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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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53 Responses

  1. Phyrbyrd
    Phyrbyrd December 20, 2009 at 11:44 am |

    So a male soldier can get court marshalled if he gets pregnant?
    Oh, then everything’s equal.

  2. preying mantis
    preying mantis December 20, 2009 at 11:48 am |

    How, precisely, does one court martial a male soldier for becoming pregnant?

  3. Dominique
    Dominique December 20, 2009 at 12:21 pm |

    I know!!! Sterilize the menz. All of them. That way no one gets pregnant! Yay! Problem solved, asshole.

  4. Becca Stareyes
    Becca Stareyes December 20, 2009 at 12:54 pm |

    Oh, good lord. Can folks be court-martialed for catching measles or something as well? I mean, unplanned pregnancy and measles are things most people want to avoid, especially as a soldier overseas. And most people take precautions to avoid them. On the other hand, no precaution is perfect.

    (For that matter, are we going to court-martial the father for aiding and abetting? It takes two (or more) to tango here.)

  5. Kyra
    Kyra December 20, 2009 at 12:59 pm |

    Well, a male soldier could get court-martialed for fathering a child . . .

    That said, it is quite thoroughly inefficient and hostile to penalize, after the fact, having developed a bodily process that pretty much decides whether to happen on its own. One does not turn pregnancy/fertility on and off at will; as such it’s an involuntary action legitimately separated from the parts the people involved have control over.

    He wants to dissuade soldiers from getting pregnant? Make unprotected sex a court-martial offense. If someone gets pregnant, ascertain whether they were using appropriate birth control methods acceptably, and if not, court-martial (both) for the lack of that.

    Jerk.

    Is there an exemption on the female side for being raped? ‘Cause that would be a total train wreck—woman gets raped, woman gets pregnant as a result of rape, woman gets court-martialed for something her rapist made happen to her . . . (rapist possibly gets more punishment for fathering a child than he ever would have for the rape?)

  6. SPC Sarah
    SPC Sarah December 20, 2009 at 1:33 pm |

    There’s an order against having sex with in theater. Very few pregnancies happen without the sex, so I suspect that this is really about punishing people for breaking old General Order #1(which covers things like having sex and drinking and keeping pets while in Iraq).

    And of course, rape is an entirely differnt issue. The is working hard, if not all effiecently to fight rape within the ranks. There are still a lot of problems, but hey, they’re working on it.

    I’ve been here in Iraq for almost six months. I don’t always like everything the Army does, but the “No Sex” rule isn’t bad one. People need to be focused on jobing their jobs, on staying alert to danger, not on all the silly little drama that happens when young people start having romantic and sexual relations in stessful environments. If people are too distracted by their boy or girlfriends, one of their buddies is going to get hurt.

    It sucks, I wish I could have a beer, but hey, we all signed up for this.

  7. southpaw
    southpaw December 20, 2009 at 1:53 pm |

    So wait, we need an act of congress to repeal DADT, but this wanker gets to invent the crime of pregnancy out in the field?

  8. hbsweet
    hbsweet December 20, 2009 at 1:58 pm |

    If he’s married, I hope the Major General’s wife gives him all kinds of hell; if not, I think his major(general) problem is that the man needs to get laid.

  9. A Guy In Denver
    A Guy In Denver December 20, 2009 at 2:01 pm |

    Martialed, not marshalled.

  10. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz December 20, 2009 at 2:27 pm |

    I’m an Army JAG attorney. At the moment, I am also a prosecutor. I court-martial people for a living. I tell you this not because I represent the Army or anything, but to give you a context for my response.

    First, they’re not going to court-martial people for getting pregnant or impregnating someone per se. The general has issued an order and you can be court-martialed (theoretically) for violation of the order. [Amending the Manual for Courts-Martial is the prerogative of Congress. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is an executive order and how we work within that rubric is governed by DoD directives.]

