The Invisible War: A Documentary on Sexual Assault in the U.S. Military

A new documentary called The Invisible War by Academy Award-nominated director Kirby Dick has just come out in theaters. The film tackles the issue of sexual assault in the U.S. military, and how it has come to be a systemic concern.

Check out the trailer here:

From the MSNBC interview with the director and producer:

Last year, 3,192 sexual assaults, from unwanted sexual touching to rape, were reported across all branches of the military. Based on anonymous surveys of active-duty service members conducted in 2010, however, the Department of Defense says the number of incidents was closer to 19,000.

But that’s not all:

Women aren’t the only ones affected. Of the 65,000 veterans who sought treatment in 2009 for conditions related to military sexual trauma, a term that also includes sexual harassment, 40 percent were men.

This issue concerns both genders. Sexual assault is not just a feminist issue, as it can and does effect everyone. We should all be doing our part to make the spaces we occupy safe and free of victimization whether we are in the military, in the classroom, or walking down the street.

About Lauren Lane

Lauren Lane is the co-founder of Skepticon, the Midwest's largest skeptic student-run conference and remains a lead organizer today. She has not one, but TWO fancy art degrees and is not afraid to use them.

  • Andrew B.

    Bwaaaaaaaah!  What does this have to do with Atheism!?  Why did you force me to read this and then comment?!  Wahhhhhh!

    Just getting that bullshit out of the way.
    P.S. Do NOT feed the trolls.

    • Andrew B.

       You’re infantilizing people with different opinions than you?  Have some respect.

      • Baby_Raptor

        No, he’s infantilizing people who whine when their personal preferences aren’t catered to. 

        It would be simple for people to read the title, realize that it’s not a post about Atheism and move on. Instead, they come in and complain like they’re entitled to only see what they think applies to the blog.

        • Franklin

           You sound like a Church. “We don’t have to listen to ideas we don’t want to!”  The difference is, you claim to be a skeptic.

          • TheAnalogKid

            You don’t have a idea. You have a fucking whiny ass complaint.

            • Franklin

               If I had known I could elicit such butthurt with an anonymous forum identity I would have started doing this years ago.

              om nom nom your tears sustain me

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            The right to speak doesn’t mean a requirement to listen.

          • Patterrssonn

            You sound like the church. “We don’t have to listen to ideas we don’t want to!” The difference is you claim to be a skeptic.

  • Ronlawhouston

    Honestly, it this a blog about atheism or is it a blog about feminist and LGBT issues?  What connection is there between sexual assault and atheism?  I’m not discounting the value of the information in this post, but it seems wildly out of place here.

    • Franklin

      Don’t bother – you’ll be called a misogynist for just saying that.

      We’ve pointed this out before – to “get back” at those of us who come to “The Friendly Atheist” expecting atheism-related issues only, Hemant is letting Lauren go wild lately with non-atheism-related posts.

      • TheAnalogKid

        Eat shit until you fucking choke.

        • Franklin

          You are a true asset to the atheist community.

          • TheAnalogKid

            Not particularly trying to be. Now, the human community, yeah.

            • Franklin

              I’ll leave you alone with your butthurt :x

              • TheAnalogKid

                Now, now, professor; your mom takes care of my butthurt ;-).

    • TheAnalogKid

      Eat shit.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Is it really that hard to just not read something you don’t want to hear about? Why do you feel the need to whine about how it’s not content you personally want to read?

      • Franklin

         Someone with a different opinion who presents it maturely and quietly = whining?

        How about you try that post again, this time without the lying or hyperbole.

        • Guest

           In what way are you being quiet? Every time a post about feminism comes along, half the comments are you complaining about it. For somebody who doesn’t like these posts, you spend an awful lot of time reading and commenting on them.

          In addition, you tend to completely sidestep replies to your comments. So how about I just replicate the above comment, except instead of ‘whining’ I put ‘complaining’ – then will you answer the damn question? Namely – why do you keep reading and commenting on all of these posts if you don’t like them? Why don’t you skip them? I’m pretty sure these types of posts aren’t going to go away no matter how much you complain about them.

