U.S. Marine Guilty of Raping Woman in the Phillipines

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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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Crime, Sexual Assault, War and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to U.S. Marine Guilty of Raping Woman in the Phillipines

  1. ginmar says:

    “Liberal pussies”? Wow. Yeah, I’m sure they’re referring to cats.

  2. not enough justice was served, in my view — the 3 others WHO WERE CHEERING SMITH ON as he assaulted nicole are equally guilty.

  3. Raging Moderate says:

    Now, I suspect that the reporter would argue that he used the term “cried rape” to characterize the defendents’ sentiments, not his own

    .

    That’s how I read it.

  4. Kyle says:

    No doubt, a disgusting example of American troops abroad and the jester-in-exile is right about punishing all those who were present during the rape. But I find the examples from article you posted, Jill, to show how those who join the military only bring sexism and racism into the system, rather than the opposite, which says that the military grooms the behavior from top down. You’re right, these cases of sexual violence are not isolated incidences, but is rape ever an isolated incident? (No…not in this patriarchal, sexist world.) Are you really more likely to be a sex offender if you wear a uniform?

    It is disgusting how the military fails to punish these soldiers properly, but it can also be proven how officers are systematically trained to prevent such behavior. And the anecdote from the Air Force Academy Prom is crude, but I fail to see the difference between the play and any how-to civilian sex program.

    Just because the military instills the violent objectification of an enemy during combat (and rightfully so) does not mean it does the same with the sexual objectification of women. The institutionalized connection between the two is just not visible.

  5. Jill says:

    Just because the military instills the violent objectification of an enemy during combat (and rightfully so) does not mean it does the same with the sexual objectification of women. The institutionalized connection between the two is just not visible.

    I’d say showing violent pornography to pump themselves up before bombing missions makes a connection. So does using highly gendered langauge,and referring to their penises as weapons. (From the Robin Morgan article: “One training song (with lewd gestures) goes: “This is my rifle, this is my gun; one is for killing, one is for fun.””)

    Further, when 80 percent of recent veteran women report sexual harassment and 30 percent have survived a rape or attempted rape, I’d say there’s something going on in the military that isn’t happening in, say, a Manhattan law firm. There’s certainly sexual harassment in law offices too, but I’m not sure it’s quite this pervasive, or this institutionalized.

    I find the examples from article you posted, Jill, to show how those who join the military only bring sexism and racism into the system, rather than the opposite, which says that the military grooms the behavior from top down. You’re right, these cases of sexual violence are not isolated incidences, but is rape ever an isolated incident? (No…not in this patriarchal, sexist world.) Are you really more likely to be a sex offender if you wear a uniform?

    Well, sure, they bring sexism and racism into the military. But it’s not either-or, is it? They can bring it, and the military can further emphasize it, right?

    And no, rape isn’t ever an isolated incident, but there is something about war-time rape that makes it different from civilian rape during peace-time. War rape uses sexual violence to demoralize an enemy; it uses women as tools for its greater purpose. Peace-time rape, I would argue, is about (1) individual men asserting control and dominance over women by sexually abusing them, and (2) men collectively keeping all women in a state of fear. It’s not necessarily about harming other men or breaking up an ethnic group, as war-time rape often is.

    Further, while individual men may have been brought up in a sexist culture that encourages the objectification of women and defines masculinity in terms of dominance and control, the military magnifies those things, and trains its soldiers to be hyper-masculine in a way which has little to do with performance on the battlefield. It promotes a hyper-masculine persona within a culture which already defines masculinity in an aggressive, misogynist way. That’s kind of a recipe for disaster, isn’t it?

  6. Kyle says:

    For the soldiers that commit rape during war, the act could be represent a wide variety of issues including the “individual men asserting control and dominance over women by sexually abusing them, and (2) men collectively keeping all women in a state of fear.” Maybe a soldier is personally using rape to “demoralize an enemy,” but that would be the soldier’s individual idea and clearly a misconception of what is taught to him or her. The bottom line is that the military is not an institution thats promote rape or the sexual objectification of women in any way.

    I understand how the military could magnify the already “aggressive and mysogynist” culture we live in, but that is not the intention of the military and therefore it is not institutionalized. Proof can be found in the training itself. Officers candidates in all branches are consistently and constantly taught the abhorence of sexual violence and the necessity of its prevention.