    Now, keep in mind that it is rare for us to court-martial anyone for violation of a general order. (This order or any other.) The armed forces have a wide range of punishments available, of which courts-martial are only one. Some alternatives include non-judicial punishment (which can result in reduction in rank, forfeitures, and extra duty) and letters of reprimand (which can stall out your career). We also administratively separate people with different kinds of discharges. (There are 5 characterizations of discharge.)

    A commander cannot unilaterally announce that a certain offense will result in a court-martial. He or she can make a regulation punitive so that those who violate it are subject to a court-martial, but not that a court-martial will result. To do so is considered unlawful command influence.

    I don’t really expect this policy to continue, and I suspect they’re going to have one hell of a time walking it back.

  11. Mike Crichton
    Mike Crichton December 20, 2009 at 3:20 pm |

    Phyrbyrd, preying mantis: I _think_ that the implication was supposed to be that male soldiers who impregnate female soldiers will also get court-martialed. And since a pregnancy is evidence of sexual activity, and part of “General Order Number One” is no sex in the field, anyone who gets pregnant or impregnates someone else _is_ violating their lawful orders. Personally, I don’t really have a problem with this in theory, though it remains to be seen whether they will, in fact, enforce it on both parties. If they don’t, _then_ it’s bullshit.

    Dominique: If current technology allowed it, I’d be in favor of _everyone_ in tactical units getting reversibly sterilized for the duration. In the 3 months prior to either of my own deployments to Iraq, there were more pregnancies in my unit than in the entire previous year. No way all of them were accidental.

    Kyra: He wants to dissuade soldiers from getting pregnant? Make unprotected sex a court-martial offense. If someone gets pregnant, ascertain whether they were using appropriate birth control methods acceptably, and if not, court-martial (both) for the lack of that.

    The problem with that is the virtual impossibility of ascertaining guilt. Unless they had a camera running, guilty parties (Those who got pregnant deliberately to avoid deployment) could always claim “We were using a condom! really!” Those whose pregnancies really were accidental would also have no way to prove they really were using protection. A policy like that _would_ be abused, by commanders and soldiers alike. It’s nice in theory, though.

    Is there an exemption on the female side for being raped?

    In theory, yes. The current policy has such exemptions, but I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about it too.

    rapist possibly gets more punishment for fathering a child than he ever would have for the rape?

    That _would_ be an ironically beneficial side-effect, wouldn’t it?

    southpaw : He’s not inventing a crime, he’s using his authority as an officer to increase the penalties for a currently existing one. All this is doing is hardening up existing policies, that provide for “Non-Judicial Punishment” (In civilian-ese, paying a fine and doing extra duty) in case of sex/pregnancies.

  12. sophonisba
    sophonisba December 20, 2009 at 4:35 pm |

    Maybe I’m looking too hard for a silver lining, but it seems to me that “female biology is a crime” is, sadly,not really news in a US context, whereas “we desperately need to hold onto female soldiers because they have ‘critical skills’,” is. That is: it isn’t news, but acknowledging it so publicly is. So many people have learned to pay lip service to “our men and women in uniform” but they still think soldier=man.

    Of course, criminalizing bodily processes is the worst and most offensive possible way to go about retaining women soldiers. But admitting how much they need them and how valuable they are is a step. Maybe?

  13. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza December 20, 2009 at 6:22 pm |

    “In the 3 months prior to either of my own deployments to Iraq, there were more pregnancies in my unit than in the entire previous year. No way all of them were accidental.”

    Depends what do you mean by “accidental”. Being in Iraq is a “bit” more stressful and since sex does relieve stress… well…

  14. Brandon
    Brandon December 20, 2009 at 6:31 pm |

    Becca,

    Your comment is seriously incorrect. First off, measles, mumps, etc… are diseases. Pregnancy isn’t! Women can control if they become pregnant (with the exception of rape). Men can also control if they father a child.

    With your comment about the father “aiding and abetting”, if he is a soldier and there is a “no sex” rule in combat roles, I think he should be court marshalled as well. Fair is fair is say.

    SPC Sarah,

    I couldn’t agree more with you! Stay safe and come home soon.

