Yesterday, I received this sad email that I copy in below. I append my response below it.
I served as a Lance Corporal in the Marines for over three years. During that time, I was raped twice and sexually assaulted twice more. It happened so often that I assumed it must be normal.
After I left the Marines, I learned that some studies estimate that more than half of all women who serve in the US military are raped during their service. But according to current military law, military rapists are not required to list their crimes on their discharge papers or to register as sex offenders.
I don’t think it’s right that convicted sex offenders get to wipe their records clean when they leave the military. That’s why I started a petition on Change.org demanding that the Department of Defense require convicted sex offenders to register on a national database, as well as disclose this information on their discharge papers — will you sign it?
When I tried to find out why military sex offenders don’t have to disclose their crimes on their discharge papers, I was told it would take too long to create a national database, and even that the military is trying to “go green,” and it takes too much paper to add an extra checkbox to discharge papers.
The truth is that most military sex offenders never have to pay for their crimes. Studies say that only 14% of rapes in the military are reported, and only 8% result in a court martial. And those who do get convicted get to wipe their records clean as soon as they leave the military.
When I tried to report what happened to me, I was led through a maze of questions and excuses. It felt like no one wanted to hear what happened to me. Instead of getting justice, I was ostracized and humiliated. But I’m not going to stand by in silence anymore. I know that if enough people sign my petition, the Department of Defense will be forced to address this issue.
Click here to sign my petition demanding that the Department of Defense register soldiers convicted of sexual assault in military courts in a national database, as well as disclose this information on their discharge papers.
Lance Corporal Nicole McCoy
Dear Nichole McCoy,
I know this is not the response you want, but as appalling as I find your story, as pitiable and as moving as it truly is, what it inspires me to say is that women do not belong in the military alongside men. Too many men have too little self-control. To prosecute every charge of rape if half of all women serving in the military are raped means that we either must stop having military service or that those women do not belong where they are. What you propose will not prevent those rapes from occurring.
I am sorry for what happened to you. I don’t know how you endured it and did not report the men who raped and assaulted you. I fear that it is truly normal, that the men who rape their female comrades in arms do so again and again without punishment. That they get away with it encourages others to do the same. Proving the crimes, if so few women report and if consensual sex also occurs, must be very difficult. What you are demanding is far too little and far too late to do much good as far as crime prevention is concerned.
Your petition and letter suggest to me that women in the military has been a horrible mistake. If women would be like men, then their attitude towards sex acts must change accordingly. That would be a great pity, wouldn’t it?
I’ve had veterans in my classes, both female and male, who describe or acknowledge this as a problem, respectively. Therefore, I believe the premise of the petition, that rape is a problem in our military. What to do about the problem?
You can find and sign the petition of Lance Corporal Nicole McCoy at Change.org, if you wish. I read some of the responses, mostly by women who seem to think they are signing a petition against rape. We might as well petition against war; it would do as much good. One book I am reading this week is The Last Full Measure: how soldiers die on the battlefield , by Michael Stephenson. This is not just a history of death on the battlefield, but also sometimes about the life of a soldier in war. He does not get into the topic of rape, but I note the book in this context, because Stephenson’s point is that war and military life, especially death, is far uglier, messier, than as it has been popularized. While men can be at their best in the military, it is not what we should expect of them. Not if we take history seriously.
In addition, in response to Carl Scott’s post on movies about Communism, I’ve been watching some, including A Woman in Berlin, which is based on a journal that might be described as a catalog of the rape of women in Berlin by the Russian Army in WWII. Elsewhere, I have read of the rape of the women of Germany by the Red Army as symbolic of the rape of that country by the communists. I’ll bet no woman being raped had that thought cross her mind at the time. In the film, the heroine of the story appeals to the commander of local forces to stop the rape; his response is to say that the soldiers of his army are all healthy. There is nothing to be done.
Most women find the impetus in men to rape a complete mystery. Apparently, some men find the impulse to objectify and subjugate women a mystery, as well, so that we can say rape is not always natural to men. Thank God. We might think that women in the military, trained in the arts of self-defense, would be better able to defend themselves from such subjugation. Nichole McCoy’s petition tells us that this is not true. Why do we have women in this position if the cited statistics are true? I can understand that our military has no effective process for addressing the problem of rape within the military, especially if it is endemic as indicated. Apparently, America is willing to accept this to have the great good of women in military service. For me, the goodness of that is another mystery.
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