The following is a post by Staff Blogger, Jen McClendon. This is her response to an article written by Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Robbins posted 13 June 2013 in The Washington Post. Jen's rebuttal was refused by The Post. I'm happy to publish it here. As always, Jen's opinions are her own and don't necessarily reflect those of the One Weary Soldier... but in this case.... yes, they do. Drive on, Jen. I love you, Sister. You rock!
The best way to avoid correcting the military rape problem is to call
rape in the ranks anything other than a byproduct of privilege and rape
culture. Red herrings, straw men, and flack screens have been protecting
rape culture from public scrutiny for generations. The next best thing
to directly blaming the victim is indirectly blaming the victim.
women and men in uniform think that rape will never happen to them
because they are stronger, smarter, or somehow more cautious than the
women and men that are raped. If a victim is strong than they must not
have been raped. If the victim is weak than are they guilty of failing
to avoid rape.
If there are only two avenues home and a rapist
awaits a soldier on both avenues home and the soldier is raped while
taking avenue A than there is no way of knowing whether they were also
doomed if they had taken avenue B. When we point the finger at the
soldier that took avenue A home and was raped we chip away at the guilt
of rapist C by presuming that avenue B was safe.
the odds of never being raped are better than the odds of being raped.
If a Lieutenant Colonel has not been raped this is a good thing. The question is
whether their caution or their strength protected them. Could luck be a
There are several fallacies at play in victim
blaming. One fallacy is that strong women and strong men are not raped.
We may call this the fallacy of “I’m too tough to be raped.” The cause
of rape is not being attributed to the presence of a rapist. We ignore
rank, fatigue, firearms, and other weapons that have nothing to do with
alcohol when we assert a strength fallacy.
The “Strong Woman”
fallacy is dangerous. If you are strong and you are raped that strength
might be a liability in prosecuting the offender. The general public
knows about gang rape. Does the military brass?
We teach Rape
evasion the same way that we teach influenza evasion. If we do not wash
our hands of the flu virus and our bodies do not fight off the invasion
then we are likely to get the flu. In rape training we all but ignore
washing the rapist down the sink with the flu virus.
survivors along with the parents and loved ones of those people that
were lost to rape and murder or rape and suicide understand the
complexities of getting a conviction. We are not stupid and we are not
crazy. What we do not understand is why we are not attacking rape
culture head on. We waste time when we hold the victim more accountable
than the rapist?
Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Robbins describes
herself as strong, physically fit, and presumably safe from rape. I am
pretty tough too. I was an E4 and a teetotaler both times that I was
raped. Are we going to address inequality or blame alcohol? What about
the "RHIP" (Rank Has It’s Privileges) song? I won a base triathlon
between my two rapes. Both rapists had rank and gender privilege and
both times that trumped my strength.
Today, nobody holds rank
over me and I have not been raped. I am physically fit and I feel that
if I defend myself I will not be charged with a crime. Rank is the most
toxic weapon in military sexual violence. Rank overpowers strength and
If we follow the colonel’s logic than those men and
women that were raped on active duty merely failed to keep themselves
safe. Perhaps they should have known better. Implicit in the writing of
Colonel Robbins is that many of the people that were raped in the
military were guilty of poor judgment. I encourage the colonel to
revisit that opinion.
Implicit in the public discourse on rape is
the language of victim blaming. Air Force General Mark Welsch, asked
why junior personnel did not “Turn to their chain of command on the
worst day of their lives.” This is why!
Some women and men were
raped in their barracks rooms. Several women and men – to include this
very strong woman - were raped while on watches in isolated ship spaces
and while completely sober. When you are low in rank following orders in
the workplace lest you face conjured charges of imagined crimes then
might have trouble making the “Right choices” in the context of rape
We have to address power as a problem or we will drop another ball on this matter. We need to talk about the RHIP song. Rank is the most potent rape drug.