  15. Seize
    Seize December 20, 2009 at 6:36 pm |

    Tomek, I think they were saying that certain women were getting pregnant to get out of active duty for however short a time, possibly with the express consent of their partners.

    Gotta tell you, if a draft was ever instated that called for women as well as men, I’d be considering all of my options – including pregnancy – to get out of it. While this certainly would be a duplicitous behavior for someone who volunteered for the service, it certainly isn’t a behavior I have difficulty understanding.

  16. stacy
    stacy December 20, 2009 at 7:27 pm |

    you know when i saw this in the paper intially i was absolutely ticked off. however, i forgot about general order one, and all i was thinking was when i first read it was how dare ‘they’ say i could be court-martialled for getting pregnant. i was stationed in a combat area. not like iraq, it was a skirmish but still combat theatre. i got pregnant by my husband. i was on birth control i thought i was being responsible. however, there was no rule at that time about us on base not being intimate. i got sent home even though i didn’t want to go. but i was a liability. i didn’t get in trouble but the thought that i might have under this rule angers me.

  17. Alison
    Alison December 20, 2009 at 8:04 pm |

    I think the problem with “there’s an exception for rape” is that many people don’t define their experience as rape at the time, or ever, plus, even if one did define it as rape, the consequences of making a rape allegation might be to great.

    I just read an article about someone self-aborting in the army, feeling that she had no other choice. From the article: “From a remove of two years, Amy now sees the sex that resulted in her pregnancy as rape: something that may have qualified her for an on-base (though self-funded) abortion. However, at the time, because the rape wasn’t brutally violent, and because she had seen fellow servicewomen be ostracized for “crying rape” in the past, she imagined nothing but trouble would come of making a complaint.”

    Sorry, I don’t know how to make links: http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/religiousright/2111/military_abortion_ban:_female_soldiers_not_protected_by_constitution_they_defend?page=1

  18. Alison
    Alison December 20, 2009 at 8:08 pm |

    ps. I totally appreciate the importance of a no-sex rule. I just worry that punishing people for “sex” is actually going to wind up punishing people who were raped.

  19. Alison
    Alison December 20, 2009 at 8:09 pm |

    (or encourage more dangerous, self – abortions)

  20. Mike Crichton
    Mike Crichton December 20, 2009 at 8:26 pm |

    Alison: I’ve also heard of cases where a female soldier reports a rape, the local chain of command decides not to investigate, but hey! She just admitted she had sex! So she got hit with an Article 15. don’t know whether they’re _true_ stories or not, but I can totally believe it.

  21. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz December 20, 2009 at 9:35 pm |

    I would also point out that the definition of rape under the UCMJ is VERY narrow. Most of what I would characterize as rape is called aggravated sexual assault when we charge it. (For example: sex with a woman who’s unconscious is ASA and not rape unless the assailant personally drugged his victim.)

    Another thing about this whole deployment avoidance/potential court-martial thing: the Army doesn’t pay for abortions. Even if you wanted to terminate a pregnancy, you won’t be able to downrange. And if you get medvac’ed out, your only option is to pay out of pocket upon your return.

    Mike: I’m assuming you mean places where GO1 is in effect. I’ve not heard of such a thing, but I won’t pretend my experience is dispositive here.

  22. JR
    JR December 20, 2009 at 10:39 pm |

    It’s court martial. A marshal is a person, and if he knows what’s good for him he’ll stay away from all courts martial.

  23. Mike Crichton
    Mike Crichton December 20, 2009 at 11:44 pm |

    evil_fizz: Yeah, that’s what I meant. Teach me to hit “Submit” without proof reading. :-/

  24. Jesus B Ochoa
    Jesus B Ochoa December 21, 2009 at 12:36 am |

    Ever have the services had their share of nutjobs. This guy is beyond the pale. How the hell did he ever make general?

