Beyond Steubenville: Why You Must Hear NPR’s Harrowing Coverage of Rape in the Military

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“I’ve never met one victim who was able to report the crime and still retain their military career,” she says. “Not one.”

As the Steubenville rape trial coverage sparks a national conversation about rape, it is important that we connect the dots between what happened in Steubenville and what is happening throughout our culture. This week National Public Radio is reporting on the rape of men and women in the US military. And the evidence of a systemic rape culture is damning.

When I reported [the rape], it was a very small part of my life. But by making that choice, my reporting of it took over my life, ruined my career and wound up, ultimately, getting me kicked out of the Army.

- Myla Haider, former Army criminal investigator

The Department of Defense is estimating there are 19,000 sexual assaults each year in the military. About 9,000 of these are women. When you compare the overall size of the two enlisted populations you see a dramatic difference.

While men face about the same risk of rape in the civilian population as they do in the military, the risk of a woman being raped is much higher in the armed forces than in the civilian population; about one in four. But it’s not just the number of assaults that is outrageous, it is the way rape victims, male and female, are treated when they file complaints about sexual assault.

NPR tells the story of Myla Haider, an agent in the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, or CID. She is also an intelligence analyst and a combat veteran. She is also a victim of rape. Her story is powerful and compelling. In part because she understood the implications of reporting rape and chose not to do so initially.

NPR reports:

Before she ever went to war, during CID training, Haider was raped. With some experience already with the military’s attitude toward rape, she decided not to report the attack.

“I’ve never met one victim who was able to report the crime and still retain their military career,” she says. “Not one.”

Eventually though she was called in to investigate a serial rapist. It was the same man who raped her.

NPR reports:

But the past wouldn’t stay buried. A few years later, after she’d become a CID agent, Haider got a phone call from an officer who was investigating a possible serial rapist — the soldier who raped her.

It was a moral dilemma, with an obvious course.

“All of the other women who were involved in the case had been attacked after I was attacked,” Haider says. “So I thought the only right thing for me to do was to be involved.”

She joined the other women who filed complaints and reported her rape. Doing so destroyed her career.

Steubenville may have brought the issue of rape back to center stage, but rape in the military is a window into how systemic rape culture functions at its most heinous. In the military, if you are a rape victim, male or female, your chances at getting justice are nearly zero.

Take fifteen minutes and listen to NPR’s two recent reports on rape in the military linked below. It is some of the most important news reporting in recent memory.

Sexual Violence Victims Say Military Justice System Is Broken

Off the Battlefield Military Women Face Risks From Male Troops

The second NPR news story above includes quotes like this:

Red tape held up Rangel’s paychecks, and when she got called in to her command sergeant major’s office, she thought he was going to help her solve the problem.

“He let me know that if I would meet up with him in a hotel he would give me money. And I was like, ‘No, I just need my paycheck,’ ” she says.

“Then I had a mission that I had to go on, and this command sergeant major was there,” Rangel says. “He and another sergeant major outright told me that we were going to have sex.”

She reported the rape to her superiors, including a female officer, and was told to keep quiet. Other officers started hinting that they knew about the rape. Another sergeant major asked her for sex.

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GMP Senior Editor Mark Greene is an Emmy Award winning animator and designer. He blogs and speaks on Men's Issues at the intersection of society, politics, relationships and parenting for the Good Men Project, the New York Times, The Shriver Report, Salon, HLN, The Huffington Post, and Mamamia. You can follow him on Twitter @megaSAHD and Google.
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Comments

  1. Fun fact:

    Out of the 19000 rapes reported in the military, 10,000 are of male victims, 9000 are of female victims, and who is talked about? Just guess.

    • That’s very normal amongst rape discussions. I believe it comes down to chivalry in the end and culture of stoicism for men.

      • Danielle says:

        It has absolutely nothing to do with chivalry and everything to do with percentages. The percentage of female rape victims is much much higher. It is not proportional to the percentage of the female population in the military.

        • The percentage of violence worldwide against men is significantly higher than that of women, yet can you see any campaigns like 1 billion rising for men? Chivalry in rape discussions exists. Percentage of rape against women per capita is higher but the gender ratio of victims alone is lower, yet nearly every military rape article I’ve seen was about women, nearly all discussion was about women, very rarely did I even see men mentioned yet more men are raped in the military. It amounts to overall ignoring a shitload of men to favour women, it’s chivalrous attitudes and protective instincts towards women. If it were purely based on percentages then wouldn’t 1/4 or whatever of articles mention males and have a significant discussion of them?