    I’m unconvinced that watching pornos before bombing runs is institutionalized as procedure in the military. And sure, referencing the penis as a gun is a part of standard cadence, but it is also meant to differentiate between a “rifle” and a “gun.” The term “gun” is never used in the military, and neither is the penis.

    But perhaps the absence of women from key components of the military, such as the infantry and special forces, does contribute to their ultimate objectification among enlisted soldiers. The U.S. military was always ahead of its time when it came to race and ethnicity issues (though it may be difficult to come out and applaud a current system that should have always been the norm). Might we see the same driving progression soon than later in regards to gender and sexuality? Quite possibly.

  7. Heraclitus says:

    Another great post, Jill, apparently tossed off while listening with one ear to your instructor.

    And the information in that article is simply nauseating.

  8. Thalia says:

    Apparently the fact that she was “drunken” is a key element in the story.

    Funny, when I read that my first reaction was that the victim being drunk should mean it’s more likely to be rape, not less likely, as her ability to consent is more questionable.

  9. exangelena says:

    Sort of OT, but this article from Time Asia about the sex industry in the Philippines was illuminating and depressing.

  10. Jill says:

    For the soldiers that commit rape during war, the act could be represent a wide variety of issues including the “individual men asserting control and dominance over women by sexually abusing them, and (2) men collectively keeping all women in a state of fear.” Maybe a soldier is personally using rape to “demoralize an enemy,” but that would be the soldier’s individual idea and clearly a misconception of what is taught to him or her. The bottom line is that the military is not an institution thats promote rape or the sexual objectification of women in any way.

    Did you really read the articles I linked to and still conclude that the military is not an institution that promotes the sexual objectification of women in any way? And that doesn’t conflate sex with violence? Really?

    The sexual commodification of women has been a staple of the U.S. military forever. Just look at the nose art on WWII planes — topless, highly sexualized paintings of females adorned quite a few of them. Pin-up art. Sexualized performances. Today, porn is incredibly common, and the cruder the better. Insults are highly gendered. You can certainly make the argument that it doesn’t promote sexual violence, but I think you’d have a hard time really proving that it doesn’t promote the sexual objectification of women in any way.

    Prostitution is big business in Iraq right now. It’s big business around most military bases. This isn’t anything new. It happened in both the World Wars. It happened in Vietnam. It happened in Korea. If you think that sex workers in poor nations servicing military men are doing so entirely voluntarily, and are somehow “liberated” or acting free of coercion, you’re kidding yourself. The very fact that prostitution is so common around military bases would indicate that there’s a market for it, right? And I would think that the fact that there’s a market for it speaks to those men’s perceptions about women. Further, the military is a highly controlled environment. This stuff is tacitly accepted. And incidences of military rape certainly weren’t foreign to the above-mentioned conflicts, either.

    Certainly soldiers might rape for various reasons. But the fact stands that rape has been used as a war tactic for centuries. And to be clear, the United States military certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on rape as a war tactic. Darfur is an excellent example of how rape is used as part of ethnic cleansing; Rwanda and Yugoslavia are also prime examples. I’m not sure how you could look at the facts of those conflicts and not conclude that rape was used as a systematic weapon of war. I think it’s fairly clear that the use of sexual violence in wartime is pervasive, and certainly not uncommon in the U.S. military, given that a great many female soldiers report sexual abuse, that the torture pictures depict sexually abusive situations, and that many women have reported being raped by U.S. soldiers — not to mention the fact that Iraqis look down on women who have been raped, so it’s undoubtedly vastly under-reported.

  11. Jill says:

    I understand how the military could magnify the already “aggressive and mysogynist” culture we live in, but that is not the intention of the military and therefore it is not institutionalized.

    Just because something isn’t intentional doesn’t mean that it can’t be institutionalized. I think that many people would agree that there is institutionalized racism in our criminal justice system; however, most people who work in the criminal justice system aren’t being intentionally racist, or intentionally upholding racist practices. Does that make the racism in the system any less real, or any less institutionalized?

    I’m unconvinced that watching pornos before bombing runs is institutionalized as procedure in the military. And sure, referencing the penis as a gun is a part of standard cadence, but it is also meant to differentiate between a “rifle” and a “gun.” The term “gun” is never used in the military, and neither is the penis.

