The Sexist Facebook Movement The Marine Corps Can’t Stop
August 20, 2014 1:48 PM   Subscribe

That these men, these U.S. Marines, openly engage in this behavior, openly harass and denigrate women and minorities — under their real names, their real pictures, with no fear of repercussions — reflects a perceived tolerance of their actions. Senior leaders have never told them not to do it, never said that it’s unacceptable, and they’ve never seen anyone get in trouble for it. Although women have been in the US Marines for nearly one hundred years now, a large "traditionalist" Marine culture still resents them and others in private and now increasingly in public through social media.

Max Uriarte (of Terminal Lance fame): “One thing that bugs me is when people compare me to these pages, they’re just pandering to this low-brow humor,” and, “I don’t find overly sexist or misogynistic jokes to be funny. A lot of the infantry is a lot more crass and that’s totally fine, but there’s a line between what is funny and what isn’t.”
posted by Lord Chancellor (42 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm pretty sure that posting the "roses are red" Smiling Sloth image in response to a photo of a young female service member is beyond sexism and into serious sexual harassment.

And to paraphrase someone else, when you make a joke like "haha, your sweater is ugly, jk," or a picture with the caption "RAPE TIME" in response to the question "Who wants to see nudes of this ugly cunt that got PBF shut down?," there's part of you that is actually thinking that response is appropriate, even if most of you thinks "this is a dumb thing to say." Worse, you're letting everyone see that part of you that thinks the sweater is ugly, or that someone deserves to be raped for whatever reason.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:07 PM on August 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


These things are well beyond "low-brow" humor or microaggressions. There is absolutely no grey-area in any of the examples that were shown in the article.

These people are encouraging others to violently rape and injure specific individuals, with the tacit endorsement of the United States Military. There is no subtlety or ambiguity in any of this.
posted by schmod at 2:28 PM on August 20, 2014 [10 favorites]


Like - I know that I'm not supposed to be a bigot, and that not all military members are monsters or killers, etc... And so I try not to...

And I know the Navy had the Tailhook thing which was bad. But for some reason I really really really really really really really REALLY fucking hate Marines. Like hardcore.

Other branches I don't have quite as much an issue with (I mean, aside from the usual "killing brown people" no matter how noble the reason they joined), but there's something about Marines that really get my fucking goat, and every single time I try to give the benefit of the doubt something like this pops up.
posted by symbioid at 2:32 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


From the article: "But what makes this sort of hatred noteworthy is how it’s specifically targeted toward women in the military and its ability to garner a passionate following of thousands of people who genuinely pretend that this is Marine Corps culture."

Maybe it isn't pretending. Maybe it really is the culture.
posted by el io at 2:37 PM on August 20, 2014 [25 favorites]


For full disclosure, I'm a Navy vet, and I have plenty of Marine friends who were graduates at the Naval Academy with me, so I do not intend this article (nor do I think it was intended) to be some sort of view that all Marines are racist misogynistic violent homophobes. I think this is an unfortunate junior enlisted warrior culture that gets mixed in with a belief in praetorianism. (Also remember that with the size of the Marine Corps, it doesn't just have one culture—it has multiple cultures that coincide and conflict all the time).

From the command's view, it's too much work to handle things like this, so it mostly turns a blind eye to what members post socially. For their credit, these pages get shut down and come back up all the time, so locking on is somewhat hard. The brass and senior enlisted would really rather not have junior enlisted harass their fellow Marines, but it takes a lot of will to hold people accountable for online profiles, and right now the Marine Corps isn't making it a priority.

However, if you ever find one of these repulse pages where a Marine posted something like what you saw here, screen shot it, find out what command he is at (which isn't hard—they don't try to hide it), and contact the command. They will put the fear of God in him (and maybe more) if you tell them you're going to the press about rape threats posted online.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:42 PM on August 20, 2014 [44 favorites]


From the command's view, it's too much work to handle things like this, so it mostly turns a blind eye to what members post socially.

"When you ignore a low standard, you set a new standard." -- every NCO I've ever served with
posted by Etrigan at 2:54 PM on August 20, 2014 [49 favorites]


I think the Marine Corps needs more — well, any really, cf. “Fourteen women have tried, and failed, the Marines’ Infantry Officer Course. Here’s why,” 2ndLt Sage Santangelo, The Washington Post, 28 March 2014 — woman leaders of small-units.

