Victim-blaming at its finest

Shorter Kathleen Parker: Women in the military are raped because they’re stupid enough to be around men.
Oh, and the ladies are probably exaggerating anyway. No, seriously. Check out these gems:

No serious person doubts that sexual harassment and even rape occur in a war zone. But the degree to which sex is consensual or forced — often a question of he-said-she-said — is further complicated by military hierarchy and the extenuating circumstances (and passions) of war.
…Clearly, some of what is considered sexual harassment falls into the category of harmless sport — the usual towel-snapping that is, in fact, a way to neutralize sex.

This one is my all-time fave though:

But more overt sexual aggression may be the product of something few will acknowledge, at least on the record: resentment.
Off the record, in dozens of interviews over a period of years, male soldiers and officers have confided that many men resent women because they’ve been forced to pretend that women are equals, and men know they’re not.

And clearly, the best way to put us bitches back in our place is with a good raping, huh?

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80 Comments

  1. the_becca
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Shinobi –
    “the men who join the military do not take a vow, they didn’t sign up for a life of celebacy”
    Aaaaand that’s where you reveal your own screwed up notions of the sexual dynamics here, at least as far as I’m concerned. What does the fact that soldiers “didn’t sign up for a life of celebacy[sic]” have to do with anything? “A life of celibacy” is *not* the same as having some fucking self-control. One shouldn’t be able to get out of a murder conviction by saying that they were in an especially murderous mood that they just couldn’t control (in fact, that should probably get them locked up for longer). Likewise, saying “but I was so horny!” is SO, SO not ANY kind of excuse or even acceptable explanation for rape — anywhere, under any circumstances.
    Besides, what would you do to fix the problem as you percieve it? Get the army to hire some human-sex-receptacles for those soldiers, who might just start raping each other if you don’t hurry up and stick a vagina on the ends of their dicks for them sometime soon?? You do realize that that’s how you’re portraying male sexuality here, right?

  2. Shadow32
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Rape has nothing to do with uncontrollable sex urges. The rapists manage to restrain themselves fine until they can catch the woman alone, and away from witnesses.
    As someone pointed out to me many years ago, we have an overwhelming biological urge to urinate but if I piss on Kathleen Parker’s foot (OK, he didn’t use that as an example) she probably won’t accept that I just couldn’t control myself.

  3. Katxyz
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    “Whereas rapes that occur in the US really are just the fault of the individual doing the raping, whether at a frat party or on the street.”
    then why are rapes within the military or parish not the fault of the individual? your argument is soldiers don’t get enough sexual outlets, making rape more understandable. there are plenty of people in all walks of life who aren’t getting all (or any) of the sex they want. so what if a rapist is a 35 year old virgin- can he argue in court that it wasn’t fair he couldn’t find a willing partner and he didn’t take a vow of celibacy?
    what if a soldier attacks another soldier for something else he can’t “get enough of?” (clean underwear, socks, food, letters from home, etc) soldiers, especially those in a war zone, should be trained to have self control and make personal sacrifices.

  4. Posted April 5, 2007 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    So… what if men really CAN’T control their sexual urges?
    Well, Shinobi, the vast vast vast majority of them can. Assuming for purposes of argument that a small minority of them can’t, that doesn’t change a damn thing. People who have such a tenuous grasp on reality that they are physically unable to function according to the rules in civilized society are usually institutionalized. If these men really and truly can’t help themselves, if they are really and truly unable to stop themselves from harming others, then I suggest they receive the same mandatory confinement and therapy that others in their situation do.

  5. EG
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    OK, TLF, I was going to post exactly the same thing. Except I was going to be nastier. If “men” as a group can’t control their sexual urges, then men as a group cannot take their place in society as competent adults, and they shouldn’t have the same rights as competent adults. Nor should they be allowed to hold positions of power. End of story.

  6. Posted April 5, 2007 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    EG, I’m totally with you on the “nastier” :) I just felt like sounding detached and academic to trick* people into agreeing themselves into a corner. Drat! You’re too smart for me! ;)
    * Not actually trickery. Just that I suspect if people realized the consequences of saying that men can’t control their sexual urges, they’d be less likely to agree with the clear and obvious conclusion of that statement, while still not wanting to withdraw it.

  7. Charity
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    And frankly it’s a huge disservice to military service men and women to make comments like “I have to wonder how many of them really thought about how long they would be requried to go without getting any”, and to say that life-threatening situations surely “ramp up” the sex drive. Do you get your ideas about combat and other life-threatening situations, and how they feel, from TV sitcoms? If you were trolling to offend feminists by making provocative and stupid comments about rape, you’ve actually done more to disparage soldiers by presuming to understand their experience and casting them as oversexed, naive, and out of control.

