Monday, May 20, 2013

Another Military Man In Charge of Sexual Assault Response Charged with Misconduct

So, the third military man in 2 weeks, in charge of sexual assault response, has been charged with boundary-violating misbehavior.

Like many feminists, I'm not surprised by these circumstances. I'm also not surprised that some people are, apparently, surprised.

A few months ago, at the now-defunct Family Scholars Blog, someone started talking about sexual assault in the military. It was a tangential discussion on a post about another topic, so I can't find the conversation immediately, but that's beside the point.

In this conversation, one conservative young guy added a contribution that was somewhat fawning of the US military, suggesting that rape was primarily a problem among other, less disciplined armed forces of other countries, and he ended by opining, "I'm sure we can trust that the US military is doing all it can to address this problem."

..... wut?

My response to him was, in that forum, a tepid, "And you are basing this opinion of yours on what, exactly?" And, I then proceeded to reference actual court cases suggesting that the military, actually, was doing very far from "all it can" when it comes to sexual assault.

I'm sure my response was deemed "mean" or "aggressive" or something and therefore ignored so Clueless Privileged Guy wouldn't have to feel the discomfort associated with re-thinking his groundless assumptions about the world, but my larger point here is that it's been my experience that this guy's opinion is not particularly rare in the US, particularly among those who buy into narratives about the US military being, monolithically, a noble, glorious institution full of chivalrous heroes.

I think good people can be, and are, in the US military. I, at several points in my life, seriously considered joining myself, even during the discriminatory time of DADT and even when multiple narratives told me that I wasn't wanted there because I'm a woman and gay.

But, I also think that people who do good things in some contexts, perhaps even heroic things, can do bad things in other contexts. Just as people who are really mean in some contexts, can be nice and good in other contexts. I mean, is that even contentious to purport?

Despite the simple, binary narrative that's encouraged in US political culture in terms of left v. right, liberal v. conservative, Republican v. Democrat, With Us v. Against Us, Good v. Evil, people don't actually fit so neatly into those boxes.

And so I quote Twisty, for truth:
"Despite lofty romantic narratives alluding to honor and quiet heroism and national pride, military culture is ultimately grounded by mores that place a higher value on group cohesion through dominance than on compassion, justice, or truth. These mores are necessary both to foster the required fierce sense of tribal unity, and to permit the execution of the required acts of intimidation and aggression — acts that would be considered psychotic under any other circumstances. Mounting body counts on all sides obfuscate the very concept of 'greater good.'

The thuggy, murdery, cannon-foddery nature of the wars becomes more difficult to ignore, while simultaneously the sexual assault rate climbs: coincidence? I think not. It’s nice that the president 'has [the victims'] backs,' but if he thinks that it’s even possible to extirpate violent behavior from a tight-knit culture based on violence, that dude seriously needs to answer the clue phone. As these relentless wars drag ever onward, it is to be expected only that fewer and fewer members of the military will be able to survive such extreme cognitive dissonance with their moral compasses intact. Warfare debases all humanity."
War is, in principle and practice, the violation of boundaries, albeit for some purported greater good and even though the people waging it might be good people in many contexts. Having legitimated the practice of violence and boundary violating, it should not be a surprise that those who are trained in it sometimes fail to distinguish who is and is not deserving of having their boundaries violated.

1 comment:

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