Additionally, for the senior non-commissioned officers to spread this to the enlisted men, and I use that phrase intentionally, is absolutely unacceptable. The current Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps may be an idiot who doesn't understand the Internet, but I still intend to write him and let him know how I feel about this.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:58 PM on August 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Did anyone follow the link to the article about Jackie Speier? These dipshits threatened a member of Congress, and nothing happened, other than the page got shut down (and then came back up).

(On a side note, Jackie Speier has seen more combat than some of these assholes: she was with the Congressional investigators fired upon by People's Temple in Guyana.)
posted by suelac at 3:11 PM on August 20, 2014 [12 favorites]


It is not at all surprising that the Marines have a culture of doing misogynistic and violent bullshit like this. Disgusting as all hell, but really, not surprising in the least.
posted by kafziel at 3:18 PM on August 20, 2014


"On a personal note, 25 years as an African-American male, I thought I’d heard every epithet for blacks in the book, but mudshark I had to look up. Urban Dictionary tells me it’s a derogatory term for a white woman who dates black men."

I learned that term, and it's kissin' cousin "Smoke Jumper", in the service along with associated hand gestures.
posted by MikeMc at 3:20 PM on August 20, 2014


From the command's view, it's too much work to handle things like this

The standard you walk by is the standard you accept. Sounds like the Marine standard is somewhere below scum.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:20 PM on August 20, 2014 [16 favorites]


Wow. This has descended pretty far from jokingly referring to them as BAMs. I blame the Internet.
posted by resurrexit at 3:26 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm unsurprised that the guys with no CAR were among the most vitriolic.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:27 PM on August 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm reminded of Col. Kurtz's observation in Apocalypse Now. They train young men to drop fire on people. But their commanders won't allow them to write 'fuck' on their airplanes because it is obscene.

It isn't a co-incidence or a mistake that Marines would culture looks like this. When you train people to kill on command, this is what you get.
posted by layceepee at 3:49 PM on August 20, 2014


And I thought riding Greyhound was bad!
posted by oceanjesse at 4:09 PM on August 20, 2014


It isn't a co-incidence or a mistake that Marines would culture looks like this. When you train people to kill on command, this is what you get.

The majority of the people cited in the article are trained to be mechanics. Is this also what you get when you train people to fix things?
posted by Etrigan at 4:19 PM on August 20, 2014 [18 favorites]


"When you ignore a low standard, you set a new standard." -- every NCO I've ever served with

Made me think of this: "If you become aware of any individual degrading another, then show moral courage and take a stand against it," General Morrison goes on to say.

"I will be ruthless in rooting the army of people who cannot live up to its values," he exclaims, "and I need every one of you to support me in achieving this. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept."
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:20 PM on August 20, 2014 [16 favorites]


The majority of the people cited in the article are trained to be mechanics. Is this also what you get when you train people to fix things?

Do you think many Marines would describe the organization as "a bunch of mechanics"? Do you think you would have any problem finding Marines who would proudly describe it as "a bunch of killers"?

I believe that in the Marines, even the mechanics are trained to be killers.
posted by layceepee at 4:30 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


The fix for this is simple. Your Senior NCO's have to have a zero tolerance policy towards this bullshit. They have to let the troops know that the corps (or the army, etc) will not tolerate a culture that allows this. If you can't deal with these guidelines you can find employment elsewhere. You are not fit for service with a bigoted attitude.
And if it takes letting the NCO's know that they're being held to this standard, that's what you do.
posted by evilDoug at 4:37 PM on August 20, 2014 [6 favorites]


I believe that in the Marines, even the mechanics are trained to be killers.

Inasmuch as every Marine is a Rifleman, yes. However, don't let the purpose (or hype) of a just under 200,000 person organization be taken at face value. Many of the Marines that have been involved in the vile behavior have never seen combat, been overseas, or even been assigned an infantry role, which means they take the purported ethos of the organization to shroud their own short-comings. They are mechanics, not killers, as you say. I would use the example of someone working payroll at EA wouldn't normally be considered a game-maker, though I concede the organizational bonds of the USMC are slightly tighter than EAs.

And being trained to be a killer (as in, given the training to shoot correctly) doesn't exactly give propensity towards either homicide or sexual harassment, so I think something else is going on here, Layceepee.

