Women, the military, “unit cohesion,” and sexual violence



Now the media is in a frenzy of debate over the decision to allow women to serve in combat roles in the US military. Right-wingers are saying women pose a threat to the male cohesion of units, blah blah. Whatever. The real threat is not to the men but to the women. Why isn’t anyone talking about the fact that 1 in 3 women in the Army experience rape and/or sexual assault (according to the Army’s own figures)? Is that not a threat to unit “cohesion” [which units already include women anyways in nominally non-combat roles but in reality anything but]?

Personally, I think we should abolish the standing army in this country. But if people are going to talk about a “crisis” in the military over questions of gender, it is a crime to let such a discussion posit women as the transgressors by ignoring the cesspool of misogyny and sexual violence which is perpetrated by male soldiers against women every single day.

I have seen some people mention the high rate of sexual assault in the military in the context of the decision to allow women in combat. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thinks allowing women in combat will reduce the epidemic of rape. Whether or not that’s true remains to be seen. But the military does need to address this.

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