL warfare in the future could be ‘technologized’. The questions really are (or should be) ONLY directed at those few military situations where face-to-face killing is involved. Among the relevant questions: ‘Can (American) women perform face-to-face killing?’ ‘Can women operate successfully when cultural issues (sleeping, showering, and using bathrooms together with men) are in play? ‘How does sexual pairing affect unit cohesiveness?’ ‘Can male unwillingness to send women into dangerous situations be overcome?’ — Since these issues have been faced most frequently in the past in insurgencies (guerrilla warfare), it might be best to look to the past for answers… Mao’s ‘Long March’, the Yugoslav resistance during World War II, the French underground during WWII, the Algerian War (FLN), etc, etc. In all these and other successful wars, women served at small unit level. If we can tease out the truth about how they contributed, it would be useful to know here. From an evolutionary perspective, men have evolved as hunters and women have evolved as the gatherers, but humans have long since devised techniques for overcoming their genetic limitations. Perhaps technology and its tools can allow women to become effective face-to-face killers. (The use of ‘bennies’ in warfare is just the best known ‘ pharmacological example of using chemicals to alter behavior, though the use of hashish by the ancient Ismaili Assassins is another.) Finally, because of the supposed genetic emotional resilience of women, might it even give them a leg-up over men? Is it myth that women can be very vindictive and violent when their families/kids are threatened? Are women more or less subject to PTSD than men? All interesting questions in an era where the supposedly inexorable movement of all warfare toward impersonal technologization seems in some doubt…

  • rc21

    First we must look at facts men and women are not created equal, dispite what the PC wackos at Harvard might want us to believe.

    If women want to serve in a combat role they should be made to pass the fitness test. The one men must pass not some watered down version. If you can pass the same tests that the males pass than fine your in. if not go find another line of work.

    Combat should not be some PC femminist experiment in social engineering.

    By the way I would look to Israel. They are the one country that can’t afford such mistakes,their lives and their countries existence depends on making the correct decision. Do they allow women in combat roles?

    I’m all for womens having the right to perform any job they wish, but please earn the right to have the job.

  • Lumière

    this from 1978 is quite the read gals….

    ///…an economic or social construct,

    a biological or psychological one,

    or as a crisis in culture…\\\

    …..status deprivation or excessive adrenal secretion?

    http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1978/nov-dec/wheeler.html

  • Lumière

    One can see a natural progression here, as woman move out of the breeding role – natural progression towards population reduction

    Rc 21 – do you know if combat troops have to maintain a level of fitness?

  • Potter

    This is yesterday’s New York Times magazine cover article by Sarah Corbett: The Women’s War.

    Grab it while you can- I don’t think it’s behind the firewall.

  • Lumière

    Potter the article is 16 pages long – my eyes can’t stand the strain.

    It is anecdotal; nonetheless, I accept the fact that she was harassed and suffers from PTSD. The fact that this stuff happens doesn’t make it right – the bullies and victimizers should have no standing in society.

    Let me ask you:

    Is the harassment institutionalized i.e. is it the intent of the military to harass needed participants?

    Did the author quote any stats:

    What % of women (or men) are harassed/bullied in the military?

    In the greater society, the % of sexual harassment or bullying?

    TIA

    Ps did you see the kid on 60 minutes last night?

    not an iota of remorse

  • Lumière

    rc21

    Tammy Duckworth lost both legs and damaged her right arm, but managed to land her UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter after it was hit with a rocket propelled grenade.

    Do you think she proved she could handle the job?

    Wiki:

    Former Republican Presidential candidate Bob Dole dedicated his biography One Soldier’s Story in part to Duckworth: “And to Major Tammy Duckworth … a brave woman wounded in Iraq, who represents all of those with their own battles ahead of them, and their own stories to tell.”

  • There is a March 8th interview (you can download it as audio or watch as realplayer video stream) on Democracy Now!…

    “The Private War of Women Soldiers: Female Vet, Soldier Speak Out on Rising Sexual Assault Within US Military”

    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/08/1443232

  • razib

    the military standardized tests simply rejected a larger proportion of the black applicants, who tended to be less academically prepared

    Ur – the ASVAB test that I took was pretty simple – you didn’t need much academic preparation for it; the math was elementary school basic from what I can recall and some of the questions .. pretty simple.

    The reason – my opinion – that racial tensions are low in the military is that it’s a genuine equal opportunity deal – there is no favoritism based on race. The only qualifier is that you be good at your job. Excellence is rewarded by fast promotion, more schooling, and so forth.

    rc21

    If women want to serve in a combat role they should be made to pass the fitness test. The one men must pass not some watered down version. If you can pass the same tests that the males pass than fine your in. if not go find another line of work.

    The Marines have different standards for the physical fitness test for men and women .. which seems reasonable to me. The woman’s test isn’t at all ‘easy’ to pass – it’s just different from the men’s. Example women must do a bent-arm hang for xx seconds – the longer the better. Most guys would fail that test, easy; too much mass.

    At risk of being labeled a Jarhead I do think the Marine way works – women can serve in any MOS, any unit except combat arms – artillery, armor, infantry. Every Marine is a rifleman – they’re all expected to function as infantry if needed.

    It may not be completely equitable but it the last and least .. it works.

  • As for women’s fitness for war, see the Celtic Warrior Queen Boadicea who routed the Romans numerous times before her eventual defeat.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boadicea

    “The Roman historian Plutarch described a battle in 102 B.C. between Romans and Celts: “the fight had been no less fierce with the women than with the men themselves… the women charged with swords and axes and fell upon their opponents uttering a hideous outcry.”

    http://www.lothene.demon.co.uk/others/womenrom.html

  • rc21

    Lumiere; When I served there was a basic standard of fitness that needed to be maintained. I should say there were two levels of fitness that neede to be maintained One standard for men and a second much easier standard for women.

    Don’t get me wrong I’m for women having the same oppertunities as men . But you should have to play by the same rules. Physical fitness in the military is very important. It should not be taken lightly.

    To all women who want to serve in combat I say great. Now hit the gym start lifting weights. go for your evening runs and get the f–ck in shape. It can be done. There are plenty of fit strong women out there who could serve in combat roles. The ones who cant pass the fitness test just are not putting in the effort to get themselves fit.

    Stop looking for a handout or some kind of free pass to get what you want go out and earn it. Standards should not be comprimised by a PC world hoping to make some kind of femminist feelgood statement.

  • Lumière

    ////Celtic Warrior Queen Boadicea\\\

    A distant relative of mine!

    peggysue:

    were there any stats amounting to facts?

    Rc21 – I think the fitness should relate to the job – what else would make sense? If they can’t do special ops training, then they can’t apply

    They need two arms and a trigger finger….

    I’ll ask you as I asked potter:

    Are there any stats showing women unfit to do their job?

    Stats for men unfit to do their job?

  • Lumière

    ////It may not be completely equitable but it the last and least .. it works.\\\

    Bingo !

    &

    end of story

  • rc21

    I’m not against different standards for women who are not in combat roles. You are missing my point. If you want to be a pilot running should not be an overriding factor as to wheather you get the job or not. Im speaking only of combat roles. In the army and marines you are forced to carry very heavy packs and you must march and run. there is also the fact you may have to carry wounded and/or extra ammo. Plus there is always the possibility of close combat. Strength, speed and fitness play a very important role. This cannot be denied.

    As I stated I’m not against women having combat roles. I just want them to be strong enough and fit enough to do the job. They should be held to the same fitness level as the men, because they are doing the same job.

    As to other roles if you want to water down the fitness levels for women than go ahead.

  • Regarding fitness for combat: What I’ve heard lately about soldiers, regadless of gender, being redeployed while they still have not recovered from both physical and mental/emotional injuries sustained in battle makes me wonder how fit our entire military force is. (Then there is catch 22. Anyone sane enough to go to war would not choose to go).

  • Lumiere: As far as I know the only record regarding Boadicea comes down to us through the ultimatly victorious Romans. Even if they kept statistics, as a Celt myself, I’m not so sure I’d trust them.

  • Lumière

    I’m looking at the fitness test as a base line.

    If you pass, you qualify for jobs below that base line.

    If you want a job above that base line, you need to pass the fitness test for that job.

    hand to hand combat : how many battles since WWI have been won by H2H combat?

    If women are on the battlefield, they need to be trained for H2H. If you are depending on H2H to win, you are probably screwed right out of the box

  • 1st/14th

    Rape and harassment are unquestionably a problem [pdf file] in the military, but they’re part of civilian life, too. So are they any more prevalent in the armed forces?

    This is really such a stupid argument that it surprises me how often it is brought up. I would wager to say that the incident of sexual assault in the military is probably significantly lower than say … a college campus where demographics would be similar. I suppose it plays well in feminazi and similar lefty circles though.

    Dunbar: While I would agree that the Marine PFT is most equal fitness standard in the armed forces, especially when compared with the APFT, it still has a built in but if women want equal opportunity, they should have to perform to the same physical standards as their male counterparts. If a male sailor has to carry a 150lb fire fighting pump in order to serve at sea, there is no reason that a female sailor should get a pass on this requirement, which that currently do. I met plenty of women who, if not the physical equal of myself were certainly the physical equal of many of the men I served with, were more that qualified to fill almost any position available. I think that more and more men agree with this: if you want the same MOS opportunities, you have to be judged by the same standards.

    The tragic death of Lt Kara Hultgreen would never have happened if her promotion to naval aviator was made on qualifications rather than politics.

    Lumière: With a few notable exceptions, like Capt. Lewis Millett’s bayonet charge in Korea, no battles are won with HtH, but lots of fights still are. The Marines have reemphasized two long overlooked things in the past few years based on their experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq: proficiency with sidearms and hand to hand fighting, and there is a good reason for that.

  • 1st/14th

    if you want the same MOS opportunities, you have to be judged by the same standards.

    I’m for that – the PFT is not designed to qualify for an MOS but for a general fitness qualification. My point was that it’s possible to design fitness standards that – in general – are fair but play to the peculiar physical assets of each sex.

    It works for promotion purposes and to give unit commanders an glimpse of how healthy their troops are.

    The Marines have reemphasized two long overlooked things in the past few years based on their experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq: proficiency with sidearms and hand to hand fighting, and there is a good reason for that.

    A follow-up to that – it is not the skills so much (but those are important) but the attitude you carry that enables a person to prevail in those circumstances. Nothing gives you a mental shock absorber like knowing deep down you can handle a close quarters battle because you’ve been trained for it.

  • herbert browne

    (from tbrucia) ..”In all these and other successful wars, women served at small unit level. If we can tease out the truth about how they contributed, it would be useful to know here. From an evolutionary perspective..”-

    Ahhh, yes- “successful war” = “women (serving) at small unit level”. There’s no doubt in my mind about this… it is the Secret Of Success- and a Truth waiting to be teased out, indeed…

    The camo-covered angel in the accompanying photograph should lose an R to claim the Perfect Warrior’s name: May Godwin. Amen to that… ^..^

  • Lumière

    Brilliant HB !

  • Sutter

    1st/14th: “I would wager to say that the incident of sexual assault in the military is probably significantly lower than say … a college campus where demographics would be similar. I suppose it plays well in feminazi and similar lefty circles though.”

    Do you have any statistics on this? I’d certainly take you up on that wager, but willingness to wager one way or the other doesn’t prove much. (Also — “feminazi”? We’re really resorting to decade-old Limbaugh catch-phrases now?)

  • 1st/14th

    Do you have any statistics on this? I’d certainly take you up on that wager, but willingness to wager one way or the other doesn’t prove much. (Also — “feminazi”? We’re really resorting to decade-old Limbaugh catch-phrases now?)

    Now, I am not going to vouch for these, but here are some numbers I found.

    Incident in the Army 132/100,000 and Incident on college campus, 3500/100,000

    And I always like the phrase “feminazi” …. as true today as it was then.

  • rc21

    Do you think we will see rep Sanchez adressing college campuses in the near future?

  • rc21

    I wonder what former Harvard prez L. Summers thinks of the term femanazis? I bet he would think it appropriate.

  • Sutter

    1st/14th, I don’t think the link came through on the college stats — would you mind re-posting?

    Thanks.

  • Lumière

    That is low

    The ratio of males to female in college MIGHT be less than 50%

    The ratio of males to females in the military is greater than 64%

    A woman is safer in the military than college, even though she is in contact with more men

    partying factor: less partying in the military

    Nice find

  • Lumière

    partying factor:

    75% of the time, the offender, the victim, or both have been drinking.

    http://www.aauw.org/laf/library/assault_stats.cfm

  • Potter

    Lumiere- from the NYT article:

    The ‘Double Whammy’

    No matter how you look at it, Iraq is a chaotic war in which an unprecedented number of women have been exposed to high levels of stress. So far, more than 160,000 female soldiers have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, as compared with the 7,500 who served in Vietnam and the 41,000 who were dispatched to the gulf war in the early ’90s. Today one of every 10 U.S. soldiers in Iraq is female.

    Despite the fact that women are generally limited to combat-support roles in the war, they are arguably witnessing a historic amount of violence. With its baffling sand swirl of roadside bombs and blind ambushes, its civilians who look like insurgents and insurgents who look like civilians, the Iraq war has virtually eliminated the distinction between combat units and support units in the military. ”Frankly one of the most dangerous things you can do in Iraq is drive a truck, and that’s considered a combat-support role,” says Matthew Friedman, executive director of the National Center for PTSD, a research-and-education program financed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. ”You’ve got women that are in harm’s way right up there with the men.”

    There have been few large-scale studies done on the particular psychiatric effects of combat on female soldiers in the United States, mostly because the sample size has heretofore been small. More than one-quarter of female veterans of Vietnam developed PTSD at some point in their lives, according to the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Survey conducted in the mid-’80s, which included 432 women, most of whom were nurses. (The PTSD rate for women was 4 percent below that of the men.) Two years after deployment to the gulf war, where combat exposure was relatively low, Army data showed that 16 percent of a sample of female soldiers studied met diagnostic criteria for PTSD, as opposed to 8 percent of their male counterparts. The data reflect a larger finding, supported by other research, that women are more likely to be given diagnoses of PTSD, in some cases at twice the rate of men.

    Experts are hard pressed to account for the disparity. Is it that women have stronger reactions to trauma? Do they do a better job of describing their symptoms and are therefore given diagnoses more often? Or do men and women tend to experience different types of trauma? Friedman points out that some traumatic experiences have been shown to be more psychologically ”toxic” than others. Rape, in particular, is thought to be the most likely to lead to PTSD in women (and in men, in the rarer times it occurs). Participation in combat, though, he says, is not far behind.

    Much of what we know about trauma comes primarily from research on two distinct populations – civilian women who have been raped and male combat veterans. But taking into account the large number of women serving in dangerous conditions in Iraq and reports suggesting that women in the military bear a higher risk than civilian women of having been sexually assaulted either before or during their service, it’s conceivable that this war may well generate an unfortunate new group to study – women who have experienced sexual assault and combat, many of them before they turn 25.

  • Lumière

    3% of college women nationally have experienced rape or attempted rape during the academic year.

    Less than 1/2 of 1% are raped in the military 1,012/215,022

    The story is on the college campus – 6 x more likely to get raped in college

    The NYT article doesn’t makes sense:

    women in the military bear a higher risk than civilian women

    ??

    http://www.msmagazine.com/fall2004/scandalpatrol.asp

    http://www.aauw.org/laf/library/assault_stats.cfm

  • rc21

    The NY Times not making sense. Dont tell me your suprised.

    Read the last part of the article. The writer shows little hard data. It suggests that women in the military bear a greater risk of sexual assault than their civillian counterparts.

    Its conceivable that this war may generate an unfortunate new group to study. women who have expierienced sexual assault and senn combat. Not a single fact. Just agenda driven propaanda. The times is great at this. Another military bashing article from the times.

  • Lumière

    Of three people from the military:

    1 is a women

    2 are men

    probability of rape = .0047

    Of three people from my neighborhood during the day:

    1 is a woman

    2 are children

    probability of rape = .0000000000000

    …..‘proportionality’

  • valkyrie607

    Regarding the relative incidence of rape in the military…

    A 2003 report financed by the Department of Defense revealed that nearly one-third of a nationwide sample of female veterans seeking health care through the V.A. said they experienced rape or attempted rape during their service. Of that group, 37 percent said they were raped multiple times, and 14 percent reported they were gang-raped. Perhaps even more tellingly, a small study financed by the V.A. following the gulf war suggests that rates of both sexual harassment and assault rise during wartime. The researchers who carried out this study also looked at the prevalence of PTSD symptoms – including flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbing and round-the-clock anxiety – and found that women who endured sexual assault were more likely to develop PTSD than those who were exposed to combat.

    That’s from the NYTimes story, “The Women’s War,” which is linked above. There’s also this:

    So far, the V.A. has diagnosed possible PTSD in some 34,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans; nearly 3,800 of them are women. Given that PTSD sometimes takes years to surface in a veteran, these numbers are almost assuredly going to grow. With regard to women, nearly every expert I interviewed mentioned the reportedly high rates of sexual harassment and assault in the military as a particular concern.

    I would respectfully request that folks refrain from using the term “faminazi.” Nazis systematically exterminated millions of people. Feminists struggle for things like justice for survivors of sexual violence and equal pay for equal work. Conflating the two is derogatory and inflammatory–which is exactly what Rush was aiming for when he coined the term.