          • Danielle says:

            I don’t believe for a second that the percentage of violence against men is higher. Please support that statement with fact. War not included. I’m talking crimes. A lot of violence that happens against women is in the home, in private where no one sees. Also watch The Invisible War there’s an entire section on rape of men and several victims are interviewed.

            • DV and rape against men, by women, exists, and is ignored in all countries that have no DV laws, in all countries that define rape in a way that male victims cannot exist and women cannot rape.

              Assault and murder rate against men are 3-4 times more than the rates against women – in countries NOT in war (ie Canada). Suicide rates also around the same.

              Male soldiers represent 98% of soldier deaths in the US army, even though they’re only 90% of soldiers. Male civilians are counted as if they were combatants (and thus not as important as women and children), even by Obama.

            • Danielle Doucet says:

              Never said DV and rape against men doesn’t exist. I’m doubting the percentages (when it comes to female on male rape). I just think there’s more men raping men than women. I don’t doubt the suicide rates or the soldier death rates. Remember women just recently have been allowed to serve infantry so it makes sense.

            • World health organization DALYS 2004 or 2005, deaths from violence Male 17.9 million, Female: 3.8Million
              http://www.who.int/entity/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/DALY6%202004.xls

              Australian Crime Stats. Males had higher victimisation rates than females in all age groups.
              ht tp://www.aic.gov.au/statistics/violent%20crime/assault.html

              And not including war is pretty sickening considering men die more in war too. It’s not uncommon for a village to have ALL men be killed, whilst women and children are captured. Domestic violence also affects a lot of men, last I checked about 1 in 3 DV victims are male. Maybe you just don’t realize how much violence men face in this world?

    • Danielle says:

      “When you compare the overall size of the two enlisted populations you see a dramatic difference.
      While men face about the same risk of rape in the civilian population as they do in the military, the risk of a woman being raped is much higher in the armed forces than in the civilian population; about one in four.”

      There are more male victims as far as numbers but the percentage is much lower. Read carefully before commenting.

      • John Anderson says:

        True and we shouldn’t minimize the victimization of women. I think that the feeling among the commentators is that men will have more reluctance to even admit it to themselves. The CDC estimated 1.267 million rapes of men in 2010. 80% committed by women so an estimated 1 million in 2010. Outside of statutory cases with underage or incarcerated males where you only need to prove the act or male on male rape (20% of the total), I can only recall maybe 3 cases were a man has brought a rape charge against a woman. This seems rare and titillating enough to warrant media attention when it happens, but it’s rarely heard of. Compare that with RAINN’s estimation that 46% of rapes are reported. There is therefore some concern that the .9% figure may be low.

        Personally, I took issue with the wording or possibly the position of the wording in the post, which made it appear that the vast majority of the 19,000 rapes were committed against women, which is not true. No victim should be made invisible. No one has the right to coopt another’s suffering. All victims deserve justice and support.

        • Danielle says:

          The wording of the article was crystal clear to me. Women in the military are much more likely to be raped. 9,000 is an extremely high number considering how few women there are in the military compared to men.

          Believe me, women are just as reluctant to admit an attack to themselves. The idea that it’s somehow easier for a woman to cope than a man is preposterous just like these CDC statistics. I have a hard time believing 80% of male victims had female attackers. That goes against every scientific fact about male/female physiology. There must be a lot of really buff women out there if that’s even remotely true.

          • Because it’s established fact that:

            1) All men are bigger and stronger than all women
            2) Strength is the only factor with rape
            3) Women are more moral than men and less sexual than men (and thus less likely to want it in the first place)

            ?

            None of those are established.

            • Danielle Doucet says:

              Number one is the only one that is remotely true. I wouldn’t say all, but the majority. That is established. As far as factors, outside of strength or weapons or blackmail, I don’t see how else it would be done. Possibly while unconscious? I’m not sure that a man could remain erect while drunk or drugged and unconscious.