  8. roymacIII
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    And we sure as hell shouldn’t have guns and tanks for gods sakes.
    Oddly, even when I was suffering through a multi-year sexual drought, I never thought rape was an acceptable solution. I guess I’m just lucky that way.
    Can I havea a position of power, now? ;)

  9. EG
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Any time, Roy!

  10. BonnieMiranda
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    “Can I havea a position of power, now? ;)
    Considering how hot feminist guys are, I imagine you could have a variety of positions. Sexy is a man with a brain who uses it for the power of good!

  11. Inverarity
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    So… what if men really CAN’T control their sexual urges?
    No sane, non-sociopathic man is incapable of controlling his sexual urges. There may be an awful lot of men who think they shouldn’t have to, but that’s their problem, not an inherent characteristic of maleness.
    All of these men who get so horny they “can’t control themselves” would learn self-control in a hurry if, say, 1 in 4 women were actually shapeshifting aliens who’d bite their heads off if assaulted. Or to be a little less fantastical, if rape had a much, much higher prosecution and conviction rate (i.e., high enough that you couldn’t rape someone and expect that you’d probably get away with it).
    In that scenario, all these men who are just so blinded by testosterone and unable to think clearly because of their uncontrollable manly urges would, I think demonstrate a surprisingly rational ability to calculate risk vs. reward and conclude that rape isn’t such a great way to relieve sexual frustration. So much for the “men can’t control themselves” theory (which I also find offensive, being a man who was also in the military).

  12. EG
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Well, exactly Inverarity. If these men who allegedly “can’t control their urges” were confronted with a woman holding a shotgun, I bet they’d learn control pretty fucking immediately.

  13. Posted April 5, 2007 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Parker wants us to confuse an anecdote with evidence. She’s a concern troll, stirring up FUD over the validity of any military rape case, and she’s doing us all a disservice.

  14. kgirl
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    What is most disturbing about the article is that this woman wrote an article arguing against the equality of women (in the military). Why? This woman’s problem is that she types (and publishes) before she truly thinks… or she only writes with a personal (political) agenda. Most everyone would not take one serial killer as a reason to brand all humanity as a bunch of murderers… so why is this a good reason to say that women (as in more than one woman) of the military lie about being raped? I do not know. Disconcerting at best.

  15. josie
    Posted April 5, 2007 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Parker’s comments are completely outrageous, cruel, misogynist and offensive.
    While her writing suggests she would be the kind of anti-feminist to blame the victim no matter what the circumstances, i think a thoughtful response to the issue of rape in the military should look at the specific situation in which these rapes are occurring. The military, particularly the American military, is an organization which launches bloody, brutal wars against poorer nations and uses torture and sexual humiliation against prisoners. It is an entire profession built around the degradation of other human beings. That rape occurs anywhere is appalling, but that it occurs in the military is hardly surprising. I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m in any way condoning what goes on, because i truly don’t, i just think it’s sadly unsurprising given the violent, morally bankrupt nature of the military itself.

  16. Posted April 6, 2007 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    When I saw this column in our local paper last week, I sent this to the editor:
    “But the most worthy of contempt is Kathleen Parker’s suggestion that sexual assault on female soldiers serving in Iraq has its roots in anything but the failure of leaders who tolerate “a simmering rage that sometimes finds expression in aggression toward those deemed responsible.”
    Parker thinks this is a social issue, and segregation is the answer. As a former platoon sergeant, I know that this is a leadership issue, and the solution is better training in core military values—like honor, respect, and selfless service. The problem is not coed military units and male soldiers who feel “resentment” for having to “pretend women are equals” when the men “know they are not.” The problem is male soldiers—and leaders—who don’t know right from wrong.
    Soldiers and leaders who do harbor such resentment need to stop whining and do their jobs. We have a war to fight, and the enemy isn’t the female soldier with the wrench in her hand.”
    I have more comprehensive comments on my blog, here: http://foggybottomline.com/?p=15
    As a former Army NCO, it disturbs me when people like Parker make the military out to be some kind of “he-man woman hater’s club.”

  17. Shadow32
    Posted April 6, 2007 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Keep in mind, Parker’s column on Jessica Lynch getting captured used her as proof that women aren’t capable of serving effectively in combat.

  18. donna darko
    Posted April 6, 2007 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    No time to read but Kathleen Parker of the Orlando Sentinel appears on the op-ed page of the Chicago Tribune and is an annoying, conservative anti-feminist. FYI.

  19. donna darko
    Posted April 6, 2007 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Of course all these conservative women call themselves feminists when they are in fact not.

  20. Posted April 6, 2007 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Sigh. So many things are disturbing and upsetting about her column. The way she uses rhetorical statements to fein like she’s feminist in the beginning and then turns on women in the end, for example.
    In addition, one thing that really bothered me was the monolithic way she paints men as a single group that will inevitably abuse, sexualize, and attack women.
    Even though there are abusive, sexist men in the military, there are also clearly many men who can respect and work together with women. One simple solution would be to promote these men into superior positions in the military (along with women, of course). Then you could use the heirarchical system of the military to impose a system of respecting women, not abusing them. Her complete ignorance of these men only adds to the flaws in her analysis.
    The part about segregation is almost laughable too. Is she really proposing “separate but equal” in 2007? If anything, a real solution would be to only allow gay men and women in combat. That would ensure minimal sex *between* the genders. :)

  21. donna darko
    Posted April 6, 2007 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    It’s not just the military the government needs to promote men who respect and work alongside women. White patriarchy’s first tenet is to be what is not female. No sissy stuff. So we have Republicans whose main platform issues are anti-choice, anti-gay marriage, anti-environment and anti-immigrant because men of color are otherized like women.