The fix for this is simple. Your Senior NCO's have to have a zero tolerance policy towards this bullshit. They have to let the troops know that the corps (or the army, etc) will not tolerate a culture that allows this. If you can't deal with these guidelines you can find employment elsewhere. You are not fit for service with a bigoted attitude.
And if it takes letting the NCO's know that they're being held to this standard, that's what you do.


If the Marine Corps makes something a priority, at least the surface manifestations of that behavior tend to evaporate rather quickly. All I can say is gather evidence and start calling. The US military does not like bad press, and if it can't defuse it, it will correct it. Make sure it corrects it.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:40 PM on August 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


being trained to be a killer (as in, given the training to shoot correctly)

These two things are not the same things.

For example: I am very good at hitting a target with either a bow or a gun. That said, I am not a killer. I would not shoot another human being. You would need to (seriously) change me to do this. It would not be the same thing as training to hit a target.
posted by jammy at 4:47 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


A friend did a tour of Iraq for the US Army, discharged honorably, and when he couldn't find a civilian job, decided to re-enlist. He was gonna go Army again for all the obvious reasons but a generous 20k sign-up bonus lured him into the marines instead.
BIG.BIG.MISTAKE.
He was hazed harsh & mercilessly for being (former) Army. Hazed not just in boot camp, not just by his fellow platoon members but pretty much everyone including commanding officers, for the entire time he served as a marine. And for what?
WTF: Prior patriotic service and EXPERIENCE in another branch of the armed forces = YOU SUCK

My point here is I think marine culture has a fond blind spot for dumb and not easily explained discriminatory conduct, definitely not limited to gender.

P.S. the 20k signing bonus was grossly misrepresented
posted by Fupped Duck at 5:05 PM on August 20, 2014 [8 favorites]


Urrrgh. I just... ugh. This is not, like, an isolated thing. It is not a crazy, weird coincidence that this happens.

In... 1988? Maybe 1990? My brother completed basic training as a Marine Reservist. My mom and I went to see him graduate and everything. He is a good dude, the kind of person who would never post shit like this. In fact, if he is aware of it, I am sure he is angry that his comrades are behaving like this, as are I assume most Marines.
And yet. When he showed us the official group photo of his... I don't know the term. Training group? Platoon? His portion of the graduating class. In the graduation photo, they were holding a banner in front of them that had a skull on it, surrounded by the words RAPE KILL PILLAGE and I think BURN. Maybe not burn, maybe something else. It was not a homemade banner. It was quite clearly a thing they used on the regular for this sort of photo.
My mother, who is not the kind of person to let this slide, took one look at it and basically said THIS SHIT WILL NOT DO. She promptly mailed copies of the photos to our senator and the Washington Post, along with a letter letting them know that this was happening, and what, exactly, did they plan to do about it?
I don't remember what the short term effect of this was, I was a fairly young kid at the time. I believe the senator and several other senators looked into it and told the guys in charge that they had better cut that shit out, right quick. And I guess they did, if by "that shit" you mean "taking incriminating photos like a dumbass."
Unfortunately, it seems clear that the long term effect of this was nothing whatsoever.

It's such a classic rape culture moment- 95% of the guys in that photo would probably have told you that yeah, the banner was there, but they didn't, like, mean it. That other 5%, though. Of course they mean it. Why wouldn't they think everyone does? Everybody else was in the picture, too!

And this is why I find all the half-hearted responses from the higher-ups completely disingenuous. their attitude of "What?! How did this happen? Who knows? We don't tolerate these sorts of goings-on! Eh, I guess it is a mystery which we can do nothing about!" is both infuriating and transparent. You do know how this happened. You just don't care. This is exactly the kind of thing you tolerate, and always have. You just prefer not to take pictures of it anymore.
posted by Adridne at 5:41 PM on August 20, 2014 [28 favorites]


"mechanics".

Theoretically, every member of the corps is combat ready, to a degree not found
in the other armed forces.
posted by Chitownfats at 6:30 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


The military can control this if they so choose. They have historically controlled racism better than society at large for example. The structure is such that if the order comes it is followed.
posted by vapidave at 6:42 PM on August 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Do you think many Marines would describe the organization as "a bunch of mechanics"? Do you think you would have any problem finding Marines who would proudly describe it as "a bunch of killers"?

I believe that in the Marines, even the mechanics are trained to be killers.


