If It Were Men Being Raped, Then I Bet The Military Would Take Sexual Assaults Seriously

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey

I’m so sick and tired of this double standard in our society.  Women being treated as second class citizens, even in 2013, with absolutely no legal basis for doing so.

It’s equally as infuriating when panels of men are chosen to “rule on women’s rights.”  Why groups of men are determining issues on women’s health and bodies is beyond me.

So when I read about this lackadaisical approach to the escalating problem of sexual assault in our military, pure disgust simply engulfs my body.

The nerve of these arrogant military commanders that oppose legislation which takes sexual assault cases beyond their power is stunning.  Now, I have been a proponent that while in the military individuals are subjected to different laws and rules then ordinary citizens—but rape is rape.

A commander, worried about their own career, shouldn’t have influence over criminal matters which transcend the military.  Someone who has no qualification to make a legal determination of mild improper sexual contact like a slap on the butt or full-on sexual assault, has absolutely no business determining what is — or isn’t — criminal behavior.

These commanders wanting to keep full authority over these criminal matters only show their fear that the more sexual assault victims who come forward, the more negatively it will impact their ambitious careers.  I can’t imagine it looks good on a resume when you’re up for promotion that you presided over men who accounted for multiple sexual assaults while in your command.  It’s a lot easier to keep that on the down-low when they control the definition of “rape” based on what they felt happened.

It’s obvious the predominantly male leadership, both in our government and our military, over the years has failed to take the problem of rape and other forms of sexual assault seriously.

I promise you this — if men were being raped (or sexually assaulted) with such frequency, this wouldn’t be an issue, because it would have already been solved.

But as more women have been voted into the Senate, and a record number of women sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the pressure has been drastically amplified on the military to take the severity of this escalating problem seriously.

It’s like what I’ve always said about abortion;  if men got pregnant, they’d sell the Morning-After Pill in every bar and gas station right next to the condoms and the abortion rate would skyrocket.

And you damn sure wouldn’t have a legal debate on whether or not abortions should be allowed — they’d be legal and widely accepted.  Hell, they’d probably sell ads for abortions during every sporting event around the world.

So, it comes as no surprise, the fact that sexual assaults in our military have mostly been swept under the rug as men have dominated our government and military, while these assaults have mainly happened to women.

As of 2012 only 3,374 reports, of the Pentagon’s estimated 26,000 cases (12%), of sexual assaults were actually reported.  Beyond just addressing the sexual assault problem in our military, I feel we must take much broader steps to curve the intimidation (and retaliation) many females fear if they are to ever come forward against their perpetrator.

Imagine of one of these women were your wife, daughter, mother or sister — is this right?  Hell no.

The women of our military serve proudly, and bravely, just like their male counterparts.  It’s time we put an end to this disgusting behavior—right now.

Prosecutions for sexual assaults in our military should be swift and harsh.  Every person found guilty of these acts should be made an example of to ensure women can serve our country bravely, honorably, equally and without fear.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • Brian Tatem

    There actually are a lot of men being raped in the military..

  • Carl Poole III

    Hey Allen, news flash: the Pentagon report said that 12% of those reported assaults involved male victims! Also, of their estimated 26.000 other victims, they believe 14,000 of them are male as well. Get your facts straight before to open your mouth. Men being raped in the armed services are just as endangered (if not more) than women.

  • Marcus Daniel Byrne

    First, men are being raped in the military. Second, there is a practical reason for not taking prosecution out of the chain of command. The commander relies upon UCMJ to keep good order and discipline. Under which jurisdiction would rape cases in the military fall? The local jurisdiction of the base? Fine. But under which jurisdiction would they fall while deployed to Afghanistan? That’s why we have commanders and Article 15 of Title 10 USC. So, that there are laws that cover soldiers no matter where they are in the world. Service members are subject to Article 15 so long as they hold a contract with the military. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The commander does have the discretion to bring charges against any service member warranting evidence for violation of UCMJ punitive codes. Showing up late to formation is part of the punitive articles of the UCMJ. Are we going to relegate that to a civilian authority as well? There many punitive articles of the UCMJ that don’t translate to civilian law, at all. How much of the commander’s power do you take away before they become paper tigers?

    People act like commanders want sexual assault to happen. Nothing is further from the truth. Commanders are angry and livid that they can’t solve this problem. It’s not as easy as waving a wand and making it disappear. There has been much effort put into curbing sexual assault over the past decade. The people in charge are just as angry and just as perplexed and it has nothing to do with getting a good comment on their evaluation. It’s personal. Every sexual assault reflects upon their ability to have good order and discipline in their unit and be a good steward of the soldiers and resources under their command. If you want people to be accountable, there are people that can be held accountable by Congress: The C/JCS, the JCS, every general officer is approved by Congress to a specific rank and position. The measures of accountability are there, Congress is not using them.

    • MWinston

      Perhaps the UCMJ should be administered by commanders for non-criminal offenses such as being late for formation, but I think that if a violent crime has occurred the victim should have the option of reporting it to military law enforcement without obstruction from anyone in their chain of command.

      • Marcus Daniel Byrne

        Of course they have the option of reporting it to military LEOs without chain of command interference. If they are raped and call the cops, guess who shows up? The cops. The military has a bifurcated system of sexual assault reporting when it comes to commanders: restricted vs. unrestricted.

        So, if a soldier is sexually assaulted they can report it to the SHARP or to the chain of command. Restricted allows the victim to get medical attention, evidence is collected and stored for up to 3 years at the victim’s discretion. There is no official report made to LEOs at the discretion of the victim, unless they report it outside the chain of command or outside the SHARP reporting channel. Then it’s automatically an unrestricted report. Why? Because the commander has a legal, moral and ethical obligation to ensure the health and welfare of the soldiers under them and to enforce good order and discipline.