  • katemcshane

    Potter, thanks for the NYTimes link. I read every word. As someone who has had chronic PTSD for almost half my life, I understand exactly what they’re going through and it’s not something that ever ends, really. You just learn how to keep going, despite an inner hell that is exhausting. You also learn that you have to be quiet about it, because there isn’t a lot of support or sympathy out there, as these vets are finding out. Some of them haven’t been able to keep going for very long — they’ve killed themselves. This is what they’re facing, if they come home.

    Just by chance, everyone I’ve met with this diagnosis was in Vietnam. When they came home, the VA was pioneering PTSD research and treatment. It probably paralleled similar research for treatments for victims of child abuse, rape, battering and incest. I don’t know anyone who found therapy to be helpful, even though we all tried it for many, many years. Now they give out drugs for it, but most of these kids will find out that the drugs don’t work, either, and often present other problems, especially for the women. A lot of the Vietnam vets I’ve known have become Buddhists, because it gave them more than anything else. Many of them are artists. They’re the lucky ones, because they interpret their life experiences every day — it keeps them centered and at least aware of what is actually inside them. All of them are men.

    I’m with peggysue — it’s hard to say you’re all that sane to start with if you choose to go to war. I don’t mean that people are insane if they enlist (although, of course, I think they are, on another level). As the NYTimes article discusses, many people who enlist have histories of abuse and it distorts things enough that war and combat seems to offer mastery, training that will help you to become braver in the face of anything life will offer in the future. Also, when you’ve lived with abuse, you get high on the adrenaline, so theaters of war are appealing, in the same way that other crisis environments are for trauma survivors (emergency rooms, crisis intervention programs, etc.) I’ve worked with kids who believed that military service would make them strong, disciplined, take them out of the shame of their miserable childhoods. And, of course, adolescents believe they will live forever. Most of these kids are certain they’ll come out of it alive.

    It’s hard for me to support equality for women in an enterprise like the military. I don’t see how being free to get a job to kill with the men is something to celebrate. And if they were older and more mature, they would know enough to expect a high incidence of sexual harassment and sexual assault or rape — certainly, other than the potential for death, the best reason to avoid it. As one of the doctors was quoted as saying — the men who have a background of childhood abuse tend to become more aggressive and fit a perpetrator profile, whereas the women with the same background are more likely to be assaulted as adults. One of the women veterans said, “You’re one of three things in the military — a bitch, a whore, or a dyke.” It’s certainly not surprising that women would be seen that way by the largely adolescent male population. In society at large, most violence against women is committed by males 15 – 26. In the military, aggression is glorified even more — it gets the job done. At a price for everyone.

  • rc21

    Free speech should trump peoples feelings at all times.

  • rc21

    Valkyrie607, One of the reasons men and Women join the service is to protect the right of ALL to say WHATEVER they want no matter how offensive it may seem.

  • valkyrie607

    …I should say, the term “feminazi” is derogatory towards feminists. It is also hugely disrespectful to the victims of the Holocaust.

  • Lumière

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10959-2004Jun2.html

    According to the data, the total number of reported cases of sexual assault involving Army personnel increased by 19 percent from 1999 to 2002 — from 658 to 783, with annual increases ranging from 2 percent to 13 percent. During the same period, the number of reported rapes increased by 25 percent — from 356 to 445, according to the data. The number of Army personnel on active duty, including reservists, rose during this period by less than 6 percent.

  • rc21

    Yes I know that. Calling Bush stupid is disrespectful to republicans. point. Telling people they should not use certain words is disrespectful to people who believe in the first amendment.

    So finally what is your point?

  • Lumière

    I can’t find anything beyond 2004 : if anyone is good at research, this is what we are looking for:

    Army Criminal investigation division

    ACID Report on sexual assaults all divisions

    ACID site isn’t any good

    NYT: ///So far, more than 160,000 female soldiers have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan…\\\

    I can’t verify NYT claims (note date) :

    ///…2003 report financed by the Department of Defense revealed that nearly one-third of a nationwide sample of female veterans seeking health care through the V.A. said they experienced rap\\\

    One third of what number?

    NYT:////….has diagnosed possible PTSD in some 34,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans; nearly 3,800 of them are women.\\\

  • valkyrie607

    RC21, when I wrote that the term “feminazi” is disrespectful to the victims of the Holocaust and insulting to feminists, I wasn’t responding to you, just clarifying my point.

    My point is this: I can’t stop you from saying “feminazi.” Nor would I want to if I could. I’m requesting that you not use it because you’re in a forum where we have agreed to eschew ad hominem attacks. The word “feminazi,” by equating Nazis with feminists, will always be an ad hominem attack.

    Again: Nazis systematically exterminated millions of people.

    Feminists may have done some things you don’t agree with, but I can safely guess that none of their offenses, heinous as they might be in your mind, morally equates to genocide. If you have some beef with feminists, I’m sure you can find many, many exciting ways to express it besides conflating feminists with Nazis.

    Lumiere: it is difficult, isn’t it, to find solid numbers here. Both the NYTimes article and the Salon article mention a new “Equal Opportunity” board where people can anonymously report sexual assault. This is a recent development; since its introduction reporting has jumped significantly. There’s lots of anecdotes but so far that’s it. I think that a systematic investigation is called for. Nobody seems to know. Maybe it’s not as bad as we think; maybe it’s worse. But I reckon the military is not at all keen to deal with this; the less known, in their view, the better.

  • personally, as a feminist, my feelings are never hurt when I hear someone use the term “feminazi”. My response is just to think that the person dumb enough to say it, say, Rush Limbaugh or whoever, is a real stupid asshole.

  • herbert browne

    Well, if there are a few more rapes than usual. it’s the Arabs’ fault- all their stupid rules about Modesty, and their religious fervor- and keeping all the women hid… and they’re so prosperous, by & large, that there’s no option (or incentive) for whorehouses. Armies have ALWAYS depended on whorehouses- to keep morale up, and take the edge off. So, the only women available are the ones in Camo. The Army ought to either: get KBR to come up with additional “service” options; or start making war in countries where there are more sheep… ^..^

  • valkyrie607

    Well, my feelings are okay. I just wanted to explain why I don’t think “feminazi” is a term that belongs in a serious discussion.

    By the way, whether a woman is safer on a college campus or in the military isn’t really the question here. On a college campus, there are crisis lines and rape response centers, a team of health professionals waiting around to deal with stuff like this. Even if the incidence of sexual assault in the military is tiny, it’s still clear to me that the military needs to find better ways of dealing with it. A theme that emerges is “Be a soldier, just keep quiet.”

    If you’re that one woman in however many thousand whose comrades betray her in such a visceral way, it doesn’t matter how many other women are in the same situation. What you need is the assurance that you can get help. And the Army and other branches seem to be falling far short in that area.

  • “Now, I am not going to vouch for these, but here are some numbers I found.

    Incident in the Army 132/100,000 and Incident on college campus, 3500/100,000”

    Ok, specious use of statistics. The question isn’t whether there are more rapes on college campuses. It’s whether there are more rapes in the general society. College campuses don’t represent the norm. And saying that “the military rapes less than colleges, so is must be okay” is like saying, “the military kills fewer children.”

    I think the numbers in the general population are more like 70/100,000. So, the military has twice the general rape rates. (And the general population includes the colleges, so if you removed the colleges, that would be even lower.)

    There is also the question of under-reporting, which is likely more prevalent in the military since there is a history of women being told to “suck it up and take it like a soldier.”

    Ugh, the right to free speech may give you the legal right to offend, but we’ll never have a civil society if we stoop to the juvenile, intellectually lazy and destrucitve use of inflammatory name-calling that has no place in an attempt at civil dialogue.

  • Lumière

    valkyrie607 :

    The data we have seems to suggest the problem is on college campuses and not in the military, which raises the question: are we singling out the military for some reason?

    I am an ardent anti-militarist, but the kids in service don’t deserve to hear half truths about their organization.

    The military is about trust, honor, and loyalty; discrediting the organization, casts a pall over those values.

  • rc21

    Valkyrie 607, No one is making any personal attacks. I think that is what the forum agreed to.Correct me if I’m wrong.

    1st/14th used it to describe a group he finds offensive. Just like many on this site direct offensive language at Bush, Rove, and other people or groups they don’t agree with. Thats America and we should embrace the difference of opinions. Bush has been called a nazi by many. Really who cares. I’m not a big fan of thin skinned people.

    As I stated no one made a direct personal attack on you. So taking offence is unwarrented. I don’t think anyone has accused femminists of genocide yet. Remember not all Nazis participated in the genocide.

    As to my statements about L. Summers and his percieved beliefs about Femanazis. He may not have been physically executed, but I would say the femminists certainly gave him a political lynching. Maybe they compare more favorably with the KKK as opposed to the Nazis. On this subject you may be correct.

    In closing my advice would be to lighten up a bit. Don’t take everything so seriously. We all get attacked. I’m attacked and so are my ideas and the groups I associate with. I have come to learn to live with it. Believe me this can be a lonly site if your a conservative.

  • valkyrie607

    Hey man, like I said, it was a request.

  • rc21

    Request Denied! Just kidding.

  • I agree with valkyrie607 that the numbers don’t really count because the situations re:collage or military are so different. Women in the military do not have resources to help them deal with rape or sexual harrassment especially if it is coming from someone of higher rank. Women on collage campuses are not dying of dehydration in their sleep because they are afraid to drink enough water and have to go to the bathroom at night.

  • valkyrie607

    Who the heck is L. Summers anyway? I guess feminists metaphorically hanged him and lit his body on fire.

  • valkyrie607

    Allison sez:

    Ugh, the right to free speech may give you the legal right to offend, but we’ll never have a civil society if we stoop to the juvenile, intellectually lazy and destructive use of inflammatory name-calling that has no place in an attempt at civil dialogue.

    Hear hear!

  • herbert browne

    (rc21) ..”So taking offence is unwarrented. I don’t think anyone has accused femminists of genocide yet..”

    Gendercide, maybe?

    (ibid) “..Remember not all Nazis participated in the genocide..”-

    Bull… You could say that “all Germans weren’t Nazis”, maybe- and that’d be true. But they were just like Fearless Leader: You were either For them, or Against them… and you know how important teamwork is… right?

    Larry Summers was a high-rollin’ white guy with the proper hood ornament, er, credentials, to be the president of Hahvahd for a few years… who spouted some encouraging words to his Male undergrads about how the Female Mind wasn’t up to the tasks of mathematical thought to the same degree that the Boyz were… (merely a conjectural attempt to boost a few egos, while not concerning himself with bruising a few others…) ^..^

  • valkyrie607

    Gendercide… ha ha. Yeah, just wait around.

    Right right right… Mr. Summers. I believe this illustrates my point. Agree or disagree with the feminist flagellating of the Harvard president, it’s inflammatory, not to mention sort of idiotic, to compare feminists in this case to KKK members. “Political lynching” may be an accepted part of the lexicon, but that would be a bit different from saying that the people who politically lynched Mr. Summers were the Ku Klux Feminists.

    Herbert, I appreciate your comments about the Nazis. Not all Nazis actively murdered people. But they were part of the smooth running of the genocide machine nonetheless.

    Your idea that the Arabs are to blame for any increased rape in the military, because they don’t have enough brothels? Not so much.

  • herbert browne

    Maybe having so many women in the army will be less of a problem in the future- esp if there are a few well-publicized incidents of recruits taking box cutters to short arms… ^..^

  • tbrucia

    —- Women were prohibited from any combat position until the 1990s, when they were allowed to fly combat aircraft and serve on combat ships. …. Many women are experiencing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan… — I find it fascinating how many folks posting here conflate personal violence, high stress/novelty positions, and combat, as if they are all tied together. NOT. As an Air Force veteran, I find it hard to equate the positions of bomber pilot, special ops person, fighter pilot on combat air patrol, artilleryman, and convoy truck driver. They are all (with the possible exception of convoy truck driver) combat positions. They are all WILDLY different in terms or risk, level of violence, stress (both intensity and sustained duration), etc. As for physical strength, with the mechanization of war, how much physical strength is needed to be a waist gunner in a helicopter gunship? Or to fire a missile? Or to be a sniper? It’s an open secret that most Americans — especially those in the post-Vietnam generation — are not veterans. Many comments one hears about wars seem to ignore the COMPLEXITY and VARIETY of roles a modern military organization demands, including combat roles. I suspect that many (most) folks’ opinions and conceptions of the military are built on video games, movies, childhood contests, and ‘war stories’ from grandpa. (Nothing new there, by the way, except maybe for the video games…). If the question is ‘Can my little sister be like Rambo? the answer is obvious! But if the question is, can my little sister climb into a tree and shoot the heads off folks a mile away, well, let me tell you there are a lot of women who can squeeze a trigger and hold a target just fine… Will they? That’s a more interesting question…

  • Peggysue

    Women in the military do not have resources to help them deal with rape or sexual harrassment especially if it is coming from someone of higher rank.

    A blanket statement that is not true. I will allow that women ‘on campus’ have resources that enlisted females do not; on the other hand service members have a reasonably good support system should they need one.

    Request Mast as an example that stands out in my mind: every Marine has the right to have an audience with their leadership team. Each level up has 24 hours to respond wit a scheduled time; you can do this right up to the commanding general.

    Could the military do more? Sure. But saying ‘none’ … hey you’re better than that.

  • tbrucia

    Here’s a good link to start learning about the history of women in various types of ‘Women Warriors in the 20th Century: http://www.lothene.demon.co.uk/others/women20.html . And the role of women in guerrilla roles in Tito’s underground resistance against the Germans during WWII is just briefly mentioned in the section, ‘The Army of Liberation’, here: http://www.trussel.com/hf/tito5.htm . Perhaps American women are not capable of cruelty, ferocity, and vengefulness, but the history of mankind is filled with capable female killers, both regular and irregular. And I suspect that with sufficient motivation, training, and leadership, American women are just as capable as American men are in the task of killing enemy forces.

  • valkyrie607

    This is interesting…

    Israeli Army included 12,000 women were combatants in the 1948 War of Independence, Initially women were fully integrated into the Israeli army, they trained, fought and were billeted with men. Eventually political pressure led to the creation of segregated male and female units with the women’s units assigned primarily to support functions. Those women who were already assigned to mixed-gender combat units remained with their units and continued to fight on the front lines. Although women were ordered out of the front lines by David Ben Gurion in 1950 there were numerous reports of Israeli women fighting in both 1956 and 1960 and reports of female commandos, including Lt. Yael Dayan, daughter of Moshe Dayan, fighting as late as 1966.

    The Israeli Army did research into women’s effectiveness as front line troops, and discovered that childless women were just as good or better than men, but that women who had children were significantly less effective because they were much more reluctant to kill people.

    From the first website Tbrucia posted.

  • Brian Dunbar

    You are correct. I should not have made a blanket statement. Because of the cases that I am familiar with where support was not provided I made too general a statement. I should have said, Women in the military do not have adequate resources.

  • juststopping the bold thing – I hope

  • didn’t worktrying again

  • bold stop bold – hope this does it

  • valkyrie607

    Shedding a little light on the whole question of statistics… There is a link to a PDF file at the top of the page. It’s seven pages, not too long–the title is “Military Culture and Gender”, the author is Christine Hansen.

    “Sexual assault is an underreported crime that is deeply traumatizing and stigmatizing for its victims. The assessment of the prevalence of sexual assault among US Armed Forces is difficult to obtain due to varying methodologies and definitions among surveys and reports associated with the Department of Defense, the military services, the Veterans’ Health Administration.

    “The prevalence of sexual assault among female active duty servicemembers declined from 6 percent to 3 percent between 1996 and 2002, according to the Department of Defense (Bastian, et al, 1996; Chu, 2004; and Department of Defense, 2004).

    “A survey conducted within the Veterans’ Administration system has assessed sexual assault at 30 percent of female veterans. Further, the researchers found that 14 percent of the victims were gang raped and 20 percent of the victims were raped more than once (Sadler, et al, 2003).

    The disparity between prevalence rates within the military departments and the Veterans’ Health Administration relates to the failure of the Department of Defense to adopt current research protocols entailing the protection of human subjects, anonymity for respondents, and behaviorial based questionnaires (Bostock and Daley, 2001; Campbell, et al., 2003; and Hansen, 2004a).

    “The casualty count mounts during times of war, armed conflict, and peacekeeping missions. According to the Department of Defense, one-sixth of one percent of female servicemembers experience sexual assault during deployment (Lumpkin, 2004). Yet a survey of female Persian Gulf War veterans concluded that 8 percent, of female respondents were sexually assaulted. In addition, one third of the respondents reported physical sexual harassment (Wolfe, et al, 1992; and Wolfe and Sharkansky, 1998). The rate of victimization experienced by female servicemembers deployed during Desert Storm and Desert Shield represents a tenfold increase over rates obtained using female civilian community samples (Wolfe and Sharkansky, 1998; and Hansen, 2004a).”

    My emphasis.

  • valkyrie607

    It’s the forward slash, Peggy–the forward slash is key!

  • I know, I don’t even know where the other slash on my keyboard is – well yeah, its up there by the delete but honest I was using the / I am dyslexic but I know its the one by the question mark. Sometimes… just… doesn’t…. work – It’s Brendans fault… he’s messin’ with us… : )

  • nother

    Lumiere writes:

    “partying factor:

    75% of the time, the offender, the victim, or both have been drinking.”

    Listen my friend; we do not have a moderator on this thread. I implore you as an adult, to monitor yourself on some level. That is a completely irresponsible statement. If you found your daughter was grabbed by the hair and sodomized after drinking a six pack at some college party – would that damm six pack factor into your thinking? What if your mother drank a few glasses of wine at last years Christmas party and was attacked in the bathroom by a fellow reveler?

    Maybe your great stats would be helpful to the lawyer of the accused. Good thinking man.

