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December 28, 2009 6:35 AM   Subscribe

The New York Times examines several reports of sexual harassments and assaults on women in the US Military. In the article's comments, current and former troops chime in to suggest that this is an inevitable result of including women in combat zones.

(Part of the NYTimes's Women at Arms series)
posted by oinopaponton (138 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
And if you're as easily confused as me: the second link takes you to "highlighted comments". To see all four pages, click on the "All Comments" tab.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:39 AM on December 28, 2009


Actually, most of what I'm seeing in those comments are more MRA-style bullshit about how all women, especially soldiers, are bitches who take what they want from men and leave them, and then accuse them of rape to end their careers just for the fun of it.

Not that I'm surprised, just that that's a bit different from what the post indicates.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:45 AM on December 28, 2009 [10 favorites]


Rape in the Ranks: The Enemy Within
posted by Burhanistan at 6:45 AM on December 28, 2009


"Think I'm being misogynistic? I'm just telling you the way it is."

Thank god for you, sir!
posted by hermitosis at 6:46 AM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Military women who are (also) sexually assaulted in the line of duty are at a greater risk of developing PTSD....and of having even more difficulty receiving treatment and benefits than their male colleagues.
posted by availablelight at 6:48 AM on December 28, 2009


And I'm sure those commenters have never themselves participated in any harassment. Nosir.

Harassment and assault of soldiers is only inevitable if the commanders take the position that it is, and therefore not worth doing anything about.

I find it laughable that anyone recommends just getting rid of women soldiers; the military is already facing massive shortages of recruits--and getting rid of out gay and lesbian soldiers has only exacerbated the problem. Forcing all the women out because we believe that male soldiers are simply incapable of not raping makes as much sense as forcing gay soldiers out because gayness is either poisonous or catching.

Not to mention that men are hardly exempt from being sexually assaulted by other men, even if everyone involved is straight, as in prison; how many of those men are also afraid to say anything for fear of the consequences? Dealing with the assault of women soldiers would increase the security of everyone.
posted by emjaybee at 6:50 AM on December 28, 2009 [18 favorites]


Pope Guilty, you're right-- the comments I'm talking about are just part of the flood of victim blaming. Here are a few selections:

This is the inevitable consequence of putting young men and women in their sexual primes, trained to be as agressive as possible, in close quarters under immense stress. When the military decided to allow women in forward combat areas, I and many others predicted this result. We in turn were decried as out-of-date throwbacks, but the military didn't want to "limit women's career opportunities," so here we are.

Women do not belong in combat, or in a combat zone. It's that simple.

No moral nation should place women in the military, and certainly not in harm's way; and given the nature of modern warfare, there exists no "behind the lines."

Yes, I get it, women do not belong in combat; they are a distraction that will get men killed. When has this not been so? Will political correctness contradict basic biology? Combat removes socital behavior barriers and brings us back to the hunter/gatherer/warrior behavior of a couple of hundred to thousand years ago ("I may not live beyond tommorrow"). The strong will survive and will demand what they desire.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:52 AM on December 28, 2009


....and those left homeless by severe PTSD or related stress or substance abuse disorders (the numbers are rising) will have a much, much more difficult time finding shelter than homeless male veterans.
posted by availablelight at 6:52 AM on December 28, 2009


The comments at the article make my stomach hurt. A lot of them seem to boil down to something like, "I don't hate women. But those girls suck."
posted by FunkyHelix at 6:59 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


And of course now female soldiers impregnated by their rapist can be court martialed for the "offense".
posted by Joe Beese at 6:59 AM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


I suppose soldiers raping civilians in a war zone in similarly inevitable. I mean, these are young men in their prime who have been trained to be aggressive ...

Oh, wait, no. That's a war crime.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:00 AM on December 28, 2009 [16 favorites]


Astro Zombie: "I suppose soldiers raping civilians in a war zone in similarly inevitable. ... Oh, wait, no. That's a war crime."

Not mutually exclusive.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:01 AM on December 28, 2009


If soldiers are so disciplined, why is it that we can't expect them to treat their fellow soldiers with respect? I mean, the same goes for gay troops, too. Every time I bring it up, I hear the same old argument that the existing troops are homophobic and it would hurt troop unity.

If you can train a dog to not eat a steak, you can convince a soldier to act like a decent human being. Aren't soldiers supposed to be obedient and loyal? I think the reason this happens is because the higher ups are acting like it's inevitable.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:02 AM on December 28, 2009 [36 favorites]


Here's a little thought exercise. If all men turn into rapists once they get into a combat zone, then the men should be removed. Because if they're raping their own comrades, what's to stop them raping civilian women within their combat zone? Last time I checked raping noncombatants was a war crime as well as a civil one. If the only way to prevent rape is to keep the man soldiers away from women, then they need to be kept away from civilian women too. An all female army is the only way to prevent this.

Unless of course the founding argument (soldiers are naturally rapists because of the nature of war) is UTTER BULLSHIT, which I suspect it is.
posted by Jilder at 7:03 AM on December 28, 2009 [65 favorites]


And I'm sure those commenters have never themselves participated in any harassment. Nosir.

That struck me as well. All the "I have never ever ever ever seen any sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior ever ever." Yeah, maybe you just didn't notice.
posted by desuetude at 7:06 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


"inevitable result of including women in combat zones. "

Well, if they didn't dress so sexy, none of this would have happened.
posted by stormpooper at 7:08 AM on December 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Woah, you can justify any bigotedness just by saying, "THIS IS POLITICAL CORRECTNESS OUT OF CONTROL! WHATEVER HAPPENED TO COMMON SENSE!"

"How can we ever have a Catholic man in the White House? The US is supposed to be a sovereign nation, but here's a man ruled over by some guy in Italy! I know there's supposed to be religious tolerance here, but whatever happened to common sense? THIS IS POLITICAL CORRECTNESS OUT OF CONTROL!"

"Why are they letting gay men work at the loading docks at my supermarket? Don't they know musclely lifting is the job for manly men? They're going against basic biology here! This is political correctness out of control!"
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:08 AM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Not mutually exclusive.

It's probably worth noting that until recently the American military basically treated combat zone rape of civilians as an unfortunate but inevitable byproduct of battle.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:14 AM on December 28, 2009


If you can train a dog to not eat a steak, you can convince a soldier to act like a decent human being.
Maybe you could train one dog, but do you really think you could train, say, 160,000 dogs so effectively that zero of them would eat a steak if placed in front of it?
Here's a little thought exercise. If all men turn into rapists once they get into a combat zone, then the men should be removed.
So should we have an all female army, or just not fight wars? I would be OK with either one, but neither is going to happen any time soon.
posted by delmoi at 7:14 AM on December 28, 2009


delmoi, I think Jilder was being a bit facetious (hence the "thought exercise" part). The problem is not that all soldiers are rapists-- if they were, that would be a whole different problem. But the soldiers and army contractors who are rapists seem to have the institutional support and resources on their side, with the victims left in the dirt. Just one (high profile) example, Jamie Leigh Jones.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:20 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I mean, these are young men in their prime who have been trained to be aggressive

i'm really not sure one can separate the intrinsic aggression of men going into a battlefield to kill one another from that of them being aggressive towards women - if a civilization encourages one, they're going to get the other

war is humanity at its worst - and it's going to bring out the worst in many

i'm not saying that women don't belong in combat - i'm saying no one does

That's a war crime.

war IS a crime - there are circumstances in which it seems to be unavoidable, but it still is a crime - if you give people the power and ability to kill, some will abuse that power for their own selfish reasons

and before anyone becomes outraged by this - show me, one, just one war, where the killing wasn't accompanied by crimes of this nature

it's wrong, but it's ALL wrong
posted by pyramid termite at 7:21 AM on December 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


If you can train a dog to not eat a steak, you can convince a soldier to act like a decent human being.

Maybe you could train one dog, but do you really think you could train, say, 160,000 dogs so effectively that zero of them would eat a steak if placed in front of it?

You've changed the subject. The original quote says that we should start trying to prevent rape. Your reply is about the statistical effectiveness of such efforts. No one has claimed they would be 100% effective.

...but neither is going to happen any time soon.

The road to hell is paved with good ideas avoided because they "won't happen anytime soon".
posted by DU at 7:21 AM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, *that* went over Delmoi's head...
posted by autoclavicle at 7:22 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here is what happens when you go to war:
- enemy soldiers are killed
- your own soldiers are killed
- innocent people are accidentally killed
- innocent people are intentionally killed
- things are stolen
- property is destroyed
- people are raped, assaulted, and tortured
- returning soldiers have enormous mental problems
- returning soldiers bring violence home with them

All of the above happen in every single war. It is what war does. It is what war is. It is why you should never go to war unless you are in eminent danger of being killed or you are coming to the aid of people at their request who are being killed. It is why going into Afghanistan and Iraq was a mistake.

The raping of female soldiers is absolutely an inevitable consequence of war. The solution is not to ban women from combat anymore than it would be to ban innocent people who get killed in their own homes in Iraq from living in their own homes. The solution involves a simple two point plan. 1- Punish soldiers who commit sex offenses like you would punish anyone who commits a sex offense; and 2- and this is the really important one - don't go to war unless you are ready to accept all of the above mentioned consequences of war.
posted by flarbuse at 7:25 AM on December 28, 2009 [65 favorites]


It may be inevitable. Rape itself may be inevitable, sad as that is, like murder and every other rotten thing people do to each other. A certain percentage of our species is about as mean and as foul and selfish and despicable as you can find, and some of them are going to work their way into the military, and they are going to do their evil there.

But these officials are treating it like something that criminals do. They're treating it like something that healthy young men just up and do because, hey, they're in a sexy time in their life, and they've been trained to be aggressive, and that's how boys are, don't you know.