        Then there is the unrestricted report which allows for the victim to get the assistance they need and also allows for filing of an official LEO report AT THE DISCRETION OF THE VICTIM so long as the report is filed in the SHARP or Chain of command channels.

        So, if you tell you’re friend and your friend goes to the command because they’re concerned about it. The command will start an investigation which automatically leads to an unrestricted report because there is only one element that can investigate a crime like that: Criminal Investigations Division (CID) or the Army detectives.

  • Cara_L_M

    Rape is rape, regardless of who it’s happening to, the system isn’t covering it. A commander with no legal expertise should not be presiding over a rape case. This is why we have both legally trained service members AND the NCIS and other service civilian counterparts that preside only over military cases. Regardless of whether the victim is a man or a woman, rape cases are frequently squashed and the victim further victimized to keep them quiet about it. I know several service members (both male and female) who have had to fight pressure from above and from their peers to keep quiet about indecent behavior, because it would reflect badly on the command, going so far as threats against their rank. It’s a faulty system that allows a commander to preside over a case such as rape when there will be an obvious bias of being in charge of both parties to begin with, and the ruling would reflect back on that commander. When a judge has a bias, we ask that they recuse themselves from the case. Why is there no requirement for this in the military? A large reason why I no longer serve (I finished out my contract and didn’t reenlist) is because of ridiculous rules like this that made a life that could have been a decent one rather tedius and sometimes downright backwards. In order to stay in the military for a career length, one must advance. When one advances, regardless of whether their personality lends itself to good leadership or bad, one is still forced into a role of leadership. And when bad leaders preside over cases like this (not saying there aren’t good ones out there, there are plenty, this is a for example only), bad outcomes are inevitable.

  • suzana michel

    As it is, many men are being raped by other men, in the Air Force and other branches, they just are too embarassed to come forward.

  • Andrew Campbell

    B.S. Men are being assaulted in the military and there are more men than women as victims. Let’s face it, the mliitary doesn’t want to deal with this and they still think that commanders can do their jobs but with 71 assaults a day, it isn’t working.

  • I was actually going to admit that I think alot of men are being raped in the service. Out of service we know that 1 in 3 women get raped in their lifetime men 1 in 5 I would think that if it increases frequency for women certainly if would for men. Men may have it even worse then then women as far as stigma and getting help most people feel its ok to be a victim if your female but not if your male.

  • Peter Laine

    you join the army to be a steely eyed killer, I’m waiting for a woman warrior to rip the nuts off a rapist

  • Courtney C

    It is absolutely irresponsible to say that this is a women-only issue. It is ridiculous and it is a flat-out falsehood. The majority of victims of sexual assault in the military are MEN. It is not a gender-based problem. It is an authority-based problem and it is a problem rooted in violence.

    You do men and women a disservice by perpetuating this information as true. Women are already disenfranchised enough in the military, by saying it is only women who are being assaulted, you are perpetuating the idea that women don’t belong in the armed forces.

    Shame on you.

  • Milvetchica

    Article 60 of the UCMJ needs to be brought up to the 21st century. They have made changes to other articles and taking sexual assault out of the UCMJ would be better for unit and military cohesion. It would give commanders more time to command and less time distracted by judicial process for criminal sexual behavior.

  • John Mora

    The title of this article isn’t appropriate. Men are raped just like women, but if you were a man raped by another man would you want to discuss it with people?

  • Jena Powell

    Actually men are being raped more than women in the military. However, since men are in charge, they do not take rape of anyone seriously.

  • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

    Many men get raped, but the stigma is even worse for them. That’s why we don’t hear about it.

  • Dongtong

    “I promise you this — if men were being raped (or sexually assaulted)
    with such frequency, this wouldn’t be an issue, because it would have
    already been solved.”

    –>more men than women are raped in the military. it’s vastly underpublicized. cnn just ran a very lengthy piece on “faces of rape in the military” that showed not a single man. that’s the double standard.

    probably one in five males in prison is raped, and those people are subjected to gang rapes and repeated rapes subsequently. like male rapes in the military, that’s not generally considered to be noteworthy or problematic.

  • Karen R Scott

    Both women and men have dealt with rape & violent attacks by our own in the Military since Vietnam. When you go to the proper reporting agencies you would only hope that they would help you, however too many times there retaliation & orchestrated harm to hurt and get you to shut up. The men experienced the same abuse & retaliation as the women have reporting rape & reaching out for help. Being able to get help to stop, prevent it again and sue the person that hurt you to pay for medical & physical damages. Majority of Veterans & Soldiers are fighting to get mental health help. The people that block help for any military sexual trauma and those that orchestrate harm in any way all involved should be held accountable. There is too much hatefulness towards the person that reports rape those that retaliation make fun tries to hurt the person that reports rape they should be charged as a hate crime. It is not getting help to protect your rights & safety.

  • Dakota Erikson

    I have written to many admirals and generals who…as they come and go….make up the Jt. Chiefs of Staff urging them to deal with the issue of “raped-while-serving.” To no avail, of course. As I analyzed their collective inaction over the seven decades, it dawned me……at one time they were officer candidates, young turks …a significant percentage of whom probably date-raped, acquaintance-raped, or (legitimately…???) raped at sometime during their career. Thus, they can’t face this issue and make decisions without self-awareness, self-recrimination, and perhaps even guilt. We need a JCOS which is all female.