The Pentagon released a report Wednesday which had been ordered by President Obama. He told the military brass that if he wasn’t satisfied, he would take alternative action. The hierarchy of the military was given one year to prove that they had taken effective steps to lessen sexual assault and harassment in the ranks. The report noted that there were 6,000 cases reported last year which was an increase of eight percent. The Pentagon put their spin on the numbers claiming that is was all positive. They surmised that the increase was due to the encouragement of the nearly 100 percent of females to report alleged incidents of unwanted sexual behavior. They claim a lessening in the numbers of those who decide not to report attacks. This cannot be proven; there is not a means to count the number of unreported cases.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been leading the fight to change the system. She introduced legislation which would remove sexual assault prosecutions from the hands of commanding officers and the chain of command, and into the control of trained military attorneys. So far she has six supporters. Men at all levels of our society continue to lack sincerity about sexual assault and domestic violence.
A disturbing fact as that 60 percent of the women who said they filed a report of unwanted sexual contact suffered retaliation in the form of social outcast from coworkers and other military personnel.
In November the Navy began an investigation of sexual misconduct which allegedly occurred on the submarine Wyoming.
The Navy has begun a process of integrating female officers into the submarine service. For more than a year, a 24-year-old second class petty officer had filmed three females as they used the shower facilities. He then distributed the films to senior officers and others.
A male officer serving on a different submarine obtained a copy of the films and reported their existence to his superiors.
The Navy began the integration program in 2011. Three Ohio class submarines now have female sailors onboard, as well as four guided-missile subs. The plan is to eventually have 20 percent of the Navy’s submarine force female. The next integration is to have women onboard the Virginia class attack-submarines.
The revelation of the offensive films has caused serious consternation among Naval Commanders. They fear fewer women will now consider serving onboard submarines.
Senator Claire McCaskill introduced a very mild form of reform. It passed the Senate, but contained no actual change in the prosecution of cases involving sexual assault, or sexual harassment.
Gillibrand claims she will not abandon her fight for women in the military. In far too many cases a reported case is dismissed by a commanding officer who decided the male offender was a ‘good soldier.’
From West Point to below the seas, military women remain at the mercy of their male partners. Women who have stepped forward to report unwanted sexual contact have been subsequently harassed, and frequently passed over for promotion.
In the vast majority of our nation’s organizations such as the military, Congress, and the workforce, men dominate the numbers game. For decades decisions have been made by males alone. Women continue to be sexual objects and are treated as second class citizens.
Changes are coming. The numbers of women in Congress grows with each election. Although it is doubtful women will ever have the numbers advantage in the military, the number of female upper-level officers is slowly growing. The workforce is experiencing a growth in women who are CEO’s, CFO’s, and Chairmen of the Board. The trend is moving towards equality in all areas, albeit too slowly.
By James Turnage