Air Force considers rape prosecutions not worth the "policy tradeoffs"

Comments

13 comments posted
Let's Not Go Overboard

Some men committed repeated sexual assults, and now are going to receive no administrative action.

None of the subjects of the Teets' letter committed any sexual assaults at all. Right?

That's not to say that they should be exculpated from what they did do -- fail to protect women cadets under their command.

Ellen1910's picture
Posted by Ellen1910 (not verified) on 25 March 2005 - 7:40pm
I read it differently

"Some men committed repeated sexual assaults..."

Okay, point of fact.

"...and now are going to receive no administrative action."

We're doing nothing.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 25 March 2005 - 9:49pm
Court Martial the Bastards

All Academy officers who knew of complaints of sexual assault or rape and failed to take proper action should be court martialed.

Let's understand why these officers didn't act and/or covered up what was going on. Simply put, they didn't want the situation to come to light, because it might damage their careers. They hoped to be long gone from the Academy before the shit hit the fan.

They're a bunch of selfish, cowardly men who dishonored the uniform the female cadets wore with pride.

Ellen1910's picture
Posted by Ellen1910 (not verified) on 26 March 2005 - 3:09am
Agreed

Just one more case of "women's issues" given short shrift. And they say there's no need for the ERA. The ERA would make this kind of behavior patently unconstitutional -- a violation of civil rights and equal protection. Since the 14th Amendment doesn't explicitly mention women, the courts have been reluctant to say equal protection applies to women as a class.

Yet try mentioning this on a progressive site like DailyKos and you get your ass handed to you -- that is, if you're not ignored altogether.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 26 March 2005 - 4:42am
Rituals of Cruelty

If rape and sexual assault of women in our military are "women's issues," are rape and sexual assault of men in our prisons, "men's issues"? Cruelty and the resulting subjugation of its victims are not gender issues.

We, thanks to Pat Schroeder and many others, have decided that women shall have access to positions of leadership in the military. To gain those leadership positions, they must qualify as officers and be assigned to combat roles.

But education/preparation for combat involves significant levels of hazing. And those levels of hazing have been left to the determination/negotiation of those doing the training and those being trained.

The integration of women into combat units, however, requires changes in the military's hazing culture, because it is far too easy for the dominance/subservience culture on which hazing is based to go out control in mixed sex situations.

Traditionally, middle level and senior officers have stayed out-of-the-loop. Teets' letter impliedly recognizes this tradition. No doubt Teets would claim the military has changed its traditions. But he should not be believed.

Only courts martials can be trusted to determine whether the military -- here, the Air Force Academy -- has dealt properly with the issue. The facts may show that the involved officers, operating in the military culture, were not to blame for failing to take action on the female cadets' complaints. Assuming Teets' letter reflects an honest appraisal of the facts, that exculpatory outcome should be expected and may not be unjust.

But that outcome will, also, be proof beyond a doubt that the military has not solved the problem and must change its ways.

Ellen1910's picture
Posted by Ellen1910 (not verified) on 26 March 2005 - 4:00pm
This is not a new situation

The sexual assaults and rape at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs are not new or recent. There are years of history on this.

We're talking hundreds of women. Of the ones who came forward, they were subjected to harrassment, sanction, black marks on their records, and told to deal with it or get out. This isn't hazing. These women are targeted for being women, and their "hazing" has a completely different character from how male cadets are hazed.

The military says gays cannot be in the military because men would sexually assault men. It would be "bad for morale." But then they allow the same actions to happen to women. The Nuremberg defense ("I was just following orders") does not fly in the American military. It is illegal to follow an illegal order. I'm not sure, but I would think that this also means that officers can be held responsible for not intervening in blatantly illegal activity.

These are our representatives in foreign lands. These are the men who are occupying foreign territory. If they can't be trusted with their own comrades, then how can foreign nationals trust them during operations?

It's institutionalized misogyny, and those who turn a blind eye are just as guilty, according to our law. Now we have the pronouncement: turning a blind eye is now official policy. "The law" would involve too many "policy tradeofffs."

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 26 March 2005 - 6:59pm
Let's Stay With Teets' Letter

. . . officers can be held responsible for not intervening in blatantly illegal activity.

But that is not what these particular officers did.

If the responsible officers were to be charged, they would be charged with having failed to investigate the allegations of the female cadets. Indeed, I believe they failed even to open files and did their best to sweep the matters under the rug -- all wrongful actions warranting courts martials.

While I'm not about to disregard the fact that misogyny, weak or strong, may have had an influence in biasing these officers against treating the cadets' complaints seriously, I think it also likely that their having allowed the cadet culture to operate outside of their supervision played a more important part.

The military's "hazing culture" -- see "A Few Good Men" -- operates at the unit level. It leads to all sorts of abuses. And for so long as senior and middle level officers allow that culture to operate without their supervision, it will make victims of servicewomen.

Ellen1910's picture
Posted by Ellen1910 (not verified) on 26 March 2005 - 10:23pm
I'm curious

From what background are you writing this? Are you involved in the military, directly or by marriage? I ask because it sounds like you have intimate knowledge of what goes on in military hazing and officer training schools. Perhaps there is some perspective you can offer on all this?

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 26 March 2005 - 11:12pm
A Couple of Examples

These examples of sexual assault took place back in 1993 in SERE training at the Air Force Academy.

I maintain it's the "hazing culture" which justified these outrages.