          For the record, I like reading these kinds of posts, and I hope they stay.

          • Franklin

             Sounds like you want to censor ideas you don’t agree with.  Sounds like a church.

        • Patterrssonn

          No, whinIng equals whining.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

      The continuing second-class-citizenship of women is perhaps the most widely pervasive consequence of religion.  It’s something we all experience every minute of every day.  Atheism cannot be said to have “won,”  in any sense, until this patriarchial world view is replaced.  Every society has habits that are relics of earlier belief systems-  the acceptance of male dominance is one baby that needs to be thrown out with the bathwater of religion. 

  • Guest

    Knew this was a Lauren Lane post just by the title. Sigh.

    • Franklin

      If you do not welcome feminist posts in every venue in your life, you are a misogynist!!!!

      • Blanc_Slate

        Come on now, your comment has to be sarcasm. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

     This doesn’t really seem like an article about feminism. It’s an article about sexual assault/trama, which as Lauren points out, is and has been an issue for both men and women.

    And to the people complaining, this blog is about atheist AND humanist issues. Human suffering, such as sexual assault, is a human suffering issue, not a woman issue.

    • Erp

       Though any woman issue is a human issue since women are humans.  

      I note that even back in the dark ages when Hemant wrote “I sold my soul on Ebay” that he comments in it on the role of women in the churches he visits so ‘feminism’ has been woven into this blog since the beginning.   He also commented on the treatment of gays.     

    • AxeGrrl

      I had to scroll through 21 completely irrelevant posts before I got to one that actually spoke to the specific topic/article in question.

      Kudos, Larry :)

  • Onamission5

    I knew the armed forces could be a hostile place for women, but had no idea that the rates of sexual assault against men were also so high in the military. I wonder how that compares to actual sexual assault and rape in prison?  I know the stats on reported prison rape are bad enough, and don’t necessarily include coerced sex or assault without rape, but if one added up all actual cases of assault across the board, would they be comparable?

    For an institution which historically claims to pride itself upon instilling characteristics of discipline and honor in its soldiers, the US military appears to be failing at both.

    • Blanc_Slate

      Do you know whether the assaults on men were done by other men, women, or both? I’m curious because I didn’t know men were victimized there also.  

      • Onamission5

        I honestly have no idea. Prison assaults against men are almost always committed by other males as a form of dominance and control mechanism. I don’t know how that relates to military assaults, but would be interested in knowing if there’s a study out there which compares the two subcultures and how sexual violence plays out, and why.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

      Just look at the demographic that provides the most military recruits.  People don’t radically change their culture when they join the military.
      2011 stats:
      “USAREC successfully recruits in all regions of the United States. The Army is significantly over-represented for enlistments from the South Atlantic, West South Central, and Mountain Divisions. Nearly ½ of FY09 Army enlistments (46.5%) are from these areas.
      The Army is significantly under-represented for enlistments from the New England and Mid Atlantic Divisions. Only 12% of Army enlistments are from these areas, even though over 18% of the youth population resides here.”

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    Given the number of incidents in atheist venues where men have engaged in less than stellar behavior toward women, I’d say that a series of articles dealing with sexual harassment, sexual assault, and various other issues effecting women’s lives are quite useful. Why not continue to expand people’s awareness around these issues so that some kind of positive change might be fostered in atheist spaces?

    As for those people who are upset that these articles are appearing in atheist spaces, hopefully, their annoyance will cause them to leave. One can only hope.

    • Franklin

       Oh hey, another “sexual assault only happens BY men TO women” argument.  Keep living in your fictitious la-la land.

      • LesterBallard

        What are the statistics for sexual assaults on men by women?

        • Franklin

           “Sorry George, I know you were sexually assaulted by a woman and it ruined your life, but since you’re part of a minority, we as a society don’t have to focus on female-on-male rape issues!”

          I hope you don’t consider yourself a humanist, Lester.  You’re a terrible person.

