Just in case you thought that men should be expected to obtain consent from women before engaging in sexual behavior with them, bigoted blowhard Donald Trump is here to remind you all men are rapists, always. Why else would 26,000 service members have reported experiencing [second item] “unwanted sexual contact” last year? It’s because, Trump tweeted, men and women have never, ever worked alongside each other in coed workplaces without men raping their colleagues. In a followup tweet Trump — who, correct me if I’m wrong, attended a military high school but has never served a day in the actual military, unlike actual women in combat — said “top military brass” didn’t want “a mixer.” But “dumb politicians” just had to endanger these vulnerable women at the hands of all the rapists in uniform. Sorry, ladies. Rape away, dudes — I know you can’t help yourselves. [Examiner]
A new defense secretary has just been confirmed and already he has a big issue to address: sexual assault in the military. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Full disclosure: I used to work in her office), and Senator Janeane Shaheen (D-NH) recently sent a letter requesting Chuck Hagel immediately review a decision by an Air Force Lieutenant General to dismiss all charges against an officer who had been convicted of sexual assault.
Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkerson, a fighter pilot, had been charged with aggravated sexual assault on former colleague Kimberly Hanks at Aviano Air Base in Italy. Hanks had been socializing with Wilkerson and his wife at their home and stayed the evening in their guest bedroom; in the middle of the night, she woke up to find Wilkerson on top of her. He was found guilty and sentenced to a year in the brig (AKA military prison). But he never served any time in prison because his superior, Lieutenant General Craig A. Franklin, dismissed the jury’s conviction and reinstated him. Senators Boxer and Shaheen and others are rightfully concerned that a troop charged with sexual assault was let off scot-free.
Keep reading »
Yesterday afternoon, two Democratic politicians introduced the Ruth Moore Act, a bill to support former service members who survived sexual assault in the military. Veterans Affairs has long rejected disability claims of military sexual trauma (MST) for troops who were raped by colleagues and now need assistance. According to the Service Women’s Action Network, only one in three claims of PTSD from MST were approved by the VA between 2008 to 2010, presumably because the threshold was too high for these survivors to been seen as eligible. Keep reading »
Jon Stewart’s latest crusade: picking apart the right-leaning backlash stemming from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s decision to allow women to serve in combat roles. A former U.S. Marine penned a piece in the Wall Street Journal [second item] fretting that in combat soldiers often have to urinate and defecate in front of each other — often in close proximity to a fellow soldier’s face. Stewart points out: In a war zone, are you really worried about “dying from embarrassment?” Keep reading »
Bottom line: I was a female soldier in the combat zone. So why do I feel so uncomfortable about formalizing women’s placement in combat roles? I did a lot of soul-searching about why this bothered me so much. Ultimately, though, I’ve discovered there’s nothing I should be uncomfortable about.
When I first read that Defense Secretary Panetta had lifted the ban on women in combat roles, I felt queasy. While I left the military for the private sector in late 2011, I spent the first decade of my adult life in the Army, half of it on active duty as a Military Police officer. I have led and served alongside extraordinarily tough and competent leaders, male and female, while deployed in Iraq and in training all over the world. This was personal.
Yet, even as a woman who had been to combat, I couldn’t endorse lifting the ban. The more I examined my prejudices, though, I realize that they were just that — prejudices. Keep reading »
Earlier this week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lifted a ban that prohibited women from openly serving in combat roles in the military. This would entail overturning a 1994 rule that bans women from certain ground combat roles, thus opening up more jobs to servicewomen. Women have already been attached to ground units performing these jobs — they just haven’t been properly credited for it.
Yesterday, Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Join Chiefs Of Staff, officially overturned the 1994 rule. “Everyone is entitled to a chance,” Panetta said. According to The New York Times, the Army is now creating gender-neutral standards for all their positions but will not be lowering the physical standards required just so that women can be admitted.
All week there have been reactions to lifting the ban, both for and against. I’ve rounded up some of the responses: Keep reading »
The Secretary of Defense has lifted a ban that prohibited women from openly serving in combat roles in the military, NPR is reporting. Secretary Leon Panetta made the decision on the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who suggested overturning a 1994 rule that bans women from being assigned into certain ground combat roles. However, women have at times served in those roles anyway, and furthermore, being excluded from those positions have held women back from rising in the ranks through the military. Servicewomen have repeatedly sued the Pentagon to fight the exclusionary policy. Last year, the Pentagon changed policies which opened up 14,000 additional positions to women; the military has until January 2016 to pursue a justification for continuing to exclude women from ground combat.
I know we have many ex-military members who read The Frisky. Let us know what you think in the comments! [NPR] [Photo: Getty]
When Ashley Broadway, a military wife of 15 years, wanted to make new friends and connect with other military spouses, she applied for membership to the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses. Broadway lives at the Fort Bragg military base in North Carolina with her family; her wife is an Army lieutenant colonel, and the couple have one son and another child on the way. Broadway was excited about the prospect of meeting other spouses, volunteering for family events, and being part of a support group. Instead, she was denied membership because, as a same-sex spouse, she doesn’t have a military ID card (due to the Defense of Marriage Act, the military doesn’t recognize same-sex unions). But wait! This story of discrimination actually has a happy ending… Keep reading »