Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

June-05-13

Women Senators Form Bipartisan Front on Military Sexual Assault

Yesterday Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the epidemic of sexual assault in the military demonstrated the role of the record number of women in the Senate. The seven women Members of the Committee, five Democrats and two Republicans, were united yesterday as they asked hard questions of the all-male military leadership.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), said, "This isn't about sex. This is about assaultive dominance and violence, and as long as those two get mushed together, you all are not going to be as successful as you need to be in getting after the most insidious part of this, which is the predators in your ranks." Even Republican Senator John McCain (AZ) was candid in his outrage, telling the panel of officials, "I cannot overstate my disgust and disappointment over continued reports of sexual assault in our military. We've been talking about the issue for years." Senator Deb Fisher (R-NE) expressed a similar sentiment when she said "this is not a gender issue, it is a violence issue."

While the senators and the military officials in attendance agreed that military sexual assault had gotten extremely out of control, debate centered around whether or not sexual assaults cases should be taken out of the chain of command. Many of the military leaders argued that removing the cases from the chain of command will cause the problem to escalate. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who has proposed legislation to take sexual assault cases out of the hands of superior officers, responded, "You have lost the trust of the men and women who rely on you that you will actually bring justice in these cases."

Yet some senators in the hearing attributed to the rampant rate of sexual assault in the military to external factors such as hormones and the availability of pornography to service members. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) decried the military's response to sexual assault while at the same time arguing that hormones were responsible for such a high number of cases. He said, "The young folks who are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23. Gee whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur... But guys, we are not doing our job. You're not doing yours, and we are not doing ours with the rates we are seeing on sexual assaults."

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) argued that with the prevalence of pornography available to service members it was no wonder that assaults rates were so high. "Mr. Chairman, I'd just add a letter, a document here that was given to me from Morality in the Media," he began. "[They point] out that, a picture here of a newsstand and an Air Force base exchange with, you know, sexually explicit magazines being sold. So, we live in a culture that's awash in sexual activity. If it's not sold on base, it's right off base. There are videos and so forth that can be obtained, and it creates some problems, I think."

A debate over military sexual assault is likely to occur in the House Armed Services Committee as they prepare to debate a defense policy bill on Wednesday. Provisions regarding sexual assault, in addition to Guantanamo Bay, the war in Afghanistan among others are likely to see generous discussion while a vote in anticipated in the evening.

Media Resources: Associated Press 6/5/2013; Los Angeles Time 6/5/2013; Christian Science Monitor 6/4/2013; Huffington Post 6/4/2013; ThinkProgress 6/4/2013; Washington Post 6/4/2013; Feminist Newswire 6/4/2013


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

3/25/2015 Afghan Woman Beaten to Death for Burning Koran - A 27-year-old woman ‎who reportedly burned a copy of the Koran inside of a riverside shrine in Kabul, Afghanistan was brutally beaten and burned alive on Thursday. Shocking videos quickly spread on social media showing crowds of men surrounded by hundreds of onlookers assaulting the 27-year-old Farkhunda with bricks and sticks and repeatedly kicking her. . . .
 
3/25/2015 Masked Intruder Attacks Last Abortion Clinic Standing in Mississippi - In the early hours of the morning Monday, a person in a mask wielding what appeared to be a machete attacked the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. The clinic revealed in a post on their website the details of the attack on what is affectionately referred to by staff and community members as The Pink House. . . .
 
3/17/2015 Vice President Biden Pledges 41 Million to Clear Rape Kit Backlog - Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Mikulski (D-MD) spoke yesterday at a Maryland State Police Laboratory to declare their support for a $41 million budget proposal to combat the national backlog of rape kits. "Testing rape kits should be an absolute priority for the United States of America," Vice President Biden said, referring to the estimated 400,000 untested rape kits nationwide. . . .