    “One is for fun,” while referring to the penis with a word that indicates a weapon, doesn’t strike you as a little… odd? Borderline violent? Guns are for injuring people. I’m unconvinced that the only reason they call their pensis “guns” is to emphasize that they should use the word “rifle.” Now, that isn’t incredibly different from phallic symbols in the general culture, but it does give credence to the argument that this mentality is institutionalized.

    Look, I’m not saying that soldiers are evil people, or that the military is bad, or that I think they’re all misogynist rapists. I’m only arguing that there are serious and deeply-held problems in the way that they groom soldiers for combat, and that primary among those problems is a sexist mentality that contributes to sexual violence.

  12. Henry says:

    The fact that there is a market for prostitution around overseas miltary bases says nothing about anyone’s “perceptions of women”. There’s a market for prostitution , especially in Iraq, because you have a lot of lonely, stressed out men who have little or no access to women for extended periods of time. It doesn’t mean they view all women as objects. When you’re in a situation that’s shitty in just about every way, you’re a lot more likely to be less discriminating regarding prostitution. Being away from home sucks. There’s nothing you miss so much as the company of women.

    Secondly, rape is not a “war tactic” for the US military. Nobody’s leading “rape squads” in the field. At no point in boot was I instructed in anything regarding women with the exception of “stay away from female Marines in anything but an official capacity” and “sexual harrasment in any way will ruin your life”. Pretty much the opposite of sexual objectification. And I can’t speak for the Air Force, nor would I want to, but in the Marines I’ve seen something as small as some mutually flirty emails destroy officers’ careers. Sexual misconduct is treated very seriously.

    This is not to be cavalier about rape or sexual assault. I think that LCpl should be hung up by his feet and beaten with a sack of doorknobs. But to act like every incident of some douchebag commiting a crime is evidence of the evils of the patriarchy or what have you is ridiculous.

    LCpl Henry Murphy
    1 MARDIV
    USMC

  13. Laurie says:

    Henry:
    With all due respect, that’s why god gave you *two* hands. There is *never* a good excuse for visiting a prostitute — honestly, I don’t care how lonely you are — especially one in a war-torn country. These women don’t want sex, they don’t want to be close to a man; they want to EAT. Can you imagine, given the religious upbringing many (if not most) of these women have had, the mental damage they suffer becoming *prostitutes*?!!? When it’s have sex with men you don’t know and wouldn’t associate with or go hungry, or have *your children* go hungry, the choice is pretty obvious. Except it’s not really a choice in that case, is it?

    Re: instutionalized disrespect and objectification of women
    I notice that Kyle mentioned that officer training emphasized that any type of sexual assault is to be watched for, discouraged, and brought to trial/punishment. I’m very glad to hear that, really. However, I notice that he mentions only *officer* training — what do the guys who sign up as regular recruits get? And how much of the bias that they bring with them is actively countered? I hate to say this, as I’ll sound horribly classist and I don’t mean to, but certain attitudes towards women do seem to follow class lines. (For example, I rarely run into overt sexism out here in the middle class in the Midwest). If your recruits are generally from the lower classes or from areas where biased attitudes towards women are prevalent, well…. your training would have to work awfully hard to counter that. I suspect it might tend to get in the way of other training necessary to turn out a soldier. Or at the least, that might be the perception. (I admit I’m speculating here.) In this case, I can see where, in the absence of training to counter it, biases against women would tend to proliferate. (Men DO tend to try to “out-macho” each other in large, relatively confined, single-sex groups, especially YOUNG men.) Given the number of military women coming back with stories of harassment and assault, I’m very afraid that this is indeed what is happening.

    We need to change their minds about how to treat women *before* they get into the military, I think. Which comes back to fighting the patriarchal attitudes where ever we find them. Even *I’m* not so blind/naive as to assume that since I don’t encounter them, they don’t exist.

  14. Lya Kahlo says:

    ” These women don’t want sex, they don’t want to be close to a man; they want to EAT.”

    Oh, but a solider boy’s dickly needs so far outweigh the basic human rights of some meaningless woman!

    out of curiosity, do the wives/gf’s back at home know the soliders are over these using desperate women? I bet that’s something (else) the soliders leave out of their letters home, huh.

  15. Sheelzebub says:

    Look, the fact that women are regarded as something one has “access” to is pretty freakin’ demeaning to women. You have access to things.