  • nother

    valkyrie607, your a very welcome additon to the ROS community, I hope you share your Vermont voice on many topics.

  • Potter

    I share Nother’s dismay at the subtext of some of the comments. There seems to be a reluctance to believe the facts, a propensity to minimize the statistics with other statistics, not to allow the essential horrors and suffering to penetrate.

    What I thought I added previously was a request to consider ( though I know it’s hard if you have not experienced trauma even once yourself- but I bet you may have some inkling if you stretch) being traumatized twice or three times, not once, before breaking. If you don’t know what trauma does- at least know that you don’t know.

    So it’s the not only the sexual harrassment and/or sexaul assault that women have endured prior or ongoing during service. It’s THAT AND being in a war zone where NO job is a safe job, and you learn you have to be on consant alert/adrenalin, you don’t know where the threat will come from next, and those you bond with get horribly wounded or die before you a gruesome violent death. This plays tremendous havoc with a person’s chemistry.

    Think of PTSD as a physical disorder, an imbalance of a person’s chemistry. A person who has been traumatized, without recognizing the problem, without treatment, can easily be triggered by random thoughts or perceptions for the rest of their lives. It’s a wound that does not heal.

    Katemcshane says : A lot of the Vietnam vets I’ve known have become Buddhists, because it gave them more than anything else. Many of them are artists. They’re the lucky ones, because they interpret their life experiences every day — it keeps them centered and at least aware of what is actually inside them.

    Beyond medication that may or may not work (while keeping a person doped up) learning to meditate, mindfulness training, coupled with group therapy ( telling your story, feeling safe, community) helps reduce stress, retraining the brain, aborting the “fight or flight response”.

    The stories that are being told are for the victims, part of their recovery.

  • Lumière

    valkyrie607 facts are difficult to come by b/c the crime is underreported. Once you have a fact you can adjust that for various things so it is a reference point to work from – best practices

    Not her

    That stat was from this site

    American Association of University Women

    http://www.aauw.org/laf/library/assault_stats.cfm

    I’m posting that info again for those that missed it:

    75% of the time, the offender, the victim, or both have been drinking

    Here’s the reason that is important:

    The comparison between college and military is apt because it is the same age group that commits rapes

    why is the % lower for the military vs college was what I was trying to find out

    Alcohol was the conclusion I came to

    hope this helps

    PS. Please do not twist what I say, the issue here or anywhere for me is the truth. I apologize if the truth conflicts with your agenda

    Potter: there is no “subtext” from me

    Here is what I consider subtext:

    ////And saying that “the military rapes less than colleges, so is must be okay” is like saying, “the military kills fewer children.”\\\

    Who said this: the military rapes less than colleges, so is must be okay

    No one said that.

    Again :

    ///…the military since there is a history of women being told to “suck it up and take it like a soldier”\\\

    The military is not telling woman to suck up a rape – that would be antithetical to how the military operates.

    Potter:

    Perhaps you believe this no place for the truth, then again, that cuts both ways, doesn’t it?

  • Lumiere, you say you are only trying to present facts. But which facts we present, especially for a topic as complex as this one, create an agenda, This may be why nother responded the way he did. In this topic, women from the military are, with great fear for themselves, trying to get a messae out: we’re being raped at greater rates than is being reported and the military doesn’t have the resources and/or will to deal with and we need help. Presenting a statistic that demonstrates that rape is far less prevalent in the military than it is on college campuses serves to minimize the experience of the military women.

    You do say later that we need to be careful because of under-reporting. So, I can see that you may not be trying to minimize their importance. Nother’s suggestion to be careful may not mean, “Don’t put that information out there.’ It may mean, “If you’re going to put that information out, please provide more contextual information about why you’re doing so.” I’ve noticed that you tend to write in a kind of short hand. So, when you mentioned alcohol, I didn’t really get that you only saying that alcohol plays a role – I’m not sure how that’s relevant here, though. Women in the military are still reporting a serious problem that needs to be addressed. If alchohol is not a factor in the military then we don’t need to discuss it here. We need to discuss the things that are. Anyway, the care may be in realizing that a) this medium of communication is more challenging that in-person dialogue, so it helps if you take more care in trying to fully explain; and b) when you see people posting comments about women at MIT enjoying the attention and “well, if there were only brothels in the mid-East:” it is time to be even more careful that you aren’t picking statistics that support these perspectives, as it can look like you are in this, once again, very imperfect medium.

    I wrote the line about “killing children” not to accuse you of claiming that the military situation is okay, but to point out the flawed logic. Since you didn’t expound on why you were presenting the statistic and the alchohol factor, you left it very open to interpretation.

    BTW, women are reporting that they are being told to suck it up. Are you now saying that these women are lying? Is it an agenda when you refuse to hear what the people who have experienced the military as women are saying? Have you been in the military? Have you been a woman in the military? Have you been a woman who has been raped in the military?

    How is it that anybody who disagrees with you has an agenda, but when you ignore information you don’t have an agenda? I think I would avoid accusing people of such things. We can’t have a civil dialogue like that. if you want to discuss why I wrote what I did, then a dialogue continues. If you want to accuse me of having an agenda – something I can neither prove or disprove – dialogue is closed and no one is better off for it. I would request that you inquire rather rhan assume the worst and accuse. (I’ll also try to heed my own advice, as I did not inquire about why you put up the statistic you did.)

  • rc21

    H. Brown and Valkyrie607, Let me correct you on L. Summers. And this is a perfect example of the media in concert with libral femminists distorting and twisting the truth to fix their warped agenda.

    Summers never suggested women were not genetically made up to handle the role of engineers or jobs that require certain skill sets. He never said any of the things you are accusing him of. I read exactly what he said, it was big news in these parts. What he said during a conference concerning women in these roles was something like this ” There may be many reasons why women are under-represented in enginerring and math fields. He proposed looking into many different causes he suggested investigating to see if it was possible men may be naturally predisposed to having a certain skill set that may contribute to the discrepency between men and women.”He also said we should investigate several other theories.

    He never once said he supported such a theory he just suggested looking into it. For this the Femanazis and I use the word because it applies. Began a totally unwarrented crusade to fire him. They finally succeeded because nobody at Harvard had the balls to stick up for truth and honesty. Not to mention a fear of honest intellectual debate.

    So please get your facts straight on this.

    By the way suprise suprise there is some research suggesting that Men may be predisposed to be better in the engineering field. Research has shown men seem to have better spacial capacity recgognition skills than women.( an important skill for engineers) Researchers believe this may be traced back to the early days of man. In most families the man had to walk great distances to hunt for food he became very good at recognizing land marks and reading different types of terrain. While the Women tended to stay home and prepare food and do domestic chores. ABC news did a segment on this research a few years ago.

    Sometimes when the truth doesnt fit our agenda we just ignore it or in the Summers case we just silence it. If this is what femminism is about and I called myself a femminist I would feel ashamed of myself.

  • I’m about to leave and be unavailable for a few days – which may cause some to cheer, I think. Anyway, I have some random thoughts juggling around in my head:

    It is a cognitive disconnect to believe that the miitary culture would not lead to rape. Rape is a crime about power, not sex. And it is a crime where the offender, at a minimum, turns off empathy for the victim and, at most, completely dehumanizes the victim. In this thread, we have talked about the need for people in combat conditions to be prepared to kill people. This means dehumanizing the enemy. If we are training people to turn off their humanity in order to kill, it seems logical that they may not be able to control that mechanism. You put peaple that you’ve trained to do this in a high-stress setting where testosterone and adrenaline levels are likely off the chart and it seems to me that you’d almost have to expect rape. Should even build more safequards in rather than less. Be overly concerned about it, with intense programs that make sure the soldieer’s psyche see this as unacceptalbe under any circumstances. Does anyone know if there is any training regimen around this? I mean, intense ongoing regimen, not just a “sensitivity workshop”.

  • 1st/14th

    Couple of things here. I drew the parallel between sexual assault rates on college campuses and in the armed force because of the similar age groups and the fact that sexual assault victims and perps are predominantly young men and young women. And yes comparison of the actual numbers, not just some distorted hit piece from the Times or Salon, is valid because one of the statements made in the lead of this thread is:

    The elephants in the room here are sexual harassment and assault… are they any more prevalent in the armed forces? If so, what are the reasons? How significant is the fact that women are a small minority and therefore easy to pick on? Is the background of the typical enlisted man — or woman for that matter — relevant? How much of the solution lies in better training? Or in leadership at all levels?

    This entire debate was begun with a stereotype: women face a greater chance of sexual assault in the military than their civilian peers do. It would appear that the best information available refutes this, so why aren’t we asking the question why are women in the armed forces better respected and safer than their civilian peers?

    And yes peggysue, the numbers really do count, because the numbers establish the facts, and any debate that takes place without facts is nothing more than an ill-informed thought exercise to preserve stereotypes.

  • 1st/14th

    It is a cognitive disconnect to believe that the miitary culture would not lead to rape.

    Hmmm, I was just thinking that it is a cognitive disconnect to believe that the “military culture” is more prone to violence against female colleagues when all objective evidence points to the contrary.

  • Lumière

    Most of what you posted is antithetical to military training as I understand it, but I leave that to the marines who have posted here to respond.

    The segment on 60 minutes about the haditha massacre showed precisely that the kid went outside his training – he was emotionally charged, not thinking the way he was trained.

    Allison – in both posts on the cinema thread you misrepresented what I said, I am loath to take up space to correct what you said, but look at the parts where you say: you said

    I did not say what you accuse me of.

    Your point about my shorthand is well taken.

    The alcohol fits in b.c it explains the disparity – what I don’t know is whether there is drinking on base in Iraq – I would find it difficult to justify that in a battle zone. But that would be relevant to know, as it would suggest that the military number should be around the college number – alcohol is huge factor, that is why the stat matters.

    See, this is how facts can be used to prove a point- but you have to have a reference point to start from:

    “…would suggest that the military number should be around the college number.”

    I.e. I am potentially showing how underreported the military number might be.

    ///…a propensity to minimize the statistics with other statistics, not to allow the essential horrors and suffering to penetrate.\\

    That is a chilling statement, to say the least ….very telling.

    Feelings are real, but don’t let that stop you from thinking.

    I hope the following isn’t taken as blithe, because I feel for the victims involved in this story, the point is to get facts:

    The Duke Lacrosse coach lost his job. He packed up and moved to RI b/c Bryant College hired him.

    Potter, and let the ‘essential horrors and suffering penetrate’ your mind, as you are him, explaining the situation to his children ( if he had any).

    It cuts both ways doesn’t it?

    Allison & others: HB’s posts are very complex – they require careful reading – I see much irony, whether he intends to or not – I enjoy the challenge of his and other’s POV.

  • Lumière

    1st/14th ok !

    We are on the same page (excepting the feminazi comment)

    You catch get more flies with honey….

  • nother

    The movie “The Accused” was on my mine when I wrote my earlier post. The movie is based on a real rape that that happened in Massachusetts.

    When you watch that movie you feel the personal nature of the act – as opposed to discussing it with statistics. That’s why I feel terms like daughter and mother are important to this discussion – every woman is someone’s daughter or mother. I do not know Luminere so I was operating under the assumption that everyone knows I was not being personal to Luminere, yet I should not have assumed that. I also feel my post was too crass, I had just gotten out of work and when I read that irresponsible statistic, I was pissed. My intent in writing the rape description was to starkly drive home the personal nature of the act in the same way as the movie did, but alas, my crassness clouded my point.

  • 1st/14th: “And yes peggysue, the numbers really do count, because the numbers establish the facts, and any debate that takes place without facts is nothing more than an ill-informed thought exercise to preserve stereotypes.”

    Sorry, what I meant to point out was, the numbers do not establish facts because so often sexual assaults are not reported.

  • Lumière

    I ‘went off’ on Kate once – she writes beautifully – regrettably, that happens.

    Let’s move on.

  • 1st/14th

    All right! I apologize for using feminazi! Although it certainly does reflect the mindset and political tactics of hard core feminists, its inclusion in this debate is not helpful.

  • Lumière

    Calling them a name is not how to get the better of them, if that is what you intend to do.

    The feminists here are battle hardened and ready for action – if you are not well prepared, they will seek out any weakness in your defenses and crush you with ease.

    Disclaimer: The above was only my opinion and is not necessarily based on fact.

  • Lumiere my friend… its true

  • nother

    I joined the Navy in July 1991. A few months later the Tailhook scandal broke. At the two-day event in Vegas, 83 women were sexually harassed.

    So I personally witnessed and experienced the culture change in the Navy. Sexual harassment education was subsequently drilled into us everyday. When I first arrived at my ship, there were only a few women on board but every year that number grew. What also grew every year was the professionalism displayed between the men and woman, a direct result of education and the knowledge that there would be severe consequences for your actions. If that cohesion is possible for many months in tight quarters in the hot Persian Gulf, it is possible anywhere.

    Yet I can attest that when one walks in military circles, the machismo is palpable. That mentality needs to be countered with constant education and diligent leadership.

  • Lumière

    peggysue :

    ….lol

  • Lumière

    ////…constant education and diligent leadership…\\

    Right: Harassment is antithetical to cohesiveness

    Is there on-base drinking in IRAQ – do you know?

  • Potter

    Lumiere you seem to be addressing Allison and arguing with Potter or addressing Potter and arguing with Allison.

    You defend yourself from what I wrote as “chilling” though I did not name you.

    The coach example is strange and does not make any point for me.

    Saying “I feel for the victims involved in this story” sounds off to me after your arguments and complaints that the NYT article was ( merely or only?) anecdotal and 16 pages, too long for you to read. Then came the statistics…. .

  • Tom B

    Allison makes the point: ‘It is a cognitive disconnect to believe that the miitary culture would not lead to rape. Rape is a crime about power, not sex. And it is a crime where the offender, at a minimum, turns off empathy for the victim and, at most, completely dehumanizes the victim.’ I find the Abu Ghraib events fascinating on many levels, not lest the relationship between Lynndie England and Charles Graner and their joint quasi-rapes of powerless Iraqi victims. Much has been made of the Milgram study (and others similar), but I’m not aware of any studies where the sexual dynamics between dominants (or sadists) involved in a ‘relationship’ and their JOINT exercise of rape-like behaviors against victims (of either or both sexes). Those who are involved in the BDSM community (female dominants as well as male dominants) might have something to say about this topice (where they not so intimidated by public exposure). Does anyone have any links to psychological studies involving joint female/male coperation in rapes?

  • Tom B

    nother says: “I joined the Navy in July 1991. A few months later the Tailhook scandal broke. At the two-day event in Vegas, 83 women were sexually harassed.

    So I personally witnessed and experienced the culture change in the Navy. Sexual harassment education was subsequently drilled into us everyday.” — In the Air Force in 1972 (Thailand) a similar process took place… After ‘discorders’ at our Okinawa bases involving violence between black and white airmen, a barrage of measures to insure ‘racial harmony’ were instituted in PACAF. The military culture and hierarchy simply WILL NOT tolerate behaviors that threaten ‘unit cohesiveness’ and ‘the mission’. But just as in civilian life, it usually takes an embarrassing incident or series of incident before folks take notice that ‘We have a problem!’ I’m not sure whether people who have not served in the military fully understand the psychological pressures that can be brought against military members who try to buck the system; even well-managed civilian corporations seem to tolerate much more dissent, disagreement and — yes, disobedience. If the top brass decide any ‘behaviors’ are affecting unit effectiveness, those involved can expect an enormous hammer to hit them on their heads!

  • Lumière

    There are many victims in the Duke rape story.

    The most important victim was truth.

    Anecdotal evidence seems work fast, because it invokes feelings.

    Truth is slow, inconvenient, and cumbersome because it requires thought.

    Yes, you read the 16 pages, so I was hoping you could direct me to facts.

    ////You defend yourself from what I wrote as “chilling” though I did not name you.\\\

    it was a chilling comment – wasn’t thinking it was directional

    I can ‘allow the essential horrors and suffering to penetrate’ but it is not relevant for me to feel the Duke coach’s pain – what was relevant was for me to await the truth and, while waiting, not take sides.

  • Potter

    Past a harmless ad-wall here is another recent article on this subject (esp if you are averse to the New York Times)

    The Private War of Women Soldiers by Helen Benedict ( who is writing a book on this)

    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/03/07/women_in_military/print.html

  • This means dehumanizing the enemy. If we are training people to turn off their humanity in order to kill, it seems logical that they may not be able to control that mechanism. You put peaple that you’ve trained to do this in a high-stress setting where testosterone and adrenaline levels are likely off the chart and it seems to me that you’d almost have to expect rape. Should even build more safequards in rather than less.

    It’s like you can expect the troops to behave themselves. Except . . . you can. Example – they’re armed to the teeth and incidents of homicide are rare.

    Clearly the troops can control themselves, even when conditioned.

    The trick here is, I think, to have a high level of motivation and esprit de corps. To have it drilled into you by indoctrination and example that the guy next to you is your brother-in-arms.

    That doesn’t mean you have to like them – some of the more disagreeable people I’ve met were Marines – but you will still have their back and bleed for them.

    If you consider rape and sexual harrasment as criminal matters – for the sake of discussion – and consider other such crimes – you might see that crap like that is non-existent in units with high motivation.

    I’ve read the articles – all the victims were members of – surprise – units with poor leadership and low morale.

    Take it further – this is a failure of the Army to properly indoctrinate their troops. I’ve seen rear echelon soldiers and units and the lax attitude at their recruit training depot (specifically Fort Jackson) shocked me down to my soul. Those guys and gals were not (this was a few years ago) being indoctrinated into an Army that expected to fight and die – it was like a corporate training class with rifles and physical training built in as an after thought.

