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Women's Sexual Assault Crisis


Sexual assault is inherently a significant problem not only to the American civilian women but also to females serving in the military as well. However, unlike in a civilian context where rape is freely reported, there have been various barriers in the military that prevent women from reporting sexual assault cases. Since most women are assaulted by their senior officers, it becomes difficult for them to report such cases. The assaulted female officers do not always have the confidence to report cases of assault. It leads to an increasingly large number of sexual assault cases in the military unreported.

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An issue of sexual assault towards women can be traced back to the full integration of females into the military services in 1991 after the enactment of the Defense Authorization Act. It has ensured all barriers and restrictions for female officers’ participation in combat to be removed. It was notable progress in the integration of women in the military services. However, the issue of sexual assault has continued to persist.

In spite of this “gender integration at the military academies, over 50 percent of women at the Army, Navy, and Air Force academies reported experiencing sexual harassment at least twice a month” (Ogden 4). Significantly, the sexual assault against women in the military emerged in public during the Navy Tailhook scandal. It has been reported that 90 service female members were sexually assaulted by 21 Marine Corps officers and naval officers in Las Vegas while attending a convention.

Past Attempts at Solutions

The air force facilitates the channels within which the cases of sexual assault can be reported confidentially while ensuring full accountability to perpetrators (U.S. Air Force). The air force is premised on the wingman culture, where each person in the air force takes care of one another. Hence, the occurrences of sexual assault cases erode this culture where soldiers cannot trust one another to protect the wellbeing.

Causes of Rape

The military language has often assumed the derogatory and hateful references towards women in spite of the high percentage of them currently serving in the air force and other military disciplines. Meanwhile, the use of a sexually offensive language by drill instructors including the use of curses and remarks has reference to female sexuality and is among the factors that have contributed to sexual assault cases in the military (Benedict). The fact that soldiers often use speech that is riddled with sexist remarks and insults is among the causes of women being mistreated in the air force. It contributes to sexual assault cases.

The use of such language not only perpetuates an antagonistic view of women but teaches it. An inherent perception behind such insults is the belief that women are the fundamental antithesis of soldiers. Soldiers are associated with masculinity, aggression, brutality, and ruthless; hence, contempt for all women. “In the Army, any sign that you are a woman means you are automatically ridiculed and treated as inferior” (Benedict).

Individual Elements

Women have been perceived as sexual objects and prey; more so, in the context of the military culture. In addition, civilian females have been characterized as using their sexuality to subdue and conquer soldiers as indicated in most historical scenarios. Therefore, the use of women as sexual objects should come as a surprise; more so, in the cases of sexual assault and persecution of women soldiers. In a 2003 survey of veteran female soldiers, who had sought medical assistance at a VA hospital, 30% percent of the claimed have been raped during their service in the military. Meanwhile, in 2004, the study of Veterans of the Vietnam and preceding wars found 71% of the interviewed women had been sexually assaulted in the course of their service.

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A 1995-year study of the veterans who had served in the gulf war and prior wars indicated that 90% of them had suffered sexual assault. It translates from being teased relentlessly, ogled, or pressured for sex. However, these statistics only reflect the few cases of women who have been brave enough to bring their cases forward in official reports. It is fairly difficult for civilian females to report an incidence of sexual assault or rape.

It is because of the prevalence of myths where victims are blamed, the fear of reprisal and unsympathetic law enforcement officers. Hence, a significant number of sexual assault cases are never reported not only in a civilian context but also in the U.S. Air Force context. While it is difficult to report sexual assault cases by civilians, it is significantly risky to report such cases in the military. The Air Force and the rest of the military are hierarchical and enclosed societies. They are perforated with chatter; therefore, a female soldier that makes a sexual assault charge against another soldier is less likely to remain anonymous.

In most cases, a victim of sexual assault has to face a perpetrator on a daily basis while withstanding the ridicule, blame, and resentment from other soldiers. In an event that the perpetrator is a senior officer in comparison with a victim, then there is a risk of persecution and punishment from other senior officers or commanders. They may perceive the victim as a willful trouble maker. Since the military encourages soldiers to persevere hardships, distress, and pain, making sexual assault reports may make the soldier appear weak and unfit to be a member of the group. As a result, the Department of Defense acknowledges that between 80% and 90% of rape cases in the military are never reported.

Social Damage

The military, from the perception of normal people, is a place where people have to take a deadly long-term training in order to become neat, brave, and equitable soldiers who will be able to protect their country’s sky and border. Joining the military is a difficult decision. For women, who are often considered to be weak and sensitive in terms of emotion and health, the military can be a dangerous environment since abuse and discrimination are likely to happen where males are dominant.

Not only one but many former military women have stood up to tell their stories about how badly the U.S. military repays them. Surprisingly, the unfairness does not stop at how these women were raped. Yet it has gotten worse when the unit commanders and authorities cruelly ignore and try to conceal the guilt by accusing the innocent victims. “A female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be attacked by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire” (Broadbent). This statement has pictured precisely the brutality, violence, and mistreatment occurring regularly inside the U.S. Army.