Ellen1910's picture
Posted by Ellen1910 (not verified) on 27 March 2005 - 3:16am
Arlington's Guards

Initiation into the Commander-in-Chief's Guard includes having all the old-boy platoon members punch the newbie's name tag and drive the tacks on the back into his chest.

Hooha!

Ellen1910's picture
Posted by Ellen1910 (not verified) on 27 March 2005 - 3:55am
Against Our Wills - sexual assault

We went through this discussion 30 years ago. Read Susan Brownmiller's "Against Our Wills." Rape is not just a crime of "sex." It is a crime of violence in which the assailant wants to humiliate his victim.

What happened was the word "sexual assault" was used more often.

In the Office environment men would sometimes say about business negotiation, "well, if rape is inevitable..." and they never finished that sentence. The entire sentence goes, "well, if rape is inevitable, lay back and enjoy it," meaning in a negotiation, sometimes someone does not have any leverage on an issue.

But young, and radical, and second wave, I took my colleague -- an otherwise decent, liberal, and very progressive man give in was 1972 - - aside and called him on it. "How can rape be enjoyable!" Somewhat embarrassed, he shrugged and said something like sex between two people happens.

But I would not let it go. I said, "imagine that you are in a men's prison and powerful man wants to have his way with you. That's rape!" My colleague grew visibly ashen.

He never again used the phrase.

He retired and they closed down the Operating Division we had been in and I yet I missed him and looked him up in 1994 and we had a long lunch. He had continued to mature. He had continue to be progressive and was right on on so many feminist issues. He spoke of how badly he had handled his wife's menopause. "I was young and I was stupid!", he practically hissed his words. He had been 52 at the time he said he was young. My friend was then in his 80's as he recalled his behavior.

I remember writing operating procedures for Hewlett-Packard--we only had sales of $850 million--and I had to rewrite passages the went like,

After the circuit board is wave soldered, take it to the girls for test.

I changed the word "girls" to "Inspectors," which was in fact their title. For this I earn the reputation of being a "radical feminist."

Oppressors always have a "good reason" for their oppression. It was once argued blacks were better off a salves because they otherwise lived naked in trees.

L. Ron Hubbard wrote a book in which a lesbian's sexual orientation was changed because all she needed was a good old fashioned rape and this turned the fictional lesbian character was turned straight by our hero as she begged for more. As I recall, the gay community went right after Hubbard on that one. If gay fiction had such a scene or if it was a child, the outrage would rock the author and publisher.

Men's violence is the issue, yet. Not rape, but their violence and the fact that they can do it and get away with it. The Tailhook scandal--anyone remember that one--tells us something about the "animals" humans are and the dehumanizing and homogenizing aspects of the military.

"Business as usual."

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 27 March 2005 - 10:38am
Comical if it weren't tragic

I track down the reference made by Media Girl about [url=http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,Defensewatch_031004_Women,00.html] Jessica Lynch[/url] and the [url=http://www.bible-researcher.com/women/women-in-combat.html]picture[/url].

The author is not worried about sexual assault on women. He is worried that women might be killed in war. Yet, I could get a picture of a young boy who is off to become cannon fodder and is anyone concerned? If I change the words "girl" and "women" to "children" and "people," the article still makes as much sense, although with the dismissive attitude toward rape, it reads strangely in that homosexual rape would, in such a modified article, might now suddenly seem oddly sanctioned.

Also, the site with the angelic photo of Jessica is a Christian cite.

Most all war is senseless and death in war is a tragedy, yet we lionize soldiers and even Vietnam vets have now been rehabilitated. That women might want to serve their country, other than as baby retorts, seems alien to this group. They have compartmentalized the idea that a boy can be blown apart my a mortar shell, but somehow it is worse if it is a girl. This points to an attitude that, frankly, mystifies me in its contradictions. It goes to the dialogue of how we value people in this society.

For a different view, see the [url=http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/navy/plus/cron.html]PBS Frontline[/url] site. It is the women themselves who want to serve. and they may have a different view from the women who don't want to serve and the men who don't want them to serve as it might sully their macho images. "Gosh, even a girl can fly an F18."

Matsu's picture
Posted by Matsu on 27 March 2005 - 12:00pm
you should know all the facts

i am a victim's advocate who works for the military so i know a little about what i am talking. i also spent 20 years of my life in the military, ready to lay down my life for you to have the right to criticize me and my brothers in arms. the military is a microchosm of society. as long as sexual assault occurs in society, it will occur in the military but like most things, to a lesser degree because of our selective screening process and ability to weed out criminals.

as ellen1910 said, the article is referring to those officers in charge of the academy, not the actual perpetrators of sexual assault. the reason they were cleared by the acting sec of the af is because they were not aware the assaults had taken place. the victims did not report the rapes because of the repurcussions for their own misconduct, i.e.; underage drinking and breaking curfew. for allowing this kind of culture to perpetuate, the senior ranking officers were reassigned and retired. when the air force became aware of a sexual assault by a male cadet, it prosecuted the offender by either court-martial or non-judicial punishment. unfortunately, they have been unable to successfully prosecute at least one offender because the victim's therapist refuses to release the victims records.

the air force has done a lot to rectify problems at the academy and worldwide. they have implemented a sexual assault response coordinator at every base and confidential reporting so that victims can receive the counseling they need without the fear of retribution. we still have a long way to go but should be given credit for the strides made.

thank you for giving me the opportunity to set the record straight.

just a soldier's picture
Posted by just a soldier (not verified) on 12 October 2005 - 7:57am