  • Lumière

    Brian

    is there drinking on-base in Iraq?

  • nother

    Yes Tom B, exactly. I was cautious of every single word that came out of my mouth when talking to a woman.

    What worries me here though is the the amount of part-timers over there in Iraq. I’m know they don’t feel the same pressure we did. I went reserve after my four years active and it was a different culture.

    It’s not a coincidence that the Abu Ghraib deal went down – with reservists.

  • Potter

    Lumiere: Yes, you read the 16 pages, so I was hoping you could direct me to facts

    No- I am not giving you facts- this is what I mean about circumventing feeling. All the facts in the world don’t give me what I get from the stories. The facts involve a different part of the brain- not that I don’t or you should not use that part as well. I think you need the stories which may ( may) give some understanding and insight into the general proble, I am sorry that you were chilled but I felt a coldness in your responses and that was mine..

  • Potter

    1st/14th says: This entire debate was begun with a stereotype: women face a greater chance of sexual assault in the military than their civilian peers do. It would appear that the best information available refutes this,

    ….Hmmm, I was just thinking that it is a cognitive disconnect to believe that the “military culture” is more prone to violence against female colleagues when all objective evidence points to the contrary.

    Where is this evidence?

  • Lumière

    You have your method then-

    I had to click on an ad to get my “essential horrors and suffering” from your last link.

    It has it occurred to you that ‘news’ is a product that is being marketed?

  • Lumière

    This 100% true: greater chance of sexual assault in the military than in civilian life

    This, so far, is probably not true depending on ‘peers’ e.g. college: greater chance of sexual assault in the military than their civilian peers do

    relevant info:

    underreported

    age concentration

    men vs women ratio

    Alcohol

    cohesiveness principle: the military is not conducive to an environment of harassment

    That the service is in two identifiable parts:

    1 those highly trained and motivated

    2 those that lack discipline

  • Lumière

    Brian

    is there drinking on-base in Iraq?

    It’s forbidden. But I only know this by reading the New York Times.

  • Lumière

    Ok thnx

  • katemcshane

    peggysue — I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your March 19, 9:35 p.m. comment (about the word “feminazi” and assholes). It took me until tonight to feel relaxed enough to go back and know clearly what it meant to me at the time. When I read the NYTimes article yesterday afternoon, my whole body hurt, at which time I drank four beers in an effort to come down from the tension, and still woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. The general tone of many of the comments was so painful for me to read that I felt as if grief and anger had caused almost an arthritic reaction in my body. I felt stopped. I read the comments that you, Allison and Potter wrote in response to some of the horrible ignorance on the page and I admired your strength, but somehow, I just couldn’t act or even breathe freely. I guess I needed to walk away from all of it for a day, and when I scanned comments tonight and read what you wrote again, I laughed out loud and I felt very grateful to you. I love your sense of humor and your integrity.

    I am also grateful to Potter, Allison, and nother. Thank you.

  • valkyrie607

    Nother–Thanks!

    VT repreZENT!

    Katemcshane–thank you also for your post. I read your original post–about suffering from PTSD and I was moved by that as well.

    Yes, the question is there, in the heading: is rape more or less prevalent in the armed forces than in the general population? Evidently, nobody really knows. Here’s the quote again:

    The disparity between prevalence rates within the military departments and the Veterans’ Health Administration relates to the failure of the Department of Defense to adopt current research protocols entailing the protection of human subjects, anonymity for respondents, and behaviorial based questionnaires (Bostock and Daley, 2001; Campbell, et al., 2003; and Hansen, 2004a).

    The fact that we can’t really seem to find out is scandalous in and of itself!

    And I would second the concern about subtext here. Minimizing the horror of sexual assault is, unfortunately, all too common. It’s our legacy to deal with. After all, raping your own wife wasn’t even a crime in the US until a few decades ago. Kate’s post should have sobered us up. Lumiere, no need to go to Salon for your “horrors and suffering”–it’s all right here. I’ve experienced sexual violence–I don’t like admitting that–but there it is. Perhaps that’s why some folks were getting so reactive about your insistence on getting the facts, and that we not let our emotions cloud our thinking. It’s good advice–now work on the timing.

    Is sexual violence against female comrades consistent or inconsistent with military culture? Ideally, it’s inconsistent. I don’t know, I’ve never been in the military. But I do believe that, since we are asking these women to risk their lives, we owe it to them to hold the military to an extremely high standard when it comes to a) preventing sexual assault through clear consistent training and discipline b) making sure that when it does happen, there are available channels for these women to get help and treatment and c) holding any perpetrators responsible for their actions, no matter what their rank.

  • valkyrie607

    Lumiere: Yes, you read the 16 pages, so I was hoping you could direct me to facts

    Potter: No- I am not giving you facts- this is what I mean about circumventing feeling. All the facts in the world don’t give me what I get from the stories. The facts involve a different part of the brain- not that I don’t or you should not use that part as well. I think you need the stories which may ( may) give some understanding and insight into the general proble, I am sorry that you were chilled but I felt a coldness in your responses and that was mine..

    Lumière:You have your method then-

    I had to click on an ad to get my “essential horrors and suffering” from your last link.

    It has it occurred to you that ‘news’ is a product that is being marketed?

    This is interesting. Lumiere, you seem to have provided a case in point for Potter. Correct me if I’m wrong (please!) but you seem to imply that the shocking nature of the stories told in the Salon article are part of Salon’s marketing strategy. This would seem to imply that we should perhaps give these stories less credence, since, you know, Salon wouldn’t make as much money if the stories weren’t so shocking, and as such, they might be inclined to exaggerate.

    Did it not occur to you that such a response might be yet another example of “circumventing feeling” and minimizing the pain and horror that these stories represent?

  • Thank you katemcshane. I am appreciating your comments very much too. I just read the whole NYT article and I thank you Potter for that. I didn’t think it was stressing me out that much to read it until I noticed the whole bag of cookies I’d been nibbling on was gone!

  • herbert browne

    Yo, rc21- with regard to what Larry Summers actually SAID, vs what I had him saying (in my post), I stand corrected. He used an expression, “intrinsic aptitude” (as per this quote from one in attendance): ..”Summers commented at an economic conference that one reason fewer women than men go into science might be that fewer women had the very high “intrinsic aptitude” that these professions require..” It MIGHT BE important to stress the “might be” in the quote- because that is different from saying “WASN’T”- my paraphrase- which was misleading.

    That said, your interpretation of his firing (he actually resigned, after a Faculty Board vote of “no confidence”- a faculty overwhelmingly composed of MEN- NOT ..”Femanazis and I use the word because it applies. Began a totally unwarrented crusade to fire him. They finally succeeded because nobody at Harvard had the balls to stick up for truth and honesty. Not to mention a fear of honest intellectual debate..” (your words). All the alleged “feminazi” yammering had nothing to do with the faculty vote- unless a lot of tenured professors were feeling pussy-whipped, and had to bury their admiration for this outspoken “Leader of men(& a few frails)” in order to castigate him because the women said they’d better- or else. I don’t buy that… and the Hahvahd Board of Directors gave him a “thumbs up” after the faculty vote- but he decided to move out, despite that.

    Regarding the “study” you mentioned (rc21) ..”Research has shown men seem to have better spacial capacity recgognition skills than women.( an important skill for engineers)..”-

    Well, we knew we were spacial, didn’t we? Sure did…

    “..Researchers believe this may be traced back to the early days of man. In most families the man had to walk great distances to hunt for food he became very good at recognizing land marks and reading different types of terrain. While the Women tended to stay home and prepare food and do domestic chores..”-

    Interesting… out here, the men & women both harvested berries together- but the men did nearly all the heavy lifting during fishing season- standing on the same rock or platform, year after year; and the women and young adults (and a few older men) went cruising the hillsides in Spring, to dig roots that they dried for eating later on… and apparently developed that sense of “terrain reading” & other “don’t get lost” skills that helped them navigate. Of course, during a season that included pregnancy, women stayed a little closer to camp…

    (ibid) “..ABC news did a segment on this research a few years ago..”-

    WHAT? You’re quoting the work of the Liberal Corporate Media to back this up? Oh, rc21, I blush for your cupidity… mercy!

    BTW I will say this for Larry Summers: he could make some off-the-wall statements that were way out there, which I generally appreciate, such as “poor countries in Africa don’t have enough pollution”… and “it would make perfect economic sense to send our toxic waste to those countries”… which is not, perhaps, his opinion of poor countries, or pollution distribution, but really a comment on what he understands about Economics- and how it’s used by different people, for different reasons… ^..^

  • herbert browne

    well, now, I just went through this whole darned thread, again… and no one is pointing out the effects of having male role models in charge of these various armed forces, who are: older than these “recruits” that everyone is focused on; may not have much of a liking for CHANGE- in the form of “women in the service, alongside men”; have it in their powers to see that their attitudes are respected- and even emulated- by the young men that they instruct. I have also read that there are many cases of the same kind of arrangements that you find in prison, where a “new” Female recruit is “protected” by an older enlisted man, in return for sexual favors, ie she becomes his “punk”. This is an arrangement that will almost never see the light of day. Psychologically this is an easy one to explain, too- because a lot of these women who enlist may be trying to prove something to their fathers… and they find these “surrogate fathers” who happen to resent them- and are able to take advantage of them. It’s as likely a “don’t ask- don’t tell” scenario as anything that might go down between gay recruits… or long-time soldiers. The older guys “know the ropes”, too… so they know how to get away with the physical shenanigans… and also where- and when.

    Alcohol may not be a big problem in a combat theater- there are plenty of other “mood-altering” substances available there- but around the local military establishments it plays a part. (And the crack I made about the shortage of Arab brothels was, maybe, a “Larry Summers moment”- but anyone who has followed military history and the effects of armies that “go without saying” can get a little primer on the subject by googling “subic + b-girls”- or “+ prostitution”-… and read some very lively discourse about “R&R- oldstyle” to get an inkling of what I’m talking about…) ^..^

  • I just looked up “feminazi” on wikipedea. I find the term ironic because it suggests women as “man-haters” but it is used consistantly by men as an expression of hatered toward women.

    a few excerpts from wikipedea regarding the term feminazi…

    …it would seem contradictory to attempt to associate feminists with Nazis, who were generally opposed to gender equality.

    …many feminists and others disclaim the Nazi epithet as being offensive to anyone with a memory of World War II.”

  • tbrucia

    thanks, herbert browne, for an interesting post! — Is it only me, or do I find this discussion very diffuse, especially regarding feminazis and rape? Quite a bit of the postings seem to involve sexual harassment and assault OF FEMALE TROOPS and there’s not much at all about sexual assault OF CIVILIANS by both female and male troops. Since the essence of military culture is to create an environment which is indeed ‘hell on earth’ (objective: break the will of the enemy to resist), I find it bizarre that such a lot of attention is being paid here to ‘poor Nancy Enlistee and her friends’, and very little attention is being paid to the role of military women in helping create ‘hell on earth’ for the enemy — and when there’s a lack of discipline, for any civilian caught in the crosshairs. (P.S. I’ll get creamed for asking, but I would love to know how many posting here are veterans, and how many of the veterans here have served during wars, e.g. Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War I, or the current conflict…) And, are there any women on this blog who have served active duty in the military? Any of them who have served during the aforementioned wars?

  • tbrucia

    What does Larry Summers have to do with warfare, and the role of women in the military? Wasn’t he just a college president who engaged some politically unacceptable speech, and got fired?

  • tbrucia

    The Russian military ethos is based on violence directed against enlistees. Part of the theory (with which I don’t agree) is that it toughens them. It also kills or maims a number of them, rendering them unfit to fight…. It would be interesting to know the statistics for violence WITHIN Russian military units, and to trace that culture of violence back into (1) civilian life and also back historically to the horrendous losses Russian combat units suffered in World War II (when Stalin had units detailed to hunt down and exterminate stragglers, deserters, or anyone else found leaving the front line, as Russian troops did en masse during the closing days of the First World War). I wonder what the incidence of male-on-male rape in today’s Russian military units is, and the role of sado-masochism in the violence (mostly) accepted within today’s Russian army…. All topics not examined here given the very parochial approach of only studying AMERICAN women in the AMERICAN military, and not looking at the topic of women in the military more broadly (both over the span of hundreds of nations and over the span of hundreds of years of documented history). Hmmm…. perhaps George Santayana was right: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’.

  • tbrucia

    I’ll get creamed for asking, but I would love to know how many posting here are veterans, and how many of the veterans here have served during wars, e.g. Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War I, or the current conflict

    Creamed? In the sense of ‘getting hit by’? Why?

    I served in the Marines for eight years – 1985 – 1993. Never went to war.

    All topics not examined here given the very parochial approach of only studying AMERICAN women in the AMERICAN military,

    Other countries have been brought up in the thread above but .. this isn’t a graduate level course and the program itself is only an hour long. But I can see the topic you outlined being expanded into another show.

    when Stalin had units detailed to hunt down and exterminate stragglers, deserters, or anyone else found leaving the front line, as Russian troops did en masse during the closing days of the First World War)

    The practice predates Stalin – Lenin gets the credit for that boost to morale when the Red Army was faltering during the Revolution.

    Herbert Browne

    no one is pointing out the effects of having male role models in charge of these various armed forces, who are: older than these “recruits” that everyone is focused on; may not have much of a liking for CHANGE- in the form of “women in the service, alongside men

    The guys in charge of the military now are .. well .. my age. From my POV There have always been women in the military, with equal pay and rank. Their roles changed from ‘non-combat’ to ‘any MOS but ground combat arms’ not long after I enlisted but there have always been women there.

    I’m not, of course, in charge of anything in the military but I could be a senior NCO now, about to retire, had I stayed in. In other words, The Man and one of the guys you cite running things. I don’t see it as an issue – women have been IN and serving and an intelligent man would see that they’re not going to go away – the challenge is to build an effective fighting force with them not without them.

    I have also read that there are many cases of the same kind of arrangements that you find in prison, where a “new” Female recruit is “protected” by an older enlisted man, in return for sexual favors, ie she becomes his “punk”. This is an arrangement that will almost never see the light of day.

    I am not the most observant guy on the block but arrangements like that are not easy to hide; most units share a barracks, people gossip, and the word gets around.

    I’ve never heard of something like that happening. I’m not saying it does not or has not but … it would be rare to non-existent.

    You’re saying that a majority of women who enlist are damaged in the head … well frankly you’ll have to cite something. That’s pretty damned insulting to say without evidence.

  • Lumière

    Good morning valkyrie607

    My feelings are real – I value my feelings

    I have asked for facts since the begin of this thread so I wouldn’t be duped, as I was with the Duke rape case.

    The truth is all I have to protect my feelings from the lies of a poor black stripper or the lies of the President of the United States. Truth is slow, inconvenient, and cumbersome because it requires thought – the assembling of facts.

    This was as chilling a post one could read on a message board:

    ///…a propensity to minimize the statistics with other statistics, not to allow the essential horrors and suffering to penetrate.\\\

    The poster doesn’t care about other people’s feelings. The poster thinks feelings are cheap, something to be manipulated with ‘essential horrors and suffering’.

    The poster doesn’t want me to be able to shielded my feelings with the truth. For that poster, the feelings of others don’t matter, the truth doesn’t matter, what matters to that poster is to “allow the essential horrors and suffering to penetrate”.

    “to allow the essential horrors and suffering to penetrate”…. What kind of sick mind wishes that on others *shudder* someone capable of sexual assault perhaps?

    Truth matters to me – I will fight for truth.

  • rc21

    H Brown thanks for the post. Sorry to be so hard, but it irks me when the Harvard case gets distorted. I’m sure you were just repeating what you were told or read. You are essentially correct the rest of the faculty and admin caved to the vocal femminists who cared more about their agenda than truth,

    Summers had alienated a few other groups also. The african american faculty were quite upset with Summers. He commited the ultimate sin of asking C.West to actually teach a few classes. What could he have been thinking.

    The ABC segment was interesting. I’m not saying I support it I’d have to read more on it. Would it have been more credible if another station did the story? I don’t know I try and gather info from as many sources as possible.

    As to your 2nd post. I served in the military for many years. I can’t say I saw any of the behavior your speaking of. Of course many of the leaders are older. They have been in longer, have more expierience and generally are higher in rank.

    It is really no different than the civillian world. As a young recruit and up until the time I achieved a higher rank I would call the exierience more of a teacher pupil relationship or better yet more of a coach athlete relationship.

    Some of these posts on this thread are so far out of touch with what military life is really like it almost makes you laugh.

    People and newspapers with political agendas never let the truth get in the way of their message.It drives them to completely ignore reality.

    Actually I consider myself a femminist in the sense I believe in equal rights and equal oppertunity. If you read my original posts I’m not against women in combat roles as long as they meet the demands of the role. Sexual assault is a problem in all forms of society. The stats others have shown seem to support that the military is no worse than other segments of society.

    The times, Salon and other groups have always had a bug up their ass when it comes to the military. I guess they and some on this site see it as an extension of some macho conservative right-wing group full of dumb blood thirsty rednecks.I’m sure to these people Sexual assault is just considered another form of entertainment to them

  • rc21

    By the way my first division officer was a women. She did a fine job. Being a Lt in the navy I would expect nothing less. Plus the fact that her home town was 20min from mine. didn’t hurt either.

  • valkyrie607

    Yo, Lumiere, personally, I don’t want to cast any aspersions on your desire for the truth. I’m just interested in the tenor of this whole discussion because it echos ones I’ve had in my personal life… i.e.:

    “Why are you getting so emotional? You don’t make any sense.”

