Author: has written 5285 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

18 Responses

  1. diana prince
    diana prince May 29, 2007 at 9:42 pm |

    I’m sorry but…

    the erectile dysfunction drug Levitra is included in the formulary

    WTF????
    I mean, I’m lost for words. Some soldiers can’t get it up, and the government funds them so they can ‘cure’ this ‘problem’?
    My brain is now starting to melt at the absolute towser-faced idiocy of it all.

  2. Raging Moderate
    Raging Moderate May 29, 2007 at 10:55 pm |

    U.S. military veterans are twice as likely to be jailed for sexual assault than non-veterans.

    I think this might be misleading.

    I looked through the DOJ report, and I didn’t see the numbers to back up that claim. What I see is that U.S. military veterans who are in prison are twice as likely to be there for a sexual assault (23%) than non-veterans (12%), which is not the same.

    I’m no statistician, but if veterans are half as likely to be in prison (630 per 100,00) than non-veterans (1390 per 100,000), but twice as likely to be there for sexual assault, wouldn’t that mean the rate of incarceration for sexual assault is somewhat lower among veterans (145 per 100,000 vs 167 per 100,000)?

    Apologies in advance if I’m completely wrong here.

  3. Aerik
    Aerik May 30, 2007 at 12:45 am |

    This is one of several reasons I do not care for anybody who ever says "Support the Troops!" or talks about how all vets, sailors, marines, seals, pilots, infantrymen are automatically soldiers because they "sacrifice so much for our great country."

    On an analysis of FOX news coverage of Iraq, I saw one of those cable news dolts finally get the guts to go visit troops himself, and finds himself the perfect candidate, a soldier who actually thinks he’s reducing terrorism and thinks Suddam had WMD’s and funded Al Quaeda, who was more than willing to say anybody who doesn’t support everything he does is siding with terrorists.

    I just am not going to automatically concede that soldiers are heroes, or even good people. No. It doesn’t work that way.

    Respect is earned on a person-by-person basis, over time, by merit based on evidence, not by cronyism or contract, or rank, title, or leadership ability. To think so supports megalomania, totalitarianism, dictatorship, and generally a mindset of faith over evidence, and it produces very bad results.

    And the fact that soldiers become more sexually abusive is still true no matter how Christian a country is. <sarcasm> Religion of love, indeed.<sarcasm>

  4. Shankar Gupta
    Shankar Gupta May 30, 2007 at 8:16 am |

    I was coming in here to post exactly what Raging Moderate did. This story showed up some time ago on the RW blogosphere and got torn up.

    But hey, Aerik, whatever fits your narrative, right?

  5. RKMK
    RKMK May 30, 2007 at 9:07 am |

    I went to university a stone’s throw from the Royal Military College of Canada, and this isn’t news to me, at all. If you take young men from the ages of 18-22 – who often come from “traditional” patriarchal backgrounds and who are already predisposed to accepting a modicum amount of violence (i.e. most join because they want to blow shit up) – and stick them in an environment that

    a) is militarized and predominantly male
    b) has no social educational programs (such as rape-education seminars, often held in residence at public universities) at a time when it is most crucial (i.e. first away from home and making those first adults steps),
    c) and encourages “male-bonding” through womanizing, as well as peer-conformity and loyalty to your fellow officers above all else

    and it’s a fucking recipe for disaster. I myself attended the RMC Christmas Ball and ended up drinking drugged punch. Other girls weren’t so lucky, and ended up in the hospital, or worse. And then there were my three friends who were raped by RMC students; one tried to press charges but she was given the run-around by the legal system, even though she had eyewitness accounts and ICQ conversations where he admitted to having sex with her while she was unconscious “but it was only date rape, if anything.”

    By their third year at Queen’s, most of my female peers knew to be incredibly wary of the RMC boys. This isn’t to say that rape didn’t occur between fellow Queen’s students, or that all RMC students were rapists – one of my other friends married one of the sweetest guys in the world, who went to that school. However, the social culture at RMC was poison, a total breeding ground for misogyny, sexual harassment and assault.

    Of course, you can’t say this to anyone, without being considered unpatriotic or ungrateful. I get a lot of “your experience has biased you!” instead of “your extensive experience and interaction with group in question gives you credibility in this subject matter.” People still want to think that the military is comprised of people they see in old Gene Kelly/Frank Sinatra movies.

  6. Melissa M.
    Melissa M. May 30, 2007 at 10:56 am |

    About those statistics, one branch of my family is very connected to U.S. military culture, and I really wouldn’t be surprised to learn that sexual assault rates and spousal abuse rates are higher among military personnel and veterans, but that these populations are still less likely to be convicted than the general population. Military wives are certainly not encouraged to report abusive behavior and are even told to excuse it as one of the consequences of the trauma that their husbands experience in military engagements. The military provides one of the few chances for education and social mobility for many lower income people in the U.S. A lot of military personnel are good people, but the way military training works to desensitize soldiers to violence and using force against other people can wreak havoc on their civilian lives. Not to mention the consequences that alcohol abuse and long deployments can have in marriages. Sergeants and officers who are used to instant obedience in the field also often expect the same behavior from their wives and children which can result in abusive and really controlling behavior on their part.