No, it's how criminals are. And when you treat it as something normal and human and unsurprising, you make it even more inevitable, because you've given the criminals de facto permission to rape, because it's gonna happen and it's just what red-blooded boys do.

And to that I say: Fuck you. Congratulations on helping to create a culture of criminality and soldier-on-soldier violence. There's going to be more assaults because of this attitude, and, if I had my way, and the fact that my taxes pay for the travesty meant anything, the officers who condone rape in the fashion would be prosecuted right along with the rapists.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:29 AM on December 28, 2009 [35 favorites]


Military women who are (also) sexually assaulted in the line of duty are at a greater risk of developing PTSD....and of having even more difficulty receiving treatment and benefits than their male colleagues.

In fairness, the author of this article didn't determine that the woman in question was denied benefits for her mental health disability because she was not in active combat, she simply repeated the woman's suspicion that this was the case. And I'm not sure that this article makes a convincing case that women have more difficulty receiving benefits than their male counterparts, though I wouldn't be surprised to find out that's the case. The VA's disability determination system is notoriously Kafka-esque, I had a training with the head of social work at Philly VA a while ago and he actually couldn't explain to us how benefit awards are determined, he told us the process is just too complicated to explain to lay people but I suspected that he actually didn't know how the determinations were made, himself. This writer doesn't explain it, either, which isn't surprising because very few people at the VA even know how to calculate a vet's disability benefit eligibility and those who do don't share the information with anyone outside their department, which is separate from the departments that provide services once the disability benefit is determined.
posted by The Straightener at 7:32 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Having listened to first-hand accounts about some of the "socialization" practices performed in my United States military, I'm having a hard time being surprised. The incidence of abuse is no higher than in general society, Pentagon officials? If that's true then it's some kind of awful Christmas miracle.

Also! Does anyone ever wonder how the Spartans would have reacted to the idea that homosexuality injures military unity? I know I do. Laughed right out loud, I imagine.
posted by Poppa Bear at 7:36 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie: "A certain percentage of our species is about as mean and as foul and selfish and despicable as you can find, and some of them are going to work their way into the military, and they are going to do their evil there.."

There are the sociopaths who join the military. And there are those who join the military and become subsumed into an institutionalized culture of sociopathy.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:37 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


And there are those who join the military and become subsumed into an institutionalized culture of sociopathy.

While it is hard for me to have compassion for men who rape, I do think there is something tragic about this. Of course, the big tragedy is the women who are victimized, but the psychic toll on men who go from decent to evil because of the environment they are in must be awesome, and I am not surprised there is such a high rate of suicide among veterans. Some men must walk away from war with a sense of guilt that I cannot comprehend, and I try to maintain an ounce of compassion for them, even when I think what they have done is unforgivable.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:41 AM on December 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


You've changed the subject. The original quote says that we should start trying to prevent rape. Your reply is about the statistical effectiveness of such efforts. No one has claimed they would be 100% effective.
Well, no the quote said you could train people not to rape. And I'm sure that's true in most cases, but they never be 100% effective.

I don't think it's inevitable that women would get raped in these kinds of situations. The obvious solution is to segregate the genders. You could have an all female, or almost all female combat team, or brigade, or whatever.

On the other hand if you take a war zone and mix in a small minority of women that just seems like it's asking for trouble.

Obviously I think military rapists should be punished. But, if this kind of thing is common, is it really worth it to mix male and female solders in combat situations?
posted by delmoi at 7:46 AM on December 28, 2009


chronkite- what the hell

poppa bear - to say nothing of the theban sacred band!

delmoi - see comment to chronkite, i desire to crassly substitute race based comments instead of gender based comments in your post but instead ask maybe there should be some serious effort by the top brass to affect a change in military culture? in this top down orders-receiving-style system? because man you are suggsting that rampaging misogyny is just sort of par and it is a weird thing to be suggesting

astro zombie - anecdotally speaking even guys who love their jobs and are uh psychically suited to the rigors of the environment carry that burden and it is one of the terrible things. i also get really, really fucking tired of people calling soldiers' actions "unforgivable" etc but that is an entirely different shitfight
posted by beefetish at 7:49 AM on December 28, 2009


1. Rape is torture
2. Someone is torturing US Soldiers
3. That makes them an Enemy Combatant

Of course, to even get that far, you have to acknowledge women as living beings capable of being tortured...
posted by yeloson at 7:55 AM on December 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Obviously I think military rapists should be punished. But, if this kind of thing is common, is it really worth it to mix male and female solders in combat situations?

Strict segregation doesn't work so well in the chaos of war, if only because then you have to have two of everything; hospitals, mess tents, bases, etc.

And as I said, rapists aren't restricted to men raping women. Rape is not a simple hetero sex-drive writ large, it is an act of aggression that happens to use sex as a weapon (as opposed to fists or guns, for example). And so segregation does not eliminate rape, because rape is not caused by hetero-only sexual desire, but by sociopathy and opportunity (and in a dysfunctional culture, by indifference or even implicit approval of the culture and its leadership).

And again, why cede ground to the idea that the majority of men are incapable of restraining themselves from raping? Even in a military situation? Do the men who post at Metafilter believe that if they were drafted and in combat, they would become rapists?
posted by emjaybee at 7:55 AM on December 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


i also get really, really fucking tired of people calling soldiers' actions "unforgivable" etc but that is an entirely different shitfight

Oh, I'm not saying that all combat veterans have committed war crimes, please don't misunderstand me; neither am I saying that veterans who suffer PTSD inevitably must have done something terrible. I am specifically referring to those soldiers who have done something terrible. Sorry if my comment sounded too generalized. I don't retain merely an ounce of compassion for veterans in general, I try to maintain a well of it, because they have it rough and our government frequently can't be bothered with their needs.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:57 AM on December 28, 2009


Obviously I think military rapists should be punished. But, if this kind of thing is common, is it really worth it to mix male and female solders in combat situations?

This is probably the central question but it's best answered by women who want to be in the armed forces. And they seem to be answering that yes, it is worth it to them to risk being assaulted by their fellow soldiers in order to serve their country. We owe it to them to fight passive and active resistance to the idea and make it safe for them to do so.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:02 AM on December 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Of course, to even get that far, you have to acknowledge women as living beings capable of being tortured...

The implication there is a bit silly. Even the worst misogynist wouldn't deny that women are "living beings."
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:04 AM on December 28, 2009


It is why going into Afghanistan and Iraq was a mistake.

Afghanistan was run by muslim extremists who were tied up with Al Qaeda. They played games over the extradition of Bin Laden and would very likely have been friendly to continued terrorist activity.

You can argue that our goals weren't/aren't focused enough, that we've made the mistake of a state-focus, that we've gone in for damn difficult nation-building missions instead of trying to clear out terrorist networks, and that's all credible. You can argue war is hell and brings out the worst in people, and that's certainly true. You can even argue, at a stretch, that maybe we could have brought enough pressure to bear with the threat of war that we didn't have to go. But putting Afghanistan and Iraq in the same bin in terms of justification? The former was essentially complicit in an attack on the U.S.
posted by namespan at 8:06 AM on December 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


astro - understood, sorry for getting fighty at you. context of thread where people's knees started jerking in that direction got me all knee-jerky.

emjaybee - the idea that the majority of men are incapable of restraining themselves from raping seems to be a pretty popular one in the wider culture. i guess i should be unsurprised that the military manages to work with that idea in a gross military way but man being reminded of how rapey us culture is is a bummer.

now i am interested to know if other large countries' militaries got these problems. russia doesnt count.
posted by beefetish at 8:11 AM on December 28, 2009


It's also an odd move to argue against invading the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan based on the idea that our actions might have led to more abuse against women. I'm not denying that there's still abuse against women in Afghanistan, but let's not forget how horrendous the situation was before we invaded.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:11 AM on December 28, 2009


[A couple comments removed, can we please not turn this into a race for the most balls-out rape rhetoric/analogy?]
posted by cortex at 8:13 AM on December 28, 2009


the comments I'm talking about are just part of the flood of victim blaming. Here are a few selections:

Someone made some shitty comments on the internet! Quick, Robin, to the outrage filter!
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 8:14 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I find it laughable that anyone recommends just getting rid of women soldiers; the military is already facing massive shortages of recruits

That's not actually true; a recession changes everything.
For the first time in more than 35 years, the U.S. military has met all of its annual recruiting goals, as hundreds of thousands of young people have enlisted despite the near-certainty that they will go to war.

The Pentagon, which made the announcement Tuesday, said the economic downturn and rising joblessness, as well as bonuses and other factors, had led more qualified youths to enlist.

The military has not seen such across-the-board successes since the all-volunteer force was established in 1973, after Congress ended the draft following the Vietnam War. In recent years, the military has often fallen short of some of its recruiting targets. The Army, in particular, has struggled to fill its ranks, admitting more high school dropouts, overweight youths and even felons.

Yet during the current budget year, which ended Sept. 30, recruiters met their targets in both numbers and quality for all components of active-duty and reserve forces.
-- A Historic Success In Military Recruiting
posted by Rhomboid at 8:19 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


In threads like these I always marvel at the not insubstantial percentage of commenters who, as far as I can tell, have never actually met a real live military serviceperson. Some of these folks are our parents, friends, cousins, teachers, etc. You know, nice people who, yes, will kill to defend themselves/others, but aren't sociopaths. So get over yourselves.

Every woman who enters a male-dominated field (and, of course, vice-versa) accepts a certain level of risk of harassment. I have a nice desk job in engineering. I went in to it knowing that women still get the short end of the stick a whole damn lot. I know I will be hit on, teased, insulted, treated inappropriately, and so on. However, as an American citizen, it is my right to expect that my workplace will be free of this environment. So even though I know it's going to happen, it is my right to be provided with a way to deal with it and remove the issue.

