The War Within: Rape In the Military Essay
Maya Angelou is quoted to have said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude”. Viktor E. Frankl similarly states, “When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves” . This notion of complacency for the wrongdoings of another person or group is unacceptable. There are some situations that are unable to be changed but that does not mean that the disenfranchised person or group should back down and accept their fate. Had the race movement never occurred, Black men and women would still be in chains and be sworn to a master.
Sometimes it takes something a bit more radical in order to force a change to occur that would not happen under normal circumstances. Rape is a like concept. Rape is a deplorable subject, but in certain situations, like the military, there is nothing that can be done to effectively change this from proliferating. However, radical feminism gives a voice and a solution to a problem that is seemingly unchangeable by any other means, and is necessary for the betterment of these soldiers. Rape in the military is extremely pervasive and seemingly commonplace.
In 2011 alone, there were almost 3,200 accounts of sexual assault reported. However, it is estimated that those 3,200 reported are just a mere fraction of the amount of assaults that have occurred but were never reported. The main cause of this discrepancy between assaults reported and not is the structure of the military hierarchy. It is very much a straight-line setup chain of command. No one must report to an officer above their immediate leader’s command unless instructed to do so by their immediate commander.
This rigid type of power stance is necessary so that the smaller problems are fixed by lower level lieutenants and officers, and are thus shielding higher powered colonels from petty problems. This is the same structure that occurs in school. A student would not rush to the principal or dean if the student was unhappy with a grade they received on a homework assignment. Although this system is in place with all good intentions, if the officers in charge are manipulating and abusing their power against their troops, then the system is no good.
Abuse of power is the cause of all problems within the military. This power struggle occurs not just between male and female but also between males as well. Rape occurs because the abuser manipulates the victim into a dominant-subservient position in order to deliberately display their authority over the oppressed party. In a male-female position, this is obviously a promotion of heteronormative gender roles. The male assaults the woman to assert himself and effectively ‘put her in her place’ to show that he is the masculine, dominant entity.
A male-to-male assault is essentially the same concept. One male attacks another male to assert himself and debase the other male. While male-to-male is very rarely reported in the military, by the sheer numbers of men in the military, it is only natural to assume that male-to-male assault is astronomically more prevalent than male-to-female assault. Although the genders taking the assault may be different, the system is still the same. It is ineffective in allowing any type of change because of the structure of the military. In this strict straight-line system, change is nearly impossible.
Thus, radical feminism is necessary in order to create the change that is so desperately needed. Radicalism is the only viable solution because its goal is to overtake the system and make sure that “the personal is political”. This theory espouses that everything that affects one’s personal life directly impacts and shapes their political life. Especially with a topic such as rape, it is personal. Additionally, it is not only impacting the servicemen and women because it is rape, but is also a direct effect on their home and work environment.
Thus, not only are the people forced to endure the social and psychological effects of rape, which is already traumatic, but the violence is reproduced and relived every single day because the victim is living with and fighting next to their assaulter. This specific type of assault must therefore be attacked head-on through radical feminism because radicalism directly confronts the notion of gender supremacy and male domination, whether it be male assaulting female or male assaulting male.
The main argument against radical feminism is the clashing of ideas concerning gender roles and the ideas of supremacy. In radicalism, it is a common notion that women must overtake men and that “every social form of hierarchy and abuse is modeled on male-over-female domination” While male-over-female domination is a large part of rape within the military, the overwhelming numbers of rapes occur between men, not male to female. Radicalism seems to fall short in including men with their viewpoints on feminism.
However, if the radicalists slightly change the view from strictly women to also encompass disenfranchised parties, then it is able to include men as well as women. Men in the military are experiencing the same type of sexual abuse as women. While the experience may elicit different emotional responses on a person to person basis, the damage is the same, and the men must stand up and fight against their oppressors. If done through the system, it is likely that the victimized man’s claims will be dismissed or never heard because he could not contact any officer not involved.
Thus, liberal feminisms idea that all problems can worked through the already made system is farcical. Liberal feminism is ineffective in preventing rape, especially in the military. While liberalism has many great qualities and is extremely effective in most circumstances, the military is such a rigid and strict system of hierarchy that attempts to work within the system are met with hostility and barriers to actual change. In the normal, U. S. society, liberal feminism is the best form of political change.
