Military rape a result of "feminist pressures"?

Sexual assault is the natural outcome of putting women in combat, argues an Op-Ed.


Tracy Clark-Flory
April 6, 2007 6:00PM (UTC)

I hope no one's surprised by this: Anti-female garbage doesn't get any kind of special treatment from us for being written by a woman. So I direct you to this outrageous Op-Ed by Kathleen Parker in the Orlando Sentinel (via Feministing). She starts out by griping at both Salon and the New York Times for calling certain female soldiers' experiences "rape," when they really amount to, well, "not quite rape." But, ultimately, Parker's thesis is that sexual harassment, assault and rape happen in the military because men resent being forced to embrace the lie that women are their equals.

First, let's get the complaint she levels at Salon out of the way. She writes: "The Salon story reports, for example, that one woman was 'coerced into sex' by a commanding officer, which the Salon writer asserts is 'legally defined as rape by the military.' This is simply not true. According to the Manual for Courts-Martial, rape is defined as 'an act of sexual intercourse by force and without consent.'" Parker is right -- the manual does define rape in those terms. But reading just a few lines down from the manual's upfront definition of rape, you'll find this: "Consent, however, may not be inferred if resistance would have been futile." The soldier was "coerced" into sex -- meaning forced to do something that she didn't want to do, meaning "resistance would have been futile," meaning she was raped.

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That aside, we can focus on Parker's argument that the responsibility for the spate of sexual harassment and rape in the military ultimately falls to the Pentagon for -- wait for it -- surrendering "to feminist pressures to insert women into combat." As a result, male soldiers have "been forced to pretend that women are equals, and men know they're not. The lie breeds contempt, which leads to a simmering rage that sometimes finds expression in aggression toward those deemed responsible." No matter which way you cut it, this is a defense of rape as an understandable -- though, perhaps, still inexcusable -- outlet for anger. She doesn't go so far as to blame the victim, but she does blame the Pentagon for needling the rapists' emotions. I'm afraid anger and resentment aren't terribly uncommon drivers of rape in the civilian world. But, of course, we don't assign blame to whomever or whatever situation allowed those feelings to arise.

The truly unbelievable clincher is that she ends her essay by arguing that "wishful thinking and bureaucratic expansion" (i.e., strengthening the military's sexual assault response program) won't solve "sexual conflict in the war zone." The real solution, she proposes, is to separate the sexes. "Our commanders and fighting men could focus on the business of war rather than tending to gender skirmishes" -- gender skirmishes! -- "that distract commanders and steal time, resources and energy from the military's purpose."

Or, more practically, women could just grin and bear it.


Tracy Clark-Flory

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Broadsheet Love And Sex Sexual Abuse U.s. Military Violence Against Women

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