    “Of course I’m emotional! This is a horrible, horrible, wrong thing! Stop being so cold!”

    This is in sort of generalized terms. I hope you see what I’m getting at. Myself, Peggysue, and Katemcshane have all had extremely emotional reactions to the discussion. The truth will out in this case, eventually, but in the meantime we’re left quivering in the ghosts of our own fear, rage, and confusion–the aftermath of our personal experiences–or those of people close to us. We are, one might say, triggered. And so isn’t everyone, otherwise they wouldn’t care enough to post on the topic… yes?

    The question I posed to you–did it not occur to you that you were providing another example of what Potter was talking about?–was not rhetorical. Did you not realize? Did you not care? Or do you disagree entirely that your response was indeed “cold”–avoiding the emotion involved?

    Anyway, Tbrucia, I have also been thinking about the horrors perpetrated by servicemen and women alike on the civilian population of Iraq. One thing that springs to mind is last March’s incident where some soldiers raped a 14-year-old Iraqi girl while others shot her family in the other room, then shot her too. Her name was Abeer. By the way. This sort of relates because one of the soldiers involved was admitted into the army under the new relaxed standards, and was subsequently dismissed for some kind of personality disorder. He’s now facing civilian charges, the other soldiers are being court-marshalled… The lax discipline that creates the environment where this can happen I imagine can lead to assaults on female soldiers too.

    It really sucks that Abeer’s story inspires less outrage than that of Nancy Enlistee or whatever, but there it is. It’s easier to relate to someone who might be your sister-in-law (mine served in Iraq). Outrage against mistreatment of soldiers, be they male or female, fits with the dominant mode of patriotism. Concern about the suffering of Iraqi civilians smacks of treason and subversiveness. Just a few thoughts to consider, gotta go now.

  • 1st/14th

    The lead paragraphs of this thread suggest that sexual harassment and sexual predation against military women in general are an issue. To that, I would agree, and inappropriate criminal behavior against anyone, including women, anywhere, is an issue. But is sexual predation more of a problem in the armed forces than in other areas? The numbers presented would suggest that predation against women in the armed forces is much less frequent than an equivalent civilian demographic.

    Are we supposed to take stories like the ones from the NY Times and Salon and extrapolate them out to be representative of the experiences of the average female in uniform? Because these human interest stories are designed to, as the legendary journalist Kent Brockman put it, “tug at the heart and fog the mind” they do not necessarily represent to reality of the situation, and that’s where we rely on facts to make an informed decision.

    I think that I have said about all I can say on this subject, and those who still carry their prejudices and misconceptions on this subject will most likely never change them, no matter what evidence is presented.

    94-96 USMC

    96-00 USMCR

  • Potter

    Lumiere: “to allow the essential horrors and suffering to penetrate”…. What kind of sick mind wishes that on others *shudder* someone capable of sexual assault perhaps?

    I take it you are saying that I “perhaps” have a sick mind for suggesting you read the stories to get an idea of the suffering these women are going through. That does not violate the ROS guildelines perhaps but nevertheless it’s a pretty disgusting nasty thing to accuse me of. I take offense and expect an apology.

    My point, which you missed because you are too hot from my “chilling” suggestion that you are perhap turning away defending your quest for truth: the facts and thus the truth are more in the stories than the statistics. The statistics are very VERY flawed. The comparison with other statistics (ie college rape) also VERY flawed and inappropriate (the military consists of age groups beyond college, and the nature of the trauma different often multiple) It makes no sense to me that you would protect yourself from a kind of knowledge because you were perhaps so burned, SO taken in by the Duke story. The Duke story doesn’t even compare. But how would or could you know that?

  • Potter

    From the Corbett NYTimes article:

    One way to conceptualize this is to imagine that each one of us has a psychic reservoir for holding life’s traumas, but by some indeterminate combination of genetics and socioeconomic factors, some of us appear to have bigger reservoirs than others, making us more resilient.

  • rc21

    Valkyrie607 The story of the 14 year old girl and her family is sad and brutal but this and the few other similer stories should lead you to this conclusion.

    Wow the military and the people in it are doing an exceptional job of maintaining law and respecting the rights of others.

    Think about it for a second How many hundreds of thousands of soldiers have rotated through Iraq in the last 4 years. They are put in extremly dangerous situations. They have no idea if the next person they meet on the street will befriend them or kill them. They have total power and control over all situations, They can do as they please with almost no fear of punishment. They are the law. Yet we have seen no more than a handfull of incidents like the one you describe.

    Now contrast this with a 4 year period of any major US city the rapes,murders,and crimes being commited by civillians greatly outnumber anything that any serviceman has done while in Iraq.

    Maybe the question the Times,Salon and other like minded people should be asking is how do military personel under much more stressfull situations continue to obey the law and generally maintain civility while the rest of the US civillian population continues to commit crimes at an alarming rate.

    Think about that for a while.

  • herbert browne

    Re ..”how do military personel under much more stressfull situations continue to obey the law and generally maintain civility while the rest of the US civillian population continues to commit crimes at an alarming rate..”-

    Over half a million dead Iraqis would love to know how they died by the hand of “generally maintained civility”, brought about by people from half a world away… Think about THAT for awhile… ^..^

  • Katherine

    Hi everyone. This is quite a thread — it’s a challenge to keep up with it! I just updated the post in response to much of this conversation and will copy the update here as well so you don’t have to scroll all the way back up:

    After a fair amount of smiling and dialing (as Mary calls it) and trying to figure out how to put this show together, we’ve decided that we want to talk to as many Iraq veterans as possible rather than stacking the hour with military experts.

    So because we won’t have room for a statistics wizard to explain the confusing sexual assault numbers — and because many of you have been asking about them in the comment thread — here’s what we’ve found out: The Miles Foundation — an NGO dedicated to research on, education about, and services for military victims of sexual and domestic violence — put it this way: It’s basically impossible to compare the military numbers reliably with the civilian numbers. This is because different organizations are collecting the data (DoD, VA, a variety of civilian institutions) and using different methodologies (various survey or self-reporting methods). The Miles people stay on top of all the data, and their best guess, based on the numbers, is this: The rates of sexual assault are higher in the military than in the civilian world. And the rates go up during wartime.

    The Miles Foundation was also, by the way, one of two sources that told me the story in the Salon piece Potter mentions about the women dying of dehydration in their cots is false, completely unsubstantiated by the death records.

  • here is an exerpt from the March 8th interview on Democracy “women dying of dehydration in their cots is false, completely unsubstantiated by the death records” or a cover up?

    COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: Because the women, in fear of getting up in the hours of darkness to go out to the portoilets or the latrines, were not drinking liquids after 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon. And in 120-degree heat or warmer, because there was no air conditioning at most of the facilities, they were dying from dehydration in their sleep. And rather than make everybody aware of that, because that’s shocking — and as a leader, if that’s not shocking to you, then you’re not much of a leader — so what they told the surgeon to do was, “Don’t brief those details anymore. And don’t say specifically that they’re women. You can provide that in a written report, but don’t brief it in the open anymore.”

    MARJORIE COHN: Was there a commander who saw dehydration listed as a cause of death of a woman, a woman female US soldier, and after that he said “Do not list dehydration as a cause of death anymore”?

    COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: Yes.

    MARJORIE COHN: Who was that?

    COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: General Sanchez.

    MARJORIE COHN: General Sanchez. Thank you.

    AMY GOODMAN: That was Colonel, formerly Brigadier General, Janis Karpinski being questioned by the law professor Marjorie Cohn.

    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/08/1443232

  • herbert browne

    Hey, BrianD- what I said about women recruits was simply conjecture from an armchair psychologist- to wit: ” a lot of these women who enlist may be trying to prove something to their fathers… and they find these “surrogate fathers” who happen to resent them- and are able to take advantage..”-

    And from that you extrapolated ..”You’re saying that a majority of women who enlist are damaged in the head … well frankly you’ll have to cite something. That’s pretty damned insulting to say without evidence..”

    You’re right- IF I HAD said that they were “damaged in the head,” then I’d agree with you. I’m no Freudian (or Jungian or Skinnerrian)- but have been a son- in a pretty good-sized family- and a father… and I will stand by my assertion, that “a lot of these women who enlist MAY BE TRYING TO PROVE SOMETHING to their fathers (well, parents- OK? but my experience has been that moms generally aren’t impressed by their offspring going off to join the Army, etc). Moms (in my experience) tend to be the nurturing, pragmatic parental unit- and the dads have these lofty ideals and “big picture” agendas– and kids pick up on this. (As an example, maybe, how many of the ideologue neo-cons who dreamt up the Iraq war as a “democratizing factor in the Middle East” were moms?) If the guys running the military are around your age, then I’ll take your word for the general state of cooperation that exists among the different sexes in the service. I’m probably harking back to a transitional “dark age”, post-Nam & pre-Grenada… and I confess, it’s mostly based upon apocryphal tales (with 2 exceptions- one current, from a Ft. Lewis recruit). Your experience outweighs my conjecture… and I’ll leave it there. ^..^

  • Potter

    When some posters started asking for statistics and making their own comparisons I went looking and also found the Miles Foundation and there are no stats there that answer the questions. The DOD statistics I would not believe without some outside professional assessment since it is not in the DOD’s ( Bush’s DOD) interest or MO to say there is a problem AND since true stats are hard to come by -women do not want to report sexual assault or harrassment-including stats that combine sexual assault with war related PTSD, I conclude there are NO stats but assumptions that can be carefully made by those who are trained and civilian who are studying the problem more closely.

    There are so many problems with statistics, questions unanswered, often old, how do you get anything from them? It also seemed to me that in this thread the flawed numbers we have were being used to draw an alarming conclusion reminiscent of “they asked for it” : that would lead some to think “no big deal- same is happening on campus or the general population” which completely avoids and misrepresents what is happening.

  • Potter

    Thanks Peggy Sue- Helen Benedict ( Columbia Prof Journalism , writing a book and wrote the Salon.com article) in that interview says:

    The numbers are very hard to assess, because so few people wish to come forth. There is a study of earlier veterans of war that indicates 30% of women are sexually assaulted and/or raped. There are other studies that put the numbers less and some that put them high. The military itself only counts reported rapes by women while they’re still in the military, so their numbers are much lower, because the climate’s very difficult to report in. Sexual assault is higher, because — more — which includes attempted rape, but not fully completed, and sexual harassment is up to 90%, is what I found in my studies.

    From the New York Times article by Sara Corbett:

    Research has shown that exposure to trauma has the potential to alter brain chemistry, affecting among other things the way memories are processed and stored. To vastly simplify a complex bit of neurology: If the brain can’t make sense of a traumatic experience, it may be unable to process it and experience it as a long-term memory. Traumas tend to persist as emotional – or unconscious – memories, encoded by the amygdala, the brain’s fear center. A trauma can then resurface unexpectedly when triggered by a sensory cue. The cerebral cortex, where rational thought takes place, is not in control. The fear center rules; the brain is overwhelmed. Small tasks – tooth-brushing, grocery-shopping, feeding your children – start to feel monumental, even frightening.

    ”I was not scared a single day I was in Iraq; that’s what baffles me most,” Kate Bulson, a 24-year-old former Army sergeant, told me by phone not long ago from her home in Muskegon, Mich. She developed PTSD after completing the first of two tours in Iraq, she said, adding that she had not experienced sexual trauma. ”I did everything the male soldiers did: I kicked in doors, searched people and cars, ran patrols on dangerous highways,” she said. ”Over there, I would hear an explosion at night and sleep through it. Now I hear the slightest sound and I wake up.”

  • rc21

    H. Brown, Hate to get off topic but the half million dead Iraquis you refer to is a stat that has been widely debunked. The numbers are much smaller. But that aside. Iraquis are being killed by Iraquis and foreighn terrorists,not Americans. As a matter of fact more Americans are being killed due to the fact that they are taking unprecidented measures to make sure they do not target civillians. Something no other nation has ever done .

    So I will stand by my statement. You may hate Bush but you are being quite unfair to the military both men and women. The majority are their trying to help the Iraquis.

  • rc21

    Katherine, Would not the Miles Foundation have a vested intrest in reporting on increased sexual violence in the military. After all their whole existence is based on the assumption that this is subject that needs great attention. If it did not there would really be no need for the Miles foundation.

    By the way there is no such thing as a non-profit organization. I don’t know if there stats are reliable or not, by I am always sceptical when an advocacy group presents stats that validate an orginizations agenda. Kind of like the people who don’t trust the DOD.

  • Potter

    From Peggy Sue’s link above – The Democracy Now interview:

    AMY GOODMAN: Professor Helen Benedict, you have some remarkable statistics in the article you did for salon.com, “The Private War of Women Soldiers.” Can you talk about the statistics from Vietnam to now of sexual assault?

    HELEN BENEDICT: Yes, most of the statistics have been gathered through studies with veterans, who feel freer to talk than when they’re still in the military. And a lot of the studies gathered women who have come to the VA for help for various things, who are veterans of the Vietnam War and all the wars up through now. And that’s where I found the 30% said they were raped. I found a 71% —

    AMY GOODMAN: From Vietnam through the first Gulf War, 30% said they had been raped in the military?

    HELEN BENEDICT: Yes, so that includes Bosnia and the other places.

    AMY GOODMAN: 2004 study of veterans from Vietnam and all the wars since, who were seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder, found 71%?

    HELEN BENEDICT: Said they were sexually assaulted, yeah.

    AMY GOODMAN: Sexually assaulted or raped while in the military. And a third study conducted ’92, ’93, with female veterans of the Gulf War and earlier wars, 90% said they had been sexually harassed?

    HELEN BENEDICT: Harassed, yes. There are no statistics on Iraq alone at the moment. Those are still being studied, but that’s from previous wars and combinations of wars.

    AMY GOODMAN: What protection does the military provide?

    HELEN BENEDICT: There is no protection. I can’t think of a single thing that I would call protection, realistically.

    AMY GOODMAN: And how did you decide to write this book? You have written books on sexual assault before. How did you come to this?

    HELEN BENEDICT: Through Mickiela, who we’ve just been talking to. Originally, I met her and another young soldier, and the first thing they said to me was, there are only three things the men let you be in the military: a bitch, a ho or a dyke. And then they immediately started talking about how they were harassed and how they were treated by men and how the world in general doesn’t recognize them or respect them for what they’ve done as soldiers. And that’s what ignited my interest.

    My book isn’t just about sexual assault. It’s going to be about the whole arc of experience, including why people sign up in the first place and their consciences, which is a very important part of it. But this element is making it so horrendously unfair and so much harder on women, in a situation that’s already horrible, that something has to be done about it.

  • Thank you Potter.

    I personally do not put much stock in statistics when it comes to sexual assault against women because it is a crime that is so often unreported. There are compelling reasons women do not report these crimes. Women are usually well aware that they are the ones likely to be punished but even at its best, when justice is served, a woman’s reputation will be dragged through the mud. However innocent she may be she will be seen as “soiled” by the experience. She will be associated with something she finds repugnant. What do you think about when you hear the name Anita Hill?

    That said, it is reported today on Democracy Now! that even the Pentagon is reporting sexual assault in military is up 24%.

    http://www.democracynow.org/

  • Potter

    Peggy Sue- yes that’s the point- and in turn when we see similar things going on in other countries/cultures we are appalled. It’s very primitive when you come to think of it.

    I think of ( Judge) Thomas’s remark about pubic hair on his Coke can when I hear the name of Anita Hill.

    http://gos.sbc.edu/h/hill.html

  • Peggy Sue @ work

    Potter,

    That is EXACTLY what I think of!

    And here he is on the Supreme court – pretty loud message to women not to bother bringing up sexual harrasment.

  • valkyrie607

    Yeah, and how about Rc21’s skepticism about the Miles Foundation?

    “Would not the Miles Foundation have a vested intrest in reporting on increased sexual violence in the military. After all their whole existence is based on the assumption that this is subject that needs great attention. If it did not there would really be no need for the Miles foundation.

    Rc21, can you seriously make the case that the subject of sexual violence in the military DOESN’T need great attention? If so, I’m very curious to know why.

  • valkyrie607

    Obviously it’s my position that sexual violence in the military (or elsewhere) does deserve our attention. Here’s a few facts–look everybody, facts! Oboy oboy!–that lend credence.

    There have been 18 task forces and investigations of sexual harassment and assault within the military over the last twenty years by such organizations as the Department of Defense, the House Armed Services Committee, the Inspector General, the Naval Personnel Research and Development Center, the General Accounting Office, the DOD Defense Equal Opportunity Council, the Secretary of the Army, DACOWITS, the Department of the Air Force, the National Academy of Public Administration (I have no idea who these folks are, look them up if you wish), and of course Congress.

    Tell me, if this is such a non-issue, why all the invesigations? Does the DoD have a vested interest as well?

    It wasn’t until 2005 that the Army issued DTMs that called sexual assault “criminal behavior.” Earlier, Donald Rumsfeld characterized sexual assault as “inappropriate behavior.” There are no DTMs regarding “outlining a health care response, application of casualty protocols to sexual

    assault victims, extension of leave for treatment of trauma, and training and education of first responders.” (Hansen 2005)

    To me this shows a culture within the military that does not take this issue seriously–and this culture goes all the way to the top.

    In addition, although Congress allocated $1.8 million for the establishment of an Office of the Victims’ Advocate; however, the DoD has chosen to do another study rather than implement Congress’ directive. This was in 2005.

    Does anybody know if this office has been established yet?

  • valkyrie607

    DTM = Directive Type Memo.

  • Herbert Browne

    Hey, BrianD- what I said about women recruits was simply conjecture from an armchair psychologist-

    Duly noted – thank you.