          • LesterBallard

            Thanks for the statistics.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            Since you’re so passionate about it, why don’t you do the research, write it up, and submit it to Hemant.

          • Patterrssonn

            Men are a minority, who knew?

  • Thalfon

    Hemant, is there some way you can put a subtitle up (“A blog about atheism, feminism, and other issues of the day,” or something like that) or even just make an entry, to make it clear that this blog isn’t (nor in the past has been) so exclusively atheist-related? That these posts are in fact welcome?

    Discussing these issues here has almost always been a positive thing in my opinion, but of late these “It’s not atheism!” posts are quashing any good discussion. Trying to “thumbs up” the on-topic posts is only somewhat effective. I’d like to see the discussion on these posts be more readily able to flourish, as before this sudden wave of desire to quash it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      It’s a blog about shit I find interesting. People have complained about the content not being 100% atheist-related for several years now. Nothing has changed, except for the fact that some of the recent posts deal with feminism and they can’t handle that. They’ll get over it. Or leave. I’m fine with either option.

      • Franklin

         “Friendly Atheist” will now be known as “Hypocritical Condescending Atheist.”

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Maybe a post tagging system, like “not 100% strictly about atheism”.  Hm, no, I don’t think that would do it.  The people who want to whine will still whine.  Maybe instead we need a comment tagging system, so the rest of us can tag things as “whining about the fact that this post isn’t all about me”.  Would go well with the “Isn’t it hypocritical to call yourself friendly when you’re so mean to Christians?  Just sayin’” tag.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Porter/100001075278352 Ben Porter

    the Christians will all claim that it is because gays are in the military

  • Michael

    So in 2009, 26,000 men sought treatment relating to sexual abuse suffered in the US military.

    Thankyou, that is a wonderful statistic to possess. It is true that far too many people insist this is only something that happens to women, which only harms those at risk.

    • Onamission5

      I haven’t heard anyone claim it only happens to women. Outside of prison– and apparently, the military– it primarily happens to women, and that’s a problem which has widespread, complicated sociocultural implications, but no one is claiming that men are not victims of sexual assault, harassment, or rape. 

      • Michael

        They don’t claim only, they just imply that male victims are a negligible minority.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Some people (Christians and Muslim apostates in particular I think) complain that Hemant spends too much time on Christianity and not enough time on other religions.

        • LesterBallard

          You’re a liar.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

    Franklin,
    Just for the fuck of it, I went back to see what else you add to the blog conversations besides “This isn’t about atheism!!!”
    I went through the past 13 blog posts and you commented on a grand total of one, just to argue with people about how the post was off-topic.
    Are you the blog police? Do you spend your time on tons of internet blogs making sure that each one sticks to exactly what it’s supposed to be about? That’s what I’ll assume because I have never seen you add anything important to the conversation. I have never seen your opinions on the variety of atheist topics presented here. You obviously don’t care about the normal subject matter very much, but you care enough to speak out when it’s not the normal subject matter.
    What makes you think that Hemant should cater this blog to you? Why should all the posts be precisely about atheism when you never bother to get involved in the atheist conversations? If you don’t really do much commenting here and just prefer to read, that’s fine. But why not just skip over a post? How much time does it take for you to *not* read something? Oh wait, it takes a lot more time than usual because you feel the compulsion to spew complaints everywhere.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

    Lauren, thanks for writing this. Hemant, thanks for continuing to post articles like this.
    Military rape is incredibly concerning. It’s very encouraging to know that people do care about it, and I’m glad they’re making a documentary about it because it’s something that needs more attention than it’s getting.
    Some things are important enough to rightfully transcend the topic of the original blog.

  • Hibernia86

    I do appreciate that Lauren is trying to remind people that this issue affects both genders in order to draw everyone in, but I think that the best way to get people involved is to post different topics that affect each gender rather than necessarily trying to provide an angle for each gender for each topic. I think if people saw that their gender was considered in the blog as a whole, then that would allow us to post topics that concern single genders without people feeling like their issues are being ignored.


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