At a time when sexual assault in the military has reached epidemic levels, the Marines have drawn new attention to sexism in the armed forces with reports that hundreds of Marines allegedly posted pictures of half-naked or naked female service members and veterans online.
The incident came out less than one month after Jan. 5, the date when women were assigned to a Marine infantry unit for the first time. In addition to worsening the sexual assault epidemic, the incident is also believed to pose a national security risk, as it makes the targeted women vulnerable to blackmail. The Center for Investigative Reporting has more:
In one instance, a woman corporal in uniform was followed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina by a fellow Marine, who surreptitiously photographed her as she picked up her gear. Those photographs were posted online in the Facebook group “Marines United,” which has nearly 30,000 followers, drawing dozens of obscene comments.
One member of the Facebook group suggested the service member sneaking the photos should “take her out back and pound her out.” Others suggested more than vaginal sex:
“And butthole. And throat. And ears. Both of them. Video it though… for science.”
Senior officials with Headquarters Marine Corps have verified that incident as well as the distribution of photographs of other active duty and veteran women through the page and links out to a Google Drive.
Marine veteran Thomas Brennan uncovered the images on a Facebook group called Marines United and contacted Marine Corps. headquarters on Jan. 30. By the next day, all of the culpable social media accounts had been deleted by Facebook and Google at the request of the Corps, although pictures still popped up at Marines United as recently as Feb. 16. The man who shot the pictures of the corporal has been discharged from active duty.
In an email to CIR, Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green — who is the most senior enlisted Marine on active duty — made it clear that they were disgusted with the actions of the people who posted the photographs.
"There is no place for this type of demeaning or degrading behavior in our Corps, this includes our actions online," Green wrote. "We need to be brutally honest with ourselves and each other. This behavior hurts fellow Marines, family members, and civilians. It is a direct attack on our ethos and legacy."