You know who else was "trained to be killers"? All the people quoted in the article as being against this shit, not to mention the people who are the targets of this shit. Maybe the sheer fact of being in the military isn't the problem you think it is.
posted by Etrigan at 6:42 PM on August 20, 2014 [27 favorites]


My biggest takeaway from the article concerns the idea that these combat-hardened infantryman can't help but make crude jokes and stuff. Well I was an infantry platoon leader for 13-ish months (albeit in the army). I never deployed, but most of the guys in my platoon had. Once I moved on to bigger, but not necessarily better things in a different unit, a bunch of them friended me on Facebook. As such, I see when they post things in certain Facebook groups. I'm happy to be able to able to say that I never see any of them posting shit like what is in the article. Granted, I'm not Facebook friends with all of them, and maybe I don't see everything they post. Then again, one of my Soldiers just performed a same sex marriage on CQ, so maybe my guys were just a unique bunch. To be fair, when a picture of that event ended up on U. S. Army WTF Moments, I did see a bunch of sexist and homophobic comments, so I can't deny that the problem exists in the Army... that might actually invalidate my previous comments about my own guys not posting stuff like that.

"I will be ruthless in rooting the army of people who cannot live up to its values," he exclaims, "and I need every one of you to support me in achieving this. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept."

They actually showed that video at the last SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention? I think.) briefing that I attended. SHARP briefings happen quarterly I believe. So the Army is trying to change the culture. I hope it is eventually successful.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 8:06 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


My biggest takeaway from the article concerns the idea that these combat-hardened infantryman can't help but make crude jokes and stuff.

The article argues the reverse—that although those that engage in this behavior position it as a natural outgrowth of combat mindset of Marines, it's disproved by the fact that many of the perpetrators are neither infantry or have seen combat. Additionally the number of Marines from combat that condemn it proves how it's not part and parcel of the Marine infantry/combat mindset, and that if it was a priority for the USMC to tackle, it would be gone very quickly.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:23 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


The article argues the reverse

Yeah roger, and the article does a good job of that. I just wanted to add an anecdata point against the idea that such behavior is, as you put it, a natural outgrowth of the combat mindset.

Oh and one more thing Lord Chancellor... Beat Navy!
posted by A Bad Catholic at 9:40 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


That video of General Morrison is amazing - if that reflects his actual attitudes and actions towards sexual harassment in the military, we could really use some people like him in the US forces. I feel like in the US we never see such an unequivocal "fuck you, if you can't handle serving alongside women, get the fuck out and good luck finding another job" from leadership of companies/government/military/etc when harassment and bigotry happens.

I don't know what my face was doing as I watched it, but it made a coworker come from across the room to see what the hell I was watching.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:09 AM on August 21, 2014 [6 favorites]


Just one point of anecdata, I played rugby with a guy who was a former marine and I see JTTOTS pop up on my facebook feed when he comments. It's basically as gross as they describe in the link, but the description of the undeployed reservist harassing the Junior Marine, kind of fit with this guy. We get a few guys a year that show up to the first few practices, play a few minutes in the first B-side game, then claim to have some injury that prevents them from practicing or playing anymore, but still show up to all the games and the afterparties. This guy in particular has been hanging around for going on 4 years and has maybe played a total of 20 minutes.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 7:08 AM on August 21, 2014


Here is the thing I will say, as a former soldier who also reached across the aisle and had some 0311 friends who respected me but were absolute shits to other women.

You cannot create the kind of comradery that exists in the military, and particularly the combat arms branches, without erasing all prior loyalties and remaking the loyalty in your own image. That's the point of Jody cadences and cadences about your dirty stinky civilian ways in boot camp. That's the point of unit slogans, of inter-service rivalry, MWR, of talking about your military family, of the vast majority of what the military does when it's not actively engaged in killing people. Marine Corps is mother, Marine Corps is father. That girlfriend you left behind? She's probably cheating on you, man. It's not like you can expect her to be loyal. Your civilian friends? They can't really understand. They're lesser than you. POGs? What the fuck do they know about combat? They probably can't even shoot straight.

You are taught, on a daily basis, that people who are not part of your unit, your MOS, your service, your military, are lesser than you.

This shit doesn't happen nearly as much in the intelligence branch, that I was a part of, because women are in the intelligence branch pretty heavily. We are right next to the guys. We drink with the guys, we sleep in the same barracks as the guys, we run with the guys, we shit next to the guys. I'm not going to say there's no sexism - but it's reserved for women who aren't like our women. Women who "can't hack it." Not like your squadmate, who's pretty badass.

