Monday, January 15, 2007

Rape and sexual assault, okay--nudity, not okay

From August, 2002 through October, 2004, 118 cases of sexual assault in the U.S. military were reported. One can correctly assume that the actual number of assaults was much higher, and there is no evidence that such assaults are doing anything but increasing. In 2003, dozens of women at the U.S. Air Force Academy were ignored or punished when they reported rape and sexual assault to Academy officials.

Only in rare cases do the perpetrators of these crimes in our military receive any punishment. Raping and sexually assaulting female members of the armed forces appears to be fine and dandy, judging from the consequences--as in "almost none"--faced by the military's sex criminals.

It is beyond hypocritical, then, that Air Force Staff Sgt. Michelle Manhart, who posed for Playboy, has been relieved of her duties, pending an "investigation." A Lackland AFB spokesman, Oscar Balladares, said that "This staff sergeant's alleged action does not meet the high standards we expect of our airmen, nor does it comply with the Air Force's core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do. It is not representative of the many thousands of outstanding airmen who serve in the U.S. Air Force today."

For starters, Manhart is not an "airman"--she is a woman. That Balladares cannot even bring himself to identify Manhart's gender says much more than the I-hate-political-correctness crowd would admit. Balladares's sexist statement is also amusing, in a very dark way. What high standards?

Elizabeth Gettelman, writing for MoJo Blog, suggests that Manhart consider enlisting in the U.S. Army, where enlistees with felony records sign on by the thousands.

6 Comments:

In the Army you have soldiers, the Navy has Sailors, the Marines have Marines, and the Air Force has Airmen. Airman is the proper term when referring to one person that is in the US Air Force.

By Anonymous Chris Short, at 2:26 PM  

The fact that it is the "proper" term only makes my point more strongly--that women in the Air Force are called men. That, in a word, is sexism. Using tradition to justify it makes it no less sexist; tradition, in fact, is what is usually used to justify sexist language.

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