    Peggysue

    here is an exerpt from the March 8th interview on Democracy “women dying of dehydration in their cots is false, completely unsubstantiated by the death records” or a cover up?

    COL. JANIS KARPINSKI

    There is a reason the lady was demoted, Peggy Sue.

    It wasn’t until 2005 that the Army issued DTMs that called sexual assault “criminal behavior.”

    I’ll simply have to stop commenting – I can see myself turning into a broken record.

    I don’t know from directive type memos and (as noted) I was only in the service for eight years.

    I’ve always known that sexual assault was criminal behavior and my training and inclination would have been to treat it as such. I don’t think I’m so very different from my peers.

  • There is a reason the lady was demoted, Peggy Sue.

    Yes, I know. Here are some excerpts from Amy Goodman’s interview with filmmaker Rory Kennedy regarding “The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib” – a new HBO documentary…

    RORY KENNEDY: Yes. Senator Kennedy and Senator Graham, and Senator Graham had — when he was asked by Jeffrey Toobin, who was moderating the panel, “Who was really responsible for what happened at Abu Ghraib?” he, you know, mentioned a number of different organizations and kind of groups of people, but the person that he really targeted was Janis Karpinski. Unfortunately, Janis Karpinski — he didn’t realize that Janis Karpinski was in the audience, because he had arrived a little late. And so, Jeffrey Toobin then gave her an opportunity to defend herself, and she really went in on the attack. One of the things that he had said was, you know, she should have been court-martialed, and she rebutted, “You know, I wanted to be court-martialed. I wanted to go to court, but nobody would let me, because they didn’t want me to tell the whole story of really what happened.” So it got pretty heated.

    AMY GOODMAN: She called Senator Graham a coward.

    RORY KENNEDY: She did, she did. And, you know, he stood his ground, but it was — you know, I think it’s telling. I think this continues to be an issue that touches a lot of people and brings a lot of issues to the surface. It’s an important issue.

    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/21/1340204&mode=thread&tid=25

  • Potter

    I can understand why it may be felt that Karpinski is not helping matters in speaking about women who ( may or may not) have died of dehydration from fear of drinking late in the day so that they would not have to go to the latrine at night. Since Karpinski was blamed/responsible and demoted for abuses at Abu Graib her credibility suffers. If there were indeed a few dehydration related deaths or women’s deaths that occurred b/c dehydration was a factor it is beyond what we know or can check.

    This does detract from the larger story of sexual harassment: living with constant fear of assault from those you are living/ fighting/working with especially in an unpredictable violent combat situation. There is no safe place. This larger story is amply corroborated by others. Karpinski is not needed. The Democracy Now interview does include her, but let’s not focus on her. The Salon.com and NYTimes articles written by researchers/journalists are heavily loaded with enough else- especially first-hand accounts from women in the service

    The highest-ranking official to lose a job because of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal is speaking out about sex assault in the military. But some advocates say she doesn’t help the cause

    http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2701/context/archive

    See also:

    http://www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/57/17327

  • rc21

    valkyrie607, could you please point out where in any of my posts I stated sexual violence in the military doesn’t need great attention.

    If you re read my march 21 11;00am post, I state that sexual assault is a problem in all forms of society.

    What I and others question is the extent of such assaults. (You site agenda driven sources Democracy now being the latest.) I’ve watched that station many times. If I didn’t know better I’d swear they were being operated and run by H. Chavez or Fidel. Give me a break. Why should I not be sceptical? The Democracy now interview claims 30% of all women in the military have been raped. Honestly if this were true the army would be on total stand down and court martials would be in session 24 hours a day year round. Do you honestly believe that claim and some of the others that seem just as dubious. This is why it is so hard to take these agenda driven media outlets so seriously.

    Helen Benedicts claim that the military provides no protection to women is just a flat out lie. This renders the rest of her interview as corrupt and void of honesty and integrity. There is now no reason to believe any thing else she has to say.

    I served in the military as have others and nothing like what you or your supportesrs claim even remotely took place.

    You claim to know so much about the culture of the military,may I ask how long you served and in what branch?

    I also figured at some point someone would suggest this behaviour goes all the way to the top. So this is Bushes fault now.

    Please could you respond to my question to assault in the military as compared to any US city. No one seems to want to respond.

    In closing I would ask that you and your supporters take your blinders off and try and look at sexual assault for what it really is a systemic societal problem.

    My guess is that the military is an easy target for femminists and people at the times,salon, democracy now etc. They hate the military anyway and this is just another way in which to attack and degrade a group that they detest.

  • Valkrie posted “A 2003 report financed by the Department of Defense revealed that nearly one-third of a nationwide sample of female veterans seeking health care through the V.A. said they experienced rape or attempted rape during their service. Of that group, 37 percent said they were raped multiple times, and 14 percent reported they were gang-raped. Perhaps even more tellingly, a small study financed by the V.A. following the gulf war suggests that rates of both sexual harassment and assault rise during wartime.”

    As combat veteran of the Vietnam War I’m having a hard time with this ‘report’. To hell with the PC BS. I had a lot of contact with MASH units. Women that served were given the respect due them. Our unit was next to a MASH unit, I never heard of a rape on female soldier, and I spent six weeks in hospitals as a patient. We loved our nurses and donut dollies, and would have killed anybody that messed with them. Obviously, I’m not saying it never happened because I only know what I experienced, but I got around.

    OK were talking about the fitness of females to operate in a combat. If 1/3rd of our females solders are reporting rape, the numbers must be massive. If we are talking of women fighting in direct combat then think if 1/3 are reporting rape then it must lead to the conclusion that our Armed Services are producing victims instead of fighters. It does not make any sense. A warrior, either man or woman, is trained fight to the death. If we are to believe the numbers then we do not have an Army, I’d call it a co-ed prison with no guards and a dismal failure.

    To those women that have been sexually coerced or raped in the Armed Services, I do not doubt it happened. I had been home only two weeks when my next door neighbor was raped, she fled to my house. I will never forget the brutality of that experience. I just think there is something wrong with this DOD report that everyone seems to be taking at face value, seriously wrong.

  • rc21

    Red catcher, The DOD never reported these stats. A women in the business of writing about male sexual assault came up with these numbers. Basically from antidotal research. No real hard numbers. Your reasoning is correct something is quite wrong with her statistics.

  • Potter

    I wonder if wars, this war in particular with it’s troop shortages, could be conducted at all without women.

    Redcatcher who says he “never heard of a rape on female soldier” says:

    If 1/3rd of our females solders are reporting rape, the numbers must be massive. If we are talking of women fighting in direct combat then think if 1/3 are reporting rape then it must lead to the conclusion that our Armed Services are producing victims instead of fighters. It does not make any sense. A warrior, either man or woman, is trained fight to the death. If we are to believe the numbers then we do not have an Army, I’d call it a co-ed prison with no guards and a dismal failure.

    Yes! We are producing A LOT of victims!

    But then Redcatcher weighs in with the same denial and disbelief of our friend RC21 ( it must be the left wing media with their agenda) just above.

    Redcatcher; I just think there is something wrong with this DOD report that everyone seems to be taking at face value, seriously wrong.

    It could not possibly make sense! That’s it! It’s not the situation ( the WAR) that does not make sense, it’s the DOD report- that must be wrong. Therefore we should not take it at face value folks. Case closed.

    Is it possible that the DOD report is only reporting the tip of the iceberg?

    What Helen Benedict said in her Salon.com article quote:

    A 2003 survey of female veterans from Vietnam through the first Gulf War found that 30 percent said they were raped in the military. A 2004 study of veterans from Vietnam and all the wars since, who were seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder, found that 71 percent of the women said they were sexually assaulted or raped while in the military. And in a third study, conducted in 1992-93 with female veterans of the Gulf War and earlier wars, 90 percent said they had been sexually harassed in the military, which means anything from being pressured for sex to being relentlessly teased and stared at.

    From Sara Corbett’s article last Sunday for the NYTimes:

    A 2003 report financed by the Department of Defense revealed that nearly one-third of a nationwide sample of female veterans seeking health care through the V.A. said they experienced rape or attempted rape during their service. Of that group, 37 percent said they were raped multiple times, and 14 percent reported they were gang-raped. Perhaps even more tellingly, a small study financed by the V.A. following the gulf war suggests that rates of both sexual harassment and assault rise during wartime. The researchers who carried out this study also looked at the prevalence of PTSD symptoms – including flashbacks, nightmares, emotional numbing and round-the-clock anxiety – and found that women who endured sexual assault were more likely to develop PTSD than those who were exposed to combat.

  • Potter

    Get that- RC21: “women in the business of writing about male sexual assault”

    They must be making a lot of money in this lucretive field- or they should be.

  • This does detract from the larger story of sexual harassment: living with constant fear of assault from those you are living/ fighting/working with especially in an unpredictable violent combat situation. There is no safe place.

    I’d love to see if this is true as experienced by an actual female veteran. So far as I can tell there have not been any posting here.

  • Potter,

    You can quote me out of context, You can assume that I think the “media is left wing with their agenda” is out to get me. In fact you can read anything you want into my post….LOL. I hope it’s still a somewhat free country out there. Bold type and hysterical hype, don’t shake my world. I believe this an open forum of ideas, you put in your 2 cents and I’ll put in mine. But do me a favor don’t try to make me look bad by misquoting me or assume I’m something I’m not. It does not serve you well.

  • Potter

    Redcatcher- I was referring to RC21.

  • Potter

    To be clearer, if I can I said:

    “But then Redcatcher weighs in with the same denial and disbelief of our friend RC21 ( it must be the left wing media with their agenda) just above.”

    It was RC21 who was blaming the media- as he has in the past- b/c he did not agree with the substance.

    But then I quoted Redcatcher who said ” I just think there is something wrong with this DOD report that everyone seems to be taking at face value, seriously wrong.”

    This is similar to RC21- blaming the messenger. In other words, the reports cannot possible be true nevermind signaling that it may represent the tip of the iceberg. Not possible.

    The reason I put the quote in bold was so that you could compare the two and read them again since there seems to be some minsrepresentation of what is actually being said.

    As well I might add that your personal experience in VietNam is not enough to draw conclusions especially about what has happened in the intervening years. The situation has changed for women. They are much more involved in combat…

  • Potter

    Brian Dunbar- Did you read the articles? Do these women have to post here? Especially since we have said there is a reluctance- that seems a lot to ask for proof.

  • Potter,

    Lets just say that all the reports you cite are true. Is it not logical to assume that this grand idea of the co-mingling of the sexes in the military is a criminal failure. I’m a father of two girls do you mean to tell me that if I knew the chances that they were going to get raped while serving their Country was 33% I would allow them to be exposed to that horror? Never, nor would any sane person.

    “Redcatcher- I was referring to RC21” God man! read your second and third line of your last post

    “But then Redcatcher weighs in with the same denial and disbelief of our friend RC21 ( it must be the left wing media with their agenda) just above.”

    Potter

    I don’t preach to the converted. You seem know all. Well, if you feel so sure these reports are true then why aren’t you and 100,000 other people throwing your selfs under troop trains? What are you doing wasting time here? Its a criminal waste.

    I might add you know nothing about my personal service in Vietnam, and what I saw gives me a lot more qualifications than you to speak to the subject. But thanks for your input.

  • Potter

    Brian Dunbar- Did you read the articles? Do these women have to post here? Especially since we have said there is a reluctance- that seems a lot to ask for proof.

    You can call me Brian.

    Those women do not – but it would be interesting if they did.

    No, what led me to write that was your citing a culture of fear – which does not square with my recollection of the service. Surely if it were that bad .. women would not re-enlist and yet, they do. They would not finish a four year enlistment (getting out of the service with an honorable discharge early is possible) but they do.

    I’m interested in the disconnect between what is being reported and my observations from being in the service.

    I’m also interested in this devolved or evolved from a thread about ‘women in war’ to .. sexual assault. Is sexual assault the defining experience for women in the military? It can’t be but .. here we are.

    Is that because none of the posters here have actually experienced what we’re talking about (women and war)? Could be, I dunno.

  • Potter

    Brian thank you I think you make some good points. One thing that is happening on this thread is the recognition of post traumatic stress by those who have suffered it, or it would be better to say do suffer from it ( as one always has it- the trauma or multiple traumas) Also the females on this thread, I dare say, understand sexual harassment in a way that the guys do not however much the guys say how awful it is. What drive me nuts is the denial and the minimizing, the demand for statistics when there are no good ones, and at that, what we have is not too encouraging regarding what’s really cooking on the war scene. It takes years for some victims to come to terms with themselves regarding their need for hel after possibly destroying their relationships and/or causing themselves harm. Perhaps it’s hard to understand the shame. And women are hard-pressed to show that they can meet the challenge- be tough. Perhaps it hard to understand why a young woman would want to go into the service in the first place. I think we should listen to this part of their stories whether posted here, or in an interview on a women’s website or in a “left wing” journal or the NYTimes or Salon.com. When RC21 says that DEmocracy Now is as far out as Castro or Chavez it’s tantamount to stuffing cotton in the ears or saying “I don’t want to know about it”. I think we should pay attention to these stories which have been hard coming out because even though these are the brave speaking, they are probably very representative, not in the particulars but in the basic motives and needs. You can compare the stories.

    Regarding the culture of fear, I can only imagine that I would be very afraid as a woman, especially if I were traumatized prior to enlistment, and if I enlisted to get away, to prove myself, then I was in a situation of combat, living together with the men- trying to cope with the daily violence. The sex and violence go together. And the alcohol is part of it too. I think Redcatcher really hit on it when he said we are producing a lot of victims.

    Redcatcher said I should be out throwing myself before the troop trains with 100,000 others instead of posting here. And he is right about that. Except that I don’t think that this is a waste… not entirely.

  • rc21

    It’s pointless. Some people just can’t deal with truth. Some women with an agenda talks to some people,does some random suveys and decides 30%of women in the military have been raped. This is not based on facts or statistics. She does not look at arrests or court martial statistics. She just talks to people.

    The people on this forum who dispute this story have all served in the military. Yet our opinion means nothing.

    Oh by the way Potter writing about sexual harrasment and violence is exactly what Helen Benedict does. She has 3 books out already. I also believe she plans on writing a book about this subject.

  • Potter said:”Regarding the culture of fear, I can only imagine that I would be very afraid as a woman, especially if I were traumatized prior to enlistment, and if I enlisted to get away, to prove myself, then I was in a situation of combat, living together with the men- trying to cope with the daily violence. The sex and violence go together. And the alcohol is part of it too. I think Redcatcher really hit on it when he said we are producing a lot of victims.”

    Potter rape is a crime of power. If these stats were true 33% of men in the military would be rape victims. Where are the stats?

    “The sex and violence go together. And the alcohol is part of it too.”

    Potter

    Potter: Where did you come up with this? There was no shortage of violence in Vietnam and you could buy a case of OB (Old Bastard) beer for .99 cents….LOL

    If we followed your logic all the nurses and donut dollies in Vietnam would have been raped. Have you ever talked to a nurses or donut dollies? They loved the men they treated and to this day still they have an overwhelming love for the and respect for the men, and we feel the same way about them.

    A Warrior is not afraid of the enemy, nor are they afraid of the men or woman in their units. Though I believe your intentions are you are heart felt, I think you do a disservice to the brave women of this Country who serve. They are not ‘victims’, nor would they want to bee seen as ‘victims’.

  • valkyrie607

    BrianD: I don’t know what a Directive Type Memo is either, really, I’m glad to know sexual assault was treated as criminal behaviour when you were there. I do apologize for speaking of what I know not.

    I do think it’s telling, though, that Rumsfeld is the one quoted as calling it “inappropriate behaviour”–sort of fits with his pattern of operating. Going to the top–as in his and Cheney’s dismissive attitudes towards torture.

    Rc21: I already said I’m not in the military, never have been, never will be. I’m just reading and reading here, trying to learn what I can about this. I’m too much of a international citizen to ever consider lending my body and skills to violence in the service of a nation-state. We should be concerned about violence against women wherever it happens. The difference here is that there are people here being paid by the taxpayers. They have the power to do something about it, and I am not convinced that they are taking this as a serious problem.

    Also, I think your question about stats in military vs cities (still suffering from the 70s-80s idea of cities as pits of violence, huh?) is kind of answered in the heading.

    When I said “this goes all the way to the top” I was referring to Donald Rumsfeld, not Bush.

    I never cited Democracy Now. In fact, my citations were embedded in my text–i.e. “Hansen 2005,” giving the author of the article, and the year in which it was published. Enough information for you to look it up and decide whether it’s slanted or not.

    Your comment about the Miles Foundation made me think that you’re skeptical about sexual assault in the military being a problem deserving our attention. You said they have a “vested interest” in this being the case. Your implication was that they may be misrepresenting or exaggerating or perhaps even lying about their figures. But if you check their website, they get most of their data from the military itself.

    Redcatcher: as we’ve discussed over and over again, there are no reliable statistics. This is, in and of itself, scandalous. I believe that it’s 1/3 of women seeking care from the VA who have reported being raped, not 1/3 of the total enlistees. But as I said, and as it says in the heading, there are no reliable statistics. However, it seems to be a pretty safe conjecture, from what statistics are available, that the risk of rape is higher if you’re a woman in the military than in general civilian life.

    Why do you think rape rates for men and women would be equal? Bizarre.

    The stats, the stats… Where ARE the freakin’ stats?

  • valkyrie607

    RC21 Sez: Some women with an agenda talks to some people,does some random suveys and decides 30%of women in the military have been raped.

    Which woman exactly are you talking about, RC21?

