The Real Victims of Sexual Assault in the Military … Men’s Careers?!?

So, this is kind of horrifying, but some individuals are actually arguing that women shouldn’t be allowed to serve in more military positions because when they do the rate of sexual assaults will go up, and that will ruin men’s careers. Yes, you heard that right. Men’s careers.

Here’s what leading anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly had to say:

Military women are already complaining about increased sexual assaults, and of course those problems will skyrocket. Only men will be deemed at fault because it is feminist ideology that men are innately batterers and women are victims.

Um, what? If the rate of (male-on-female) sexual harassment goes up when women serve in combat positions, only men will be deemed at fault because only men will be at fault.

Another article places the blame as follows:

Given what is known about human relationships in war, it is far more likely that sexual assaults will increase when chronic problems evident in all other communities are extended into direct ground combat battalions. The cause will not be women — it will be poor judgment and flawed leadership among White House and Pentagon officials who are putting gender politics above the best interests of national security and the troops they lead.

See? It’s not men’s fault if they end up sexually assaulting the women serving with them! It’s the government’s fault—and the military’s fault—for putting those women right in front of them! Uh . . . right.

Then there’s this from when Kingsley Browne was interviewed by Samantha Bee on the Daily Show:

Browne: You have one or two women added to the group, and now everybody is vying for their attention.

Bee: So women are distracting.

Browne: They are distracting.

Bee: What if the woman is not heterosexual?

Browne: I don’t think that it matters.

Bee: They’re still going to try to hit that.

Browne: They’re still going to try to hit that.

Bee: *puts on a voice* I’d love to take out that insurgent, but check out the getaway sticks on Major Trumble over here! Boing, boing.

Browne: That’s really not a very funny thing because a sexual harassment charge is taken seriously and ruins careers.

Bee: Really.

Start at 1:25 in the following clip:


What in the world is going on here? The idea appears to be that men are somehow incapable of not sexually assaulting women. Women are just too tempting, and men just can’t control themselves. Does anyone realize just how demeaning this idea is to men? Men aren’t babies, and they aren’t toddlers throwing tantrums, they’re grown adults with the ability to control their own impulses. This idea that you can put the blame for sexual assault on anyone other than those committing that sexual assault, or that we should all feel sorry that getting caught sexually assaulting his comrade in arms might ruin a man’s career, is absurd.

Should we be concerned about sexual assault in the military? Absolutely! But we should put the responsibility where it belongs and stop acting like putting women in men’s units is like holding candy out to a toddler. Because you know what? Men aren’t toddlers and women aren’t candy. (Shocking, I know!)

For more on this topic, read this post on Fannie’s Room.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • M

    The clip gets better though. I really love the end of it.

    Bee: Ok, have you ever actually … met… a woman before?
    Browne: Several.
    Bee: A woman who didn’t want to … strangle you?
    Browne: *blink. blink blink blink*

  • BabyRaptor

    If women are to blame for everything sexual that happens to them, then men aren’t. Which means that a man can do whatever the hell he pleases, and not get in trouble. See a hot woman on the street and get happy in the pants? Just have at her. That’s what she’s there for, after all.

    That’s what the men who espouse these kinds of attitudes want. They want to be able to do whatever they want to women with no repercussions. They have penises, after all, and according to their bible, God says that makes them Super Awesome and In Charge of Everything.

  • WMDKitty

    Gee, if these “men” don’t want their careers ruined, maybe they — wait for it! — shouldn’t rape!

    • M

      But that would imply men have some sort of control over themselves. And don’t need women to be all submissive and modest to help them control their sex drives (which are full of pure animal lust, of course). Which would lead to all sorts of horrible things like not having a reason to oppress women. And we can’t have that.


    • The_L

      My favorite one is that women in the ranks will have a negative effect on unit cohesion–and this is blamed on the presence of the women, as if no other factor could be involved.

      Well, gee, maybe if women weren’t getting raped by the men in their own units, they’d have an easier time trusting and working together with those men! A novel concept, I know. After all, clearly treating women like human beings is reasonable to ask of civilians, but just too much to ask of trained military personnel.

      We heard the same stupid argument about the repeal of DADT. It’s just the same old garbage all over again.

  • Mafrin

    That’s just… I don’t even…

    • TheSeravy

      Yeah, that sums up my response….

  • Emma

    Recommended antidote: any Doonesbury comic on this topic.

  • ako

    Only men will be deemed at fault because it is feminist ideology that men are innately batterers and women are victims.

    No, if we apply feminist standards the vast majority of those who are deemed to be at fault will be men, because the vast majority of people who commit sexual assault are men. If a woman assaults a man, then she will be deemed at fault, and if a woman assaults another woman, then the woman who commits the assault deserves the blame while the woman who was assaulted should not be blamed. I know it’s hard for the complimentarianism crowd to wrap their heads around roles which aren’t totally defined by gender, but the guy who rapes a fellow soldier (of any gender) isn’t being blamed because he’s a man, but because he’s a rapist.

