Nude Scandal: It’s Your Fault, Too
By Ragnar Musashi
No one enters the military as a blank slate. We all go in shaped by 18+ years of living in the communities and overall society we come from. In the case of overweight potential recruits, the ‘shaping’ is literal.
Generals have testified to Congress about how the nation has to address childhood obesity as a national security issue. Basically, they said the military can’t continue to meet readiness requirements with the population of fat bodies American society is producing due to a lethal combination of poor diet and lack of exercise from a young age.
The military does its best, certainly. Recruiters are willing to hold off sending kids to bootcamp so they have more time to lose weight. During boot camp itself, in all branches, recruits are more likely to recycle a couple of times instead of simply being kicked out of the military for being fat.
So what happens in the military when society produces generations of casually misogynistic creeps?
And, don’t tell me society doesn’t produce casual misogynists. Few societies since the Romans under Caligula have been more debauched than modern America. If you doubt it, feel free to peruse the top porn search words were for 2016 (hint, “step-mom” and “step-sister” rank up near the top). Almost every aspect of our society is hyper-sexualized, from the popularity of labiaplasty to Disney child stars becoming sex icons once they hit puberty. Our society teaches all our kids that women are sexual objects, from as soon as we can put them in front of an iPad or television. Do I even need to bring up child beauty pageants?
Research by the American Psychiatric Association discusses the damage done to men by the oversexualization of women. “If girls and women are seen exclusively as sexual beings rather than as complicated people with many interests, talents, and identities, boys and men may have difficulty relating to them on any level other than the sexual.” And according to the research in this study in the European Journal of Social Psychology, “…when people are objectified they are denied personhood.” In other words, a lot of American men have been sexualizing and objectifying women for so long they don’t really see women as people anymore. So, of course sharing nude photos of women, even women they know, is no big deal.
The military certainly does what it can. From boot camp on throughout their entire military career, service members regularly attend equal opportunity and sexual harassment training every few months. At almost the lowest unit level possible individuals are designated to be constantly available in case someone wants to report an incident, or reports can be anonymous via hotlines or websites. Military leadership tries to fix the kids they’re given, or at least smooth out their roughest edges.
But the military can’t reverse years of corruption, and, truthfully, the military isn’t intended to produce model, ethical, citizens. The military is supposed to create model, ethical, killers. And people competent enough to help the ethical killers do their job. The good citizen/good human being part is the job of parents and teachers and the rest of society. The military has them for a few months of indoctrination and a few years of service (since the vast majority of military members serve a single four year enlistment and then get out). That’s it. The military cannot completely re-wire kids in bootcamp who have been brought up in a society that normalizes misogyny.
Oh, and before you say, “Hell no, everyone is responsible for their own actions,” let me say I agree with you. I believe misogynists are, indeed, responsible for their actions. Obviously, guys who don’t respect women are going to make decisions in line with the fact they don’t respect women. But just as individuals can’t shirk responsibility for their actions, we as members of society can’t deny responsibility for how the children in our society are indoctrinated. We are all participants, whether you have a kid or not.
Look, not all recruits show up to bootcamp fat, and not all recruits show up as misogynistic assholes. Plenty of service members didn’t/don’t participate in these social network pic-sharing groups, and when they found out what these groups were doing they were rightfully upset.
But the, “it isn’t everyone” plea falls a little flat when groups like Marines United have tens of thousands of members, and there are multiple groups in all the services. However, the prevalence of the problem indicates it’s a society-wide problem, not a military-specific issue. And the military, as a sub-set of society, can’t be expected to fix society-wide problems.
Congress can rage at the Marine Corps Commandant all it likes, but there’s not much more leadership can do to “fix” the problem of misogynists in the military. Marines and veterans can step up and police our own, and I believe we’re doing that, and will continue to do so. But until American society starts producing a better product, we can expect to be disappointed and even disgusted by the behavior of some members of our armed services.