  22. donna darko
    Posted April 6, 2007 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    The definition of manhood in four succinct phrases by psychologist Robert Brannon, 1976:
    1. No Sissy Stuff. One may never do anything that even remotely suggests femininity. Masculinity is the relentless repudiation of the feminine.
    2. Be A Big Wheel. Masculinity is measured by power, success, wealth and status. “He who has the most toys when he dies wins.�
    3. Be A Sturdy Oak. Masculinity depends on remaining calm and reliable in a crisis, holding emotions in check. Proving you’re a man depends on never showing your emotions at all. Boys don’t cry.
    4. Give ‘Em Hell. Exude an aura of manly daring and aggression. Go for it. Take risks

  23. pearl
    Posted April 6, 2007 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Of course all these conservative women call themselves feminists when they are in fact not.
    To dust off an old chestnut, who made you the feminist police?

  24. Rach
    Posted April 6, 2007 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe this freakin article was written!!!!! This is terrible on way too many levels. It claims that women should EXPECT rape but hey that’s OK, because we LIKE it, and we DESERVE it because we’re not even equal to men. What makes it even worse is that it is a woman who wrote it. Disguisting.

  25. donna darko
    Posted April 6, 2007 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    pearl, i’m talking about independent women’s forum type feminists who are against women’s rights or constantly criticize the feminist movement yet call themselves feminists. ann althouse, ann coulter, caitlin flanagan, kathleen parker, etc.

  26. twincats
    Posted April 6, 2007 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Great Ceasar’s ghost, what has happened to the U.S. military??
    I am a female who served in the USAF from 1979-1987 and never experienced ANY abuse whatsoever, sexual, mental, physical or otherwise. This whole thing is news to me (I figured Tailhook was some sort of terrible anomaly, so perhaps I’m being naive.)
    While I was active duty, we were constantly reminded at every single commanders’ call that sexual harassment was not going to be tolerated. I mean, we got sexual harassment training right along with marksmanship, CPR and so on.
    They must have cut the funding…

  27. Vaetilde
    Posted April 6, 2007 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    As someone pointed out to me many years ago, we have an overwhelming biological urge to urinate but if I piss on Kathleen Parker’s foot (OK, he didn’t use that as an example) she probably won’t accept that I just couldn’t control myself.
    I just about had Diet Dr.Pepper up my nose on that one.

  28. Posted April 10, 2007 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    Ugh. I just listened to this woman on NPR (here) and it was utterly unbelievable.

  29. roymacIII
    Posted April 10, 2007 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    That doesn’t sound like the caring, empathic, progressive Kathleen Parker I’ve come to know and love! Something must have happened!
    Hee. How did I miss that the first time around?
    To dust off an old chestnut, who made you the feminist police?
    I’m not sure why you’d bother dusting that one off. When you’ve got someone writing about how women are inferior to men, and how women shouldn’t be pursuing equal rights, or you’ve got someone judging women based solely on their bust size, perceived attractiveness, or when you’ve got someone telling women that they shouldn’t be trying to do the things that make them happy, that they should be staying at home making babies and being good little house-wives, then they’re not feminists. They can call themselves any damn thing they want, but when they actively fight against equality and against women’s rights, then they’re not actually feminists, regardless of what organs they have below the belt.
    I’m not in the habit of telling people what labels they can and can’t use, but some of them are pretty obvious. If someone tells me that they don’t believe in God or Jesus, but tells me “I’m a Christian,” you can bet that I’m going to question that, too.

  30. Perkyshai
    Posted April 12, 2007 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    There are several things that bug/piss me off about KP’s discussion.
    1. Having a vagina does not make you a feminist. What comes out of your mouth and goes on in your head does, regardless of the arrangement of your erectile tissue and other organs.
    2. Men don’t rape. Disturbed, power-craving, hateful people rape. That rape and healthy sexuality have EVER been conflated is an indicator of sickness in gender stereotyping and socialization.
    3. That she considers sexual harrassment equal to “harmless towel-snapping” is indicative of the lens that she is looking through. Sexual harrassment is not harmless. Nothing that incites PTSD is.
    Rape is not just wrong, it’s egregiously wrong, wherever it’s found…whether it be prison or the streets after dark or in a warzone. I don’t know what kind of fantasyland Parker is living in if she beleives that women are that much safer at home if any of her arguments are remotely true. Poster child for cognitive dissonance…party of Parker…

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