  7. Raging Moderate
    Raging Moderate May 30, 2007 at 1:12 pm |

    About those statistics, one branch of my family is very connected to U.S. military culture, and I really wouldn’t be surprised to learn that sexual assault rates and spousal abuse rates are higher among military personnel and veterans, but that these populations are still less likely to be convicted than the general population.

    That may be true, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with this study. It only looks at veterans who have been convicted after they leave the military.

    Oh interesting. I admittedly didn’t read the DOJ report, just the article. But yeah, if that’s the case, than that sentence is extremely misleading, and I should learn to check primary sources.

    If my interpretation of the data is correct, it’s not misleading; it’s a falsehood. And Marshall’s article is also kinda worthless, as she’s trying to explain a phenomenon which doesn’t exist.

    So here’s the real question to be asked: why are U.S. military veterans less likely to be convicted of a violent crime, homocide, sexual assault, or any crime at all than non-veterans?

  8. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne May 30, 2007 at 1:55 pm |

    So here’s the real question to be asked: why are U.S. military veterans less likely to be convicted of a violent crime, homocide, sexual assault, or any crime at all than non-veterans?

    Other than the fact that it’s well-known that the services cover up crimes that servicemembers commit overseas, or ensure that they get much lighter sentences than normal? And that’s leaving aside Melissa M’s post, which you conveniently ignored, noting that domestic violence cases on military bases are often covered up and/or not prosecuted for fear of embarrassing the military.

    My question is, why do servicemembers and veterans get preferential treatment by law enforcement?

  9. Raging Moderate
    Raging Moderate May 30, 2007 at 2:04 pm |

    Other than the fact that it’s well-known that the services cover up crimes that servicemembers commit overseas, or ensure that they get much lighter sentences than normal?

    Once again, this study is looking at veterans convicted of a crime after they leave the military, not while they are still serving. Apples and oranges, unless you think that the military continues to cover up their civilian crimes, too.

    And that’s leaving aside Melissa M’s post, which you conveniently ignored, noting that domestic violence cases on military bases are often covered up and/or not prosecuted for fear of embarrassing the military.

    I didn’t ignore it, I quoted part of it. But she, like you, is confusing crimes committed while in the military with crimes committed after leaving.

    My question is, why do servicemembers and veterans get preferential treatment by law enforcement?

    My question is backed up by the DOJ report. Can you provide a link that shows that veterans do in fact get preferential treatment by law enforcement?

  10. Peter
    Peter May 30, 2007 at 2:19 pm |

    Run a quick Google (or whatever) news search on this and you will find a far different story than what this “spin” on it presents.

    Veterans are far less likely to be arrested at all compared to the general population. It is among those who ARE arrested that there is the higher proportion of sexual offenders — and the original news articles didn’t have the “hey, we have no clue” meme, but rather pointed out things like the fact that the average jailed veteran is likely to be older than the general prison population, and giving several other reasons why these statistics might be so.

    Still, if we can jettison the knee-jerk “military = evil people” reaction, all the above questions are certainly valid. But let’s also not overlook, especially in wartime, that a lot of servicemembers are not getting even the basic medical care for wounds recieved in active combat; it is approaching a certainty that none of them are getting adequate post-traumatic care for psychological issues.

    But anyone who wants to use this report as the basis for “see, we told you the military was evil” had better also include statistics for the percentage of veterans who are doing GOOD work, in business, in politics, and in other fields.

    Aerik, do the math. As Jill points out, if all you have to go on is this study, veterans are LESS likely to be sexually abusive, not more.

    If you’re tired of hearing people declare that all veterans are heroes just because they served, imagine how tired WE are of hearing how we really are all evil scum, just because we served.

    And Melissa M., sadly, your comments are all too true in a lot of cases. And I can only imagine how much worse they’ve gotten under the current administration than they were back in my (or my parents’) day.

  11. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne May 30, 2007 at 2:21 pm |

    Once again, this study is looking at veterans convicted of a crime after they leave the military, not while they are still serving. Apples and oranges, unless you think that the military continues to cover up their civilian crimes, too.

    If that’s your argument, my counter-argument would be that:

    (a) there is (or at least used to be) a requirement that you have no criminal convictions in order to sign up for military service, so you’re getting a self-selected set of people and

    (b) crimes other than ones against women/families do tend to be prosecuted when committed in the service (say if a male soldier assaults another male soldier) and since those people are dishonorably discharged, they don’t show up as “veterans” since they no longer fit the definition.

    I doubt that veterans are more criminal than the general population, but they’re often more spectacularly criminal. Or have you already forgotten that both Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were military veterans?

