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January 24, 2013


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I think it really is just an aspect of the general Hazing Culture -- I had to put up with this back in the day, so everybody else must be made to suffer the same. It afflicts the military academies, as Fleming notes. And the sooner that the exceptionally stupid and counter-productive aspects of it are gone, the better. (Actually, the sooner all of it is gone, the better. But . . . baby steps.)

But that is not the only place it happens. We do something very similar to our future doctors. Nobody could possibly justify the hours and conditions that interns are reoutinely required to deal with. There simply is no way to argue convincingly that having the people giving primary medical care be seriously sleep-deprived is a Good Thing. But every attempt to require that those hours be kept down gets fought tooth and nail. (Of course, it might be the case that hospitals would have economic issues if they didn't get the extra hours free from all those interns. But that is a separate disucssion.)

P.S. I have long suspected that a major driver of the military's resistance to gays was essentially this: "If we use the anti-harrassment regulations to keep gays from hitting on us, we would have to actually enforce them in heterosexual harrassment cases. Oh, the horror!!!"

This is a good post.

The rape culture at the academies puts this in odd perspective:

The article mentions the ameliorating effect female sailors may have on the U.S. Navy's return to Subic, as opposed to the "spectacle" I observed years ago as the 7th Fleet dropped anchor.

One wonders, one does, how some of the "hostesses" in the bars will react to the frequent presence of female sailors -- in solidarity or as perceived competition?

I wasn't a sailor, but played one on TV. Literally, as an extra in "Apocalypse Now", in Subic and elsewhere.

Anyway, the invocation of John McCain et al (said to be a better swordsman than pilot in his halcyon days) and Admiral avedis in the link was interesting.

It never ceases to crack me up that many of our leading political lights had their fun with their guns overseas and then returned home to try and tut-tuttingly quarter troops in American women's vaginas at the behest of their Christian Coalition sponsers.

Speaking of guns, rape so easily accomplished at military academies, right in the shadow of sizable armories, seems to belie the claim that ready access to a weapon can prevent these depredations.

One wonders too if the latter (Admiral a.) is sitting in front of his screen reading the reference to Moms Against Abstinence MAGAs as Mothers I'd Like To Fraternize ( ... with, but only off duty) MILFs.

I'm also imagining him playing Ensign Pulver in "Mr. Roberts", but in today's Navy, trying to get the women off the damned vessel instead of sneaking them on.

Or maybe as the Ray Walston character in "South Pacific", who along with 20 other horny sailors sings "There's Nothing Like A Dame That You Have To Salute" and then learning post production number that roughly a quarter of the actor's he was chorus-lining with on the beach are gay and have been lip-synching "So what if there is nothing like a dame, we're good to go".

I'm thinking now of how the rape culture ties in with women now formally being permitted to engage side-by-side in combat.

Personally, from my odd perspective, we're going in the wrong direction, but not like you think.

I'm for preventing EVERYONE, including men, from engaging in combat, not throwing EVERYONE into the killing machine.

I mean, look, think of it this way. Say the draft is re-instituted and you want to get out of it by flunking the physical.

What will you dress as, because obviously pumps and a parasol aren't going to bat a eyelash in today's military?

Off you go to the front line, with the rest of the cannon fodder.

This could set cowardice back a long ways.

One wonders too about the subset of young male conservatives who dabble in the rape culture at the academies and go on later to careers as abortion demagogues.

Will they consider the fetus carried to term as a legal liability, as the Catholic Church apparently does when it suits them?:

or, will they view the fetus as little more than evidentiary material to be held in the evidence room (the vagina) until trial, and then denied foodstamps?:

I'm anti-rape, anti-abortion, and pro-choice because it's a wonderful life until it's not.

"It's impossible to teach young officers-in-training what's wrong with unwanted sex when even consensual sex is against the rules."

Seriously? Then I hope that these young officers-in-training never have access to any devices that could cause harm to anyone, because they must be extraordinarily narcissistic and stupid people.

I mean, you can advocate for a change in some of the rules, but if the quoted remark is meant literally then just kick these people out of the military altogether--they're walking time bombs.

I think it is incredibly unlikely that the male culture at the military academies is worse than any other institute of higher learning (excepting female only schools). I attended one, grad school at two non-military schools, and taught at two non-military schools. I was appalled at the treatment of females by undergrads where I taught. While the academies have their faults, being unsafe is relatively low.

Not only are public displays of affection banned, so is alcohol (for the most part). There are essentially no parties on campus where people lose thier inhibitions or faculties. There were no locks on doors (I think that has changed). Opportunities to be alone are few, areas can always be inspected, and enough people take the honor code seriously that few would expect a buddy to lie for them.

They certainly have a high testosterone count (80+% male) but also have incredibly high restrictions on time. I think it is probably true that there is a certain amount of social retardation from living like monks, but simply from an opportunity perspective, it is hard to imagine females going to school there are more at risk than other schools.

As a father of 4 girls, I wish they would choose to go to one of the academies (except the naval academy...).

From the news I see, the problem is not peer to peer problems (non military have a lot more problems, I think), it is faculty-student. 'Faculty' is not quite correct, because the stories are about 'trainers' and people who would not be regarded as faculty at a regular university. However, because of the military hierarchy, they have much more power over a student, so the student doesn't have the option of walking away and signing up for another section.

