Power and Rape – Part 2: How to Create a Breeding Ground for Sex Offenders

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As I mentioned in Part 1, rape is tolerated in the military because the acknowledgment of rape in a unit will make that unit look bad, not to mention the military as a whole. Therefore, officials try to sweep such information under the rug. In fact, reporting rape is seen as far worse than actually committing it. Now, let’s focus more on the military culture. Not only is it a culture of rape, but also one of partying – a drinking culture. In fact, no matter where the U.S. servicemen go in the world, it seems like they bring their trouble along with them.

The American Military in Japan

The drinking culture and rape culture of the U.S. military is just another stain on the canvas that is the international image of America. It’s indeed this kind of thing that causes people to reinforce their anti-American sentiments, which I believe are usually unwarranted. In this case, however, it’s hard not to want the American troops to stay out of Japan.

For example, a few weeks ago, two American sailors, Christopher Browning and Skyler Dozierwalker, pleaded guilty to raping and robbing a woman in Okinawa, Japan, last October. In fact, virtually every news story you hear from any American military base in Japan is about some drunk American committing crimes, such as a drunk driving case last month, or when one serviceman broke into someone’s house and randomly punched a 13-year-old Japanese boy in the face at the end of last year.

It’s no wonder that so many people hate Americans. For a place like Japan, where running into a non-Japanese person is rare in rural areas, this kind of thing is not just the first impression, it may be the only impression. And as the Japan Daily Press points out, at least one crime is committed every month by servicemen in Japan involving alcohol. So this is what Japanese people see when they watch the news. And most unfortunately, these servicemen do more than just represent a unit, or represent the American army – they represent all Americans.

But at least the good thing about such crime in Japan, unlike U.S. military bases, is the fact that the Japanese courts actually punish such criminals. The two rapists above who pleaded guilty for their crimes received 9 and 10-year prison sentences, respectively. This is of course not the first time such a case has happened in Japan, though – the worst of which was probably when three U.S. servicemen raped a 12-year-old Japanese girl, in 2005.

Were the three of them pedophiles? The law would certainly say so. But from a psychological standpoint, it may be more complicated than that.

Sexual Assault Around the World

Military rape is not a simple matter of sex. In fact, you may be as shocked as I was to hear that there are actually more men raped in the military than women.

Let me repeat that: There are more male victims of rape than female victims of rape in the military.

This is a fact that the 2012 documentary “The Invisible War” did not mention, though the episode from The Stream did (see Part 1). Almost all rapists in the military are male, indeed, but this is not a just a case of males raping females. It’s more like a case of males raping anyone.

In fact, victimization is even worse for men, because you mix in all the same problems with women, plus the homophobia. Yet in reality, the rapists are not gay, and this is not an issue of homosexuality.

It’s an issue of power, which is why rape in the military is similar to rape in the Catholic church. In fact, one study from 1978 said that based on the results, “The possibility emerges [. . .] that the adult heterosexual male constitutes a greater risk to the underage child than does the adult homosexual male.” Indeed, because the heterosexual male may be more fixated on power, or at least asserting power.

And obviously, when you have a “sanctuary” in which rapists (priests, soldiers, etc.) can be protected from prosecution – a place where people are not held accountable for their actions – people are motivated to engage in the most sexual power trip of all. I’m not saying that is the only cause of such sexual assaults, but the lack of accountability is what allows it to continue. And just like some Catholic priests have done in the past, the blame is imposed on the victim.

Therefore it’s no surprise that such rapists are usually repeat offenders. One expert from the documentary mentions that the average sex offender has around 300 victims in their lifetime. Considering how effortless it is to get away with such behavior in the U.S. military, it’s no wonder that they keep doing it. It doesn’t take a psychologist to know that this is textbook positive reinforcement. The rapist rapes all he wants – just like the rat being rewarded with cheese.

One study from the film found that twice the percentage (15%) of the civilian population attempted or committed rape before joining the military, which implies that the military may be a place that appeals more to such sexual predators. This is reminiscent to what we know from a century of Residential Schools set up in Canada.

With such isolation and unaccountability, Canadian Residential Schools were essentially breeding grounds for pedophiles. The “teachers” – white Canadians, mostly Christian – would indeed inflict physical and sexual abuse, not to mention the other atrocities that resulted in dumbfounding mortality rates among students.

Was there any punishment for allowing students to die? Absolutely not. That’s why at the time of peak mortality rates – between 1894 and 1908 – more than half of the Residential School student population would die in a single year. More than half.

The problem, therefore, isn’t a case of “a few bad apples” or of isolated events. The problem is systematic, and it is widespread. I can only imagine the frustration of a rape victim who is told that they are the bad guy for reporting the worst violation they have ever felt… but I really don’t want to.

Conclusion

The way rape is being handled in the military now is like a weapon. First you stab the victim. Then the twist of the blade happens after they report it, by denying the victim their rights and punishing them for it.

One of the victims in the film met with a waitress who said she was thinking of joining the military. She said she knew her boyfriend was a bit worried about the rape situation there, but she insisted “I can take care of myself.” Obviously, this is what every victim – including men – believe.

In fact, this already demonstrates the same type of “blaming the victim” that characterizes the response she herself may face if she actually did decide to join. At the end of the movie, it shows that one lawsuit ended in rape being deemed an “occupational hazard” of military service. I would hope some of these military officials to come to Fukushima to learn what an “occupational hazard” really looks like.

The Bottom Line

It doesn’t matter how many black belts in various martial arts styles you have or how many pushups you can do when you’re drugged during a party and knocked out cold. The real problem is that everyone knows that you can get away with rape. That’s why all the former military personnel asked in the documentary said that they would not currently recommend for anyone to enlist.

If this is indeed the way the “greatest military in the world” in the “greatest country of the world” treats their militia, all we can hope for is that the public never tries to enlist. Having years of service go unappreciated and nothing but scars, trauma, and medical bills to show for it, it seems pretty clear that it’s not worth it.

 

[May 8 Update: Al Jazeera reported that “Sexual assaults in the US military are a growing epidemic across the services and thousands of victims are still unwilling to come forward despite a slew of new oversight and assistance programs, according to a new Pentagon report. Troubling new numbers estimate that up to 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year, according to survey results released on Tuesday.”]

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One Response to Power and Rape – Part 2: How to Create a Breeding Ground for Sex Offenders

  1. Pingback: Military Heroes Abused Too | You Can Be A Hero

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