Comments on “The Private War of Women Soldiers”

April 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

I was very surprised to hear about the inaction on the part of high-ranking military officials towards sexual assault and abuse of women soldiers in the American military.  You’d think, with them making up 15% of the military body, there would be more done to address their unique situation in a war zone.  These abuses have obviously not been circulated widely enough for the media to bother taking up the cause of female soldiers, which in itself is telling, I think.

But I have another question, which I think would go a long way towards answering questions about why women on military bases are so vulnerable to assault.  Why aren’t accommodations provided for both men and women to have sex while on extended tours of duty?  These military personnel are in high-stress situations for many months, sometimes even years, without respite.  Isn’t it a type of sexual abuse to put these soldiers in situations where they are unable to find healthy expression for their sexual drive?  In anthropology, researchers doing fieldwork for extended periods of time run into the same ethical dilemma.  It’s unethical to form relationships with the locals, it’s unprofessional to sleep with colleagues, and it reflects badly on your work and your moral rectitude to visit a brothel.  In the past, prostitutes were used to “boost troop morale”, and before that, soldiers would rape the women of the towns and cities they conquered.  Obviously, rape of conquered people isn’t acceptable today, but neither is the rape of female soldiers.  In a sexually conservative place like Iraq or Afghanistan, a woman would be endangering herself and perhaps even her family if she engaged in prostitution.

So if we’re going to address the very real and pressing issue of female soldiers’ safety in the military, what are we going to do about the issue it stems from?

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§ 2 Responses to Comments on “The Private War of Women Soldiers”

  • erikaostrom says:

    I understand what you are saying about the sexual drive because of a stressful situation. I feel as though many of the soldiers are married or have loved ones at home. I am pretty sure there is a rule against sexual relations during combat, obviously, but they soldiers are given times to go home or take vacations so those would be times for their sexual release. I feel as though rape can come from aggression from the men and that is why the women are put into these situations but at the same time they are doing a job and yes it is stressful but they need to sacrifices their sex lives in order to fight for their country. This is what they signed up for and they knew it would be stressful but directing their aggression towards rape is not okay in any matter. To answer your question, I do not think we should give them a set time to fulfill their sexual needs, I feel like that is relating to an office job to have nap time because it is stressful and tiring. I may be off track but this is what my answer to the question would be.

  • Sexual drive or lack of sexual outlet cannot be seen as a cause of rape in the military. This argument/question doesn’t work for two reasons. First, it assumes that only men have sexual drives and needs that go unfulfilled while on duty. Since there have yet to be reports of women raping men in these situations, there has to be some other cause other than sexual deprivation that drives military rape, otherwise you assume that women don’t desire sex too, which is false. Second, there is an assumption that rape is the only outlet for these deprivations. Although there are rules against relationships with locals or consensual sex with comrades, why would male soldiers chose to “solve” their sexual frustration with rape? Why not masturbate? If men are willing to violate the rules by raping women they work with to release frustration, why not choose to have an illicit (consensual) affair with a local or with a colleague? It’s all rule-breaking. Wouldn’t something consensual, albeit rule-breaking, be better than rape? So to me, these factors invalidate the proposition that rape is somehow the only way men can manage their sexual frustration while deployed. Rape is never really about sexual needs, it’s always about power at its root.

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