#FTF1 Session 1: Sexy Secularism »« Promises

Military Rape and Retribution, the Evidence

As a writer, it is gratifying to be read. It’s flattering to recommended. It’s heartening to be interacted with.

It is something else entirely to have someone take something you’ve written and use it as a seed for something far beyond what you’ve done. April Gardner (who has guest posted here before) did exactly that with my post from Friday about dealing with demands for evidence when discussing sexism. Someone dismissed her statement that “Systemic retribution where women are discharged using false psych diagnosis is a gender issue” as a supported by only “anecdotal” evidence.

There’s a saying relating to skepticism, where extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  For cases like this, it seems like there should be a plausible explanation corollary; that an explanation that fits within existing knowledge requires just basic review and fact checking.  We know that women have faced far greater denial of attack both in and out of the military and we know that there is a cultural history of blaming the issues raised by troublesome women on psychiatric causes.  Here is some relevant background to this specific issue:

  • Personality Disorders typically emerge in adolescence and reflect a long-standing pattern of “maladaptive” behavior, inability to maintain employment or relationships, trouble in school, run-ins with the law and/or difficulty functioning under pressure.  (If so, how do so many get into the military, pass basic training and advance through ranks before being diagnosed?)
  • Psychiatrists do not recommend diagnosing this disorder during or following a tumultuous period in a person’s life: a death, a divorce or following sexual assault.
  • Diagnosing a serious and permanent condition like personality disorder is a long and intensive process, yet these women reporting their diagnosis criteria describe a quick labeling and discharge.
  • As a society, we have a cultural heritage of punitively diagnosing, labeling and even institutionalizing women.  Psychiatry’s history in dealing with women is rather shameful.
  • Pentagon estimates of sexual assault and rape for 2011 is around 19,000.
  • The rate of false report for sexual crimes, depending on which source you use, is either in line with other violent crimes or much lower.
  • Despite the fact that a minority of military personnel are women, female victims of sexual violence constitute more than half of all those being treated for sexual assault by Veterans Affairs.
  • Male victims of rape and sexual assault are told that they were “hazed,” passing off sexual violence as an initiatory prank, while female victims are very often told that they are lying, that they were never attacked at all or had sex and then “changed their minds” etc.  Both are dismissed as victims, but women are consistently blamed as deserving or choosing what happened to them.
  • Female victims of sexual assault or rape often report that following their attacks, they are treated as problems by their fellow service members and commanding officers.
  • CNN found this same pattern of improper diagnosis and discharge reported by women discharged from all branches of the armed forces.

In the light of this background, claims that these women are make some sort of extraordinary claim (thus requiring extraordinary evidence) simply don’t make sense.  The idea that military personnel would exploit an option for military discharge of servicewomen perceived as problems is not merely plausible, it is in my opinion, probable.  And to be honest, after I received such a dismissive response from Gerrond, I’m not surprised that insurmountable challenges getting proper action for injustices toward military victims continue.

Oh, those anecdotes. Seriously, though, this is one of those epic posts. Go read the whole thing. Then pass it around. Let me know if anyone manages to read it and dismiss this evidence as “anecdotal”.

Comments

  1. omphaloskeptic says

    I rarely comment but you know how those things that have affected you personally jump out at you and cause your heart to start fluttering and trying to jump into your throat…

    It’s important to speak up about this, and so few of us do. Even I am only doing this anonymously. But I’m one of the ranks- I’m a 30-ish female who was was raped in the military a dozen years ago, and I’m still getting over my anger at being re-victimized again by various chains-of-command over the years. My Commanding Officer at the time of the rape certainly tried his hardest to convince me to accept taking a discharge- and they even gave me the option of having a medical or administrative discharge (they’re so good at coming up with reasons to get rid of “problems” as the article described). It was only after threatening my CO directly to his face with going to the media about how I was raped on base and then being pressured to leave that anyone would even speak about other options. Thankfully a higher-enlisted female intervened and gave me hugs and told me privately that she thought I was the strongest person she’d ever met and don’t give up because of all the asshole men running the military who are stuck with 1950’s views of women. If it hadn’t been for her, I don’t know if I would have stayed in the military after all, because that pressure was INTENSE, and HARD, and came from all levels, from the docs, shrinks, and everyone in the chain of command who knew about it, except for that one female who I will forever be grateful to.

    The rest of my military career, which I am thankfully out of now, I hid my rape to the best of my ability and never breathed a word to anyone connected to my job, period. Still, when higher-ups knew about it, even 5 years + after it happened, I was treated very differently, with my ideas being dismissed or ignored much more often and regularly faced superiors at any new command giving me the talk, sometimes publicly even, about how it’s not ok to be overly emotional and be one of those women that go around claiming rape and filing sexual harassment charges for “jokes” or all the stuff that guys in the military normally do or say- you know, they just want to make sure I’m not one of THOSE females, so I wouldn’t ruin it for the very small percentage (so they say) of women who are actually victimised for real.

    I could write a book. But don’t for a second think that this isn’t a very real, and very huge problem. I didn’t even realise the scale until a friend (who works at the VA)’s wife casually asked me why the heck SO many women in the military get raped, because that’s what she keeps wanting to know when she hears about her husband’s job at the VA. And I told them that I’m included in the list, which shocked them at first but then they said no, they shouldn’t ask former female military members that question at all because the likelihood is so high that they would have been raped too, and she apologised for asking. I don’t know what the actual statistics are, or if they’re even accurate, but I know the problem is HUGE. I also still don’t have an answer for her that doesn’t entail about 30 different contributing factors, lol.

    But I do think one of the biggest problems is just being treated like a “problem” itself, to be rid of, or swept under the rug, or ignored, or pressured to keep in line and not rock the boat and ever cause problems for any men. We are a problem, and so we are silenced. At every command training session in the entire military that goes on about sensitivity, sexual harassment, or rape, I guarantee there are several women sitting there like me, fighting back silent tears, listening to all the guys around them make jokes about how stupid it is they have to be there and this must be because some slut on base was walking around asking for it or some bitch must’ve wanted revenge and lied to get attention and screw some guy over, and now they have to pay for it by sitting through this boring shit.

    It’s real, it happens, it needs to change, please don’t ignore or dismiss it. This article is real, and so I add my small voice to the masses described therein. If you’ve actually read my blabbering, thank you for listening and considering this issue, and please speak up when ignorant Aholes say this isn’t a problem.

    Dang, I wish I could come up with a happy note to end on. So I’ll smile just because it makes me happy that I’m finally seeing stories about this problem in print (or on the screen at least). :D

  2. omphaloskeptic says

    And thank you Stephanie for running this article- despite being a tough topic, seeing it really did make my day. :) Thanks.

  3. justice says

    I am so impressed with this site and how you really justify something that really shouldn’t have to be, but for some reason this country, especially the men, don’t want to admit this is going on in our military.
    I read comments people make on articles and it’s appalling.

    The scariest part of this is that there is a congressman who is helping the military get away with this. He sits on the armed forces committee and subcommittee for oversight and investigation.
    the website http://www.citizensagainstmarkcritz.com tells a very disturbing story and there is enough evidence to back it up that the local sheriffs office where the victim lives has it, but not jurisdiction since it happened in California, is supporting her and trying to get help.

    the other website
    http://www.theusmarinesrape.com also shows how this Marine that raped her was actually mentally unstable, which the Pentagon acknowledged then did nothing. Her report was ignored and then her case mishandled then impeded. She is still seeking justice.
    But your points are so great and I wish more people could see this site.

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