The issue here is not that women went into this knowing what could happen (blame the victim much?). The issue is that despite offering their lives on behalf of their country, they are not consistently provided with the same basic rights that I am sitting on my butt in a comfy chair all day. It has nothing to do with the psychology of war, nothing to do with boys being boys, nothing even to do with vindictive women out to fuck other people over (and no one will deny that those women -- and men -- exist everywhere). It has everything to do with top level military management being unwilling to deal with this.
posted by olinerd at 8:20 AM on December 28, 2009 [27 favorites]


I work in a place where occasionally I interact with some VA docs. I tend to eat breakfast at the same time as one of them, so we've gotten to know each other on a conversational level. In his 40s, maybe early 50s. He had a resident - I think, maybe a fellow, young guy - working with him a few weeks ago, and I walked into the breakroom for some much needed coffee. During that break, I heard the following conversation (tersified since I've already rambled):
"So, what are you doing over at [other location] VA?"
"Mostly psych."
"Vietnam?"
"No. It's all women, all PTSD."
"Combat?"
"Rape."
He then went on to recount one particular instance, and I left the room. I struggled to stop thinking about it. Every person I saw in uniform when I was in the city the weekend after - even some friends, home for the holidays, who are close to discharge. A recurrent 'could he? has he? does he try to forget about things he's heard?'

Nothing much to add, but that it's been in the back of my head lately. OTOH, does anyone have stats or articles like this for other countries' militaries?
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 8:28 AM on December 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Some of the comments at the article and here really bother me after the discussion on the Schrödinger's rapist post, where a lot of men were upset that some women assumed all men to be a danger until proven otherwise.

You cannot scold women for making such assumptions and then on issues like this comment that men cannot be held responsible for their own natures in these situations. You cannot tacitly support a rape culture and then be upset at women for being aware of and protecting themselves within the culture.

We are not animals except when we are so fuck you women, is not acceptable.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:29 AM on December 28, 2009 [17 favorites]


But, if this kind of thing is common, is it really worth it to mix male and female solders in combat situations?

A) Yes.

B) It's not like rapists who self-identify as heterosexual don't rape other men when they're in gender-segregated situations.

The answer is not to get rid of women, it's to get rid of rapists. It's no better if the rapists rape other male servicemembers.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:33 AM on December 28, 2009 [8 favorites]


olinerd: "In threads like these I always marvel at the not insubstantial percentage of commenters who, as far as I can tell, have never actually met a real live military serviceperson. Some of these folks are our parents, friends, cousins, teachers, etc. You know, nice people who, yes, will kill to defend themselves/others, but aren't sociopaths. So get over yourselves."

If you voluntarily join an organization involved in a criminal enterprise, you run an increased risk of being considered a criminal.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:34 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


FunkyHelix: What's an example of a comment in this thread that "support[s] a rape culture"? I may have overlooked such comments, but I don't get the sense that anyone here is denying that men who commit rape have done something very wrong and illegal, and should be punished. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever read such comments on Metafilter. Yet, seemingly every time there's a Mefi thread on rape or domestic violence, the suggestion is made that some people in the thread don't recognize how bad these things are.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:36 AM on December 28, 2009


Jaltcoh, cortex has removed most of what bothered me from Metafilter. But I commented before previewing, so they were still there.

Just because they were deleted, though, doesn't mean they weren't ever made on the site.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:46 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I found this particularly shocking...I imagine the report rate for male on male sexual assault is even lower than the rate (10% by Pentagon estimates) of report for assaults against women, which could mean that hundreds of military men are being raped every year as well:

At least 10 percent of the victims in the last year were men
, a reality that the Pentagon’s task force said the armed services had done practically nothing to address in terms of counseling, treatment and prosecution. Men are considered even less likely to report attacks, officials said, because of the stigma, and fears that their own sexual orientation would be questioned. In the majority of the reported cases, the attacker was male.
posted by availablelight at 8:54 AM on December 28, 2009


Obviously I think military rapists should be punished. But, if this kind of thing is common, is it really worth it to mix male and female solders in combat situations?

It's difficult to even start discussing this without establishing what the baseline rate of rape is in any mixed environment. Take 160,000 people, whether it's soldiers in Iraq, the residents of a small midwestern city, or the residents of New Orleans waiting in the stadium for the floodwaters to recede, and you'll see some rape, and some assault, and some theft... At 160,000 people, there should be a fairly predictable crime rate. You can push that crime rate down with various things, like effective enforcement, education, and whatnot, but it'll be there regardless.

The question isn't whether it'll happen, it's whether in the military it's going to be out of all proportion to what it should be statistically. Likely it will be for a while after initial implementation of allowing women into forward combat zones while the culture adjusts (and military culture has, from my experience, quite a bit of adjusting to do). But once the presence of women becomes the norm, rape and sexual harassment should be a normal problem to deal with, and not at all an argument against allowing women to serve in any capacity.
posted by fatbird at 8:54 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


...and I point that out not to say BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENS, as some do in threads about violence against women, but to ask whether it looks like maybe male and male soldiers shouldn't mix in combat situations either.
posted by availablelight at 8:57 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obviously I think military rapists should be punished. But, if this kind of thing is common, is it really worth it to mix male and female solders in combat situations?

I think the idea is to make this kind of thing less common, and that assuming its commonality is inevitable is precisely the kind of thing that perpetuates said commonality.

the culture of rape in the military seems to me to be routinely perpetuated, far more than in other american institutions or general society. I'd say it's rather systemically encouraged to develop. this is bad and must change. it has frustrated me for years that administration after administration we watch president after president (whose role as commander in chief basically gives him incredible power to single handedly affect change about this) ignore this problem, and the problem of how gays are treated and thought of in the military. that the single largest attempt to address gay membership in the military was "don't ask don't tell" is sadly demonstrative of just how little presidents of any political leaning want to deal with the horrifically bigoted rape and homophobe culture of the military.
posted by shmegegge at 9:02 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


the culture of rape in the military seems to me to be routinely perpetuated, far more than in other american institutions

Sorry, it's prison and the military doesn't even come close.
posted by hamida2242 at 9:13 AM on December 28, 2009


The mysogynistic response makes no sense, even on the realpolitik level.

Here's what we have:

1. Many female soldiers.
2. A handful of rapists, and a larger handful of disrespectful soldiers.
3. Rape is a crime, and should be reduced whenever practical.
4. We have a shortage of troops, so we should reduce our numbers as little as possible.

How you get to the conclusion of "get rid of the women" makes no sense unless you think women should not be in combat for other reasons (a non-politically correct view, but one that seems to be more widely held than we'd like).

The clear solution is to get rid of the rapists/sexually bigoted soldiers. We either need to discourage them through education and a less forgiving culture on base (IE bigotedness makes you a pariah and the sarge's enemy, rape means a court martial with just a basic public defender), or somehow weed them out. Any soldier who is a rapist should be dishonorably discharged. No questions. I don't care how great a guy he is otherwise. That wouldn't fly in the private sector, and I've always been told by my neocon grandpa that the military is meant to be the ideal institution that private corporations should hold themselves up to. While I disagree with most of his beliefs, I like that one and wish it could be true more often.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:14 AM on December 28, 2009


...and I point that out not to say BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENS, as some do in threads about violence against women, but to ask whether it looks like maybe male and male soldiers shouldn't mix in combat situations either.

I get that, availablelight; I was making the same point in my response to delmoi.

The answer isn't to get rid of the women servicemembers--the answer is to get rid of the rapist servicemembers.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:16 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


And of course now female soldiers impregnated by their rapist can be court martialed for the "offense".

Actually, no.
posted by EarBucket at 9:24 AM on December 28, 2009


EarBucket: "Actually, no."

From your link:

“I believe that I can handle violations of this aspect with lesser degrees of punishment,” Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo told reporters. “I have not ever considered court-martial for this. I do not ever see myself putting a soldier in jail for this.”

What the Major General believes, considers, or sees is subject to change. Conditions on the ground, and all that.

What is now an order is a prohibition against "becoming nondeployable for reasons within the control of the soldier" including "becoming pregnant". And while no one here would consider being raped something within a woman's control, judging from the comments on that Times article, I wouldn't count on the military people deciding on punishments to be equally enlightened. So I stand by my "can be".
posted by Joe Beese at 9:47 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


FunkyHelix: OK, thanks for the response. I do think it's a bit weird that there's now a shadow discussion about comments that don't exist anymore. Most people reading this won't have see those comments and can, at best, take it on faith that some Mefites want to excuse rape. But naturally I can't fault you for that since you didn't delete them.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:53 AM on December 28, 2009


Removing servicewomen from combat zones won't prevent them from being raped by servicemen. Rape happens at stateside installations during peacetime as well. Someone inclined to commit sexual assault will do so no matter where they are although combat zones may offer more targets of opportunity. Article 120 of the UCMJ provides for a maximum penalty of death for a service member who is convicted of rape. The conviction rate for military courts martial is over 90% so applying that penalty once or twice might send a pretty clear message.
posted by MikeMc at 9:54 AM on December 28, 2009


I have nothing to say about this directly, because it is, to quote the bard, all different colors of messed up. But I'd very much like to go through various statements made in these articles, and every place you find a rape reference, replace it with some reference to prisoner abuse at places like Abu Ghraib and then ask the commenter if they'd still stand by that statement.

For example: "When the day's activities include the likelihood of getting your brains shot out, maybe a little slap and tickle sodomizing a prisoner with a broomstick - while not desirable - is not the end of the world."

