Female Vet’s Perspective: General Dismisses Assault Case

Marines silhouetted against an orange sunset.
U.S. Marines depart a checkpoint and patrol back to Forward Operating Base Geronimo, Afghanistan, May 30, 2010. The Marines are assigned to Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga. Department of Defense.

It’s been all over the news that yet another general has dismissed a harassment case, citing that the person charged was more credible than the victim.  This time, it was a female general.  How is this possible?  I think there’s two reasons.

1. Men think women overreact

This is more of a cultural issue than a military issue.  I’ve seen it turn up in the writing field, comic book industry, and even a male wrote it into a book.  But to give you an idea of how it is in the military …

When I was living in the barracks, the heat failed because a part burned out.  It wasn’t a problem during the day, but when the temperature dropped at night, the old wooden walls of the barracks sucked all the cold air in.  We were freezing!

Our first sergeant had just left for a school, so our request was routed to the acting first sergeant (noting this because the problem would not have happened under the first sergeant).  He decided we were whining about nothing.  Grudgingly, he got Facilities out there to check the heat, but he must have told the repairman his opinion.  The repairman barely checked the heater, spending only two minutes on it before he declared it was in working order.

So the barracks continued to be very cold, and twenty women complained to their squad leaders and platoon sergeants.  The more we complained, the more the acting first sergeant said we were whining.  He told everyone we were whining, and we were hearing it from our squad leaders.   This went on for a month, and one of the women was getting ready to go to the Inspector General.

That night, I was on staff duty with one of the female sergeants.  It was about 2:00 a.m.  She, too, repeated the mantra that we were whining.  So I challenged her to check out the barracks.

We went to the male barracks.

We went to the female barracks.

She got the heat fixed the next day.

The acting first sergeant went out of his way to proclaim that “Women whine.”  All he needed to do was call Facilities and report the problem and let them find out.  Instead, his bias affected the entire company.

Imagine that happening during war.

Now onto the second reason:

Putting Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes

Most of the men get caught at harassment and assault are senior enlisted or officers.  They have fifteen years or more in the military.  So when a general sees the case, she puts herself in their shoes.  She’s thinking that this guy is married, has two kids, and his retirement at stake.  If it were her, she wouldn’t risk all that to do something stupid like that.

So as a result, we get the credibility of the victim being questioned.

Thankfully, Congress is putting this out in the public eye.  It needs the exposure or it won’t get fixed.
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