I've been paying a great deal more attention to things dealing with the military. This past April, my youngest nephew enrolled in the Army and I have a great deal of mixed feelings about that. Today's announcement by President Obama regarding troop numbers in Afghanistan was not a pleasant one to hear. I do fear that he may be sent to war, but he knew that was a possibility when he signed up.
Cracked.com reminded me of another non-war related occurrence that my nephew may have to deal with.
Raped On The Battlefield: What Male Veteran Survivors Know
One of the biggest contradictions in America is the fact that, while we're happy to talk about supporting our troops, we vanish like we just remembered that we left our house on fire as soon as they have an uncomfortable problem. And there's perhaps no issue that makes us more uncomfortable than the sexual assault of men in the military.
Rape is an awkward enough topic as it is, let alone when it happens to men we picture as muscular heroes willing to take a bullet for us — every societal stereotype comes crashing down at once. But that's part of why military rape keeps happening. So we talked to five male veterans about their experiences. They said …
6) Lines Get Blurred When You Send A Bunch Of Young Guys To A War Zone
In war movies, American soldiers usually look like 30-somethings who spend all of their downtime at the gym.
But many American soldiers are in fact kids fresh out of high school:
That's what the military prefers; they're at the peak of physical fitness, and they've spent their whole lives following orders at school and home. The only downside is that, like every 19-year-old in history, they're usually not emotionally mature at all. That's how you end up with comrades playing "gay chicken," as Roger, a former marine who fought in Iraq, told us. "Who can do the gayest thing?"
Wouldn't that technically be gay rooster? But whatever. The point is that it's not a game isolated to one eccentric unit. Chuck, a nine-year Marine veteran, went into more detail. "I saw marines being forced to show [their] penis to other marines. Some marines being forced to touch penises. People putting their balls or penis on another person's face."
Shenanigans like that are what you're going to see when you take thousands of hormonal young men, separate them from women, and put them under extreme stress. "In 2004 … I think I saw three women. And you can only beat off to the same porn DVD so many times … it's not like we had WiFi in the barracks." Internet porn access wasn't the first priority in the early days of the occupation of Iraq, because the government was busy screwing up other things. So Roger and his comrades had a lot of steam to, uh, blow off. "There [were] some strange fucking outlets … when all you want to do is drink and fuck in a dry country where there's no women."
Those outlets included endless jokes about the alleged flaming gayness of someone, because no matter how society's view of homosexuality changes, teenagers are going to make gay jokes until the end of time. And these particular teenagers are isolated and completely dependent on a tiny group of their fellow immature teens for support. "A lot of times you don't realize you're crossing a line … you're in a place where those 60 guys are [all you have]. There's no one else to turn to … I know quite a few guys [where] something happened with somebody that maybe was a little too far."
In Roger's case, things went much too far. "[I was] pinned in a porta john. No one was around when it happened, and it absolutely was not a case of 'gay chicken.'" Roger was raped by an officer who "wanted to exert some control for whatever reason. I don't understand it." And here's where all of the weird homoerotic horseplay factors in: Any complaint about an incident like this can be written off as "Boys will be boys."
Roger reported the abuse to his staff sergeant, but as you may have guessed by the fact that this article exists, it didn't go well. "[They said], 'You're a corporal and a big bad Marine, and you didn't do anything to stop it. You liked it, you stupid faggot.'" Oh great, so six-foot-tall, 205-pound men can get the "They didn't fight the attacker, so they must have wanted it" shut-down, too. Hooray for equality. – Cracked.com
For more on this topic, head over to Cracked.com where they elaborate on the following items.
5) You Have To Fight Alongside Your Rapist
4) The Military Is The Perfect Place For A Sexual Predator
3) When Justice Fails, You Make Your Own
2) The Perpetrators Aren't Always Men
1) The System Works Better Now, But There's Still Stigma
With all of the issues we had with Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT), were we as a nation more focused on "those damn gays" serving when we had atrocities like this happening?
How severe is sexual assault / rape in the US Miliatary? In November 2015, the Dailymail.co.uk reported that:
Male-on-male rape in the military is 15 times more prevalent than the Pentagon are reporting, according to a new study
- The report was released by the American Psychological Association
- The findings are based on responses of 180 anonymous combat veterans
- Pentagon's most recent report said 12,000 men reported being sexually assaulted, with almost 4,000 saying they had been raped
- But according to the study's rate, the true figure could be as high as 180,000 sexual assaults, including 60,000 rapes
And here's another case where criminal hazing / rape is not a joke. SPC Jarett Wright was hazed and sexually assaulted while deployed to Iraq in 2010. He is sharing his story to prevent similar acts from happening to others.
With the lifting of the ban on Transgender soldiers, will we be able to say LGBT are not the main concern anymore with sex and sexuality in the Armed Forces? Let's focus on what is harming hundreds of thousands of our soldiers. Sexual assault should not exist in the military.
I hope my nephew never has to deal with this. I know he's a strong individual and would be there for his peers if it happened to one of them.