According to The Rape of Our Military Women by Kelley Vlahos, a former Marine Stephanie Schroeder and Jenny McClendon were both attacked and raped by their fellow soldiers (Vlahos). After complaining to the commandment, they were either forced to transfer or diagnosed to have a personality disorder. They later got discharged from the crew with bad credit on their profiles. Sadly, some of the victims come to acknowledge that it would be better for them to keep silent since they can stay in the unit until their retirement coming in order to be qualified for a pension or any health care service. Living in fear and having to face their fellow enemies every day, some women, because of unable to tell the truth, hold this secret for nearly ten years. They get into smoking, drug or obesity to forget about what has happened to them.

Rape is genuinely brutal, but when it happens in the military the consequences are catastrophic. While perpetrators are backed up, victims have to suffer from severe and chronic physical and emotional health effects such as depression, phobia, and even abortion. They haunt them every day. Thus, the questions arise whether there are female rights existing there. Unfortunately, there is nothing like that inside the army.

Apparently, the number of unreported cases that have given above may present only fifty percent of the real amount of victims. Many investigators also believe this issue happens a lot more than we expect. It is because the actual statistic of women that have been kicked out of service with personality disorders is still a big question that has never been answered by the Pentagon. The Department of Defense reluctantly explains that they have not kept a track of any cases regarding the sexual harassment from 2001 to 2010 (Vlahos).

Offense to the Powerful Group's Standard Persistence

In the twentieth century, even though the women comprise nearly half of the labor force, violence or sexual assaults towards them still exist. Instead of being restricted, it still roots in every workplace that gradually turns into a protective shell for these crimes to occur. However, despite the fact that rape is so widespread and universal, people could not hold their surprise to know that this problem is commonplace in the military.

Undeniably, the risk of sexual assaults for women who work in male-dominated occupations always stays as a high alert. Especially, in the army, where males are the majority and being superior, females are more easily to get attacked and discriminated against. Regardless of the significantly moderate contribution of the military women compared to a large proportion of males in the army, their strong spirit and attitude should be appreciated. Rape happens to all races, genders, and sexualities. However, for these women, spending their lives in the military is difficult enough that they do not have to endure all these kinds of painful mistreatment.

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Over Abundance of Proposed Solutions

The U.S Government should consider a way to solve this problem if they still need the women to serve in the military without fear of being harmed, shamed, or accused of any violation they have not done. Trying to admit its mistake and expose all the information to the public is the first start for the U.S. Government to recover the honor of all victims. From that, citizens can take this issue seriously and objectively educate themselves that this world is full of unfairness. The only way to make everything better is by raising the individual’s awareness and dignity (Basirico et al. 55).

Moreover, in terms of correction and improvement, the U.S. Government should encourage its lawmakers to create a policy that seriously punishes any perpetrators despite what ranks these soldiers stand in the military. Other than that, healthcare, a psychological therapy, or any pension available has to offer to the victims as compensation.

Not only conducting the academies to unite commanders, but there should be also the commendation and reward for those superior officers or sergeants to encourage when they do a good job while helping the military women prove their innocence. Therefore, with a threat from North Korea and the Middle East intervention nowadays, if the government still needs the cooperation of millions of females, it must be laudable for them to be realistic. It should soften this inner war before sending them out to another battlefield.

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What Caused the Problem?

The sexual assault on women in the air force can be attributed to cultural precepts that have often placed men as protectors of society whereas women are given lesser roles. From a functionalist theory perspective, the military has since time in history been structured in a manner that not only fosters stability but also ascertains the discipline of all soldiers (Ferrante 30). However, since the inclusion of women in more active capacities in the military, the prevalent stability and status quo are shattered in order to create room for women. As such, sexual assault is inherent in protests against the inclusion of women in the army who, in most cases, have been perceived as objects for pleasing the desires of men but not as equal soldiers fighting in the same war.

Meanwhile, interactionist theories argue that sexual assault against women is a consequence of observed behavior as the men and women in the military interact (Ferrante 36). Hence, the manner that men have always interacted with women in the military will significantly influence the extent, nature, and scope of sexual assault against women. It is evident that sociological and cultural factors are the primary precursors to sexual assault acts against women in the military.


Military women are the bravest, honest, and unyielding people who should be protected by the system, into which their efforts are contributed. It is heartbroken to know that joining an army was in first honor to those women. It is because they can help to protect their country. It is being a great chance for them to be able to study and get a job since they cannot afford by themselves. Therefore, the U.S. Government, indeed, owes these women a lot that it should encouragingly do justice and bring this unfairness to light. Hopefully, in the future, we can read the news about a powerful action of the government in an effort of reducing this rape culture, which has taken place. Thus, no stories of disappointing indictment will be told.