13 June 2013

A Conflict of Interest

Yesterday I found this news item: The Ongoing Battle to Remove Military Sexual Assault Prosecution From the Chain of Command. It goes without saying that I have a lot to say about this and the really pathetic way that military leaders are handling this. Yet, I am sitting here feeling unwilling to head down this road as thoroughly as I would like.

Why?

Because I am officially at the point where when I talk about big-wig military leadership I have to ask myself: what do you do when a public figure featured like this works with your partner?  

On the one hand the article speaks for itself, I probably don't need to break it down for anyone.  My rhetoric on the topic probably doesn't really add to the discussion, I fully acknowledge that I am producing mostly white noise around here.  Maybe there is a time and place where I should back off and make sure that my hobby doesn't stir up a pot of potential trouble for my loved ones.  Knowing how the military system works, knowing that Chris can, and will, be hassled at his job if military co-workers think he is "not handling" his wife (ask me how I know) is this a time where I should just zip it? 

On the other hand, not being able to talk about this subject, or criticize military leaders for failing to do their job, due to fear of retaliation is the exact problem at the core of this issue.  Now I am just another woman who can't talk about the pathetic way that the military ignores sexual assault because I fear the repercussions of my behaviors.  Note: being a rapist is not inherently problematic, being the kind of victim/advocate who refuses to shut up for the greater good is, apparently, a huge problem worthy of life/career ruining action.  So now I am just supposed to sit here and enjoy my place in the vicious cycle of silencing because some team comprised of 92% old white dudes finds it more financially beneficial, or too challenging to their accepted level of privileged, to grant this issue the time and policy it deserves? 

Deep in my heart I know I should just say what I have to say and move on.  My life, my hobby, and my political/social perspectives shouldn't be considered in my partner's career.  If we can't question authority in the hopes of seeing humanist progress, why even have a military defending our freedoms anyway?  BUT, and this is a big "but" there is that lingering feeling of how terrible I would feel if Chris ever found his work somehow devalued because of my actions. Also, am I being a bit generous in my perception of my role here, or does the recent NSA revelation mean that its not paranoia when people are actually out there tracking what you do?

For now, while I consider how much deeper into this I want to go, I will leave these points to consider:
  • When 11/12 of the military top leaders are older, white men, are we really surprised that there is a pervasive and dangerous culture of male-hetero-normative privileged in our armed forces? 
  • Having a system that fails to work because superior officers have too much to lose by reporting sexual assault is bad.  Suggesting that review by someone even higher up (who therefore has even more to lose when it all goes pear-shaped) will fix this problem might actually be the stupidest thing I have ever heard. (Definitely making the top 5 list at any rate.)
  • Do not think for one second this is not about economics.  It is cheaper and easier to ignore reports and/or to shame victims out of the service than it is to actually grant this subject the review and policy it deserves.  Why spend a ton of the rapidly shrinking defense budget on investigating and properly handling these cases when the system by which you can just dishonorably discharge or ignore victims is already in place, and working quite effectively at culling "troublemakers" from the herd? 
  • To the 12 people sitting at that hearing, service-members are nothing more than little cardboard tokens in a fancy game of Risk. 
  • When you show up to a hearing and do not have answers to your senators' questions you clearly show that you do not consider this issue and/or these elected officials worthy of your time.  The fact that no one could even be bothered to come prepared to discuss the issue makes it pretty clear where this sits on the military's priority list. 
  • We can't ignore the fact that these men would never have the audacity to treat each other or other high ranking military officials (spoken "white men") with the kind of dismissive disdain they reserved for this group of senators who, just for the record, were mostly women.  Chris can't imagine that the person in question would ever treat him this way despite the inherent disparity of their places in the hierarchy, so you know, consider that for a minute. 
Maybe that is all I need to say on this?  Maybe I have a lot more to say but since that requires specifically referencing one of Chris' funding sources I need to consider my approach more before I carry on?  Maybe I need to say "screw it" and just write because that is what I do?  

Anyone else ever find themselves here?  

When did my hobby become so hard to handle?

Ugh.

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