  25. AMoleWithNoRole
    AMoleWithNoRole December 21, 2009 at 1:02 am |

    Meanwhile if a man or woman with “critical skills” decides to have sex with someone of the same sex (i.e. sex that cannot possibly result in pregnancy) we drum them out faster than you can say “Unjust invasions are perpetrated by unjust armies.”

    The hippies had it right: Make love, not war.

  26. AMoleWithNoRole
    AMoleWithNoRole December 21, 2009 at 1:40 am |

    I’d be in favor of _everyone_ in tactical units getting reversibly sterilized for the duration.

    There goes your all-volunteer army right there. (And yes, I saw the word “reversible”)

    People get very nervous when their genitals are involved, and rightly so.

  27. SPC Sarah
    SPC Sarah December 21, 2009 at 4:35 am |

    Look, to the argument that “Combat is stressful, and sex helps relieve stress, so sex should be excusable in Theater,” you know what else helps with stress? Drinking.

    I like drinking. I may very well be something a drunk when left to my own devices. But while over here in the Sandbox, drinking is outlawed. If I were to get drunk(in violation of lawful orders) and hurt myself in such a way that I could no longer effectively serve over here, then I would deserve to be hammered. If I were to decide that instead of a nice Coke bottle full of whiskey that I would rather have a friendly go-round with somebody in my unit(once again in violation of a lawful order) and then become pregnant, once again making it so that I had to be sent back to the States, I would have done exactly the same thing as if I had gotten hammer and shot myself in the foot.

    Yes, it would be ridiculous to hold the same terms out in the Civilian world, but we aren’t in the Civilian world. We’re over in a hellish sandbox where every single member of the unit is important, where the absence of a single member of the unit does great harm to all of us. We are professionals. When you take the oath, you are taking on the responsibility to not do stupid things to harm your unit and your fellow soldiers.

    If over here(not talking about the sweet, safe civilian world of the states) you knowingly and purposely go against orders and that harms other, you deserve to be punished.

    Now, rape is a serious issue. it is a giant problem in the Army. The answer, in my poor opinion, is not to make it more normal for there to be sex in the ranks. There are so many systems of control and authority in the military, especially while deployed, that it seems to be that it would be almost impossible for most relationship not to have dangerous, creepy element of control in them. It would be dangerous and lead to more rapes. What we need is instead to act like grown-ups, accept that we have to be celebate for a year or so(not counting Leave) and do our fucking jobs.

    Seriously. It’s a hard job. A job you have to do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week while your over here, but it’s a job than can be done properly.

  28. karak
    karak December 21, 2009 at 5:33 am |

    I have an idea… give female soldiers birth control, especially birth controls that can’t be forgotten (injections, IUDS, and so on). Most women I know enjoy birth control for benefits outside out of pregnancy, including the whole “shorter, lighter periods/nonexistent periods” line.

    By give, I don’t mean force, I mean make accessible. You’ll have happy soldiers and fewer pregnancies, for sure.

  29. Carla
    Carla December 21, 2009 at 5:40 am |

    Brandon,

    I think you seriously missed the point. Although, why your understanding fell wide of the mark, I don’t know. No form of contraception is 100%. No woman can will herself to not get pregnant or to get pregnant. If they could, we would have no unwanted pregnancies.

    The no-sex policy is NOT what was under discussion, after all. They, apparently, already *have* that policy in place. They are discussing pregnancy. What part doesn’t anyone, there, understand about there being no corollary that is as equally enforceable or determinable on men, as pregnancy is in women? That is sexist and unconstitutional.

    Alison: Yeah. I’ve seen that. That is just disgusting. We would have women doubly targeted for a procedure that can only happen to them, now. Wonderful.

  30. Sailorman
    Sailorman December 21, 2009 at 9:45 am |

    Marshal: police or military officer. Or ‘to gather together,’ e.g. marshal one’s forces.
    Martial: military (“martial law.”)

    So… Court martial, not court marshal

    For added fun, look at the plural: courts martial, not court martials.

    AND, seeing as we’re talking about JAG officers, and that JAG stands for “judge advocate general”, what’s the plural of that? I think it’s judge advocates general but I’m not sure.

