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March 06, 2003

Read a fairly appallling story this week about last year's efforts by the Pentagon to eliminate the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. The Committee was meant to deal with issues of sexual harassment and assault inside the U.S. military, but conservatives really hate it when women tell them what to do about anything. The department still exists, but its charter and membership were changed so that it does not deal with the same issues.

The article then goes on to talk about a number of female Air Force cadets who recently came forward who claim that they were assaulted by their superiors in Colorado Springs. The article also talks about the horrific case of a male cadet molesting a 13-year old girl who was visiting the base for summer camp.

And it gets worse.

The number of rapes and assaulted uncovered by a recent investigation of the Air Force Academy is up to 54. And of course, the number of rapes and assaults not reported is probably much, much higher. And between the two articles, it appears that even when these cases are reported, the perpetrators are usually acquitted, or face no substantial penalties.

Frankly, the military is probably the one place that should be the most watched for sexual assault. The US military (and most likely) are built on foundations of coercion, obedience, self-sacrifice, and de-personalization. Factor in the idea that you're taught to dominate and kill other people, and you've got a perfect fucking recipe for abuse of one kind or another.

Posted by Jake at 02:07 PM
Comments

Your speech was not what not what I was looking for I thought is was great thou.

Posted by: say at March 6, 2003 04:05 PM

Your speech was not what not what I was looking for I thought is was great thou.

Posted by: say at March 6, 2003 04:05 PM

Now let me throw you a curve ball on this one: you prolly are expecting a feminist rant from me, as that's usually my gig, but I have to say, I wonder if women should be in the armed forces.

Before launching into a reflexive diatribe, hear me out on this. I'm not saying that women should not be in the armed forces. I am only saying I WONDER if it's a bright idea. Any time you throw men & women into the same space, leave them there for a while, and--heaven forbid--have intense things, like wars'n'stuff, happen to those folks, you're gonna have shit go down between the sexes. Some folks will fall in love, some folks will sleep around, some rapists will behave like animals. Sometimes, to be evenhanded, you'll even find stupid stupid women who make unfounded or untrue accusations of rape as a way to fuck up other people's lives.

Can an army operate efficiently under these conditions? How good of a job are they going to do?

I am adamnantly anti-war, but that's a separate issue from whether our army should be effective or not. If we are going to behave like killing machines, we should do a swift and speedy job of it, so as few people die as possible. And I think a mixed-gender army will not operate as well as one where genders are separated. This isn't a university or a workplace, where it's nice--hell, even mutually beneficial--to include everyone and be all PC. People are going to die if things go wrong. If standards are lowered for women, both men and women are going to die.

But there are big problems with that. I understand that if a woman is dumb enough to want to enlist, she wants to be just as valued as a man; I can hear the refrains of "Why can't I die for my country like a man?" right now. And I do feel the pain of the men who've been conscripted into armies since time immemorial. It's not fair that men are made into so much cannon fodder. I suppose we could segregate the troops by gender, but that's just plain weird and would lead to additional problems.

So I *wonder.* But I don't know for sure.

Posted by: michele at March 7, 2003 10:39 AM

Michele: A fair question. But, for the women who really want to serve, is it fair to deny them the opportunity on gender grounds? Of course, it's true no one signs up for the military thinking they are going to be killed/raped/etc. Most have watched the recruitment propoganda and see it as the best option of a bunch of poor employment choices. Even so, the option should be allowed. And the armed forces are better for it. Remember, the women who were captured as POWs, and sexually abused, in GW1 were adamant in congressional testimony that they still supported allowing women in battle situations.

A similar argument to yours was made half a century ago in opposition to integrating the services. The different races would inevitably have conflicts in tight quarters, so let's just accept that and keep them separate. Obviously, that was incorrect. By the same token, I think the solution here is to create a culture in which both genders can co-exist appropriately even in extremely intense situations.

The problem is the wink-and-nudge old boy culture, and that is not inevitable.

Posted by: Z at March 7, 2003 05:34 PM

Personally, I can't put aside my disdain for the military, even if it's to make a comment on any equal rights issue concerning the military. When someone talks about women or gays in the armed forces, my response is why would women and gays join the military. The straight males are doing a great job of killing. I don't mean that in the sexist or homophobic sense. I just can't get past my anti-militarism to see why women or gays would fight for a military or that isn't accepting of them anyway or fight for a country that's more chauvinistic than ever. It's a failing of mine, I suppose.

Posted by: Eric at March 7, 2003 07:41 PM

Dear Z:

Hmm. Okay, I've answered below:

But, for the women who really want to serve, is it fair to deny them the opportunity on gender grounds?