Liberal feminism attempts to abide by the rules within the system and facilitate the empowered majority in order to create social change. This is effective in society because the government and the civilian population work together. Civilians appoint and vote for their political superiors. Civilians give money to organizations, like PETA, to promote their ideas and political agendas. There are many outlets for people to turn to for help within society when they are feeling disenfranchised. Outside aid does not occur within the armed forces.
There is nowhere for a soldier to turn externally from the already established hierarchy and system. Soldiers cannot have a rally or sign petitions in order to bring notice to a problem. If a soldier does show signs of unrest, they are immediately punished by their superior or discharged from the service. Loyalty and blind obedience is required of soldiers. Dissonance is not allowed. This strategy is engrained into soldiers in order to protect them in times of war. Soldiers follow the commands of their leader because he or she is most qualified and understands the situation more thoroughly.
Like the previous example of school, the students listen to the teacher and follow their instructions because the educator has a plan and strategy for the students to gain the knowledge they need in order to succeed. Soldiers listen to commanders in order to stay alive. However, this loyalty and blind obedience to the service is null and void when the commanders who are supposed to protect the lives of their soldiers are instead infringing on and destroying the soldiers’ well-being.
Whether it is done through direct sexual assaults or disregarding claims of assaults, the commanders are inherently harming their servicemen and women. Accordingly, “the U. S. military seems increasingly incapable of policing itself or ridding its ranks of sexual predators,” which directly leads back to the inefficiency of liberal feminism in this context. The U. S. military is incapable of making any change because the U. S. military refuses to broaden outside of the military bubble. That is what makes the policies and the U. S.
military system corrupt and inflexible. There is no outlet for social disruption. The only way to make change is to overhaul the processes and established legal practices. The most important modification that must occur is that officers must not be in charge of any legal proceedings, judgments, or punishments, or lack thereof. Officers are not legally trained, are almost always biased, and are usually pressured by higher ranks to get rid of the problem, which in this case is the victim not the perpetrator since most victims never speak up.
Especially if the officer is the person in question for assault, there is a conflict of interest and therefore, in normal non-military circumstances, the officer would not be allowed to be involved in the sentencing. It is simple logic. Do not allow anyone with a personal investment in the case to dole out the verdict, especially if they do not have the qualifications to make such a decision. An elementary school teacher is not going to perform brain surgery because they do not have any experience in that field of work. It is the same for officers in the military.
Anu Bhagwati of Service Women’s Action Network says it perfectly with, “If military culture is to transform in any meaningful way, we need to break down the doors of silence and make sure our troops who are harmed have access to the same legal remedies as all civilians whom they protect and defend. ” The words that should be emphasized are “break down” because she herself sees the need for radical change, not liberal. The actions done by the military through the established system are not enough to make any memorable change on the statistics of rape. Rape is still prevalent throughout the military and is unacceptable.
The U. S. military is in place to protect the citizens of the United States; however, the citizens need to protect the soldiers against their fellow men. Soldiers must band together with civilians in order to force the change to be made. Otherwise, the U. S. military will remain stagnant and unmoving, and the only cure is radicalism. Works Cited Basu, C. (2013). Disadvantages of Tall Types of Organizational Structure. Retrieved from Chron: http://smallbusiness. chron. com/disadvantages-tall-types-organizational-structure-33890. html Briggs, B. (2013, May 15). U. S.
Military Faces Historic Tipping Point on Rape Epidemic. Retrieved from U. S. News: http://usnews. nbcnews. com/_news/2013/05/15/18256635-us-military-faces-historic-tipping-point-on-rape-epidemic? lite Conflict of Interest. (2013). Retrieved from Merriam-Webster: http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/conflict%20of%20interest Dick, K. (Director). (2012). The Invisible War [Motion Picture]. Mann, S. A. (2012). Doing Feminist Theory. New York: Oxford University Press. Quotes on Change. (2013). Retrieved from Brainy Quote: http://www. brainyquote. com/quotes/topics/topic_change. html
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