    So we could have a bunch of judge advocates general marshaling in preparation for some courts martial.

    But grammar aside, it sounds like the general is simply taking the “no sex” rule that already exists and saying “REALLY, people, I mean no sex. Stop shagging already. Do I have to count to three?”

    If you accept that it’s appropriate to have the rule in the first place, then having a penalty for it is also appropriate.

  31. Goldhorder
    Goldhorder December 21, 2009 at 9:47 am |

    This is what happens when you join the military. Something the recruiters don’t mention. Your “betters” believe that since you took an oath and signed a piece of paper that you have no rights to your own body anymore. They order you not to have sex, not to get pregnant, they force you to take experimental vaccines, and I wouldn’t be suprised if they start forced birth control… Inspite of some woman having Health problems with these drugs. But otoh this let it be a tough lesson for those who serve an immoral institution like the U S military. I learned my lesson. Went in with my head full of patriotic nonsense… Came out with a whole other viewpoint. You won’t see me traveling 6000 miles around the world to kill whoever is the brown skinned bogeyman of the day. What a joke.

  32. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 21, 2009 at 9:51 am |

    I know that men are supposed to be included in this, but practically speaking, it will ONLY be female soldiers who are affected. Look, when a woman is pregnant, it’s unambiguous. How will we prove who the father is? Wait until she gives birth and has a DNA test? Dad’s still in the army for 9-10 months.

    Yes, the no-sex rule is supposed to be enforced equally, but considering the fact that it’s been used to bludgeon raped women, color me skeptical.

  33. Jadey
    Jadey December 21, 2009 at 10:44 am |

    Just to mention, this will also potentially impact some trans men, although I don’t know exactly whether the US military would care to recognize a trans man as a man, especially if he is also pregnant, and an outed trans man in the US army is probably going to get shit for other stuff as well depending on the situation.

    But anyway, yes, men can get pregnant too. Being completely unfamiliar with the US military and its practices, I’m not trying to argue with anyone over other aspects of this issue or undermine any particular arguments, other than confronting that particular assumption.

  34. groggette
    groggette December 21, 2009 at 11:06 am |

    But grammar aside, it sounds like the general is simply taking the “no sex” rule that already exists and saying “REALLY, people, I mean no sex. Stop shagging already. Do I have to count to three?”

    If that were really the case you’d think these generals would take rape in the military more seriously.

    (not jumping on you sailorman, in case that’s not clear, just using your line for something that’s been bugging me this entire thread.)

  35. Laurie in Mpls.
    Laurie in Mpls. December 21, 2009 at 12:29 pm |

    Brandon:

    “Your comment is seriously incorrect. First off, measles, mumps, etc… are diseases. Pregnancy isn’t! Women can control if they become pregnant (with the exception of rape). Men can also control if they father a child.”

    Birth control, in real world, occasionally fails. Every. Single. Kind. Can fail at some time or another. Even when used perfectly. So, NO, it is NOT something that women can unequivicably control. I am seriously concerned that this will lead to women getting punished for being raped, especially those raped/sexually assaulted by coercion.

    I am slightly reassured by the fact that this general can’t make up a new court martial-able offense by pulling it out of his hat. But I still think this may indeed spell trouble and I hope someone points it out to him. Especially as rape in the military seems to not be treated as it should be many times.

  36. Ainsley0
    Ainsley0 December 21, 2009 at 12:53 pm |

    Becca,

    Actually, you can get court-martialed for certain things that “happen” to your body. Not diseases per say( I am not comparing being pregnant to a disease of course, just responding to the post), but “avoidable” injuries or even a sunburn(you failed to put on sunscreen) that prevents you from being “fit for full duty” can lead to non-judicial or judicial punishment. For example, a service member that was injured in a car accident that failed to wear their seatbelt, could be court-martialed if the injuries made them miss work and the injuries are attributed to not wearing a seat belt.

