I can say watching the Invisible war in class was an eye opener when it came to gender inequality in terms of the military. I remember when I was going through high school Air Force ROTC it was easy to see the difference in the male to female ratio. My career in the Air force not only shape the man I was today, but opened my mind to the inequality of woman compared to men in the military. My sergeant who was one of the very few female sergeants we had used to tell me that “being a woman was a separate job from the military job you were assigned” she used to say that “woman earning respect from the man was a job within the military itself”.
I was very lucky when I was put into basic training to have a platoon leader that was a female who showed me this inequality in our military program. I know that in basic training we only had a handful of females compared to men in our graduating class. Not only do woman face that inequality when in the military, but they face that inequality when being accepted into the military in the first place. I know that my sergeant’s statement might not apply to everyone, but I know it was socially different for me compared to my sister when we wanted to both go into the military.
My dad who was born in the baby boomer generation said that it was the woman that stayed home while the men went off to war. Inequality not only is gender based, but we see that it’s though each generation that we see how inequality is formed through changing gender norms. It was not until after WW2 were woman were fully integrated into the military. That’s when the notion that woman cannot be in the military started to go away. We still see that generation social inequality plays an important part in the military to this day.
Even when woman were integrated into the military that inequality did not stop at the integration process, but has carried on to woman’s jobs. Woman are told that they are weak and that the man’s job is to fight their battles while they stand by. Woman have always been looked at as the weaker gender though the social spectrum. In class we talked about how woman were looked at as Barbie dolls, while men were looked at as the sea monsters. (Lecture 3) It though that inequality of gender norms where we see woman in the first place are being discouraged from going into military jobs in the first place.
Interactionist theory is used to describe how these gender norms we see in the Barbie Girl vs. Sea Monsters become part of the reason woman are discouraged to step out of those gender norms to go into the military in the first place. (Lecture 3) When woman finally pass though those gender norms forced on them though society we would expect them to face the honor they deserve in the military, but that’s not always the case. Many men and woman in the military are sexually assaulted in the military, while the government tries to cover up the problem that people tend not to see.
For example one kid in the class talked about how he never saw sexual assault as an epidemic in the military though his own experiences. I know that I have seen sexual assault as a pandemic throughout the military in my own experiences. One example I can give was an incident where my platoon mate was off base and sexually assaulted a female. In that specific case my platoon mate used his rank in order to take advantage of a woman who was a much lower rank. In many cases like the one I experienced as an E3 coming out of ROTC men and woman feel like they can use their rank as a way to sexually exploit these victims.
In many of the cases that we see in the film sexual assault victims are taken advantage of because they have a lower rank then the attacker. Psychology points to the power complex where in the military rank matters more than social and economic standing. In many of these cases men and woman use their power to take advantage of the other gender. This is one prime example of a gender inequality that is created from rank though the military. Not only do woman face disadvantages coming into the military, but in many cases woman are subjected to degrading tasks in order to raise their rank.
With most woman coming into the military as lower ranks woman are usually ordered to go to these parties and or drink in order to fit in with the male crowd. It’s though that rank inequality we see that the brave woman and men are sexually assaulted and taken advantage of. (Video scene) Rutgers Institute of Woman’s Leadership in 2009 looked at the then number of woman in each military branch in both enlisted and officer rank, and from that data concluded that woman were 5. 4% less likely to raise their rank in the military compared to men. Rutgers article)
With lower ranks woman forced to keep quiet from fear of backlash if they come forward with their sexual assault. In these institutions your reputation and respect from others helps you get to the top of the ranks or can lead you into a painful military experience. Like we watched in the Hunting Ground we can see that just like the colleges the military has a reputation to keep clean though the public eye. (Video scene) This reputation creates an inequality that people face though the justice system Military court was put in place so that cases like the sexual assault are not seen by the public.
When we see a military commercial we see Army Strong, Navies Global Force for Good, or Marines few and proud slogan we look at these entities as our hero. It’s though that Heroification that we see that inequality that these men and woman faced in their sexual assault trials. (Lecture 1) I would even say that is was rare that these people who were accused of assault to even get to the trial portion of the process that people have to go though. I know that though my own military experience it can take up too a few weeks or longer to get a response for the action you were filing to the military court.
It’s easy to see that the inequality we see in the military is not always gender specific in all cases. For example we saw a man who was sexually assaulted who faced that inequality when it came to him trying to get justice. Its men that face this stigma “men do not get raped”, but though our sexual assault march and in the Invisible war we see that men are some of the biggest targets of sexual assault. One reason is that men like woman face this notion that we did something to bring on the aggression of the attacker. Hunting Ground)
Whether its alcohol, drugs, or our influence on the attacker people are made to feel as they are not the victim of sexual assault. In many cases officers use their rank in order to take away that enlisted credibility. I know that respect is easy to lose in the military, but hard to gain. In many of these sexual assault cases men and woman had their reputation destroyed because of their accusations. In particular we saw woman who were labeled as liars or whores for telling people they were sexually assaulted.
We no rank and little credibility in these establishments’ men and woman were subjected to keep their mouth shut so that their reputation did not change. I can say that it’s very hard to get relocated in the military, without hard evidence for needing to be moved, so the reputation you do have travels with you until you finish your contract or get moved on assignment. Once you lost the respect of your cadets in the platoon it became harder and harder for you to ever get that respect back. It’s though that respect and reputation that many of these victims that are sexually assaulted are never heard from.
In many cases throughout the military these inequality lines that are drawn cross into both gender boundaries. Most people think that only woman are the victims of sexual assault, but as we saw in the Invisible War the pandemic is more than gender associated. While men are told to be tough and that they can hold off attackers, woman are told that they better make sure that they were raped in order to report the incident. Even if both men and woman are taken seriously in the military the reputation of the military becomes more important than the people that they promote in their commercials.
It hard to be Army strong when the social structure of the military is geared against the victims. When I need protection I call on the military, but when the military needs protection who is going to be there to help. As a country we need to count on the government to investigate these sexual assault cases, so that the men and woman get the fair trial we are giving though the constitution. I served this country for four years in the air force because I wanted to make a difference in people lives. I know that if the military is ever going to fight this invisible war they need to look past the inequality set by the social norms