The News has some of the further adventures of former Representative Eric Massa in the Navy (briefly: if the stories are true, he’s sexually harassed subordinates and has serious boundary issues), and they invited an expert to tell us what it all means:
“It’s a cautionary tale” of a superior officer allegedly seeking to prey upon subordinates that argues against repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, said Elaine Donnelly, head of the anti-repeal Center for Military Readiness.
“That kind of abuse would become far more frequent” if gays were allowed to serve openly, Donnelly said.
Now, for context here, you should probably know that Donnelly has some issues of her own about who should be serving in the military. For instance, she’s not happy about women in the service, because they caused abu Ghraib.
DONNELLY: Ok, now how are we going to deal with four different sexual groups, say in Special Operations summaries. How’s that going to work? Or are we going to have the kind of military — and he clearly suggests this — he says yes, we have women in the military. We all support women in the military. However, he says that everything has been going on just fine without incident. Umm, what was that Abu Ghraib scandal all about? It started out as misconduct between men and women and then it steadily deteriorated into abuse of prisoners.
Not that Donnelly (and an all-star gallery of usual suspect Ladies Against Women) didn’t try to warn President Bush
For example, if our troops are to receive the best training as well as the best equipment, as the President has said, then co-ed basic training must be brought to an end. The Defense Department should also discontinue gender quotas, pregnancy policies that subsidize single parenthood and create deployability problems, incremental steps to force women into land combat, and Clinton-era social policies that undermine discipline.
As bad as heterosexual women are, though, they aren’t nearly as scary as, well, Certain Other People
Holding the first hearing in 15 years on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, lawmakers invited a quartet of veterans to testify on the subject and also extended an invitation to Donnelly, who has been working for years to protect our fighting forces from the malign influence of women… She warned that lesbians would take pictures of people in the shower. She spoke ominously of gays spreading “HIV positivity” through the ranks.
“We’re talking about real consequences for real people,” Donnelly proclaimed. Her written statement added warnings about “inappropriate passive/aggressive actions common in the homosexual community,” the prospects of “forcible sodomy” and “exotic forms of sexual expression,” and the case of “a group of black lesbians who decided to gang-assault” a fellow soldier….
Snyder asked Darrah about Donnelly’s reference to “passive-aggressive actions common in the homosexual community,” saying, “I’m almost tempted to ask you to demonstrate.”
Darrah was stumped. “Like a woman who is stared at, her breasts are stared at,” Donnelly explained. She further explained the “absolutely devastating” effect of homosexuals “introducing erotic factors” and made a comparison to Sen. Larry Craig’s adventure at the Minneapolis airport. She said admitting gays to the military would be “forced cohabitation” and a policy of “relax and enjoy it.”…
Shays said it was “scurrilous” of Donnelly to talk about the menace of homosexual misconduct, because it would be punished the same way the military punishes heterosexual misconduct.
Or more likely, a bit more vigorously
The Pentagon’s latest figures show that nearly 3,000 women were sexually assaulted in fiscal year 2008, up 9% from the year before; among women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the number rose 25%. When you look at the entire universe of female veterans, close to a third say they were victims of rape or assault while they were serving — twice the rate in the civilian population.
The problem is even worse than that. The Pentagon estimates that 80% to 90% of sexual assaults go unreported… only 8% of cases that are investigated end in prosecution, compared with 40% for civilians arrested for sex crimes. Astonishingly, about 80% of those convicted are honorably discharged nonetheless.
The sense of betrayal runs deep in victims who joined the military to be part of a loyal team pursuing a larger cause; experts liken the trauma to incest and the particular damage done when assault is inflicted by a member of the military “family.” Women are often denied claims for posttraumatic stress caused by the assault if they did not bring charges at the time. There are not nearly enough mental-health professionals in the system to help them. Female vets are four times more likely to be homeless than male vets are, according to the Service Women’s Action Network, and of those, 40% report being victims of sexual assault.
Granted, none of that is nearly as traumatizing as an imaginary lesbian looking at your breasts. But just maybe, if it wasn’t OK for anybody in the service to be at the receiving end of sexual violation, everybody would be more comfortable reporting it, predators of all sorts wouldn’t expect to get away with it, and it wouldn’t happen nearly as much to anybody.
Seems like it’s worth a shot, anyway.