So the Senate decided to have hearings on the issue of rape in the military, which is epidemic in no small part because of massive failures in military leadership to deal with the problem effectively. Because of this, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has started to push for legislation, which has been effective in other countries, removing rape prosecution from the chain of command and having a more straightforward criminal justice approach. Her reasoning is clear enough, which is that a lot of commanders tend to treat rape like it’s just another form of sexual harassment, which is to say more like an H.R. issue and less like a criminal matter. She is very, very clear about this.
Straightforward, commonsensical. Which is why the conservative reaction ranged from incoherent to bizarre to shockingly misogynist. They hate being accused of waging a war on women, but they are no more going to stop doing so than they’re going to stop over the top pandering displays of patriotism. It’s just who conservatives are. Even though in this particular case, male-on-male rape seems to be as serious a problem as male-on-female rape, which means that calling this a women’s issue is even more asinine and offensive than usual. Not that this prevented Sen. Saxby Chambliss from saying that rape is just what happens when you expose young men to actual women.
Needless to say, there’s no evidence that rape is a result of hormone levels or extreme sexual desire at all. As ever, rape is a crime of violence that is usually motivated much more by the rapist’s desire to dominate the victim than any sexual urge. In fact, the military specifically has a problem with men raping men, and most of those rapists who rape men are straight-identified men. It’s not an expression of sexual desire at all, but an attempt to put someone in his or her place.
listen to the entire podcast

So the Senate decided to have hearings on the issue of rape in the military, which is epidemic in no small part because of massive failures in military leadership to deal with the problem effectively. Because of this, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has started to push for legislation, which has been effective in other countries, removing rape prosecution from the chain of command and having a more straightforward criminal justice approach. Her reasoning is clear enough, which is that a lot of commanders tend to treat rape like it’s just another form of sexual harassment, which is to say more like an H.R. issue and less like a criminal matter. She is very, very clear about this.

Straightforward, commonsensical. Which is why the conservative reaction ranged from incoherent to bizarre to shockingly misogynist. They hate being accused of waging a war on women, but they are no more going to stop doing so than they’re going to stop over the top pandering displays of patriotism. It’s just who conservatives are. Even though in this particular case, male-on-male rape seems to be as serious a problem as male-on-female rape, which means that calling this a women’s issue is even more asinine and offensive than usual. Not that this prevented Sen. Saxby Chambliss from saying that rape is just what happens when you expose young men to actual women.

Needless to say, there’s no evidence that rape is a result of hormone levels or extreme sexual desire at all. As ever, rape is a crime of violence that is usually motivated much more by the rapist’s desire to dominate the victim than any sexual urge. In fact, the military specifically has a problem with men raping men, and most of those rapists who rape men are straight-identified men. It’s not an expression of sexual desire at all, but an attempt to put someone in his or her place.

listen to the entire podcast

The Ongoing Battle to Remove Military Sexual Assault Prosecution from the Chain of Command
After a day-long military sexual assault hearing that featured mostly men, Gillibrand’s measure to remove the process from the chain of command was struck.

The Ongoing Battle to Remove Military Sexual Assault Prosecution from the Chain of Command

After a day-long military sexual assault hearing that featured mostly men, Gillibrand’s measure to remove the process from the chain of command was struck.

Pressure is mounting on Capitol Hill for a meaningful answer to the crisis of sexual assault in the U.S. military. In response, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) hosted a press conference Thursday to promote legislation that would remove from the chain of command in the nation’s armed forces the reporting and adjudication of sexual crimes, along with other felonies that are not specifically military in nature.
Gillibrand also introduced her audience to three military veterans who said they suffered punishment from the military when they reported having been the victims of sex crimes perpetrated against them by their comrades.
Jennifer Norris, a former sergeant in the Air Force Reserve, was accompanied to the press conference by a service dog who, she says, assists her with the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) she experiences because of assaults by four different perpetrators during her military career. (You can read her harrowing story here.) Norris’ military career ended, she writes, when her security clearance was revoked for having a PTSD diagnosis. Today she works as a victim advocate at the Military Rape Crisis Center, a non-profit organization that offers support to those who suffer sexual abuse while serving in the military.
As she sat in the front row at the press conference, Norris’ eyes began to overflow with tears, causing Sen. Barbara Boxer, who was then at the podium, to remark, “I hope those are tears of hope.”
Norris affirmed that they were, saying that she was moved because she never thought she’d see the day when such as change as that proposed by Gillibrand could take place.