  • Tracy

    I saw this last week and loved it. then i read an article in Rolling Stone about the current crisis of sexual assault in the armed forces. And, you know, what I see are people who know that there is a problem, but they don’t want to do the hard work that it would take to solve the problem. So, hey, why not just blame the women and then have the “easy” solution of further subjugating and controlling more women. Which, of course, all the men go for because otherwise they might have to work on changing their own beliefs and attitudes

    • Libby Anne

      I kid you not, I saw an article that suggested that putting women in combat positions is a move on the part of feminists to drive up the rate of sexual assault. Why? So that they can get the army to focus on fighting sexual assault instead of focusing on fighting the enemy. I kid you not. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember where I read that when I was putting this article together! Oh well. Reading it once was horrifying enough!

      • Rachel Marcy (Bix)

        Whoa…what? Once again, I think they think everyone thinks like they think.

      • sidhe3141

        Relevant. (TW: domestic abuse, victim blaming)

  • Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

    Thank goodness they stressed the whole “women are already serving combat roles” aspect of this stupid, stupid argument.

    Now they can get promoted for it, and it can be officially recognized!

  • Christine

    So I’m assuming that in her world there are no victims of sexual assault? Just people who got what they deserve? I understand that she’s trying to say “it’s not fair to blame men”, but I don’t see how “it’s inevitable that men will rape women if the women are there” isn’t saying that “men are innately batterers and women are victims.”

  • annonymousA

    This isn’t to take away from the huge problem of miltary members being victims of sexual assault by other military members. But even within the worldview of these people – that women shouldn’t be in the military because it increases rates of sexual assault – do they not understand that rapists in the military will still be around women? Wives of service members, civilians in the area they are stationed, including children, etc.

    I have never been in the military, but I have been raped twice by active duty military because I was the daughter of a military member living on base and later I lived in a town with several military bases. Rapists in the military effect more than just other military members – though even if it was a problem that military women dealt with exclusively it would be well worth our time, money and energy putting a stop to, no matter how man men’s careers are ruined.

  • smrnda

    In the film ‘Invisible War’ which was about rape and the military a big point was made that men get raped in the military as well as women, and in absolute numbers, given that there are far more men than women in the military, many more men are raped.

    So obviously we have rapes going on even without women being in the equation.

    I’d recommend that film to anyone who wants to know more about the topic.

    I think it’s the traditionalist who yet again prove that it’s them, and not feminists, who think men cannot stop raping women. They think it is impossible for men and women to serve in combat together without men raping women. I don’t think it can be totally eliminated, but I don’t think that it’s inevitably going to happen either because I think it’s possible for men to not rape women (or other man) just because they know that it’s wrong, or even if we’re dealing with a pretty amoral person that he will at least get caught.

  • Khaliah

    “Military women are complaining about increased sexual assaults”

    The dismissiveness in that one line is so damn demeaning it’s not even funny. The fact that she frames this outrage as “complaining,” like an office worker complaining about there being no coffee in the coffee pot, or the little boy complaining about his brother’s piece of cake being bigger, it sounds like she doesn’t even want to acknowledge that this is a devestating thing about a devestating practice that the military is all too happy to keep hush-hush.

    How is it that these folks give so much praise to male American soldiers, calling them brave and courageous and righteous and being supportive of them when they come home with PTSD, but treat our female soldiers to nothing but platitudes, lip-service, and this ignorant prattle?

    Sorry, hate to burst their bubble, but American soldiers aren’t the do-good superheroes they like to believe they are. They’re just as prone to pissing on corpses and raping women as the enemy boogeyman is, and the American military is proof of that. I think these folks just don’t want to admit that the military visages they masturbate to are capable of behaving like base sub-humans driven by hate and lust. It makes me sick.

  • pagansister

    Phyllis S. is actually still alive? I thought she died a long time ago! If she had her way, women would still be wearing dresses with pearls, in heels, while cleaning the house! Oh yes, there would be a proper apron on also. What the hell does she know about the work women do in the military? I expect she would have them doing all the “secretary” work, and nothing else, because they might not be right in front of the men—who are, of course, unable to control themselves when a female is in the room.

  • Monika

    This reminds me of a little piece of satire I made up with a friend about a nice man named Fred.

    Fred is a good guy. He has a lovely wife and two adorable children who adore him. One night he goes out for a couple of drinks with his friends. He leaves early but after dark and as he walks to his car he passes a young women. And now his whole night is completely ruined! She is out alone, after dark and her skirt is short. He had to rape her. He doesn’t *want* to! Goodness no. He wants to go home to his wife. But he can’t just ignore her! Or let her pass! HER SKIRT IS SHORT.

    I’m disturb by how close our little joke was to reality. I think I need to go look at kittens for a bit now.

  • Judy L.

    If more women in the military is going to result in higher incidence of sexual assault, then the clear solution is to ban them from military service, and by ‘them’ of course I mean men.

  • Tracey

    Libby Anne, you mentioned an article you can no longer find- you might be refering to an article called Feminist Assault on the Military also at Frontpagemag. It’s a reprint from twenty years ago following the Tailhook Scandal. There is a line in there that suggests ONE woman believes the military could stand to rethink overuse of troops, and that this may happen anyway as a result of women in combat.

  • BringTheNoise

    The patriarchy really does hate everyone, doesn’t it? Women are all slutty whores, forcing men to rape them, while men are all uncontrollable boner-werewolves (h/t to The Pervocracy for that term), who can’t see so much as an exposed ankle without being forced, FORCED I SAY, to commit a horrific crime. Why would anyone defend this system?