    Women don’t always have “access” to men, and we don’t have the unending opportunity to buy the sexual services of exploited men. And really, thank God for that. I probably wouldn’t have the problems I have with prostitution and sex work if it wasn’t always based on the woman (and a few men) as service provider/man as consumer model, but in areas of occupation and war, one can’t just chalk it off to another job or empowerment or whatever. The prostituted woman in an occupied nation–or a nation that “hosts” a hyperpower like the US–is extremely vulnerable. She’s reviled by her fellow citizens for being with the occupier, she’s reviled by her family and neighbors for being a “bad” woman, and she’s reviled by her johns for being a prostitute and for being one of the colonized.

    You can’t separate this from patriarchy. Or from White supremacy (and yes, there are plenty of soldiers of color who engage in this, but let’s face it, our nation is run by Whites and is pretty racist).

  16. zuzu says:

    And it’s not like the military and prostitution haven’t been tied together for millenia, with “camp followers” and “comfort women” and brothels run by the military itself.

  17. Roy says:

    Laurie,

    If you’re not running into overt sexism in the middle class, I think you’re lucky. I don’t know that sexism limits itself to a given income level. You *might* be able to make an argument that sexism is more *blatant*, but sexism is “alive and well” at every income level I’ve seen. When you start dealing with upper-class sexism you’re looking at people in positions of power and authority, and I’ve seen some of them get *quite* nasty.

    As far as the military goes: There are official policies, and then there are the how those policies are enforced. The official policy is definitely “Sexual harassment is a serious issue.” Does that mean that every soldier or every officer is going to enforce it, though?
    Of course not.
    “You Men know our policy on sexual harassment *wink wink, nudge nudge*- so don’t do anything that could get you in trouble. Ha ha!”
    As far as I’m aware, the DoD’s “official” stance is that soldiers are *not* to engage in “business” with prostitutes- there was a proposal up in 2004 from the Joint Service Committee on Military Justice to make “patronizing a prostitute” a punishable crime, regardless of whether it was deemed “consensual” and regardless of whether prostitution is legal in that country (I don’t know if it passed, though).
    Even if that’s the “official policy,” though, it doesn’t mean anything if nobody is willing to enforce it- like if you’ve got an officer from “This Man’s Army” looking after His Men, turning a blind eye while they “blow off some steam.”

  18. Laurie says:

    Roy:
    You better believe I know I’m lucky! I did say “overt” — the stuff I actually do run into is more subtle and slippery and hard to combat. *sigh* One of the reasons I hang around and read the feminist blogs I do is to help form coherent arguments as to why such and such behavior is unacceptable, and “yes, I do TOO have a sense of humor; that’s just not funny!” ;) Part of the reason I run into so little is that I primarily work with women, and the men of my general acquaintance either actually are less sexist or know better than to show it around me. *grin* Although, come to think of it, I *have* blown a few female minds with certain thoughts….

    I knew I was making a broad generalization with the class remark, but here’s the thing — that’s where I’ve heard the most blatant examples of sexism in my (admittedly small/narrow) experience. And it doesn’t seem to matter if one has managed to get through college and climb the social/income class ladder — the attitudes that one forms at a young age seem to cling unless one *deliberately* tries to reform them. I also believe that the statistics are that more military recruits come from the lower income classes than the middle and higher ones, and that does seem to be borne out by the experience I’ve had. A may not lead directly to B in this case, but they do seem to share the same space, as it were.

    Thank you, BTW, for making my point more clearly as to the difference between “official policy” and “reality” in the armed forces. It’s discouraging, to say the least, but until *someone* starts to take it seriously, it will prevail. Personally, I think we need to keep working on the pervasive vein of sexism in society in general as well as put pressure on the military to *actually* face the music. Not entirely sure how to do that just now, so I just do what I can.

  19. Roy says:

    I definitely think you’re right on about attitudes formed at a young age. The longer an attitude or belief goes unchallanged, the harder it is to change it. So, by the time any particular person reaches college (which, for some people, may be their first taste of feminism), they tend to have really set positions on a lot of things. If they’re not already looking to challange their views on something, it can be *very* difficult to persuade them. I’ve definitely seen people like that.
    You know, I think that’s probably a major problem with the military, too, now that you’ve got me thinking about it. I mean, it’s the officers who are responsible for enforcing policy, but officers stick around a *lot* longer than the average recruit. While Joe Macho might be a really blatant sexist, he’s probably going to be gone in a matter of years. Officers, though… they stick around for decades.