  12. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne May 30, 2007 at 2:25 pm |

    But let’s also not overlook, especially in wartime, that a lot of servicemembers are not getting even the basic medical care for wounds recieved in active combat; it is approaching a certainty that none of them are getting adequate post-traumatic care for psychological issues.

    The neighborhood where I used to work in Los Angeles had a very high number of homeless men, most of whom were clearly mentally ill. And most of them were veterans who were getting intermittent treatment from the VA hospital a mile or so away.

    Those were the discards from Vietnam that we all decided as a society weren’t important enough for us to take care of after their service. How many more are going to be added to their ranks by our adventures in Iraq?

  13. Bolo
    Bolo May 30, 2007 at 3:21 pm |

    After skimming through some parts of the study, it appears that this issue is a lot more complicated than either side is presenting it as. I’m sorry I don’t have time to read it thoroughly and write a good post here, but comparing the groups of “veterans” and “non-veterans” is not necessarily the best way to look at the data. It should also be delineated by age, so vets and non-vets aged 18-30 should be compared together, then aged 31-50 (or something like that). The fact that 65% of vets are older than 55 while only 17% of non-vets are puts a huge monkeywrench in doing good comparisons–younger people commit more crimes.

    There’s a lot more to this and it needs to be broken down further.

  14. Frumious B
    Frumious B May 30, 2007 at 3:44 pm |

    One interpretation of the statistics is that when veterans are convicted of crimes, they are more likely to be convicted of sexual assault than another type of offense. The likelihood of a non-veteran being convicted for sexual assault vs. a non sexual crime is lower.

    This says nothing about crimes committed or crimes tried. Only about conviction. Sexual crimes are less likely to be reported, and therefore less likely to make it to trial and conviction, than other crimes. An increased likelihood of conviction for sexual crimes is therefore noteworthy.

    When I first heard this story, the reporter brought up the difference in crime of choice based on age. Middle-aged men apparently stop stealing but continue assaulting women.

  15. Raging Moderate
    Raging Moderate May 30, 2007 at 4:12 pm |

    there is (or at least used to be) a requirement that you have no criminal convictions in order to sign up for military service, so you’re getting a self-selected set of people

    That would help explain why veterans are less likely to commit crimes.

    I doubt that veterans are more criminal than the general population

    So do I. In fact, the DOJ report seems to confirm this. It also appears that they are less likely to be jailed for sexual assault, contrary to this post.

    since those people are dishonorably discharged, they don’t show up as “veterans” since they no longer fit the definition

    Not so. The DOJ report states that 62% of convicted veterans received an honorable discharge, and the other 38% received “various types of other discharges” (2.8% received dishonorable discharges).

    This says nothing about crimes committed or crimes tried. Only about conviction. Sexual crimes are less likely to be reported, and therefore less likely to make it to trial and conviction, than other crimes.

    Which is true for veterans and non-veterans. They measured convictions against convictions, not convictions against arrests or accusations. Do you believe that a sexual assault committed by a veteran is less likely to be reported or prosecuted than a sexual assault committed by a non-veteran?

    An increased likelihood of conviction for sexual crimes is therefore noteworthy.

    It would be noteworthy if it were true. From what I can tell, it’s not.

  16. Bolo
    Bolo May 30, 2007 at 5:08 pm |

    Got a few more minutes, so here are some things that will effect the data and which should be considered for a better understanding of what we’re looking at:

    1) Rate of sexual assault by individuals in active service vs. those discharged from the military. I would guess that active service is much worse, since the “boy’s club” effect is fully in place. Those who are discharged are now living in the larger culture which, while not great, is certainly an improvement.

    2) Different rates across different age groups. Younger service members (vets or not) would be more likely to commit crimes, including sexual assault.

    3) Period in which military service was performed. Wars fought during this period. Vietnam was much more traumatic overall than Iraq I, which is why the proportion of vets in prison from the Vietnam war is so much higher.

    4) Victim’s statistics (females raped or assaulted) vs. Criminal’s statistics (men doing the raping and assaulting). 30% of all women in the army could be assaulted, while only 3% of all men could have commited those assaults because the gender imbalance is huge (I just made up those numbers though… don’t know what they really are).

    A lot of interesting conclusions could be sifted out of some more concrete data. I’ll see if I can look for more info. later today and maybe write something up.

  17. Elizajoey
    Elizajoey May 30, 2007 at 8:17 pm |

    I mean, I’m lost for words. Some soldiers can’t get it up, and the government funds them so they can ‘cure’ this ‘problem’?
    My brain is now starting to melt at the absolute towser-faced idiocy of it all.

    It happens here too. Although not just for soldiers. Australia has the PBS scheme which greatly reduces the price of drugs that are commonly used. I forget the exact wording of how/what gets on the PBS but I do remember how Viagra was added to the PBS not long after it come out but a drug that was a revolutionary breast cancer treatment was not on it.

    I just remember researching this at high school (three years ago) and it has always stuck with me as a prime example of the sexism in our society.

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.