It would at least sort out those who lack empathy from the absolute sociopaths.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:59 AM on December 28, 2009


...take it on faith that some Mefites want to excuse rape. But naturally I can't fault you for that since you didn't delete them.

There was one comment removed along with one comment asking that commenter to "dial it back" One person taking an exceptionally fighty stance towards a contentious issue [and to be fair it was more of an anti-soldier/war stance than an anti-women or pro-rape stance] does not translate into MeFites generally being weird or creepy abotu this issue. I'm sorry that commenters on other sites are being appalling, but I'd like to point out that people here are, for the most part, not.
posted by jessamyn at 10:00 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


A bunch of people who are willing to kill are also fine with rape? How utterly shocking.
posted by dickasso at 10:04 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Article 120 of the UCMJ provides for a maximum penalty of death for a service member who is convicted of rape. The conviction rate for military courts martial is over 90% so applying that penalty once or twice might send a pretty clear message.

The death penalty for a crime that doesn't even result in death? That's pretty extraordinary. Even most proponents of the death penalty don't want it applied to all intentional murder, let alone rape.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:05 AM on December 28, 2009


How can we discuss rape when there's no end in sight and no sane plan towards ending this war? Surely that's priority one, then making things livable during war would be step 2.
posted by Submiqent at 10:05 AM on December 28, 2009


This recent comment sums it all up pretty artfully:

Women should not be allowed to serve in the military because they are a sexual distraction. The sex drive is too great for red-blooded American male troops to overcome on a daily basis.

Women should not be allowed to hold responsible positions in the work place, either, because they are a sexual distraction and rise to positions of responsibility by the seductive manipulation of men.

Young women and girls should not be allowed to attend schools with men and boys because they are distractions to the academic atmosphere which requires intense focus on studies, not on the delights of the fairer sex. Women should not be allowed to teach pubescent and post pubescent males for obvious reasons (also prepubescent boys)-women are a threat to American education.

Women ought not be allowed to live too closely with their husbands because the husbands will be distracted and neglect their family responsibilities. Marriage should be a Spartan affair.

Young women ought not be allowed to wear certain kinds of clothing in public because they are distractions to male drivers. Young women should be kept at home with the blinds closed and the shades drawn. Actually, all women should wear burkas wherever they go and retire for the night zipped up to their chins in sleeping bags, lest the radiance of their sexual attractions, loosed by sleep, terrorize the males in the neighborhood. You know how it is: women are slippery slopes. It’s alltheir fault. Down with women!

posted by oinopaponton at 10:06 AM on December 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


[and to be fair it was more of an anti-soldier/war stance than an anti-women or pro-rape stance]

Well, that's pretty much my point. To be clear, I'm not criticizing the deletions. But saying that war leads inexorably to rape is an empirical hypothesis. It might also be an incorrect hypothesis, but it's different from saying or even implying that rape isn't so bad or shouldn't be punished.
posted by Jaltcoh at 10:09 AM on December 28, 2009


FYI, all, I took a look and found this reference,to a recent Knesset report indicating that 1 in 7 Israeli female soldiers report sexual harassment or assault, and that male victims account for 5% of sexual assault reports.

I was also struck by this comment in the second link of the FPP, which was from a self identified company commander and West Point graduate, who says he has attended lots of mandatory sexual harassment training:

Now as for CPT White, forgive me for being skeptical about her whole story. This is a Captain who carried on an adulterous affair with a Warrant Officer (read lower ranking). I can't tell you how many times I have seen this happen. Average women like CPT White get deployed and find out that they are suddenly hot property. They find out very quickly that they can get any guy they want there because the Soldiers are so lonely and isolated. They also know that they can use their sexuality to get things and, if push comes to shove, use their gender to accuse a scorned lover of improprieties. How come that side of the story wasn't told? Did you ever consider the fact that CPT White may have been acting inappropriately? I know the Warrant officer resigned but maybe that was because he didn't want his wife to find out. I'm not saying I know the facts in this case but I've been around long enough to know when someone's story isn't the whole story.
Think I'm being misogynistic? I'm just telling you the way it is. I've seen it time and time again where women will take what they want from lonely Soldiers and then discard them or accuse them of something when they feel the need to. You NEVER see this perspective reported in the media. Believe me, it happens all the time.


I thought the raw misogyny of this comment was striking, particularly since the person making it would presumably be responsible for fielding reports of sexual assault in his own command. I noticed the willingness to simply ignore inconvenient facts -- for example, that White didn't come forward, but was approached because her assaulter was being investigated for other offenses against women. And he didn't resign to avoid revealing adultery, but to avoid prosecution on 19 charges brought by military prosecutors. And White didn't suddenly learn she was a hot property for a "lonely Soldier:" she signed up in 1999.

I think the military needs to deal with the attitudes in its command structure. This man, for example, should have been identified and removed from command a long time ago. I agree with others on this thread who say sexual assault can't be eliminated entirely, but in my experience it gets a lot more prevalent when tolerated or ignored by those in a command position in an organization.
posted by bearwife at 10:18 AM on December 28, 2009 [10 favorites]


How can we discuss rape when there's no end in sight and no sane plan towards ending this war? Surely that's priority one, then making things livable during war would be step 2.

I'm not sure there's a finite amount of thought that can go into any issue regarding the war. Why not work on both?
posted by oneirodynia at 10:20 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


True, just seems wierd that it took 65 comments for someone to mention that. I kind of assumed everyone was feeling that the war needs ending and that it would have been in the first couple of comments... oh well.
posted by Submiqent at 10:27 AM on December 28, 2009


Simple Solution: Killing a rapist gets you a medal.
posted by mikelieman at 10:29 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


We train these people to kill without hesitation, without emotion and without compassion.

And then they rape someone and we go "OMG WHERE DID WE GO WRONG *SOB*!?!?!?!"

We are a stupid fucking species.
posted by Avenger at 10:29 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


This recent comment sums it all up pretty artfully

I'm not sure that cherry-picking outrageous horrible statements about this topic made on other websites really helps us have decent conversations about this topic on this website. It's very very easy to find things to get angry about vis both rape and the war we're embroiled in. If this thread is going to be anything but a great gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, trying to have a more civil discussion, even if it's about uncivil people, might be a good start. I'm presuming you have good faith, oinopaponton, but pullquoting super-shitty asshole comments from other sites doesn't maybe seem the best way to move forward here.
posted by jessamyn at 10:36 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


jessamyn, that was a sarcastic, not super-shitty or asshole, comment. The commenter was pointing out how dangerous and slippery the "soldiers can't help it" line of thinking is.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:37 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


[and yes I'm aware it's a swiftian statement, or at least I think it is, the point remains]
posted by jessamyn at 10:38 AM on December 28, 2009


But saying that war leads inexorably to rape is an empirical hypothesis.

Has there ever been a war in which armies on neither side committed rape? Perhaps I'm wrong, but I can't think of any, going back several hundred years. The Ancient Greeks and Romans even passed laws against it, which seems to indicate that it was a recognized problem more than 2000 years ago.
posted by zarq at 10:39 AM on December 28, 2009


Has there ever been a war in which armies on neither side committed rape?

Has there ever been a peace in which nobody committed rape?

The problem isn't war. The problem isn't women soldiers. The problem is rape.

Now, one problem that complicates the matter is that various aspects of military culture make it hard for people to report rape and for rapists to be prosecuted.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:54 AM on December 28, 2009 [10 favorites]


Now, one problem that complicates the matter is that various aspects of military culture make it hard for people to report rape and for rapists to be prosecuted.

And this is the only real issue here. Unfortunately, no amount of preemptive efforts will stop rapes, short of mandating cameras at all times. I'm surprised at the knee jerk nihilism when changing the institutional culture of reporting rapes is actually a fairly straightforward exercise, at least it seems that way on the surface. Contact your congressperson/senator and tell them you'd like some real leadership on this issue.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:03 AM on December 28, 2009


MeTa.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:16 AM on December 28, 2009


The subject is not funny. That said, one oldtime comedian (wish I could remember who) said that we should have an all female military. That way, if we won, we could be proud and if we lost, we still feel good about ourselves by sneering, "so you beat a bunch of girls."
posted by Bitter soylent at 11:17 AM on December 28, 2009


I kind of assumed everyone was feeling that the war needs ending and that it would have been in the first couple of comments... oh well.

The problem of ending the war is not the issue here. This is a discussion of an infrastructure that promotes rape. Even in "peacetime" (a debatable term), the culture of violence and victimization of women persists. When the war has ended, these men will come home, and if they were rapists in the war they will continue to assault women when they come home. Ending the present wars in which we are involved is a different discussion entirely.
posted by stinker at 11:33 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know I understand the egregious nature of rape (better than most men having taught self-defense to victims) and how some of you feel about the war (and the military in general), but there are a number of comments here perilously close to over-generalized slander on the vast majority of military personnel that serve with honor and distinction. If you read the full breath of comments in that article there were several officers who did NOT condone how these women have been treated and explained how seriously they take these crimes. Not every officer out there is making excuses or covering it up. Though even one is too many.

When you universally shit on the military as a bunch of sociopaths your also shitting on those female soldiers who have fought for DECADES to be among it's ranks and likewise desire to serve. It's basically like saying hey those chicks kinda deserve it. After all the military are a notorious bunch of sociopaths.

As the son of a six tour combat veteran US Army officer who served with honor; As the brother of a US military officer who served with honor; As the brother in law of a US Air Force officer who served with honor, And as the uncle of two nephews AND A NIECE serving with honor and currently deployed in combat zones; I beg you to examine your prejudices before making blanket generalizations.