  • Potter

    Redcatcher: “Potter: Where did you come up with this? There was no shortage of violence in Vietnam and you could buy a case of OB (Old Bastard) beer for .99 cents….LOL”

    Quote from the NYTimes article linked below

    March 13, 2007

    For U.S. Troops at War, Liquor Is Spur to Crime

    By PAUL von ZIELBAUER

    In May 2004, Specialist Justin J. Lillis got drunk on what he called “hajji juice,” a clear Iraqi moonshine smuggled onto an Army base in Balad, Iraq, by civilian contractors, and began taking potshots with his M-16 service rifle.

    “He shot up some contractor’s rental car,” said Phil Cave, a lawyer for Specialist Lillis, 24. “He hopped in a Humvee, drove around and shot up some more things. He shot into a housing area” and at soldiers guarding the base entrance.

    Six months later, at an Army base near Baghdad, after a night of drinking an illegal stash of whiskey and gin, Specialist Chris Rolan of the Third Brigade, Third Infantry Division, pulled his 9mm service pistol on another soldier and shot him dead.

    And in March 2006, in perhaps the most gruesome crime committed by American troops in Iraq, a group of 101st Airborne Division soldiers stationed in Mahmudiya raped a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killed her and her family after drinking several cans of locally made whiskey supplied by Iraqi Army soldiers, military prosecutors said.

    Alcohol, strictly forbidden by the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan, is involved in a growing number of crimes committed by troops deployed to those countries. Alcohol- and drug-related charges were involved in more than a third of all Army criminal prosecutions of soldiers in the two war zones — 240 of the 665 cases resulting in convictions, according to records obtained by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.

    Seventy-three of those 240 cases involve some of the most serious crimes committed, including murder, rape, armed robbery and assault. Sex crimes accounted for 12 of the convictions.

    The 240 cases involved a roughly equal number of drug and alcohol offenses, although alcohol-related crimes have increased each year since 2004.

    Despite the military’s ban on all alcoholic beverages — and strict Islamic prohibitions against drinking and drug use — liquor is cheap and ever easier to find for soldiers looking to self-medicate the effects of combat stress, depression or the frustrations of extended deployments, said military defense lawyers, commanders and doctors who treat soldiers’ emotional problems.

    “It’s clear that we’ve got a lot of significant alcohol problems that are pervasive across the military,” said Dr. Thomas R. Kosten, a psychiatrist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston. He traces their drinking and drug use to the stress of working in a war zone. “The treatment that they take for it is the same treatment that they took after Vietnam,” Dr. Kosten said. “They turn to alcohol and drugs.”

    The use of alcohol and drugs in war zones appears to reflect a broader trend toward heavier and more frequent drinking among all military personnel, but especially in the Army and Marine Corps, the two services doing most of the fighting, Pentagon officials and military health experts said.

    For U.S. Troops At War Liquor is Spur to Crime

    Also see: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1351131

  • Potter

    As I think someone said on this long thread- In other wars ( Viet Nam for instance) a soldier could go to a brothel etc. But then again the men were not fighting alongside the women in Nam. Redcatcher- I respect your experience in Viet Nam but I don’t think you can extrapolate that to the Iraq situation.

  • Potter

    Another excerpt from this article-( more if you read it..)

    Command tolerance for such behavior began changing in the 1980s, and by the 1990s, “if you had more than a couple drinks at the club, people started looking at you strange,” the retired colonel said.

    But at a time when the military is fighting two major ground wars, the often serious consequences of heavy drinking has emerged with increasing clarity as more troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other mental health problems, military officials and mental health experts said.

    “I think the real story here is in the suicide and stress, and the drinking is just a symptom of it,” said Charles P. O’Brien, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine who served as a Navy doctor during the Vietnam War. There is a high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder among Iraq veterans, he said, adding that “there’s been a lot of suicide in the active-duty servicemen.”

    More than 90 percent of sex crimes prosecuted by the military involve alcohol abuse, defense lawyers and military doctors said. Roughly half of the marines charged with crimes in Iraq exhibit clear signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, a Marine defense lawyer said.

    “They turn to alcohol and drugs for an escape,” he said.

    I apologize for taking up so much, too much, of this thread.

  • katemcshane

    Potter — As far as I’m concerned, you owe no one an apology. An obstinate, cynical, sometimes crass environment has been created on this thread. I am grateful to you for doing this research and posting these articles. I’m sorry to admit that I have felt — I don’t know if the word is “intimidated” — unable to speak. Some of the comments have repeated a distortion of reality with regard to violence against women that has been too much a part of my life. Thank you for remaining sane. You don’t owe an apology for defending these women.

  • Potter

    Thanks Kate- I won’t be here for the show and I really think I am done here.. I got too involved ( once again). I would like you to know that I have read your posts which are very meaningful for me – including the one on the traumatic transference thread. And I have as well of course read the articles. For me too it was tough going completing the reading ( all the while urging others here to do so) recognizing the symtoms (from trauma in my own life) and getting a little shakey. I put it down alot- read it in snatches. I completely understand anyone else’s reluctance- the difficulty of just speaking about these things because it brings whatever you are dealing with back again.. the talking or listening or reading about it. When you see someone who looks fine- you never know what they carry, how they fight to put one step in front of the other at times.

  • “If we are to believe the numbers then we do not have an Army, I’d call it a co-ed prison with no guards and a dismal failure.”

    Redcatcher

    Valkrie I’ve always believed rape is a crime of power not sex. Ok’ the numbers are true. What’s being described here is a pervasive criminal environment in the Military. If you’ve ever read any prison literature then you would know that drugs, illegal booze, and rape are all common to prisons. If you thought a bit, you wouldn’t think my proposition was so “bizarre”. If you agree men are less likely than women to report rape, then it may not be so bizarre. There are plenty of stats our there on the subject.

    Kate, FYI I went to an elementa,ry school where over 400 students, male as well as female were raped. So I think I’m pretty sensitive about the subject. You seem to indicate that anybody that disagreed with Potter is obstinate,cynical and crass and left you feeling, “intimidated”, “unable to speak”. I don’t know why you feel unable to speak? Kate, I’ve read and enjoyed your prior posts and IMHO you are no lightweight. Should I feel shamed here? Unable to speak? Do you think only women experience violence, sexual or otherwise ?

    Violence has no gender and we all suffer when we are not believed, or shamed, or told to shut up.

    Nuff said,

    I apologize for taking up so much, too much, of this thread

  • Data from a lady I know, retired career enlisted, whose daughter separated from the service a year ago.

    She says she actually felt pretty damn safe in Kuwait and Iraq… being armed to the teeth and all had something to do with it! And again, all the females lived together. Privacy for any kind of sexual activity, consensual or otherwise, was pretty much nonexistant! Rumour of illicit sexual activity were more of a pain than any actual threat. She also says that actually being up front and in the thick of it was pretty much a libido killer. Everyone was tired, and frazzled from being on alert… and of course, all of them were armed to the teeth. She felt actually pretty safe. (She always had at least two knives about her person.)

    It’s only anecdotal but .. most of what’s been reported above is so-so on the firm data front.

    I say the above not to confrontational but as a bridge to this;

    I did not interject what I did to be confrontational, obtuse or to create a climate of fear. Far from it! I did think that my perspective as a former Marine would be of benefit discussing issues relating to today’s military.

    It’s hard to understand a circus without asking the opinion of a the people who make a living at it – ditto the military. It’s ethos and mores are drawn from our society – possibly more so than some would be comfortable with – but at the end of the day the guys and gals in the military are not some strange foreign culture we can’t understand. Them is us, and we are them.

    Given what we ask them to do – it might be a good thing to cast aside preconceptions and dig around in an effort to understand what is going on there.

    Also from a certain point of view an understandable lack of data is an itch that can not be scratched. I make my living by analyzing data and coming to conclusions based on that – it bleeds over at times were it should not.

  • Brian D says: “No, what led me to write that was your citing a culture of fear – which does not square with my recollection of the service. Surely if it were that bad .. women would not re-enlist and yet, they do. They would not finish a four year enlistment (getting out of the service with an honorable discharge early is possible) but they do.

    I’m interested in the disconnect between what is being reported and my observations from being in the service.

    I’m also interested in this devolved or evolved from a thread about ‘women in war’ to .. sexual assault. Is sexual assault the defining experience for women in the military? It can’t be but .. here we are.”

    Brian, I would respectfully ask that you consider the behaviors of traumatized women in other situations. It is classic for an abused woman to stay with her abuser or move from one to another. The damage to her psyche is such that she is unable to remove herself from the cycle. So, it is not surprising to me at all that women might re-enlist, even if the environment is frightening.

    I would also respectfully request that you consider how often fathers rape their children without anyone around knowing that it is going on. Rape is the most well-hidden of crimes. The offender has every reason to keep his secret realm of power to himself and the offended has any sense of trust in authority and his/her own-self worth destroyed. The whole point to rape/abuse is to render the recipient powerless. And it has gone on since the beginning of time, because it works. Sexual assualt occurs under our noses all the time. I find it disturbing that in this day and age, with all the information we have about the psychological ramifications and how well-concealed sexual abuse is, that we are on this thread having to defend the idea that it may be happening in the military at alarming rates. Throughout history, men have always accuse women of making it all up.

    The “devolution” of this thread is entirely too representative of what happens whenever those who have been harrassed or assaulted try to speak out and is exactly why most never do. The pattern is well-established and the sufferers don’t see any path to recourse, healing or even the creation of safety. And women can be as complicit in the State of Denial as the men. Unfortunately, what needs to happen is that men need to lead the way to ensuring that this behavior is pro-actively ferreted out and uncovered. If men lead the way then we may, just may, see a shift in the number of these crimes that are committed. Unfortunately, this thread demonstrates why that never happens. It may happen in bursts, but is not sustained systemically long enough.

    So, the reason that sexual assualt has become the focal point of this thread, is because, for most, once they have experience sexual assault, it IS the focal point of their life experience. It is such a fundamental violation of trust and vulnerability that a lifetime is lived with this one (much less multiple) experience as a core reference point. You can say that it “shouldn’t be.” But it doesn’t change the fact that it IS. If women in the military are experiencing sexual assault, even a small percentage of them, it will absolutely impact every woman’s ability to perform in the military – it’s like the tactic of killing one dissident to keep everybody else in line – it’s less bovious, but everyone feels it on some level when sexual assault is occurring and everyone adjusts in weird ways to work around it without ever facing it. It’s a surefire way to assure that women aren’t “capable.” Ironically, women are signing up to potentially make the ultimate sacrifice to keep their fellow citizens safe. Meanwhile, the sacrifice they are making doesn’t help her fellow citizens and they are left feeling that the world is completely unsafe.

    The challenge to even discussing these kinds of issues is that women have a different vantage point – a different experience by virtue of being the physically less powerful and the socially less powerful – and are constantly being told that this vantage point is not valid. Especially if we can’t supply the almighty and enigmatic Statistics. It is like asking a woman to prove that her husband cut her with the kitchen knife. She’ll never be able to and yet, she’s so traumatized and so invalidated by her questioners that she will go right back into that kitchen until the day that knife hits her carotid.

    Certainly, there may be times when a woman is falsely reporting. But if she is, something is still dreadfully wrong and she needs help. So, if women (or men) are reporting problems, help them. Provide genuine help, including getting to the bottom of it and doing everything in your power to keep them protected. It can’t hurt and will make it clear that these things will be investigated. Why batter the victimex futher with indredulity and catch-22 requests for proof? For woman, nothing else about her experience of a group, a place, a culture can really be addressed without addressing this.

  • katemcshane

    Allison — thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  • On another note, I think it’s interesting that noone has begun a discussion of the basic reason we question whether anyone can serve in the military: whether we can train the person to kill. I think the information out of the Israelie experience, that motherless women could serve as well as men, but mothers were harder to train to kill, speaks volumes. And would make a good conversation on it’s own.

    We spend a lot of effort training children that killing is bad. They kill little bugs and even little animals, as an exercise in curiosity and power and we train them that it is immoral to kill. Until we want to kill people: in a war or for capital punishment. What does it take to train someone to be okay wil killing after being socially ingrained with the opposite message? What morality do we have to strip away or make more complex? And can we really rely on these people to keep that killing mechanism under control when they have stresses in their lives or are suffering from PTSD? Do we really want people to be willing to kill? And why do women want to have this kind of equality?

    I ask this questions, because I think this is a conversation to be had at a more conscious level within society. One we should always grapple with and not rest on assumptions. There will always be people with different viewpoints, I imagine, and I feel that our society is better served if we are always considering these viewpoints.

  • Allison,

    Reading your post on killing flashed me back to a return flight to the US from the UK. I happened to be sitting next to a women about my age. We exchanged ‘how do’s’ and then a meal was served then a movie. After the movie was over she suddenly turned to me and said “you been shot haven’t you”? I launched about three feet in the air, astonished at what this woman had just said to me. Yes, I had been shot in war, but lucky enough to have all my limbs. She could not have known I was a Veteran as I had nothing on me that would indicate anything of the sort. My wounds were hidden, I thought. After I got over the shock, I said yes, how could possibly know? She said she had been shot as a teenager and left for dead by a gang of men in a strange city in the 60’s.

    We started to talk about our survival and what we were doing today. She told me that she worked for an anti-gun organization as a speaker. Well, I had been as anti-gun as her after I returned home but over a period of time began to accept that there were bad people out there, and the Second Amendment gave me the right to protect my family. I respected her and her work, but I asked her if she would do a thought experiment with me. I said suppose you were home alone with your daughter, your home was broken in to and the intruders were certain to murder your daughter. You had weapon in the bed room and the intruders were braking down the bedroom door. Would kill to protect your daughter? In an instant she said yes, she would kill to protect the daughter. How interesting I thought, she would not kill to protect herself, but would kill to protect her defenseless daughter. So it may be easier to train a single woman to kill, but a mother will fight to the death to protect their offspring. I don’t want to start a gun/anti-gun thing here. But I do want to relate the amazing experience I had.

    Good Post!

  • Allison wrote: “What does it take to train someone to be okay wil killing after being socially ingrained with the opposite message? What morality do we have to strip away or make more complex? And can we really rely on these people to keep that killing mechanism under control when they have stresses in their lives or are suffering from PTSD? Do we really want people to be willing to kill? And why do women want to have this kind of equality?”

    Allison,

    I think your question is best answered by the studies of ‘Men in Combat’ by a former WWII officer named SLA Marshall. He asked WWII, Korean war, and Vietnam war veterans individually after the war a number of questions. One shocking stastic was he found that 20% of infantryman in combat during WWII did 100% of the killing. The rest of the men had such a reluctance to kill that they acted as medic’s helpers, ammo humpers, and whatever else was needed that did not include killing. Training was revised to get more men to kill, the men doing the killing. During the Korean War rate went up to something around 35%. By the time of the Vietnam War the rate was 90% of the men were willing to pull the trigger, that is kill.

    So what happened between the WWII and Vietnam to increase the rate by 70%, that is massive? Basic training in the 60’s could be best described by watching Stanley Krubrick’s movie, ‘Full Metal Jacket’. Any veteran of that time period would agree that the ‘Basic training’ segment of that movie was spot on. IMHO the rest of the movie was BS.

    So training people to kill has been successful if we look at the stats. But what disturbs me is why has all the senseless killing in the this Country been so easy for those not old enough to join the services, i.e. children? Something is going on, but my guess that it will be some time before something is done to have an effect the other way.

  • dbbrown2

    I read the Sunday times article. Is there not a BIG difference between the treatment of an officer, especially a West Point graduate, in the kind of treatment to be expected.

    Also, 4 years of the Point (or any military prep school) would better prepare one to know self-protection resources and to be intellectually and emotionally prepared for on-the-ground realities.

    db

  • redcatcher write: “How interesting I thought, she would not kill to protect herself, but would kill to protect her defenseless daughter.”

    Recatcher, thank you for sharing your story. I would venture to guess that most women are not surprised by this. We seem to be genetically pre-disposed to protect others before ourselves.

    then you wrote: “But what disturbs me is why has all the senseless killing in the this Country been so easy for those not old enough to join the services, i.e. children?”

    I’ve heard that aspects of the training to kill are included in many of the video games. I can’t verify that. But I have witnessed that children are exposed to much more graphically violent material now then they were when I was a child. We might have seen a film with battle scenes, but the deaths were very simple and unrealistic with almost no blood. I’ve seen children as young as 5 watching old Schwarzenneger films with graphically, bloody scenes. What I’ve observed anecdotally is that this seems to create a blood lust. Films with more plot and less violence are ‘boring’. And video games are just beyond the beyond. I have a friend with two sons who were entrenched in a gaming world that was full of battles and blood. When he asked them if they would be willing to join the armed forces and fight for their fellow citizens, they said, “Hell, no.” He was quite angry about that. But these are also not kids that are committing violence in their lives, so it could be argued that they are getting that out of their system. I don’t know how their media exposure relates to that of the kids who are committing violence. This all may have nothing to do with it.

  • Toby was a powerful, but also disturging voice. Two infantry level soldiers tell her that the environment on the ground is full of inappropriate sexual behavior and she wants to claim that because she met one soldier who was civil, we should discount what the people on the ground are saying. Isn’t it possible that this man rose through the ranks because he is different? Just as in company management, it is those with a different sensibility/temperament who become leaders.

  • plnelson

    Setting aside for a moment the question of whether women are capable of being soldiers, or whether it’s possible to create an environment where they can fit in without being the targets of rape, there is also this question . . .

    Why would women WANT to be soldiers?