    That being said, this is appalling. Including men is nothing more than a feeble attempt to appear non-discriminatory; however, it is ridiculous to think that the investigations will be handled the same way. With one medical screening it can be “proven” that a woman is pregnant. Much more time, effort, and money will need to be spent to “prove” a man has fathered a child.

    Furthermore, having spent almost 8 years in the military myself, I am not surprised they are handling this at the time in which really only the woman can be “blamed”. It’s a pretty sexist environment overall, and although fraternization is forbidden ( having sexual relationships with members at the same unit, or officer-enlisted, ect), it is inevitable! Unfortunately, in my experience, when a relationship was exposed it was always the female that received the brunt of the punishment. I agree, they need to start dealing with other issues such as harassment, rape, and the general sexist environment in the military. I guarantee they have lost far more female soldiers who were put off by this environment (like myself) than they “loose” to pregnancy!

  37. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe December 21, 2009 at 3:03 pm |

    So a male soldier can get court-martialed if he gets pregnant?
    Oh, then everything’s equal.

    You think you’re being funny, Phyrbyrd, but the late, unlamented (by me, anyway) Chief Justice William Rehnquist once used that exact line of reasoning in an insurance case. Writing for the Court, he ruled that it wasn’t sex-discriminatory for insurers to refuse to cover prenatal care and pregnancy because if men could get pregnant, they wouldn’t be covered either.

    Congress responded to the subsequent uproar by changing the law, thank God. And the other posters are undoubtedly correct in stating that the good general was referring to male soldiers who impregnate their female comrades. But the point is, never put anything past these people.

  38. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan December 21, 2009 at 3:18 pm |

    Look, to the argument that “Combat is stressful, and sex helps relieve stress, so sex should be excusable in Theater,” you know what else helps with stress? Drinking.

    And playing Call of Duty! …wait. :p

    More seriously, I agree that “no sex” sounds like a fine rule. Not sure if this is the best enforcement, however. If they said they would court martial in case of keeping a pregnancy but then had better access to abortions for female soldiers I might take less issue with it.

  39. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz December 21, 2009 at 8:02 pm |

    AND, seeing as we’re talking about JAG officers, and that JAG stands for “judge advocate general”, what’s the plural of that? I think it’s judge advocates general but I’m not sure.

    There’s technically only one JAG per service. In the Army, he or she is called the TJAG: the The Judge Advocate General. (Yes, it’s redundant.) The rest of us are properly called JAs or judge advocates, but the TV has assured that we’re all referred to as JAGs.

  40. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe December 21, 2009 at 10:28 pm |

    Sailorman: I have the sneaking suspicion that the general would at least tacitly tolerate shagging if it were to have no adverse consequences. He’s pissed because pregnancy keeps taking away valuable (wo)manpower.

  41. Phyrbyrd
    Phyrbyrd December 21, 2009 at 10:53 pm |

    You think you’re being funny, Phyrbyrd, but the late, unlamented (by me, anyway) Chief Justice William Rehnquist once used that exact line of reasoning in an insurance case.

    Actually, Bitter Scribe, I thought I was being sarcastic, but I suppose the ultimate amount of flippancy is the same.
    Here in Britain we have the NHS so the weasel words of the insurance companies and those who make the laws associated with the appal me more every time I read them. I hadn’t heard about this Rehnquist guy – I’m shocked but not surprised by the news that he actually used this as a serious argument and I’m very glad it didn’t stick.

  42. SecondBeach
    SecondBeach December 21, 2009 at 11:17 pm |

    Ok, this comment is probably going to catch some heat:

    If you have placed yourself in a career where you readiness for duty is paramount, where the safety and security of our nation is dependent upon you, you should not be jeopardizing your fitness for service. So I have two friends in the marines, both of whom’s tours in Iraq ended early. One lost the better part of a limb (IED) and the other was pregnant. Losing a limb, becoming a casualty – an individual does not control these things and is part and parcel with being a soldier. The girl who got pregnant (by consensual sex, not the epidemic military rape, it is important to note) I have no sympathy for when her unit turned its back on her. Her sole goal is to be ready to serve and she betrayed that trust.