I think you are talking about enlisted trainees in basic training, rather than cadets. There are few scandals regarding cadets at military academies and professors. I am aware of many from ROTC on campus, and one from a military academy (which does not mean there are not more, just my sum of knowledge).

The prohibition from dating freshmen is based on this (which the article failed to point out). Upperclassmen have power over their subordinates, especially freshmen, and therefore can't date them. Same within the company (which the article disparages). If you can effect assignments and ratings of someone, you can't date them. That is reasonable to me, and generally the rule within the military once you graduate.

you are right, I was conflating the coverage of the Lackland scandal with academies. I guess the question is (and I don't really have a good handle on it) is how much of a dividing line is there between a service academy and the service it belongs to?

Another WSJ article that may be of interest is this.

As prosecutors have begun to take the emphasis off the victims, they have found that many of the sexual assaults in the US military are perpetrated by experienced predators who may engage in as many as 300 sexual assaults during their lifetime, Mr. Strand says.

The US military is an ideal place for sexual predators to prey on victims, with a strict hierarchy that makes it what some have described as a "target rich" environment.

"Most sex offenders aren't the obnoxious people slapping people's behinds and making sexist comments," Strand adds. Instead, they often systematically "groom" their victims, gaining their confidence. They encourage them to take part in activities that might get them in trouble as well if commanders learned of them – such as underage drinking.

Well-meaning victim advocates would often advise the victim against reporting the crime to avoid being prosecuted for such offenses.

Often, it was a valid concern, says Haider. Though many investigators ignored alcohol violations in order to encourage the victims to discuss the crime or witnesses to come forward, others do not. "If the victim had any level of regulatory violation at the time the rape occurred, that's what they're focusing on," Haider says.

The perpetrators are aware of this.

"We know that a lot of the people who perpetrate sexual assaults have done it before," says retired Lt. Col. Nate Galbreath, former deputy director of the Pentagon's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office and now an adviser to the organization. "These people are very practiced at what they do, and they do it well."

"These people are very practiced at what they do, and they do it well."
Well, the motto is "Be all you can be" after all.

Interestingly (to me) Lackland was what I was thinking of too. My colleague who has been a drill sergeant for close to 20 years (off and on) had his daughter there as the scandal broke.

Anytime you have that much control (essentially like a prison) over people, abuse is likely, and it requires enormous effort to prevent. So, for example, prohibiting any consensual sex makes sense because it reduces the evidence required to prosecute.

The difference with basic training is that it is a whole lot shorter duration that the academies are. A prohibition which is reasonable and viable for something lasting 10 weeks may be utterly unreasonable for something lasting a year or four.

Here, of course, is another facet of the wider "rape" culture for female combat veterans that was brought to justice by the move to formally "permit" women to fight side-by-side with men, re my tongue-in-cheek 4:22 pm above.

Natch, as a result of their wider access to VA benefits, these women will move farther into the "taker" side of the Randian ledger under which so many have come to be consigned by the usual suspects in recent political campaigns.

The prohibition is for the campus and with some people...they get to leave the campus during the year. It wasn't really that big a deal, as I recall. As the article states there was a lot of sleep deprivation due to so many requirements that there wasn't time to focus on it.

Seriously? Then I hope that these young officers-in-training never have access to any devices that could cause harm to anyone, because they must be extraordinarily narcissistic and stupid people.

Thanks for this. How can someone believe that requiring celibacy at a specific location means those under the ban cannot understand the word 'no'? If this were true, wouldn't the rest of the country be on board with "no means no" since we all have the right to have consensual sex?

Doc, I read your link on Rape Culture. I don't mean to offend, but not very many people beyond true believers are going to buy into that--not because violence against women doesn't happen and not because it isn't horrific when it does. I grant all of that, not that any of it is news.

Rather, a huge number of people--people who don't subscribe to your views generally and people who do--absolutely agree that only consensual sex is acceptable, that getting women drunk or drugging them, or forcing or deceiving or what-have-you, it's all wrong and almost always criminal.

I think it is also true that many people believe it is wise to exercise ordinary care as we go through life: look both ways before crossing the street, don't leave money or valuables in plain sight inside your unattended car, don't walk don't dark alleys, don't leave children unattended or with a stranger, etc. Within the general set of useful prudent behaviors is women (or men, but this seems far less a problem) being aware of their environment and being aware that there are men out there who are animals.

It's a bad idea, unless really necessary, to drive in bad weather. If a careless druver runs a stop sign and kills someone in a rainstorm who was out for no particular reason, it isn't the victim's fault he/she was killed, but even safe driving in bad weather increases the chances of being killed by someone careless.

So, I'm not blaming victims, I'm saying use good judgment and lower your chances of being a victim, not only of rape but of all kinds of crimes, violent, nonviolent, whatever.

The problem with your last paragraph is that, while caution is generally a good thing and to be encouraged as a measure against all sorts of crimes, incautiousness on the part of victims of pretty much every other sort of crime is vanishingly unlikely to get the accused found not guilty of a crime when the evidence demonstrates that they were the person who performed the allegedly criminal act in question. Presenting chiding suggestions of greater and greater "caution" and "vigilance" on the part of women as the ne plus ultra of dealing with rape looks rather a bit more like victim-blaming or a sign of some measure of a cultural condoning of rape when considered in that light.

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