But the combat arms field has no women. It does not even train with women. It does not deploy with women. It has no need to have respect for women, because it has no women in command of it. Yes, some combat arms soldiers and marines are condemning the tasteless, shitty Facebook pages - but that doesn't mean they don't refer to WM's or "Marine Mattresses" or whatever bullshit, sexist thing they want to say about every single lady except "the good ones" on their off time. That field is rotten to the motherfucking core with sexism, and it is deliberately inculcated, so that there are no divided loyalties.
posted by corb at 9:23 AM on August 21, 2014 [11 favorites]


What are the Marine Corps Values?

Honor This is the bedrock of our character. It is the quality that empowers Marines to exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior: to never lie, cheat, or steal; to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity; to respect human dignity; and to have respect and concern for each other. It represents the maturity, dedication, trust, and dependability that commit Marines to act responsibly, be accountable for their actions, fulfill their obligations, and hold others accountable for their actions.

Courage The heart of our Core Values, courage is the mental, moral, and physical strength ingrained in Marines that sees them through the challenges of combat and the mastery of fear, and to do what is right, to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct, to lead by example, and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure. It is the inner strength that enables a Marine to take that extra step.

Commitment This is the spirit of determination and dedication within members of a force of arms that leads to professionalism and mastery of the art of war. It promotes the highest order of discipline for unit and self and is the ingredient that instills dedication to Corps and country 24 hours a day, pride, concern for others, and an unrelenting determination to achieve a standard of excellence in every endeavor. Commitment is the value that establishes the Marine as the warrior and citizen others strive to emulate.


http://weblaw.usc.edu/users/rgaret/documents/USMCOutlineExcerpts.pdf

This abuse and harassment of women in the Marines is a disgrace. It's about making them other, not about camaraderie among fellow troops. That the leadership permits it is appalling, and they should be held accountable. The uber-macho USMC crap is why I strongly urged my son to not even think of joining the Marines. I've known some fine Marines, but they need to get their fucking act together.
posted by theora55 at 10:23 AM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


These guys just ooze malevolent ignorance. Do they represent who we depend on to keep us safe from foreign enemies? If so, I think we're in trouble.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:46 PM on August 21, 2014


Confused. Are the Marines an elite force, like the British Royal Marine Commandos? Because I don't see how you would go through the training for that and end up, well, like the soldiers in the article.
posted by glasseyes at 2:08 PM on August 21, 2014


Are the Marines an elite force, like the British Royal Marine Commandos?

The Royal Marines number about 8,000. The U.S. Marine Corps has nearly 200,000 on active duty (and another 40,000 in the Reserves). They're elite in that they have a higher admission and training threshold than the other U.S. armed forces, but there's a lot more wheat for the chaff to hide in.
posted by Etrigan at 2:21 PM on August 21, 2014


Are the Marines an elite force, like the British Royal Marine Commandos?


The United States Marines are a combined-arms assault force, with integrated supporting arms and air units, whose doctrine focuses on fast combined-arms operations, to overwhelm and "seek out, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver." They are not "special forces" or commandos. It's the smallest of the four branches of the US Department of Defense, with a mere 194,000 Marines*. They are an expeditionary force, not, historically, an occupying force, with deep ties to the United States Navy.

Most of these junior Marines would consider themselves just a shade less badass than a SEAL or Green Beret.

*though there are Marine Special Operations units, or "Marine Raiders." These are fairly new, as the Marine Corps command structure was resistant to contribute to SOCCOM
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:23 PM on August 21, 2014


Thanks, both.
posted by glasseyes at 2:33 PM on August 21, 2014


though there are Marine Special Operations units, or "Marine Raiders." These are fairly new, as the Marine Corps command structure was resistant to contribute to SOCCOM

There's also Force Recon, which the Marines have long considered to be of equivalent badassitude to Rangers and Green Berets and SEALs and suchlike.
posted by Etrigan at 2:33 PM on August 21, 2014


There is no excuse for this whatsoever. If military brass won't lift a finger, all Obama needs to do is issue an order--he is still Commander-in-Chief, right?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:43 PM on August 21, 2014


Most of these junior Marines would consider themselves just a shade less badass than a SEAL or Green Beret.

Yes, I'm sure they would, bless their hearts.
posted by kafziel at 2:59 PM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


As in war, the fight is won one platoon at a time.
posted by Etrigan at 7:50 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


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