    RE: feminist blogs – I just recently discovered a how active the feminist blogosphere is, but I’m finding it very interesting and informative. I don’t know what rock I was hiding under that I didn’t notice before.

  20. Henry says:

    To be clear, the prostitution I was referring to in Iraq doesn’t involve Iraqi women. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I’m unaware of it. I was referring to US servicewomen, which is definitely not uncommon. As for having two hands: masturbation while on deployment is like a sport, fer chrissakes.

    Since the general opinion here seems to be that we’re all fresh out of the trailerpark or ghetto when we enlist I’m not surprised that it’s seems natural that we want nothing more than to dehumanize wimmin’ (especially furrin’ wimmin’). It is most likely correct to say that if someone is generally sexist when he enlists but conducts himself properly on duty, no he will not be corrected. We have equal opportunity classes mandated once a year, but thats about it. Other priorities and whatnot.

    As for wives/girlfriends knowing what’s going on in the field? I doubt they want to know, just like guys in the field really don’t want to know what their wives/girlfriends are doing while they’re out getting mortared and shot at. Spousal infidelity is an epidemic in the military. It’s no accident that our divorce rates are so high.

  21. exangelena says:

    Henry – Um, I don’t think I expressed any racist (ghetto) or elitist (trailerpark) sentiments.

    To all in general – sexism and misogyny are, sadly, universal in most societies. Sexist men are in all races, religions, socioeconomic groups, nationalities, political parties, etc., which is why I hate to see people try to blame one group of men for sexism. There are middle class men who are extremely misogynistic and working class men who are not sexist – I have not yet seen any stats that measure rates of sexism in income levels.

    That being said, all this stuff about foreign prostitutes and the US military really hits a nerve with me, because a man in the 70s once called my mom (an Asian US citizen) “mama san” when he saw her on the street – because he saw Asian woman and made the cognitive leap that Asian woman=prostitute. (No clue, btw, whether he was a civilian or a veteran). I think that the portrayals (and sad realities) of Asian prostitutes fueled by the demand in the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Korea has led to the stereotype that Asian woman=prostitute=submissive sexual commodity. I shudder to think that millions of American men look at me and automatically assume that’s what I am.

  22. Jill says:

    I’ve gotta disagree with the whole class/sexism thing. I just think that sexism manifests itself differently given how you grew up. I go to school with plenty of people who grew up in very wealthy homes, who went to elite undergraduate institutions, and who are now at an elite law school. They can be sexist along with the best of ’em — except instead of whistling at women on the street, they operate under the assumption that they’re simply entitled to women and women’s bodies. Women, to many of them, are things that they “deserve” along with a nice car, a good education, a big house, and a successful professional career.

    Perhaps sexism among certain groups is more obvious, but I definitely wouldn’t say it’s disproportionately represented in any one social group.

  23. Jill says:

    Since the general opinion here seems to be that we’re all fresh out of the trailerpark or ghetto when we enlist I’m not surprised that it’s seems natural that we want nothing more than to dehumanize wimmin’ (especially furrin’ wimmin’).

    That’s not the “general sentiment.” I think you’re characterizing (and blowing out of proportion) the views that have been expressed on this thread by one person. It’s definitely not a universal belief.

    However, I do think that Laurie has a point when she says that young people who enlist in the military do tend to come from lower-income families than, say, the kids who go on to college after high school. Is that a universal truth? Of course not. But the way that the military is often presented as the best option to kids who have few others to choose from is indeed problematic.

  24. mythago says:

    For example, I rarely run into overt sexism out here in the middle class in the Midwest

    Probably because you’re middle-class, and the sexism of people like you is mostly invisible to you.

  25. Lya Kahlo says:

    ” I doubt they want to know, just like guys in the field really don’t want to know what their wives/girlfriends are doing while they’re out getting mortared and shot at. Spousal infidelity is an epidemic in the military.”

    That’s an excellent evasion of the question. And also an excellent strawman.

    The impression I get from this is, “oh well, it’s okay for me to buy sex from this woman or that woman becaus the wifey’s at home probably screwing the pool boy.”

    Not very sturdy.

