(Mike Keefe, Cagle Cartoons)
Many of you have probably heard of the terrible scandal ripping through the Marine Corps right now. I have been writing a post that may end up published as several entries, just trying to gather my thoughts on this whole issue, about which I understandably have very strong feelings. Give me time and I will publish something worthy for all of us survivors of sexual harassment and assault. I wanted to mention the scandal as it most definitely needs to be recognized, but I do not want to publish anything in haste.
For those that do not know of what I am referencing…
Many of my Marine “brothers” posted revealing photos of women Marines, many of which were taken of them without their knowledge or consent on a Facebook hosted page titled, “Marines United”. These “men” then made comments regarding what they would do to the woman in the photo; horrific things including rape, other forcible assaults, and shockingly graphic details, demoralizing and objectifying my sisters in the worst of ways.
This behavior is indicative of the rape culture in the Corps (and other branches), something that is not news but often considered taboo to bring up. The Facebook group has simply shined a light onto the deep, dark secret many prefer to be kept in the shadows. Like an infection, it has been allowed to fester, grow, and multiply through the ranks with every graduating boot camp platoon.
Many are reacting by blaming the women. Even if someone allowed revealing pictures to be taken, they did not consent or intend for them to be blasted across the internet. These “Marines” are responsible for harassment via social media, including the posting of women Marines’ personal contact information and locations. This allowed others to stalk and harass them wherever they were stationed. How is this not the first thing people are upset by, rather than the fact the photos exist?
Blaming a victim is 100% wrong and a huge part of the reason this stuff continues throughout the military and our nation as a whole. Perpetrators are let off the hook with little to no repercussions, while victims are left to bear the weight of their trauma as well as the criticism and judgement from heartless individuals. This society is creating an environment for PTSD to manifest in survivors. Please, think of what your actions are doing to others.
This culture MUST be stomped out. Women need to be given the platforms to lead the conversations in this battle, but men have a place as allies in the fight. Elevate women desiring to speak out. Listen to them, truly listen; to hear and understand, not to reply. Help us change our Corps into the positive, respectful branch we believe it can be. Let’s bring back Honor, Courage, & Commitment, and hold one another accountable to those high standards we Marines so often speak of in regard to our favorite military branch.
Be the change you wish to see, in the Corps, and in our world.