Rape has never been accepted in the modern US military. It has, to my knowledge, been against the UCMJ (under article 120) since before WWII. So I don't know where this "until recently the US military (sic. as an institution) accepted rape" bullshit comes from. Certainly enforcement of the USMJ might be spotty but rape (nor sociopathology) was not institutionalized. The article was amended in 2006 to include a more liberal definition of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior. And in many ways the USMJ holds the behavior of military personnel much more accountable and under stricter guidelines than any corporate human resources conduct handbook ever would dare. As it should. After all, the army has employees with guns.

Any way. The demographic of the US military is unfortunately ideal for this kind of anti-social behavior. Even under ideal conditions you have the most likely demographic of potential rapists, young men, crammed into a self-created society. I'm not sure how much higher sexual assault rates would be in the military as compared to the civilian world. But I'd wager if it is higher it's not by much. On top of that in recent times we have been mining the dregs to fill out recruitment rolls for our idiotic wars. Including people with criminal records. These wars, mind you, are the responsibility of our wise civilian leadership. So-called leadership. That said over all this demographic managed and guided very well all things considered.

The issue isn't are there more rapes in the US military but why are some of the rapists not getting prosecuted and why are the women not getting the help they deserve. It disgusts me that our female soldiers, who are performing amazingly under the harshest circumstances, are not getting the respect they deserve by some of their fellow soldiers.

I absolutely believe that women and men can and should serve side by side. And I know they will. In twenty years we will look pack on these dark days as a curious aberation and wonder why it wasn't always so that deserving women who meet the standard could serve combat roles.

If anything the Us military has been some what a vanguard for social progressiveness. As much as the Pentagon resisted it was racially integrated long before the rest of society. There were well paid careers for women long before most othe rest of corporate society. It's easier to mandate standards in a authoritarian hierarchy. Now. the individuals in the military are a reflection of our society. How long it takes the them to institutionalize these mandates fairly is a big question. But there is no doubt that they eventually do. Witness the racial integration of the military command structure (Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell, and General Eric Shinseki)
posted by tkchrist at 11:35 AM on December 28, 2009 [22 favorites]


True, just seems wierd that it took 65 comments for someone to mention that. I kind of assumed everyone was feeling that the war needs ending and that it would have been in the first couple of comments... oh well.

I'm not understanding why whether people think the war is or is not a good idea has any bearing on what they think about this post, this article, and/or sexual assault in the military. When the sentiment that ending the war is a priority over reducing incidents of rape it is actually pretty offensive to the individuals involved. Women and men should be able to serve in times of peace and times of conflict without the threat of sexual assault being a regular feature in their workplace. World Peace should not be the precursor to solving this problem.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:49 AM on December 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


I agree, tkchrist. Whatever my feelings about war, I try never, ever to express a viewpoint that is anti-soldier, because they aren't the ones behind the war, and they're the ones who get the brunt of it, and many, many, many of them are honest amd hardworking and joined the military because they honestly believe in service to their country, and in defending the country, and for many of them the military is one of the only available avenues for raising money for an education, or getting skills for a post-military job. Many soldiers serve honorably, or as honorably as it is possible in a madhouse, and as hard as it might be when you are like me, and think war is an obsenity and our military is a massive waste of our tax dollars, I do not wish to cast those feelings onto the soldiers. Many are like the rest of us, making the best decisions they can and trying to do the best work they can as ethically as they can, and while I would prefer a world in which there is no war, and a world in which things like education and caring for the poor were as highly valued as creating the largest military the world has ever seen, I know they have a hard job and I try to honor their service.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:50 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


The problem isn't war. The problem isn't women soldiers. The problem is rape.

I agree. I am in no way trying to be dismissive of this serious problem or attempting to say that the problem isn't that people are being raped. I'm responding specifically to the claim that there is no proof that "war leads to rape."
posted by zarq at 12:05 PM on December 28, 2009


holy shit yes thank you tkchrist
posted by beefetish at 12:13 PM on December 28, 2009


Astro Zombie: Thanks. I appreciate that.

Reading articles like this one breaks my heart.

Nobody knows the evil nature of war, it's true face, better than soldier who has fought in one.

I was raised by a man who took all that honor and duty stuff remarkably seriously. Even though he disagrees with US policy. Even though he condemns the war in which he served. Even the government that sent him to that war three times did their best to get him killed. He still believes in the service as something that can be noble. And there is truth in this belief.

Also remember your tax dollars are not wasted. They sent people like me to school. Your tax dollars helped people like my father escape poverty borne of the depression and raise three children.
posted by tkchrist at 12:18 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


If anything the Us military has been some what a vanguard for social progressiveness. As much as the Pentagon resisted it was racially integrated long before the rest of society.

I agree with virtually everything you said in your comment, but (and this may be me nitpicking) I feel like this is kind of a weak statement. I mean, that's probably the only occurrence of the army being socially progressive I can think of, and "we needed bodies to take cannon fire on the front lines during the civil war, so we put freed slaves up there" does not strike me as particularly socially progressive. by that metric, putting prisoners in the military out of desperation is ALSO socially conservative because prisoners have tremendous difficulty finding work once released. but instead, it's just opportunistic and exploitive.

this is not to say that the military resists all social progress, or anything like that. but it seems unfair, and an example of cherry picking, to say "colin powell means the military is a vanguard of social progress."
posted by shmegegge at 12:23 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thank-you tkchrist.
I find it amazing that it is okay to condemn a blanket statement such as 'women should not serve in combat roles' (which I condemn BTW) but fine to make sweeping statements implying that putting on a uniform makes you more likely to become a rapist, or something along the lines of 'The raping of female soldiers is absolutely an inevitable consequence of war. '
posted by Megami at 12:29 PM on December 28, 2009


While I agree with tkchrist that the entirety of service men and women are not to blame for the staggeringly high incidence of rape and intimidation of women in the armed forces, I will say that there is absolutely a culture of silence in the military about those problems.

My family has had members in the Armed Forces since the Revolutionary War. We have fielded men and women in every war this country has ever fought, up to, but not including the current actions. We grew up on military bases around the world. My generation, entirely female, is the first of our family to not serve. Our fathers and mothers, who hold a considerable number of stars and ribbons amongst them, sat my sisters and cousins down as we reached an age where we began to consider applying for military academies and told us that they thought it was a bad idea to join.

They said the military had changed. That combat arenas weren't safe for female soldiers, not because of the actual combat, but because of the other service personnel. That while enlisted women took the brunt of aggressive behavior, female officers were often treated with a level of resentment and anger that too often led to rape and assault. That cases like the West Point cadet rapes were just the tip of an unreported iceberg. That rape and abuse were much more common than reported, and that reporting it would not only end your career, you would likely get no support from superiors. One of my aunts, who was a Major in a recent conflict was raped, and despite 20 years of service, there was considerable pressure on her to recant her testimony.

So, while I agree that not every service man is a rapist waiting to pounce, for every rape that does happens, there are a bevy of service personnel who will protect the rapist.

I don't know what the solution is. But women in my family have been serving in uniform for more than 100 years, and according to them, it's gotten so bad in the last 20 years that they didn't want any women in their family to join any branch of the service. Which is tragic, as all of us wanted to join, but we respected their knowledge and experience enough that for the first time since 1777, no member of our family is on an active duty roster.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 12:32 PM on December 28, 2009 [15 favorites]


and an example of cherry picking, to say "colin powell means the military is a vanguard of social progress

First off if it was just those two examples it would be one thing. But I bet you the officer corps of the US military is FAR more racially diverse than it's counter parts in the corporate boards of America. Second I never ascribed noble motives as to why the military was a some-what a vanguard. And third I did say "some-what."

Be as pedantic and nit-picky as you want. I stand by my claims, man. And that's last I'll say on the matter.
posted by tkchrist at 12:47 PM on December 28, 2009


West Point cadet rapes

You got your sexual assault scandals mixed up. I think you mean the 2003 Air Force Academy scandal.

The 2005 West Point case the cadet was charged and convicted in court-martial in 2006.
posted by tkchrist at 12:54 PM on December 28, 2009


Also I'm curious since the WACs were not established until 1941, the Woman's Naval Reserve in 1943, and the only women allowed in the military prior were in 1917 as navy nurses - but not in uniform - how have women in your family served in uniform for over 100 years?
posted by tkchrist at 1:05 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Be as pedantic and nit-picky as you want. I stand by my claims, man. And that's last I'll say on the matter.

look, I'm not trying to upset you or insult you or anything like that, so I'm sorry if I came off that way. I'm really just trying to say "hey, I agree with you, but I think maybe you got a little carried away here, calling the military a vanguard of social progressiveness." It is a little nitpicky, so if you don't want to get into it, that's fine, I'll stop. I just thought that calling the organization that was the last in america to incorporate women and gays "a vanguard of social progressiveness," was a stretch, and that the qualifier "some-what" and leaving out their motives did not make it more reasonable.
posted by shmegegge at 1:11 PM on December 28, 2009


tkchrist: "... as the uncle of two nephews AND A NIECE serving with honor and currently deployed in combat zones; I beg you to examine your prejudices before making blanket generalizations."

My prejudice is that I dislike it when my government kills women and children for no morally justifiable reason. And in every place where the American military is operating in a "combat zone" - or what the people living there call "home" - it is operating there for no morally justifiable reason. [If you believe otherwise, save your argument for the family of the next civilian we kill. Perhaps it will give them some consolation.]

I submit that there can be no honorable service in such an institution.

