31 July 2013

I Figured It Would Be Stupid...You Figured Right!

"I figured it would be stupid, so I didn't read it."  This was Chris' comment re: the Proceedings article on sexual assault in the military.  Oh honey, you don't even know.  Calling this stupid does not do justice to just how pathetic it is.  However, before we get to that, as promised yesterday, we will open with this gem:

Remark by Obama Complicates Military Sexual Assault Trials.  Now I don't blame the NYT for running this, it is a point that needs to be made, but I am really disappointed (as always, when will I learn that the NYT is not what it used to be) that no one ever mentions how ridiculous it all is.   The basic gist is that since President Obama, the Commander-in-Chief of our military, said that those convicted of sexual assault should get a dishonorable discharge, now all the poor rapist can't get fair trials so we just have to let them all go.  Are you even kidding me right now? Read the article, let it wash over you then consider these two points:

  1. It is either policy or it is not.  If that rule is not set in stone via the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), then it need only be considered at the discretion of the people involved with a trial.  Saying "boo hoo, Mr Obama put a bad idea in our heads an now who will think of the poor accused rapists" is such a clear scapegoat to avoid dealing with this mess, it is almost funny.  Frankly I call BS and think that military legal personnel should spend less time looking for ways to avoid work/protect rapists and more time properly prosecuting these cases.
  2. Are "we" actually offended by the idea that a dishonorable discharge would be a realistic outcome for those found guilty of participating in sexual assault?  Is the idea that raping a co-worker would get you fired so far out of the realm of sane behavior that we should be clutching our pearls and causing trials to grind to a halt?  Just get a grip. This kind of behavior is exactly why many are calling for these cases to prosecuted outside of normal military channels.  
Now back to the good part: Sexual Assault: A Fleet Readiness Issue.  Now, Proceedings arrives at our house every month and generally contains some really interesting work.  In fact, if you look at the June 2013 issue you can see a stunning piece by Admiral "Thanks for the tip" Greenert that will fully explain why I was so shocked by his behavior in the senate committee hearing.  (Though he did write it with General Amos of anti-DADT-repeal fame and well, guilt by association, so yeah scratch that. Just. Plain. Awful. People.) Initially I was excited to see what the so-called "forward thinkers" of the fleet had to say about this topic. Sadly, Chris' prediction was pretty spot on. So yeah, give that one a read and then lets discuss:
  • The "subtle" undertone that Congress/Senate/DC is the bad guy here.  How dare they challenge our authority?
  • The pervasive belief that one can never, ever undermine a Commanding Officer's authority. This is a very good gas lighting technique to make sure we only ever defend what a great person the CO is, not actually discuss why one would refuse to investigate SA allegations. (The fact that full authority does not mean full accountability for COs is a whole other post for another day.)
  • The idea that most victims are male.  Sure this happens to men, we need to consider that, but it is just bad math to ignore that SA against women happens at orders of magnitude greater frequency. This is a humanist issue of misogyny/cis-centrism at heart, lets not pretend for a second it isn't. 
  • The insinuation that training SA response personnel and service members is a costly waste of time.  The message is clear: this is not a priority.
  • General note: I would not consider referencing John McCain on anything if you want to be taken seriously.
  • Got it right that improved response it too little too late, there needs to be a culture shift....
  •  BUT identifies agents such as alcohol usage as causative while ignoring that while 1 in three women who are raped are drunk, 3 out of 3 rapists are still just that...rapists. 
  • Mentions culture clash as causative agent, but claims that the military can't "cave" to today's youth.  Pervasive idea that we must stick with tradition regardless of efficacy is a military wide dogma that prevents advancement on every topic, not just in the case of SA response/prevention. 
  • Invokes the "broken window theory" as a method to change the cultural climate, but kind of misses the boat that pornography/ sexual material is not a causative agent or reliable indicator when we apply this model.  See also: good way to scapegoat personal behavior so as not to address the pervasive cultural issues.  Rape is not about sex, rape is about power and it should shock no one that a entity based entirely in  male-hetero-normative-hierarchy would have this problem.  
  • At the end of the day, the authors still that in-house investigation is suitable, and well, the point, you seem to have missed it.
  • Sadly this is just another example of two Rear Admirals who are too invested in the existing system to look outside their place of privileged and work for real change. 
It all boils down to this:  culturally white-cis-hetero-males and all the privileged they hold created the founding values of today's military.  That is the problem.  The problem is not drinking, porn, women, homosexuality  or the "hook-up" culture.  The problem is that the entire management structure of this organization is based on the power dynamics most often seen in abusive relationships. The deeply conservative undertones upon which the entire system is built mean that we will always see blame placed on the young, the gay and the female...not on the sexual predators where it belongs.  As long as the military as an entity continues to encourage those traditional power structures, this will continue to be a problem.  

Now to patch the hole in my desk from where I have felt the need to repeatedly, violently bang my head...