Monday, March 12, 2007

On men and monsters

Okay, so a recent Salon article commented on the disturbing frequency of sexual assaults on military women in Iraq. After three women died from dehydration after a fear of going to the bathroom at night kept them from drinking water, women have been coming forward with reports of sexual assaults - and with the incapacity or unwillingness to help that they frequently encountered.

Almost as disturbing as the article, however, were some of the letters responding to the article.

From Frank:


Get the fuck out of the military already. Next thing you know they'll be complaining that they aren't getting the right type of moisturizer on the front line! Having chicks serve is an awful idea for the following reasons: Women are weaker, slower, and dumber than men. Emotionally, women are train wrecks for a week out of every month-MEDIC WE'VE GOT A BLEEDER! Add this weak ass sexual harrasment crap and one can only conclude that women are a HUGE LIABILITY!

Listen up ladies, war is hell!


Wait, no, that one didn't surprise me. Oh, here, from WB:
Men without women are animals, especially young men who have been trained to kill. The idea that women are natural warriors and that they can fight beside men as equals is simply an impossible idea. If the enemy does not rape them, their own side will. Every army in history has needed prostitutes or captives, like the comfort women given to the Japanese troops, to satisfy the exacerbated lust of war time. Women soldiers are paying a terrible price for the delusions of the feminists and the politicians.

From anon:
you can't expect some guy to be willing to risk getting killed every day and at the same meekly accept being told he has to go without sex.

From Jim:
A young man's urge to spread his seed is still his most powerful physical urge; it can be tamed -- if only barely -- under normal circumstances but war, constant fear of death and separation from the society that helps keep the lid on -- is not a normal circumstance.

And it's the feminists who are accused of hating men.

Seriously, guys, is that how you want to be known? Is that it? Are men ravening beasts, incapable of controlling their urges even to avoid committing a crime? Are men worthless without "taming"? Seriously, to my male readers (and I know there are a couple of you), do you appreciate this characterization? Military guys out there, particularly y'all who've seen combat, is that accurate? Were you all just priapic studs in heat, walking around with fists tightly clenched to avoid knocking down and ravishing every female on two legs and most females on four? These men who raped their sisters-at-arms, do you accept them as representative of the entire gender?

Is it that hard not to rape people?

Due to past relationship circumstances, I'm fortunate to have a goodly number of military guys, all branches, as friends. I have found myself, on occasion, good and drunk at a party ful of sailors and Marine - aviators, fighter pilots, notorious horndogs all of them. I've been asleep on the couch in the living room with three military guys nearby who were fully capable of doing horrible things to me. With all of these hazardous activities in my past, how is that I've remained unassaulted?

It's because the guys weren't rapists. Sure, they weren't under combat conditions at the time, and I can't testify as to how long it'd been since they'd felt a woman's touch, but the reason they weren't fighting me for mine was that they weren't rapists. Drunk, not rapists. Everybody in bathing suits at the lake? Not rapists. Margaritas and a hot tub, not rapists. They weren't "animals" looking to "spread their seed." The worst that could be said about them was that one "gets a little ambitious when he drinks." I never have to feel uncomfortable around them, I never have to carry a knife, I don't even have to lock the bathroom door when I'm in the shower, because they're not rapists.

Beyond that, the idea that rape is more about power than it is about sex is an accurate one. A man who prefers a frantic, terrified, struggling woman to his own willing hand isn't in it for the orgasm. So excusing these rapists as a bunch of testosterone-poisoned he-men who just really want sex is a copout at best and a willful, blatant lie at worst. Violent rape is the action of a person in power who wants to put someone in their place, whether it's a man in prison making another man his girlfriend or a soldier in Iraq showing a woman what happens to insolent bitches who try to take on men's roles.

It's become clear that the role of women, if not in combat at least in combat-adjacent support positions is absolutely necessary to the success of our military. There just aren't enough qualified penis-owning Americans to sustain a volunteer military on their own. And as long as women are going to be supply officers, pilots, truck drivers, gunners, MPs, and anything else alongside men, men are going to have to learn to live with it. They're going to have to start seeing women as coworkers, not comfort women. They're going to have to recognize that their own need to get off does not supersede a woman's agency over her own body. And we are going to have to stop excusing it as a matter of course, blaming the women for being there in the first place. The Salon article noted that sexual assault is practically a nonissue in those commands where rape is clearly forbidden; the pressure of authority is obviously enough to "tame" the "wild beasts."

It's no good to trust these men with some of the most high-tech and expensive weaponry in the world and then claim they can't be expected to master their own God-given genitalia. It does no one any favors, and it only casts a shadow on the good men who are capable of controlling their urges and their tempers, even under the harshest of circumstances.

I know men. Men are friends of mine. And the soldiers who did this aren't men.

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