Another U.S. soldier is convicted of rape, this time in the Phillipines.
The article itself leaves a little to be desired. For example:
The court sentenced Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, 21, of St. Louis, to life imprisonment — which, in the Philippines, could mean up to 40 years in prison — for raping a drunken 23-year-old Filipina in November 2005 inside a former American naval facility in Subic, Pampanga, a province just north of Manila.
Apparently the fact that she was “drunken” is a key element in the story.
The defendants had claimed that what took place inside the van was sex between consenting adults and that the woman only cried rape because she wanted to salvage her reputation.
Now, I suspect that the reporter would argue that he used the term “cried rape” to characterize the defendents’ sentiments, not his own. But the way it’s phrased here is incredibly poor — and it makes it sound like “cried rape” is a factual statement, not an opinionated one.
I’m also not sure why she’s repeatedly referred to as “the Filipina” instead of, say, “the woman,” but I suppose repeatedly emphasizing her ethnicity is appropriately othering for American readers.
That aside, rape as a war tactic is nothing new; soldiers are groomed to associate sex with violence, within an already sexist and patriarchal military structure (thanks to Jessica for the article):
Furthermore, soldiers are purposefully trained to eroticize violence – from a heterosexual, male-aggressor perspective, even if some soldiers are gay and some are women. For example, during the first Gulf War, Air Force pilots watched pornographic movies before bombing missions to psyche themselves up. Until 1999, hardcore pornography was available at military base commissaries, which were one of its largest purchasers.
The military teaches soldiers to internalize the misogynistic role of violent masculinity, so they can function psychologically. At the 2003 Air Force Academy Prom, men were given fliers – using tax-payer dollars – which read, “You Shut the Fuck Up! We’ll Protect America. Get out of our way, you liberal pussies!” They were then treated to a play which provided instructions on how to stimulate a female’s clitoris and nipples to get her vaginal juice flowing (in case she was otherwise unwilling?).
Alarmingly but not so surprisingly, according to the Veterans Association itself, over 80 percent of recent women veterans report experiencing sexual harassment, and 30 percent rape or attempted rape, by other military personnel. Crimes of sexual violence by military personnel are shocking – and institutionally ignored. Over the course of several years, a two-year-old girl was repeatedly raped by her Air Force father, who also invited his fellow servicemen to gang rape her. Eventually, he was simply allowed to retire; today, a decade later, he receives a pension and is fighting to claim his daughter’s custody. Lawyer Dorothy Mackey of Survivors Take Action Against Abuse by Military Personnel (STAMP) reports that of the 4,300 sexual assault and abuse cases she is handling which were brought up to military and government officials, only 3 were actually prosecuted. In Mackey’s own experience as a survivor of repeated sexual assault by military personnel, her attempt to press charges was opposed by the Department of Justice as a threat to national security.
Sexual violence has permeated much of the war in Iraq, and we shouldn’t be surprised when U.S. soldiers — most of whom have grown up in a culture that eroticizes violence, and all of whom have been trained within a sexist, homophobic institution that further ties sex to violence and systematically denigrates women — commit violent sexual acts, or associate female sexuality with humiliation. Case in point: Torture pictures, which, as the article said, are taken with “the aesthetic of pornography.” As Twisty points out, there is littlte more humiliating than putting women’s underwear on men’s heads — because there’s something humiliating about being a woman. And sexual violence has been utilized in almost every conflict since before the Iliad — to demoralize the enemy by sexually conquering “their” women, to “pollute” or get rid of certain ethnic groups by attempting to impregnate women and thereby dillute the unwanted ethnicity’s bloodline (see Darfur, Yugoslavia), to systematically torture, to promote bonding among male soldiers.
In the Phillipines and around other U.S. military bases, we see that sexual violence follows the men who are trained in it. And it naturally impacts the women with whom they work.
A small handful of men will be prosecuted for sex crimes during war, and they’ll be taking the fall for many, many others who commit similar crimes, or are complacent to those crimes being committed, or enable those crimes, or actively encourage them. And the American people, the government, the military complex and the media will continue to portray them as “bad apples” and “isolated incidents.”
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