In such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners. - Albert Camus
posted by Joe Beese at 1:16 PM on December 28, 2009


I'm not upset. It's okay to disagree. But. I think your taking the comment "Vanguard of social progressiveness" not literally enough. I'm saying they were literally one of the fist major US institutions to desegregate. No matter why that was. They were the first. That's all I was saying. Though you may not like it, it's a perfectly reasonable claim and indeed factual.
posted by tkchrist at 1:17 PM on December 28, 2009



I submit that there can be no honorable service in such an institution.

Yeah. Well. That's like your opinion, man. And your free to have it. As ignorant and ill-informed as you please.
posted by tkchrist at 1:20 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also I'm curious since the WACs were not established until 1941, the Woman's Naval Reserve in 1943, and the only women allowed in the military prior were in 1917 as navy nurses - but not in uniform - how have women in your family served in uniform for over 100 years?

Presuming that the poster had female ancestors who served in uniform in the US military in World War I, this would be only a slight overstatement.

Also, the various women's nursing corps of the Spanish American War had uniforms, though they were different uniforms from the military services to which they were attached, so that may have been what was meant.

And of course, some women masqueraded as men to serve in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, which could also have been indicated.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:20 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, I get it, women do not belong in combat; they are a distraction that will get men killed. When has this not been so?

Soviet Union, WW II, and Israel ( pretty much every war ever fought by the modern state) would be a bare minimum of examples. Also, the French Resistance (that one's quite interesting, in that the French awarded high decorations to foreign women for their service to France in the secret services assisting the Restistance groups, but their own governments often refused to...)

"I suppose soldiers raping civilians in a war zone in similarly inevitable. ... Oh, wait, no. That's a war crime."

I'd like to believe winning armies didn't rape their way about the place, but seriously: How many Soviet troops were prosecuted for raping their way through Germany? Do you think the American troops who videoed themselves dropping puppies to their death, or taking potshots at civilians from humvees, would have refrained from rape?

Does anyone ever wonder how the Spartans would have reacted to the idea that homosexuality injures military unity? I know I do. Laughed right out loud, I imagine.

You'll need to convince Frank Millar of that, of course. But you don't need to go that far back. Plenty of gay men served in WW II.

But, if this kind of thing is common, is it really worth it to mix male and female solders in combat situations?

Why let the rapists win? Because that's what you do if you allow rape to be used to terrorize women out of front line service.
posted by rodgerd at 1:26 PM on December 28, 2009


It should just go without saying that women who put themselves at risk in combat zones should not have to worry about being attacked by their fellow soldiers. Just as women should be able to feel safe from attack anywhere. But it's especially galling when female soldiers have to fight a war on two fronts, with two enemies, one of whom is supposed to be on their side.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:26 PM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Jaltcoh Just to be clear many people, me included totally support the death penalty for rapists. I am unclear why you want to keep rapists around.
posted by MrBobaFett at 1:26 PM on December 28, 2009


Sidhedevil you are being very charitable. WWI was from 1914 to 1918. She said OVER a 100 years. I mean subtracting by a 100 is that hard of a mathematical feat. So I think it's approaching deliberately incredulous to say "over 100 years."

And the nursing corps were not considered a branch of the US military. Not to diminsih the importance of their role. However one would not say they were in the Army, or navy, or Marine Corps. One would say they were in a nurse nursing corps that may have served in wartime. Claiming to be "in uniform" is, I'm sorry, kind of stretch. And I 'm looking at the posters history of one comment and the name "socketpuppet" and thinking maybe, not 100% sure, but maybe they are perhaps less than credible.
posted by tkchrist at 1:29 PM on December 28, 2009


which is fair enough. it is factual. I think we can unpack that particular fact, though, because it seems to imply that the military acts for social progress earlier than others will. and it certainly did, at that point. but if we look at it, and unpack its context, we can see that what the military (as an organization) does from desperation and opportunism does not necessarily mean that it acts in the best interests of social progress.

and the reason I feel this is important to bring up is that, in your comment (which, again, I almost entirely agree with) we can see all the reason in the world why we should refrain from criticizing soldiers as a larger unit that is likely to rape. we can see why we are being unfair to use the actions of some soldiers to condemn the whole. but I'd like, if possible, to separate the discussion of the soldiers from the discussion of the organization. I'd like to say, "tkchrist is right about the soliders. let's take that into account. let's continue to bring that up. let's continue to discuss that. in addition, let's continue to consider what can be done organizationally within the military to help reduce the incidences of sexual assault, harassment and rape. let's consider whether or not the organization of the military has in some way either discouraged the reporting of these incidents, or enforcing the rules they have against them." because I believe that we consider the military to be either some kind of cartoony machine made of evil or a collection of sanctified infallible warriors, and I'd prefer we see it as an organization that can represent people at their best and worst and that how often we do one or the other depends largely on how accountable it is held for its actions. I don't believe this is possible if it's considered to be intrinsically either sacred or damned.

the spirit of holding the military accountable for its action, for those reasons, is why I thought it necessary to nitpick that particular sentence. I hope I'm being clear about this, and that I'm not coming across as attacking or being pedantic, because that's not what I'm trying to do.
posted by shmegegge at 1:31 PM on December 28, 2009


So, in an institution where it's considered unthinkable you can't keep your bed uncreased, being expected not to rape people and getting prosecuted if you do is somehow a tall order? Please.
posted by ersatz at 1:40 PM on December 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


shmeggegge we have a fruitful accord.

Like I said the individuals in the military are a reflection, and perhaps an intensification, of society at large. Like you said both good and bad. You still have many members of a powerful old guard who who see themselves as the final word on gender and other issues who are blocking reform. And under them things are gong to be fucked up. But at least you have the mandated change as an official regulation. If anything the military thrives on rules and regulations. With that change can happen faster in the military that it does in most civilian institutions. I have hope.

Also there is still this implication with some peoples posts in this thread that rape is more common in the military than in civilian populations. And I haven't seen the data that shows that the rate of sexual assaults is that much different. Maybe it is. Not that that is any excuse or good news. Since sexual assault in our society is sickeningly high. But let's not fan the flames here with this "if your a woman don't join the military because you will be raped" type stuff. That ain't gonna help either.
posted by tkchrist at 1:48 PM on December 28, 2009


We train these people to kill without hesitation, without emotion and without compassion.


Wow...amazing that we even let them back in the country...
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:51 PM on December 28, 2009


I don't know why you're so angry about this tkchrist, but women in my family have been serving near the front line as nurses and in some cases doctors since the Revolutionary War. If it's just the "in uniform" thing that has you thrown, I still fail to understand your hostility.

My story wasn't attacking you. But I'd like to point out that your hostility is something that almost every woman in the military faces, on a regular basis, from people who have just as little information as you seem to have.

For the record, in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), our family estate was turned into a fort, a fort which is still in the historical register in Pennsylvania. During that war, our women fed, treated, and cared for hundreds of men from battles that were happening mere miles from where they were. As well as caring and feeding for the hundreds of family members of those military men. There are letters on display in the hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution praising the women of our family written by Senators and Presidents.

In the Civil War (1861-1865), we had women at the front line in nursing positions, as well as two women who served with distinction(disguised as their brothers after their brothers were killed) in the cavalry.

In the Spanish-American War (1898), our members of the DAR not only served, but helped recruit hundreds of other civilian nurses to serve. Because of the service of the women in my family in this conflict, and the leadership of one particular woman, the Army appointed Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee as Acting Assistant Surgeon General, and asked her to write legislation creating a permanent corps of nurses.

1901: Army Nurse Corps is established.

1908: Navy Nurse Corps is established.

World War I (1917-1918): 21,480 Army nurses serve in military hospitals in the United States and overseas. Among them, 7 female members of my family.

World War II (1941-1945): More than 60,000 Army nurses serve stateside and overseas during World War II. Among them, 5 members of my family, all of whom served in areas of conflict.

Women in my family have also served in Korea, Vietnam, and subsequent conflicts.

I ask again, why so confrontational?
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 1:52 PM on December 28, 2009 [12 favorites]


If anything the military thrives on rules and regulations. With that change can happen faster in the military that it does in most civilian institutions. I have hope.

I hope so, too.

But let's not fan the flames here with this "if your a woman don't join the military because you will be raped" type stuff. That ain't gonna help either.

I agree entirely. that shit is stupid.
posted by shmegegge at 1:54 PM on December 28, 2009


I'd like, if possible, to separate the discussion of the soldiers from the discussion of the organization . . . .let's consider whether or not the organization of the military has in some way either discouraged the reporting of these incidents, or enforcing the rules they have against them

Absolutely, Shmegegge is so right. see how I didn't say "This."?

Speaking as the daughter of a naval flight surgeon and the sister of a naval academy graduate and officer, I have lots of admiration for the military. But there is a problem in the command structure around this issue of sexual assault, nonetheless, and it is in fact an organizational issue.

There are plenty of hierarchical organizations that get in trouble when they don't sufficiently screen those in charge for attitude and behavior . . . including schools, churches, political offices, courts, and other generally worthy groups.
posted by bearwife at 1:55 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow...amazing that we even let them back in the country...

Yeah. Our basement was simply littered with shallow graves from my fathers killing sprees. The rude bank tellers. Litter bugs. Those kids with the loud car stereos. The Comcast customer service guy. Missing Mattlock. Anything might set him off. We tried to turn him in but the cops said "The Comcast guy? Hmmmm... not sure we consider that homicide or not."
posted by tkchrist at 1:58 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I ask again, why so confrontational?

Sorry. But your first post didn't add up to me and you had no posting history. Here on Metafilter that is often one common symptom of incredulous trolling when it's a fairly passionate subject. BTW. I could ask you the same thing.

And seriously now you're calling me hostile and equating that to the culture of rape in the army? Really? How can you expect me to not consider you a troll. I think somebody can call your comments into question without de facto painting all women as incredulous dontcha think?