  26. Roy says:

    Henry,

    1. Nobody expressed the opinion that most enlisted men and women come from ghettos or trailerparks- asserting that most of our enlisted come from mid and low income households (a statement of fact about income) is *not* the same as asserting that they come from “the trailerpark or ghetto” (a loaded statement suggesting classism and racism). Further, when you’re talking about who, exactly, is enlisted, you’re not talking opinions- you’re talking facts. It’s a fact that, as of 2004, over 50% of our enlisted force come from households with incomes of 40K or less per year. It’s a fact that only 10% of enlisted men and women in the army have college experience, let alone a degree (which is the *highest* percentage among the four branches), while 90% of officers undergraduate or graduate degrees. The DoD has all kinds of information on the breakdown of our armed forces that anyone can look at.

    2. Whether you “want nothing more than to dehumanize wimmin'” or not wasn’t really the point, as I took it. The point was that certain actions *do* dehumanize women. Whether a soldier paying a prostitute for sex is intentionally setting out to dehumanize and take advantage wasn’t the point. His actions have impact beyond his intentions- that, because of his background, or his training, or any other number of factors, he doesn’t see his actions as dehumanizing could pretty easily be seen as a problem, too. Which is worse? Knowing that your actions dehumanize a woman and take advantage of the appaling conditions she’s forced to live in and doing it anyway, or being so desensitized, so self absorbed that you don’t even realize her condition in the first place? Seems like *both* are a problem.

    3. As Lya points out, you really avoided the question with your comments about infidelity. If a soldier is so concerned that his spouse is going to cheat, shouldn’t that have been a concern, you know… *before they got married?* That he thinks his wife might cheat on him doesn’t excuse cheating on her, anyway. And it certainly doesn’t justify doing so at the expense of another person. I can’t imagine that divorce rates are helped by, say, paying a girl for sex.

  27. Laurie says:

    Mythago:
    (I said:) For example, I rarely run into overt sexism out here in the middle class in the Midwest

    (You said:) Probably because you’re middle-class, and the sexism of people like you is mostly invisible to you.

    Sorry, I was a bit oblique in that statement. The operative word was “overt” — as I said after, I DO get to see the more subtle, slippery stuff that’s hard to combat. I was theorizing whether the more overt stuff makes it into the military and is subsequently NOT combatted at all. Oh, and I’ll admit that I don’t get to see the stuff that the middle class might dump on women/people that they perceive to be of a “lower” class, although I did get to see the elitist attitudes of a “higher” class worker with regards to a “lower” class worker (I worked as a medical secretary for years. Most of the docs were nice, but rather condescending. Drove me NUTS.)

    That said, I’d like to point out that I realize that I’ve led an apparently VERY sheltered life. *grin* Even though both of my parents came from a pretty low income background, even though we never really had a lot while I was growing up, and even though my dad served in the military (WWII, for anyone who cares — he was an MP), I was raised to believe that there was no reason that I couldn’t do or be anything I wanted to, provided I got the schooling. For all the very stereotypical gender roles that were followed in my family, somehow they didn’t seem to restrict *me*. I was a feminist before I actually knew what the word meant. Maybe it had something to do with growing up in the 1970s. *shrug* For whatever reason, I haven’t run into a LOT of overt stuff. Doesn’t mean I don’t think it exists, just that I haven’t seen a lot of it.

  28. Laurie says:

    Henry said:
    — To be clear, the prostitution I was referring to in Iraq doesn’t involve Iraqi women. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I’m unaware of it. I was referring to US servicewomen, which is definitely not uncommon.

    Ummmmm, sources for that information? Unless you can cite someone who has done a *study*, I’m afraid I have to take that statement as hearsay and camp gossip, and with a GIANT grain of salt. Given the statistics that are coming out of the VA right now, I’m skeptical that servicewomen are “prostituting themselves” as opposed to being pressured into “service”, so to speak. I’d be interested to hear where you have gotten your information.

    — As for having two hands: masturbation while on deployment is like a sport, fer chrissakes.

    Well, that’s good, ’cause I know privacy is in short supply in the field. So — you have that “release”. Use it!!! Being lonely and stressed and scared and needing human companionship is NOT an excuse for *using* another human being when it is not consensual! And simply paying a woman who accepts said payment doesn’t necessarily *make it* consensual, either. The fact that the wife MAY be fooling around at home doesn’t make it right, either. (To be clear, I have NO respect for people who fool around while their spouse is deployed. That’s just *wrong*.) I understand there are non-fraternization rules, and that has got to make it hard for everyone. But you know what? No one has ever died from sexual frustration, particularly if they could blow off some steam solo. Please — you sound like a bright guy, so wrap your head around this. No one — NO ONE — is ever entitled to the use of another person’s body. EVER.