Unfortunately I don't think it's an issue of being fair. A scenario: I am a colonel in the air force. A female officer, quite capable, comes to me and says, I'd like to fly that plane. I say, well, you have to be able to withstand a certain number of g-forces. She says, ok. So we test how many g's she can take and it's not enough, because--and this is true, a girlfriend of mine had this exact experience; women can't, in general--not as a rule--handle the g's that men's bodies can. (When she was told No, she found another gig. Quit. She had wanted to fly, and that was all.) And she says, that's not fair. I shouldn't be denied flying this plane just 'cos I'm a woman. [flaw in logic here: she is not being denied 'cos she's a woman. she is being denied 'cos her body cannot handle it.] But the colonel bows to pc pressure and lets her fly it.
She passes out in the cockpit during a training flight, crashes and dies. The billion-dollar plane is shattered to bits and pieces.
So, should we be fair, or should we be smart?
Now, say she CAN handle the g's. Say she measures up in every way as well as a man. Well then, I'd be much more inclined to let her go for it.
She wants to bomb Afhgani villages that's her own damn dumbass business.

Most have watched the recruitment propoganda and see it as the best option of a bunch of poor employment choices.

Very true. It's mildly coercive, actually.

Even so, the option should be allowed. And the armed forces are better for it. Remember, the women who were captured as POWs, and sexually abused, in GW1 were adamant in congressional testimony that they still supported allowing women in battle situations.

How does the fact that those women still supported allowing women in battle situations, indicate that "the armed forces are better for it"? Did they function better? Didn't they have to expend valumes of money and effort to reclaim those p.o.w's--p.o.w.'s who might possibly have been easier to reclaim, or might not have been captured in the first place, if they had been men [granted, that is speculation, but I think it is reasonable]? Plus, women pow's are a pr nightmare for the army. Not that I care about their pr, but lousy public image lowers morale among troops and causes the army to waste money trying to improve their image.


A similar argument to yours was made half a century ago in opposition to integrating the services. The different races would inevitably have conflicts in tight quarters, so let's just accept that and keep them separate.

Right. A lame argument, that was. But I am claiming a nuanced difference: it is not CONFLICT between the genders that will hamper the efficiency of the army (altho that IS a possibility, its' one we can do little about), but the fact that many standards for fitness, agility, strength and stamina have been lowered to accomodate women, who, in general, tend to score lower in some elements of these abilities. And an army operating on halfass standards is an army of people who aren't gonna run fast enough, won't be strong enough, and can't take the g-forces to survive, win, and get the fuck out of there. People will die.

Obviously, that was incorrect. By the same token, I think the solution here is to create a culture in which both genders can co-exist appropriately even in extremely intense situations.

I honestly don't know if it's the army's job to mold culture. I think that's OUR job. The army's job is to kill, and do it fast and efficiently. If they are distracted by "creating a culture," they're not gonna do so well at their main gig, and--like I keep saying--people will die.

The problem is the wink-and-nudge old boy culture, and that is not inevitable.

True. let's do something about that, shall we?

Kill all the old boys!
hahaha

But Eric has a good point too. Who the hell cares? Even joining the military is lame.

Posted by: at March 8, 2003 12:21 AM

In that last comment, someone points out that the military is a "way out" for poor folks, an economic and educational opportunity. That turns out to be something of a myth. More info here- http://www.objector.org/before-you-enlist/gi-bill.html

Posted by: Jake at March 8, 2003 08:21 AM

Good discussion ... and I appreciate the link you offered. Some thoughts:

1) In the unsigned post of 3/8 12:21, the argument is made that the military should not lower standards just to let women, for example, fly jets. I agree ... if the standards make sense, they should apply universally. However, that was not the argument made in michele's post.

2) On the woman-p.o.w. argument, my point that the armed forces are better for having women is simply that by increasing the pool of applicants for a given job, and given a reasonably merit-based selection procedure, then the organization should have better-on-average people, thus be better off. Your point about women p.o.w.s being a pr nightmare and having a negative effect on morale may have merit ... haven't heard that before, it sounds plausible, but I have no evidence. Your point about the military spending more resources to recover women p.o.ws rather than men may have merit, but I've seen no evidence to support it.

3) The argument that standards have been lowered for women, thus making the military less effective, may or may not be true ... I haven't see it argued elsewhere. (And, this wasn't the original argument I was responding to.) What I've read suggests this isn't a problem, but I can be persuaded otherwise.

4) It is the military's job to mold its own culture ... not societies in general. And it is their job to mold their culture in the direction that makes them most effective, while at the same time making sure that the people they discharge are not a danger to society. So, what I'm saying is that if there is a gender problem based on attituded of higher-ups, which appears to be the case, it is the military's job to fix this problem, the same way the military's culture of racism was addressed.

5) Finally, Jake's point that the military is a way out being a myth is valid ... but a lot of people do buy into it. Actually, one thing that is not a myth is that the military is a way to get out of one's hometown. For high schoolers who spent all their life in Pumpalump, Iowa, this is a big factor. College, the other route out, is expensive. Military is free, at least to the parents, and does give some income. And just packing the old backpack and heading to the big city appeals to some, but for most the military is a more socially-acceptable and less frightening option. This is one reason small towns are disproportionally represented in the military.

Posted by: Z at March 8, 2003 12:33 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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