Look. Let's start over. I apologize for questioning your authenticity. You lay off the hyperbolic attempts at equating me as some hostile sexist force in society and I'll give you a fair shake and consider your comments in good faith. Deal?
posted by tkchrist at 2:11 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm actually surprised that rape is allowed to exist within the military, where the people around you are your entire support structure and you are trusting them with your life every time you step into the field, the men and women around you, I would think that once someone has proven to be corrosive element to the people you rely on, that they would be seen as a threat to the security of the team and dealt with. It just seems that self-policing would be a logical reaction from an esprit de corps perspective.

I'm guessing that it's because some continue to encourage barriers like "should women serve?" which allows for them to be seen as an other and not always a part of the team.

Still I'm surprised we don't hear more stories of rapists being brought in by their own team or even just fragged and left in the field.
posted by quin at 2:13 PM on December 28, 2009


Just to be clear many people, me included totally support the death penalty for rapists. I am unclear why you want to keep rapists around.

A quick perusal of the google results for "rape conviction overturned" should give you a quick outline of why execution is not always justiceL too many bad convictions from the past have been discounted in even just the past 5 years based on better forensic methods available today.
posted by hippybear at 2:21 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm actually surprised that rape is allowed to exist within the military, where the people around you are your entire support structure and you are trusting them with your life every time you step into the field, the men and women around you, I would think that once someone has proven to be corrosive element to the people you rely on, that they would be seen as a threat to the security of the team and dealt with. It just seems that self-policing would be a logical reaction from an esprit de corps perspective.

Because this same unit camaraderie makes people overlook sometimes horrific flaws in your teammates in order to hang on to that esprit de corps. In such close quarters, we can give our fellow human beings unholy amounts of latitude as long as they do everything else right. It sort of reminds me of Animal Mother in Full Metal Jacket: a terrible human being but good at what he does in the unit. And just as this intent to preserve unit cohesion at all costs (even when it is already lost) is done by the troops for the benefit of the doubt, it is duplicated by the higher ups for different reasons. When you see the stellar service member who does amazing at PT, performs excellent, looks great at inspections, and is sociable; many officers don't want to destroy a good soldier because of "a little indiscretion." Part of being in a job where the killing of human beings and dying likewise is quantifiable is that is sometimes allows "unforgivable" sins also quantified and weighed to appalling costs. This later mentality I've personally seen and it frightens me the most.

Unlike in most civilian jobs, military members live unbearable close to each other and so often lack perspective when team members come into play. Emotions run high and you can have rage and anger win (and people die) or you can have misguided loyalty win (and people never know what happened) or a thousand other scary results. This doesn't absolve them legally or ethically from committing some of the most atrocious acts a human can do to another, but explains how a culture designed to promote one virtue can have devastating side-effects.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:43 PM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Astro Zombie: "It's probably worth noting that until recently the American military basically treated combat zone rape of civilians as an unfortunate but inevitable byproduct of battle."

[citation needed]
posted by toekneebullard at 3:27 PM on December 28, 2009


A bunch of people who are willing to kill are also fine with rape? How utterly shocking. [and other similar comments]

Yeah, asshole. I'm in the military, so I'm ok with raping people. Talk about shitty, ignorant comments. I guess if I want to be charitable, I can imagine you just went for the easy mindless snarky line you thought of first without thinking about what you were saying. That's being charitable.

I'm sorry that women get harassed or raped, I'm sorry that those in command are making stupid remarks about it, I'm sorry some of the purported "soldiers" on another site are making ignorant comments. I'm especially disappointed that command-level officials are not taking care of the matter as effectively as they might, but I SERIOUSLY doubt it's because they are "fine with rape." It could be, you know, that it's a full-time fucking job trying not to get even more people killed by the enemy every goddamn day.

Probably someone at the policy level needs to push internal security (police-force type stuff ON the bases) a lot more than they are. I'm sure adding a bunch of overhead manpower cost (people not directly involved in fighting the enemy) is not exactly the most appealing thing to do when it means "sending more of our sons and daughters in harm's way" overseas.

Guess what, asshole? I don't control that just because I'm in the military. Plus, I've never killed anyone. Maybe if I had, I'd be a rapist, too? Is that what you're saying?
posted by ctmf at 3:33 PM on December 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


But, if this kind of thing is common, is it really worth it to mix male and female solders in combat situations?

What else are you going to do? Men and women can be quartered in separate areas, but they're going to have to work and spend time together. There's always going to be room for assault or inappropriate behavior or what the hell ever. There is no practical way to keep them separate, and there are not nearly enough women to segregate them into different functional units or anything like that. The percentage of women in Iraq and Afghanistan is small, much smaller than the percentage of women in the military in general. During my current deployment (to be clear, I'm home on R&R now), I've spent almost all of my time with men, and many weeks I spent more time with civilian Afghan women than with US or NATO women. That's just how my job goes.

And personally, that has always been one of the worst parts for me. I've been deployed several times and while I have never felt particularly in danger of sexual assault, I have felt the fear that any normal, neutral human contact with a male soldier is going to be misconstrued either by him or by anybody who can see, which would just cause a variety of problems and BS that I wouldn't want to deal with. And when the only other people around you are male soldiers... It's a profoundly isolating experience.

And I'm not sure that this article makes a convincing case that women have more difficulty receiving benefits than their male counterparts, though I wouldn't be surprised to find out that's the case.

Last year I went to the VA to seek some help, because I'd been having some trouble adjusting to being a civilian and so forth. After dealing with the general bureaucracy for some time, I finally saw a shrink. Who asked me in about 12 different ways if I had been sexually assaulted by another soldier. He told me that they were prepared for women veterans now with these Military Sexual Trauma programs, etc. etc.

Which sounded great and all, but I was never sexually assaulted and none of their shiny new ideas for female veterans were useful to me. I was looking for help adjusting after combat, and instead I got a shrink who was convinced there had to be some dark sexual trauma involved. Nice. It really fit perfectly into the common narrative that the only thing noteworthy about women in the military is that some of them get raped.
posted by lullaby at 3:45 PM on December 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


ctmf comments like those shouldn't get you riled up. the people who make them are, as you say, ignorant, as ignorant as little kids posting "u look fat and gay" in youtube comments. They have no reasoned argument, so why bother addressing them? Instead, why not give Joe Beese a few paragraphs about how there can be honorable service in an unjust or morally ambiguous war? He actually has a point, even if it's vaguely sourced, and can be debated with sans cursing. Ignore the driveby insult crew, they will either not be back or have a great time trading crass putdowns and stuffing the level of discourse into the fetid maw of the partisan bullshit monster.

to be honest, id give the same advice to the OP, who should have ignored the NYT comments when making this post. A point made in a comment box is without context, the real life context of what the person on the other end of the tube actually does and is and believes. Especially when they are purported to be speaking for a group, they should be taken ONLY on the content of their language, not--ever--for who they claim to represent.

for instance i have finally come to terms that, as an indian-american princess astronaut cyborg programmer, nobody believes that i exist. c'est le grr.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:00 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even the worst misogynist wouldn't deny that women are "living beings."

Note the second part- capable of being tortured. Meaning, that what they feel, and their rights over their own bodies matter. Everyone agrees bacteria and plants are living beings too, and we have no problem using disinfectant or pulling weeds.

The mistake a lot of people make, when we talk about hate, in any form, is that only the malicious active participant is involved in hate. As mentioned upthread, when you have a lot of people protecting someone, and people in positions of responsibility also looking the other way, they are also involved, assisting, aiding and abetting that act of hate.

And it's not like I don't understand the dynamics- in the field, you might be depending on some of these people to watch your back. But you know what? You're probably also depending on the survivor as well.

Mainly, you learn not to complain about shit or stir anything up. Because it just means more work for the people who would have to deal with it, and they're just as likely to put the shit on you so you learn to shut up and not bother them anymore.

So when the message through group action is that the hassle of stopping rape (hassle for the rapists, hassle for the unit, hassle for the commanding officers) is more important than the "hassle" of being raped?

Misogynists never have to tell you they hate women, they'll just show you.
posted by yeloson at 4:10 PM on December 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


ctmf:

Oh, someone in the military is a dumbass, another surprise! Read it again, it's very short. I don't think that every person willing to kill is fine with rape, just that it's not in the slightest bit shocking that some are. So no, it'd be ridiculous to suggest you'd be a rapist if you were a killer, doesn't make you a torturer either but a whole bunch of people in the military are happy to do that too.

I've done enough thinking, thanks - enough that I don't murder anyone my government tells me are "the enemy" this year.
posted by dickasso at 4:20 PM on December 28, 2009


A quick perusal of the google results for "rape conviction overturned" should give you a quick outline of why execution is not always justiceL too many bad convictions from the past have been discounted in even just the past 5 years based on better forensic methods available today.

No one supports the execution of innocent people. Hell I don't even support the jailing or fining of innocent people. I'm not talking about killing all people who are accused of rape. I'm only talking about killing those who actually do rape.
posted by MrBobaFett at 4:40 PM on December 28, 2009


Potomac Avenue: you're right of course.

As far as serving honorably in an unjust war - Joe Beese is welcome to his opinion that all killing is wrong, and therefore anyone who does it is wrong. And that by extension, aiding and abetting an organization that causes homicide is wrong and dishonorable, especially when done for money.

On the other hand, some of us don't know all the right answers comparatively. Is it wrong to stand idly by while a fellow soldier rapes someone? Of course it is. Is it wrong to stand idly by while a foreign state invades another one? While a dictator brutally oppresses his population for personal gain? While a foreign state actively encourages and produces people who will attack us?