    I fully support women in the military – they risk enormous sacrifice. However, its not like every other job – you’re not a lawyer or librarian or chef or teacher, your physical condition does affect your job. Yes, women (and men) have the right to have sex and the right to have babies. But they also do not have the right to impede the readiness of our armed forces.

    What I do like is that this policy gives equal blame to the man; too often society acts like procreation is the sole domain of women, slut-shaming single mothers as if no man was involved. Last time I checked, it takes two gametes to form a zygote. It’s also important to note that if the woman becomes pregnant via rape, she won’t be prosecuted (not sure if that was mentioned in this post but I read that elsewhere)

    In summation: you have made a commitment to your unit and your country. Don’t get pregnant. Don’t get anyone else pregnant. If you want a job where you are free to procreate, choose a desk job and stop giving the assholes that want women out of the armed services fuel for their fire.

  43. Ouyang Dan
    Ouyang Dan December 21, 2009 at 11:38 pm |

    evil_fizz: can I email you with a few questions? brandann [at] change [dot] org. I am working on an article, and would like to ask you a few things about this particular issue.

    Thanks!

  44. Mike Crichton
    Mike Crichton December 21, 2009 at 11:39 pm |

    SecondBeach: In _theory_ a rape victim won’t be prosecuted for getting pregnant. You really think it won’t happen? we’ve all heard the stories about rapes going un-investigated. From there, it’s only a short step to “There was no prosecution, ergo no rape, so throw the book at her!”

  45. wiggles
    wiggles December 22, 2009 at 12:03 am |

    I _think_ that the implication was supposed to be that male soldiers who impregnate female soldiers will also get court-martialed. And since a pregnancy is evidence of sexual activity, and part of “General Order Number One” is no sex in the field, anyone who gets pregnant or impregnates someone else _is_ violating their lawful orders. Personally, I don’t really have a problem with this in theory, though it remains to be seen whether they will, in fact, enforce it on both parties. If they don’t, _then_ it’s bullshit.

    Okay, so both parties can be charged for having sex, if the male party can be proven guilty. But does this mean there will be an additional charge on the female party for getting pregnant?

  46. wiggles
    wiggles December 22, 2009 at 1:43 am |

    Bagelsan @39

    If they said they would court martial in case of keeping a pregnancy but then had better access to abortions for female soldiers I might take less issue with it.

    But then they’d be effectively forcing female soldiers into having abortions. I’m squicky with that, and you can bet your ass the right wing won’t have it. I think I’d rather pregnant soldiers just be put on leave, with the option of abortion of course.

  47. wiggles
    wiggles December 22, 2009 at 1:46 am |

    The girl who got pregnant (by consensual sex, not the epidemic military rape, it is important to note) I have no sympathy for when her unit turned its back on her. Her sole goal is to be ready to serve and she betrayed that trust.

    Where do you stand on the guy who got her pregnant?

  48. piny
    piny December 22, 2009 at 2:04 am |

    What I do like is that this policy gives equal blame to the man; too often society acts like procreation is the sole domain of women, slut-shaming single mothers as if no man was involved. Last time I checked, it takes two gametes to form a zygote. It’s also important to note that if the woman becomes pregnant via rape, she won’t be prosecuted (not sure if that was mentioned in this post but I read that elsewhere)

    (I did read the other comments on the thread; I’m aware that the legal situation is somewhat less draconian than the policy indicates to a layperson. Still:)

    This isn’t actually a new idea–see the opening pages of The Scarlet Letter. It doesn’t work. It has never worked. The impregnating man doesn’t have to carry decisive evidence in utero. The pregnant woman is often the only one who can implicate him. She has to name him. That means she has to either suffer unjustly alone or hang her partner (and fellow soldier) out to dry.