    I’d also like to apologize for implying that all service wo/men are from trailer parks and ghettos. That was certainly not my intent, and I apologize for any insult. Actually, out here, the men and women who are likeliest to take the military option are from rural areas where there simply isn’t any work and further education is out of the question, at least for the short term. And those rural folks here in the Midwest *are* the ones most likely to hold tightly to gender stereotypes and biases. If they don’t get the type of training that the officers might, I can see where their beliefs could become an issue. That was the only point I was trying to make.

    Anyway, be safe, Henry. Even though we might disagree, I’d like to see you get home safely. You’re doing a tough job that I am not sure I could do, and I do respect that.

  29. Sheelzebub says:

    To be clear, the prostitution I was referring to in Iraq doesn’t involve Iraqi women. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I’m unaware of it. I was referring to US servicewomen, which is definitely not uncommon. As for having two hands: masturbation while on deployment is like a sport, fer chrissakes.

    Um, so you’re saying that US servicewomen prostitute themselves? There are US servicewomen who blog who’d disagree with that.

    Besides which, the starting off point was a news story about the rape of a Philipina. And you cannot deny that around army bases, there is a large “market” for prostitution, and many of those prostitutes are not US servicewomen.

    Since the general opinion here seems to be that we’re all fresh out of the trailerpark or ghetto when we enlist I’m not surprised that it’s seems natural that we want nothing more than to dehumanize wimmin’ (especially furrin’ wimmin’). It is most likely correct to say that if someone is generally sexist when he enlists but conducts himself properly on duty, no he will not be corrected. We have equal opportunity classes mandated once a year, but thats about it. Other priorities and whatnot.

    Henry, you spoke about women as things that men have a right to have access to. That’s pretty damn degrading. Again, women aren’t raised to feel entitled to “access” to men. You take a look at some of the crap that went on in Okinawa and Korea, and get back to me about how the army doesn’t have issues about women. You take a look at the systematic rape of US Servicewomen, and get back to me about how the army doesn’t have issues about women. But the beatches are just not important enough–other priorities and whatnot.

  30. Henry says:

    The use of the phrase “access” in no way implied entitlement or degradation of any kind. If I live near a supermarket, I have access to groceries. I’m not entitled to walk into the store and eat whatever I want. If I’m at home, I have access to women. I can go to the club, or the bookstore, or the laundromat and talk to some. Access refers to the simple fact of being near something, and in the case of deployment, the simple fact is there are very few women present, especially in combat units. You can’t have an empowered, totally equal, completely non-exploitational relationship with women even if you’re the most sensitive man on earth if there’s no women there. That’s all I was trying to say. Way to be overly sensitive about language.

    I’m not saying all US servicewomen, or even a majority, or even a statistically large number prostitute themselves. I am saying it occurs, yes. Call it hearsay if you will, fine. And maybe I wasn’t clear, I’m not trying to give the impression that prostitution is super fantastic, or justified in these cases (although in certain situations I reckon prostitution doesn’t exploit anyone). My initial point was just to say that the fact that men overseas pay for sex doesn’t automatically mean they see all women as objects or less than human. Most of these guys are barely grown, and they’re not thinking about the issue that deeply. When some bar girl overseas comes up to a young Marine or soldier, she’s not advertising how shitty her life is. She’s whispering in this drunken kids ear about how he can have some of what he’s been lying awake thinking about for months at a time. Is it wrong? Sure. But stress and loneliness will often conspire to have you do things that are wrong if you don’t have to see the results. Doesn’t make him a monster.

    And finally, yes, we have other priorities. I’m sure alot more could be done to prevent sexual assault in the service (and everywhere else, for that matter). I don’t really know what those things are, but I’m sure more could be done. The point is that everything the military does takes a backseat to making us more ready to close with and destroy the enemy. Period. Like I said, I can’t speak for the other services, and I don’t want to. When I say we have equal oportunity classes once a year, it’s because that’s all we have time for. Between deployment, and deployment workups, regular field exercises, rifle qual, and all the other things Marines have to do to be combat ready, we dont have a lot of time. All we can do is take individuals who break the rules and come down on them.

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