    Let’s review a few facts here: human males of virtually every culture and historical period have shown a tendency to get together in groups and commit organized violence. Most societies find ways of channeling this tendency into less disruptive forms, and they also organize some of those males into groups to maintain order by force. But the bottom line remains that whether you call it armies, gangs, mobs, police, organized crime, or whatever, it’s a pretty basic feature of humans that has shaped our entire history as a species.

    It’s also worth noting that no one knows why this behavior occurs. According to the NY Times, recently in the US there have been numerous cases of teenage boys beating homeless people to death. In some cases these boys come from middle-class backgrounds and have no criminal history. Afterwards they express being dumfounded at what came over them.

    Some other primate species, notably chimps, engage in similar behavior – groups of young male chimps attack chimps from other groups, killing or driving off the males and raping the females. So whatever the evolutionary roots of these traits are, they’re probably pretty deep.

    Today we have modern armies and sophisticated political philosophies but the basic primal roots of organized male violence are the same. We all just hope that OUR violent young males will defend us from the other group’s violent young males, and then not turn on us afterwards.

    But mass organized female violence is rare. Violent gangs of females occur once in a while but usually on a small limited scale and typically under extreme social or psychological conditions. It has not been a major force in culture or history. The desire to get together in a group and commit extreme, organized violence against others seems to be a male pathology and the groups it spawns have a uniquely male pathological culture (e.g., military culture, gang culture, etc) so the question is WHY a woman would want to join such a group.

  • Lumière

    Excellent show guest selection-wise.

    On one extreme, Toby the overachiever – sophisticated, disciplined, motivated – able to see both sides: empathetic and competitive – the hope for the future.

    On the other extreme, Jason the primitive, latent homosexual – frenzied to kill the object his desire with either a bullet or a fantasy in the ’jack-shack’. He told us the truth: women play no part in his ego-stunted world

    Neither of the two woman in the center seemed ready to raise the flag of “We Victim”, which speaks well of them and their future. There must be hope for them because they refuse “to allow the essential horrors and suffering to penetrate”. Neither seems willing to enter the sado-masochist/ victim-victimizer world that so many are unwilling or unable to leave.

    The one woman who experienced sexual harassment said she would join the military again. Tina Bean is actively struggling to recover from PTSD. I hope her therapy has put behind her the mood swings between suicide and homicide. I hope her life will be free of “essential horrors and suffering”.

  • rc21

    Update. One of the articles people have been using to show us the amount of sexual violence that goes on in the military has now been proven to have used false information.

    It turns out that NY Times Magazine article “Women at War” by Sara Corbett used a fictional story as one of it’s center peice segments.Even though the Navy had told the Times much of the womens story was false.

    I was attacked for expressing scepticism over much of the data and reporting I read on this issue. I am not at all suprised the Times would run with this story. How one can seriously look at the times story is beyond me. All of the subjects interviewed were all claiming to be suffering PTSD. This is not a fair or even remotely fair representation of women in the military. Of course your conclusions are going to be heavily scewed.

    Back in the 60’s there was a scientific study done at a university that showed 100% of all college students who had smoked marijuana had also shown sighns of pschiatric problems. This seemed startling and did not jibe with common knowledge. It was not until the end of the report where it stated all subjects were taken from the files of the colleges psyciatric files.

    When you use a mentally unbalanced part of the population for your research these are the types of results you can expect.

    What we have learned about the MSM over the past few years is that it is not a machine for investigating facts and reporting them, without fear or favor to us.

    It is instead a machine for dissemination of a fog of myths designed to innculcatele leftist theology in a gulible public.The myths were established years ago by liberal hierophants based on their own needs and desires, but have assumed a life of their own.

    ” Reporting” turns out to be an excercise in finding (or even creating) a factual hook for the repitition of these myths. If it turns out that false,or misleading data is used it matters not.The forwarding of the agenda is to important.Truth and honesty must not derail the cause.

    Stories like this and the Salon article feed the psyche of people like Allison, Valkyrie607,Potter and others. They need these shoddily researched, real data lacking, anticdolaly filled halftruth half fairytale articles to reaffirm their beliefs that men and more specifically men in the military are some type of savage sexual predators, who seem due to their military training to have turned into something less than human. A bit over stated. Perhaps but I don’t feel I’m far off the mark.

    This all takes away from the true problem of REAL sexual violence in our culture and in the military.Exageration and lies does nothing to further a true understanding of this issue.

  • jennyjean

    I’m very frustrated by the presentation of this radio show. I feel like it deals with the minorities of the minorities and does not accurately depict the real picture. There was only one positive experience shared while I believe there are more positive than negative experiences in Iraq. I don’t think the male voice accurately represents men in the military either. He did not experience a woman 50 cal gunner but simply seemed to disagree point blank that it was more trouble than it was worth to have women in his unit because of the possibility of sex. Many of the men who initially believed they couldn’t depend on a women in combat came to prefer their woman soldiers when they actually fought with them. I am also frustrated by the portrayal that women are the only ones sexually assaulted when men are also assaulted by men. Victimizers will be victimizers no matter who is there to victimize regardless of the circumstances.

  • Potter

    RC21 would love to find any error made by the NYTimes in order to discredit not only the whole paper but in this case an otherwise valuable article that calls attention to something that we should all be concerned about. Google this and you will find “pro-war” and anti-NYTimes folks salavating over this as well.

    The NYTimes issued an editor’s note about the case of Amorita Randall ( now at the end of the article). She is one, only one, of the women featured in the Sara Corbett article “the Women’s War” published on March 18, 2007. The note explained that the NYTimes would not have included her in the article if they had received this information before publishing- which they had tried to do. This information just missed the deadline.

    Unfortunatley, trashing the NYTimes plus Corbett and other journalists as well as everyone else’s story and all the other facts and that we have been discussing on this thread is just too tempting.

  • Potter

    Sorry- a misspell – salivating, as in salivating when catching a journalist whose choice in subjects does not check out.

    I wonder what Amorita Randall’s real story is.

  • rc21

    Potter, the times did not even check with the Navy until 3 days before the printing of the story. The navy was able to get back to them with several red flags. The story was printed but the magazine had another 6 full days before it went public plenty of time to pull it. They chose not to. We both know why.

    Corbett used phoney information in her story something that should easily and was easily verified. This poisons the rest of the story. Who knows about the rest of her “so called facts” How can you call an article that uses lies and deception a a valuable article.

    The times doesn’t need me to discredit it . It does a great job of that all by itself.

  • Potter

    If you try to research this beyond the NYTimes itself and it’s editors note you come up with a lot of drooling wingnuts connecting this to all else.

    RC21- If your were looking for such an opening to use as an occasion to justify your own position you seem to have found something little shred to grab onto:

    RC21: I was attacked for expressing scepticism over much of the data and reporting I read on this issue.

    Amorita Randall is not a “fictional” character. Apparently she believed her own story which if not entirely true indicates that there is some story, possibly illness that we might benefit from knowing about-very possibly PTSD. That is why I wonder. Obviously though she should not have been included in the story for the very reason you demonstrate. This story should have been checked well before it came to a decision about whether to pulp the whole magazine or even the story. Yet you are too ready to trash all else that is being said in favor of your claim that “this is not a fair or even remotely fair representation of women in the military”. Where is your evidence?

    More importantly, this is not what is being claimed AND as well there are no proof/statistics one way or the other just emerging facts and emerging facts (and awareness of PTSD itself) from past wars. That there IS PTSD, and that many more cases than we know about and that are yet to come out there should be no doubt.

    RC21-The marijuana smoking example and other points echo almost verbatim the pro-war, anti-NYTimes, anti-left blogs I read as I looked to check your “update” which had no link. These sites are also just drooling over this error and are every bit as much “a machine for dissemination of a fog of myths designed to innculcatele [sic] …theology in a gullible [sic] public” in the process.

    So trash the whole subject claiming that all is now not valid- all is “shoddily researched” when you know nothing of the sort. All this from the wedge of this one error on the part of the NYT which has now grown to include the Salon article and others.

    Of course this whole thing is a liberal fantasy a bunch of “lies” that sacrifice “truth and honesty. So tell me please or direct me to articles about “the true problem of REAL sexual violence in our culture and in the military” so I can have “a true understanding of this issue”.

    Here is the NavyTimes link:

    http://www.navytimes.com/news/2007/03/navy_timesmagazine_veteranrape_070322w/

    from the article:

    “This lady was sexually assaulted twice in the Navy and no one was ever punished for it,” he [Randall’s fiance Lund]said. While the Navy says it can find no rape complaint, Lund says she told her doctors about the assaults.

    “She went through a lot.” Lund said. But he admits he doesn’t know for sure if Randall was ever in Iraq.

    “If she wasn’t, it was a bad mistake on her part,” he said. But, he added, “For her to cope with [all she’s been through], her mind somehow believes she was in Iraq Â… She doesn’t remember anything in Iraq . If she was wrong about that, she’s sorry. But what you folks need to realize is how traumatized she is. If she’s wrong, I don’t know. She doesn’t know.”

    The editor of the [NYTimes] magazine, Gerry Marzorati, said he now suspects Randall was never in Iraq.

    “I think she thinks she was in Iraq,” he said. “I don’t think she was trying to pull the wool over our eyes.”

    The magazine did not call the Navy to check Randall’s Iraq story sooner, Marzorati said, because they believed that checking rank, years of service and time in Iraq “would be a perfunctory thing.”

    He added that no one has challenged the military records of the 30 other women mentioned in the article.

    Gerry Marzorati, the editor of the Sunday NYTimes Magazine “I don’t think she was trying to pull the wool over our eyes.”

    So again, beyond the drooling and the gotcha for those who hate the Times and are eager to catch stuff like this from time to time ( and would rather listen to FOX News )- I wonder what Amorita Randall’s real story is.

  • rc21

    Are you not happy Fox news reported this story. I would think truth would trump agenda. Perhaps I am wrong.

    Listen the whole point is this you are calling fact what is in reality anectdotal stories from women who have some sort of mental ailment.All the interviews are with women who claim to be suffering from ptsd. So they already have some mental problems. How many actually filed rape charges while in the service?

    Randall was never in Iraq she was in Quam. her story is bogus the times knew it and they still ran with it . That is called dishonest journalism. You can dress it up anyway you would like the fact remains they KNOWINGLY printed a false story.

    You seem to be more upset that FOX and the bloggers exposed a bogus and inaccurate story than you are with the Times for running it. That tells me alot about you.

    Let me ask you this, if rape and sexual assault is so prevelant in the military. I believed one of the writers claimed 30% of women have been raped. Than why have none of the embedded media run with the story. We know they love to trash the military. All we have to do is look at what they have done with other stories that bash the military. They are front page news for months. Any reporter would love to get hold of a nice rape cover up. The truth is it just isn’t as prevelent as you and others would like us to believe. As to Randall read your own quote from above. the Navy said there was no rape complaint. I really don’t know what her problem is other than the fact she seems to be a habitual liar who is now looking for some free benefits.

    I would really like to end this. Maybe if I had not served so many years in the service I would not care if you and others kept up with the innuendo and stories most of which offer no proof just acusation. But for some reason it bugs me because I know different.

  • Potter

    RC21: Let me ask you this, if rape and sexual assault is so prevelant in the military. I believed one of the writers claimed 30% of women have been raped. Than why have none of the embedded media run with the story.

    What’s so hard to get? That is not what is being said. If you read what is quoted above ( Helen Benedict, Salon) THIS is what she said

    A 2003 survey of female veterans from Vietnam through the first Gulf War found that 30 percent said they were raped in the military.

    Read the rest of the two quotes that I posted in bold here which are well sourced :

    http://www.radioopensource.org/women-in-war/#comment-47639

    So are you KNOWINGLY misrepresenting this? I just don’t understand the obstinacy. NOR the focus on this one error which you seem to go over and over gleefully to make your case error to trash all else.

    The “embedded” media are not reporting about this. AND they are not reporting about a lot connected with this war including until recently the poor treatment of the returning vets. This story is connected with that one as well.

    You cannot say honestly whether sexual harrrassment and PTSD are prevalent, nor is that the premise of this thread/show. But there is enough of it to be concerned ESPECIALLY since the symptoms are latent. I imagine soldiers “stuff it” to the best of their ability until they cannot or until they have the space to act out.

    That the Navy said there was no rape complaint is entirely understandable. Many women do not complain. This is understood.

    What I don’t understand RC21 is why you are so invested in negating all this which is very real. What are you defending? I imagine you have never served in wartime, like all of those who served who post on this thread perhaps with the exception of Redcatcher who apparently served so many years ago when women were not in combat.

  • Potter

    Just listened to the show. I agree with dbbrown2’s comment above.

    On the show Brendan read from Brian Dunbar’s post bove where he says:

    “Everyone was tired, and frazzled from being on alert…” and “She felt actually pretty safe”

    I don’t recall hearing this part:

    “and of course, all of them were armed to the teeth.. (She always had at least two knives about her person.) ”

    But maybe I have to listen again.

  • (She always had at least two knives about her person.) ”

    The knives thing can be mis-understood. Knives are merely a handy tool to have around – you can use the butt for an impromptu hammer. A digging tool. Opening MRE pouches. And so on. A Marine I knew would use his to slash open those Kellog’s one serving cereal boxes; one pass around the middle and you’re ready to serve.

    They are rarely used for what you might think they would be used for i.e. stabbing or cutting other people.

    Which isn’t to say that could not be used for that purpose.

    Everyone whose primary weapon is a rifle is issued a bayonet. However the issue bayonet is generally a lousy knife – you can pick it up and it feels cheap. As if it were made by a lowest bid contractor. It’s the Ford Escort of knives.

    Most Marines will purchase a fighting knife at the PX – usually a Kabar brand knife which a) has some history behind it and b) is a really excellent tool. Attach this to your deuce gear and you’re set.

    Which is a long way to say that Sgt X may have had two knives but that is nothing unusual.

  • After listening to the show

    * How can I convince Wisconsin Public Radio to put y’all on the air?

    * Great show and it speaks volumes for the quality of your production staff. A number of shows on PRI and NPR seem to not go out of their way to find diverse points of view if .. they’re too diverse on the ‘other’ side of the political aisle.

    Not a liberal media bias (I hate that term) more an unwillingness to leave a zone of comfort. The first show I listened to with Niall Ferguson is a great example

    * It is always nice to have one’s notions confirmed. In this case, that leadership matters.

    Sonya Foster had problems when her leadership team failed her on her first deployment. Listening between the lines it sounds like Tina Bean did not have an effective leadership team – the abuse she said was ‘normal’ was not and an effective NCO and officer team would have put a stop to it. Frankly (again, between the lines) it sounds like she had a terrible work environment, out of her MOS, minimal training and indifferent NCOs.

    As for working for Toby Johnson .. I’ll second that. The lady sounds like she has a lot of good going on. Assuming HBS does not cloud her good judgment I’d be happy to work with/for her in the future.

    I’ll go further – assuming that LiftPort is a viable concern when she graduates, she’s welcome to pester us about a job when she’s got her MBA. Can’t promise a job but we need the best of the best for what we’re doing.

  • Allison

    Brian, I would respectfully ask that you consider the behaviors of traumatized women in other situations. It is classic for an abused woman to stay with her abuser or move from one to another.

    It’s not been my intention to minimize the abuse thing – indeed several of those near and dear to me have been in that situation. If I’ve contributed to that, you and others have my apologies. It was only my intent to provide what poor insight I could.

    Toby was a powerful, but also disturging voice. Two infantry level soldiers tell her that the environment on the ground is full of inappropriate sexual behavior and she wants to claim that because she met one soldier who was civil, we should discount what the people on the ground are saying

    Her experience is just as valid as anyone’s, nu?. And it was not one soldier but all of the infantry guys she knew. Her battalion was attached to an infantry division so she would have come into contact with a number of them.

    Your point about the kind of guy that becomes a SNCO is valid; they have more schooling and more importantly experience than the guys running patrols at the squad level.

    Jennyjean

    He did not experience a woman 50 cal gunner but simply seemed to disagree point blank that it was more trouble than it was worth to have women in his unit because of the possibility of sex.

    My take on that bit was that it was not the possibility of sex so much as a desire for an effective unit i.e. as a grunt he wants his unit to be the best it can be so they can be effective and go home together.

  • David Bentz

    The world is an unjust and horrific place.

    Taking satisfaction in another’s misfortune is reprehensible but it is hard not to savor the discomfort of military combatants and their cheerleaders whose tender sensibilities feel violated by women poaching on the traditionally male turf of killing for god and country.

    Poor babies.

    As for women eager to get in on the action, your personal misfortune is tragic but how much additional outrage can you expect to inspire against men who are already organized for systematic killing of fellow (oh excuse me, I mean “enemy”) humans when we discover not only are killers killers, but rapists too?!!

    As a matter of fact, if the military ever managed to incorporate heterosexuality into combat I fear it would only compound killing efficiency.

    Channeling erotic life into the military enterprise certainly helped the Spartans, only that wasn’t heterosexual was it?

  • courtp

    i think the whole women in combat should be a choice. i was in a combat support unit where my team was on the tactical side…we would go out on dangerous missions. when we trained in the field for a couple weeks at a time i didn’t need a toilet, shower, or any of that stuff. i did better on my PT test than most men in my unit even to their standards, i think a lot of women ruin it for girls like me who are willing to carry their own weight. most of the guys in my unit did not view me as a weaker sex or girl, they said whatever they wanted around, did what they wanted around me, as i did the same. i think that if a girl wants to put herself into that situation it should be her choice not some girl saying that shes too weak or something. i was respected the same, if not more by the other guys because of the person i was and showing them that women in the military werent pitiful.