Everyone's answers to those questions will be different, and Joe Beese's is equally valid for him. I would hope that most soldiers who ARE shooting people are doing it because they believe the answers to those questions are 'yes.' Not just because they don't mind killing. I'm sure that's not 100% true, but in general I believe it is.

Making the moral dilemma even more complicated is the problem of incomplete information. Maybe I think overthrowing Saddam Hussein was right if he had biological weapons, but wrong if he didn't. How do I know? The President of the United States says he does. Others say no. What do I do, desert from the military because the President might be wrong or lying? I have to believe the makers of policy are generally moral people in a complex world, often choosing between bad and worse courses of action with information I don't have, not villains.

Furthermore, it's a bit easier for me. My job is to keep my submarine and the people on it capable of answering any bell the skipper rings up at a moment's notice, and to do it when he does. A lot goes into that, but basically, that's what it is. I don't know why he wants it - maybe he wants to ram an innocent day sailer and sink it. I trust he doesn't want to do that. It's possible that he wants to maneuver the ship to launch cruise missiles at someone. I trust that it's not a civilian wedding party, or at least that he doesn't know it is. I can't check out everyone's story from the President on down and evaluate whether I want to do my job this time or not.

I joined the military because I believe that at times, killing can be less wrong than inaction. I don't fault anyone who doesn't agree - they should not be in the military. Barring a blatant war crime scenario with orders to commit gratuitous murder of civilians, I do my job, and trust others to do the same - even the ones making the hard moral decisions.
posted by ctmf at 5:08 PM on December 28, 2009 [9 favorites]


Jesus Christ, those military-dude comments just about burned a hole in my brain where my hope used to be.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 6:11 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Uh, the NYT article comments, I should say. I haven't read this thread yet, so for all I know, there's a military-dude right here, who speaks in phrases like, "know this", while sternly lecturing civilians about death and blood.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 6:15 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


No one supports the execution of innocent people. Hell I don't even support the jailing or fining of innocent people. I'm not talking about killing all people who are accused of rape. I'm only talking about killing those who actually do rape.

Let's try this from another angle: how do you know that they're rapists in the first place? Presumably, because they're convicted of rape, yes? So ... what happens when that conviction is overturned and it turns out they're not rapist after all? Well, we let them out of jail. But if we had the death penalty for rape, then ... see how that might be a problem?
posted by Amanojaku at 6:32 PM on December 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


Summary: You go to war with the rapists you have, not with the non-rapists you could have if the top brass took the matter seriously and didn't try to hand wave it away as "boys being boys" and women getting all uppity after we already gave them the opportunity to join the military so what more do they want?

Jesus this pisses me off.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:50 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie: "It's probably worth noting that until recently the American military basically treated combat zone rape of civilians as an unfortunate but inevitable byproduct of battle."

[citation needed]


It was discussed in my first link.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:58 PM on December 28, 2009


It was discussed in my first link.

What the-? That link discusses a whole lot of distressing history, but not of US Military types tolerating rape. Indeed, the last part has the US offering "the resources of the U.S. military's Africa command to advise on stopping further sexual assaults" - sexual assaults by the Congolese.

Moreover, recognition does not imply tolerance. As far back as the revolution, rape has been basically treated as a hanging offense under US military code. Eisenhower specifically directed his commanders to basically treat cases with the utmost severity, and men were tried and hanged for it. Nearly a thousand GIs were convicted or rape in that war - not enough, but at least something. Especially when contrasted with, say, the Russian army sweeping through Germany or the Moroccan mercenaries in Italy.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:37 AM on December 29, 2009


When will it be possible to talk seriously about the moral, social, and ethical meaning of war--specific or general--without someone with a connection to the Armed Forces assuming that I don't know anyone in the service--and thus precluding me from expressing a meaningful opinion--or that the intense and very real difficulties of combat generate some kind of free pass that precludes any critical discussion? The "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND WAR WAR IS HELL" kneejerk response is just as bad as the "ALL SOLDIERS MUST BE BAD PEOPLE" kneejerk response?
posted by liketitanic at 10:10 AM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Amanojaku: "No one supports the execution of innocent people. Hell I don't even support the jailing or fining of innocent people. I'm not talking about killing all people who are accused of rape. I'm only talking about killing those who actually do rape.

Let's try this from another angle: how do you know that they're rapists in the first place? Presumably, because they're convicted of rape, yes? So ... what happens when that conviction is overturned and it turns out they're not rapist after all? Well, we let them out of jail. But if we had the death penalty for rape, then ... see how that might be a problem?
"

I see a problem with the system for determining if they did or did not commit rape. I don't see a problem with executing rapists. Like I said before I have a problem with jailing or even giving a fine to people who are innocent.
We do need to look at these cases that were overturned and see where the mistake happened and correct it. Because something was done wrong. I find it hard to believe that someone who was innocent actually had evidence against them that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they were guilty. The justice system is to err on the side of innocent until proven guilty.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:16 AM on December 29, 2009


The "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND WAR WAR IS HELL" kneejerk response is just as bad as the "ALL SOLDIERS MUST BE BAD PEOPLE" kneejerk response

True, but there's a lot more of the latter on Metafilter. Several people have written that you can't expect military personnel not to rape (except apparently women, but they haven't thought it out that far.) That's unbelievably dumb and offensive.
posted by msalt at 10:20 AM on December 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I find it hard to believe that someone who was innocent actually had evidence against them that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they were guilty.

the problem is that 12 people who aren't real pros at thinking critically were convinced without giving the whole "beyond a reasonable doubt" thing much thought.
posted by shmegegge at 10:32 AM on December 29, 2009


liketitanic, when people insist that all soldiers are sociopaths or criminals or there is no such thing as honorable service, they are making all these accusations about my mother (USAF-ret), who is really a very nice person. I mean, I don't want to get all "don't talk about my mama" or anything but seriously, it's insulting and foolish. And when comments like that are made, it really does look like the commenter has never actually met someone in the service, because seriously who says this shit about nice old ladies?

I've spent a lot time trying to explain to my parents why the anti-war "support the troops, condemn the war" protesters are so different than the anti-military "condemn the babykillers and the war" protesters of the Vietnam era, and I firmly believe that we've come a long way both in making the military operate more on the humanitarian side of things (and that is work they are doing), and also in an understanding of the difference between our government, who starts the wars, and the military, who carries out the wars. To see people in this thread act like the same people who used to spit on my parents when they crossed their college campuses in ROTC uniforms -- which is why people like my parents inherently distrust and dismiss anti-war protesters -- is upsetting and belittling and contrary to the cause of focusing on the issue of war itself. You are of course entitled to post your opinions, and we are just as entitled to be offended and say so.
posted by olinerd at 10:41 AM on December 29, 2009


the anti-military "condemn the babykillers and the war" protesters of the Vietnam era

Well, for one thing, the spitting protesters of the Vietnam era are imaginary. Most soldiers were draftees, and were regarded as victims of the war just as much as the Vietnamese.

Slate's Jack Schafer covered the issue pretty thoroughly back in 2007, in response to Jerry Lembcke's book Spitting Image.

The truth of the matter is that it was the protesters who were regularly spit on (not to mention beaten) by the same sort of people who made up the reverse story.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:11 PM on December 29, 2009


I find it hard to believe that someone who was innocent actually had evidence against them that proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they were guilty. The justice system is to err on the side of innocent until proven guilty.

It's a nice thought... but do a bit more research before you become too settled in your beliefs about the inerrancy of the US justice system, especially when it comes to emotion-laden topics such as rape. It's not uncommon for these convictions to be overturned years, if not decades after the fact. Often there are matters of race or class involved, not to mention the general pressure on a prosecutor (and surrounding legal system, including judge, law enforcement, and even subconsciously the jury) to find the person on trial guilty in order to have the case resolved, whether that is out of sympathy toward the victim or simply to provide closure for the community at large.

As DNA processing becomes more commonplace and less expensive, we read more and more of cases such as Ted Bradford's or Johnnie Earl Lindsey's. In fact, there is an organization, The Innocence Project, which is working to get various legal systems around the US to face up to the fact that "beyond a reasonable doubt" does not always mean "guilty" and to start using modern forensic technology to reevaluate cases in which there actually is DNA evidence which can be tested.

This, of course, does nothing to help people who were wrongly convicted and who have no such evidence still existing in their records, either because it was not gathered at the time or that it was mishandled and allowed to spoil in the intervening years.

Executions are not the answer. They will, invariably, lead to the execution of the innocent.
posted by hippybear at 3:03 PM on December 29, 2009


Black knights need reinforcements in 87866
posted by tehloki at 4:23 PM on December 29, 2009


I am well aware of the innocence project and I fully support it. Like I said I can not abide *any* wrongful convictions. The ONLY reason I don't fully support capital punishment is because of our flawed court/justice system. Not because it's bad to execute rapists and murders. I fully support that.

"Beyond a reasonable doubt" is so close to "guilty" that it's all we can ask usually. It means that there is such and overwhelming preponderance of evidence that it would be *unreasonable* to doubt the persons guilt. The problem is we are allowing people to pass guilty verdicts without proof beyond reasonable doubt being proven.

The justice system is very broken and I think it should be fixed. I want every person found guilty to be guilty even if that means adjusting the sensitivity to some guilty going free. That is after all how it is supposed to work.

We should also go after those who wrongly put innocent people behind bars. Lawyers, judges, police, jury members. People who abuse their position of power and hurt innocent people should always be punished.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:29 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


The justice system is very broken and I think it should be fixed. I want every person found guilty to be guilty even if that means adjusting the sensitivity to some guilty going free. That is after all how it is supposed to work.

I have strong agreement with this, and mourn that our justice system is adjusted in precisely the other direction.
posted by hippybear at 11:20 AM on December 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


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