    It’s incredibly dangerous to forbid pregnancy, or to make pregnancy evidence of a crime. I understand the military rationale, but the result is stories like the ones reported in the article. Pregnant women shouldn’t have huge disincentives to seek prenatal care or safe abortion. Soldiers shouldn’t have huge disincentives to seek medical care. This is another instance of categorical sexism: if you cannot get pregnant, your life cannot be threatened by a pregnancy complication.

    The rape exemption isn’t anti-sexist, either. It turns rape into a defense rather than a crime: the victim is suddenly a suspect. The rape vs. sex-crime dichotomy doesn’t protect people for being the victims of a crime. It punishes people for being the victims of a crime that often goes unrecognized.

    It would be nice if there were a way to enact these policies without running into a lot of entrenched sexism, but I don’t think that’s how it plays out.

  49. Task Force Marne
    Task Force Marne December 22, 2009 at 7:04 am |

    I appreciate the discussion about one aspect of a general order I have applied here in the combat zone of Iraq. The true intent of my directive cannot be easily understood from one or two brief articles, so I would like to clarify my rationale for the directive.
    In this 22,000 Soldier Task Force, I need every Soldier I’ve got, especially since we are facing a drawdown of forces during our mission. Anyone who leaves this fight earlier than the expected 12-month deployment creates a burden on their teammates. Anyone who leaves this fight early because they made a personal choice that changed their medical status — or contributes to doing that to another — is not in keeping with a key element of our ethos, “I will always place the mission first,” or three of our seven core values: loyalty, duty and selfless service. And I believe there should be professional consequences for making that personal choice.
    My female Soldiers are absolutely invaluable, many of them holding high-impact jobs that are often few in numbers, and we need them all for the duration of this deployment. With their male counterparts, they fly helicopters, run my satellite communications, repair just about everything, re-fuel and re-arm aircraft in remote locations, are brilliant and creative intelligence analysts, critical members of medical teams, in all areas of logistics and personnel support across this Georgia-sized piece of Iraq north of Baghdad, and much more. Since I am responsible and accountable for the fighting ability of this outfit, I am going to do everything I can to keep my combat power — and in the Army, combat power is the individual Soldier.
    To this end, I made an existing policy stricter. I wanted to encourage my Soldiers to think before they acted, and understand their behavior and actions have consequences — all of their behavior. I consider the male Soldier as responsible for taking a Soldier out of the fight just as responsible as the female Soldier who must redeploy.
    To ensure a consistent and measured approach in applying this policy, I am the only individual who passes judgment on these cases. I decide every case based on the unique facts of each Soldier’s situation. Of the very few cases handled thus far, it has been a male Soldier who received the most severe punishment; he committed adultery as well. Though there have not been any cases of sexual assault, any pregnancy that is the product of a sexual assault would most certainly not be considered here; our total focus would be on the health and well-being of the victim and justice for the perpetrator.
    I do not expect those who have never served in the military to completely understand what I have tried to explain above. Recently I was asked, “Don’t you think you are treading on an intensely personal topic?” As intensely personal as this topic might be, leaving those who depend on you shorthanded in a combat zone gets to be personal for those left, too. This addition to a standing general order is just a small part of our overall effort to foster thoughtful and responsible behavior among our Soldiers.

    Proudly serving you,
    Tony Cucolo
    Major General, US Army
    Commander, Task Force Marne
    Tikrit, Iraq

  50. Josh Jasper
    Josh Jasper December 24, 2009 at 6:52 pm |

    Want fewer pregnant soldiers? How about providing better education, birth control and free, anonymous access to other options like the morning after pill?

    But no, that’d upset the conservatives. So, the Army continues to use punishment rather than education and birth control.

  51. DPirate
    DPirate December 31, 2009 at 7:35 am |

    The policy of not endangering a pregnant soldier could be abused in order to escape hazardous duty. Hence, a courts-martial offence.

  52. DPirate
    DPirate December 31, 2009 at 7:42 am |

    Sorry, I wished to add that in this case, as alluded to above, pregnancy is little different from the effects of drug use/abuse. It is the choice made, to have sex, to selfishly gratify oneself, which endangers the mission.

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