Pressure is mounting on Capitol Hill for a meaningful answer to the crisis of sexual assault in the U.S. military. In response, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) hosted a press conference Thursday to promote legislation that would remove from the chain of command in the nation’s armed forces the reporting and adjudication of sexual crimes, along with other felonies that are not specifically military in nature.

Gillibrand also introduced her audience to three military veterans who said they suffered punishment from the military when they reported having been the victims of sex crimes perpetrated against them by their comrades.

Jennifer Norris, a former sergeant in the Air Force Reserve, was accompanied to the press conference by a service dog who, she says, assists her with the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) she experiences because of assaults by four different perpetrators during her military career. (You can read her harrowing story here.) Norris’ military career ended, she writes, when her security clearance was revoked for having a PTSD diagnosis. Today she works as a victim advocate at the Military Rape Crisis Center, a non-profit organization that offers support to those who suffer sexual abuse while serving in the military.

As she sat in the front row at the press conference, Norris’ eyes began to overflow with tears, causing Sen. Barbara Boxer, who was then at the podium, to remark, “I hope those are tears of hope.”

Norris affirmed that they were, saying that she was moved because she never thought she’d see the day when such as change as that proposed by Gillibrand could take place.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently ordered all branches of the armed forces to “re-train, re-credential and re-screen” all sexual assault officers and military recruiters.

“Too bad they didn’t do it before,” said Reid to RH Reality Check, “because, as I wrote to the Pentagon last week, this present system is not working well.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: Military Sexual Assault Reporting System Needs Fixing
President Obama, responding to the Pentagon report released this week, issued a stern warning to service personnel, saying, “If we find out somebody’s engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”
He also made a promise to individuals who report such crimes: “I’ve got your backs.” But does his administration really?

President Obama, responding to the Pentagon report released this week, issued a stern warning to service personnel, saying, “If we find out somebody’s engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”

He also made a promise to individuals who report such crimes: “I’ve got your backs.” But does his administration really?

Trial Against Lt. Dan Choi for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Protest Set for Today

With much press devoted to the Supreme Court arguments on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, not everyone may be aware that LGBTQ rights are on trial in a third case this week: United States v. Daniel Choi.
The case concerns whether Lt. Dan Choi should serve up to six months in jail or pay a fine of up to $5,000 for chaining himself to the White House fence in protest of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy in November 2010. An Iraq war veteran, Arabic linguist, and West Point graduate, Choi was discharged for “coming out” while DADT was still in effect. He has been arrested while engaging in several high-profile acts of non-violent civil disobedience and activism, including three White House DADT protests, a White House protest of the Keystone XL pipeline, and a gay pride parade in Moscow.
Choi was one of 12 activists arrested during the November 2010 DADT protest, but he is the only one with an ongoing trial; the others pled guilty. Choi argues that since DADT has since been repealed, his charges should be dropped.

Trial Against Lt. Dan Choi for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Protest Set for Today

With much press devoted to the Supreme Court arguments on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, not everyone may be aware that LGBTQ rights are on trial in a third case this week: United States v. Daniel Choi.

The case concerns whether Lt. Dan Choi should serve up to six months in jail or pay a fine of up to $5,000 for chaining himself to the White House fence in protest of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy in November 2010. An Iraq war veteran, Arabic linguist, and West Point graduate, Choi was discharged for “coming out” while DADT was still in effect. He has been arrested while engaging in several high-profile acts of non-violent civil disobedience and activism, including three White House DADT protests, a White House protest of the Keystone XL pipeline, and a gay pride parade in Moscow.

Choi was one of 12 activists arrested during the November 2010 DADT protest, but he is the only one with an ongoing trial; the others pled guilty. Choi argues that since DADT has since been repealed, his charges should be dropped.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the newly named Chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, pressed military officials for answers on sexual assault today during her first hearing as Subcommittee Chair and the first Senate hearing on the issue in nearly a decade.

“If you think you are achieving discipline and order with your current convening authority framework, I am sorry to say that you are wrong.  And every victim that has come in front of this committee and every story that we have heard over the weeks and months shows that we have not even begun to address this problem.”