            • Do you actually have any idea about the human body or are you just making guesses?
              Men can get errect with fear, with being touched against their will, the physical stimulation can make them errect just like some women get lubricated when raped and some even orgasm (though mentally they don’t want the sex). Having a full bladder, or viagra can make a man erect. Men can be threatened with weapons, coerced, one was threatened that she would claim HE raped her if he didn’t force himself to have sex with her. Some people freeze up in fear, most men are also taught not to hit women so when they are attacked they don’t try to defend themselves because to do so would make THEM the bad guy in some peoples eyes. Then of course there is alcohol which makes it hard to fight back, there’s the issues with being seen as not a man if you turn down sex, threatened with proxy violence where she says she’ll get someone else to harm you if you don’t do it.

            • Danielle says:

              Obviously I’m not making guesses because I said I was unsure.

            • Ah ok. Well I hope my comment educated you more on the male body. This needs to be taught in school, just like a woman being wet/physically aroused or even orgasming doesn’t mean consent (some women orgasm during rape).

            • I’m not sure that a man could remain erect while drunk or drugged and unconscious.
              Ummmm yeah a guy can be erect while drunk or drugged. Or at the least in situations where the man and the women are both drunk sex can still happen (because then it becomes a question of who raped who). As for unconscious, why yes there is truth to morning wood.

              Also let’s not pretend that women suddenly don’t know how to use weapons. Its just as possible for a woman to keep a man at knife point as the reverse.

              So yes it is possible for a woman to rape a man.

            • Danielle says:

              I specifically referred to women using weapons. I also didn’t say it was impossible for a woman to rape a man. I just doubt there are more female perpetrators than male. Obviously you didn’t read my entire comment.

            • No I did read it and I addressed your doubts about a man having an erection while drugged/unconscious.

              The comment I responded to was questioning the possibility and didn’t say anything about which happens more often.

              Obviously you just looked at the last three sentences and not the rest of my comment.

            • Danielle says:

              I never said you didn’t address being drugged. I did read it, but I considered it an answer to one of my questions. I also never questioned the possibility of a man being raped so I’m wondering what exactly you were responding to in that last part.

          • John Anderson says:

            @ Danielle

            “The idea that it’s somehow easier for a woman to cope than a man is preposterous just like these CDC statistics.”

            The CDC statistics are preposterous because women don’t lie about rape, but men do?

            http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf

            Page 19 Table 2.2

            Made to penetrate 12 month estimated number of victims 1,267,000

            Page 24

            “For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%).”

            • Danielle says:

              Never ever said men lie about rape. The statistics the way you quoted just sounded suspect to me. And yes for the specific form of rape “being made to penetrate” I could see how it would be mostly female perpetrators. However, the vast majority of male victims of all forms of rape combined, I believe, are assaulted by male perpetrators. Unfortunately, I cannot reopen the CDC statistics for some reason and cannot check.

              What it comes down to is sexual assault is an epidemic problem, anyway you slice it. This article is comparing statistics of what happens in the military. I feel that a lot of these commentators are trying to detract from the endemic violence that women in the military suffer. Yes, men do as well, but when you look at the percentages it’s much higher for women in this particular environment. This almost comes off to me like a caucasian person saying, “well we have to suffer racism too, so it’s even.” While that may be true, the scales are institutionally tipped in their favor.

            • Also stop trying to compare black issues with gender issues, women are not less than 20% of a population. Non-black women as a group held a huge amount of privilege compared to black MALES let alone females.

            • Danielle says:

              I’m not comparing black issues to gender issues, I’m trying to make an analogy about the more privileged trying to dismiss the inequalities of the less privileged. It doesn’t mean the inequalities are on the same scale. As a BLACK WOMAN I think I know more about it than you and as strong as I feel about gender equality, you don’t even want to get me started on race; however, I still find it frustrating.

            • Hi Danielle,
              Just dropping in here to thank you for your comments. Your tone and your clear commitment to civil discourse is extremely valuable. So, thank you. (And a thanks to others here who are attempting to do the same.)

            • Danielle says:

              Thank you.

            • Yes, you know more than me, you know what race I am, you know what gender I am, you know what disabilities I have, my health, etc right? You know more than me simply because you’re a black female.

              Guess which gender has the most privilege in coverage for anti-rape material? Hint, it’s not men. Your argument of the less privilege being dismissed starts to fail when well over 90% of anti-rape discussions talk about female issues, and far less than 90% of sexual abuse is against females.

            • Danielle says:

              I don’t know your race, but I’m pretty sure you’re not a woman so yes i do know more about being black and concurrently a woman. If you are in fact a woman then I don’t even know what to say to you. Men have been the more privileged for millennia so please don’t try arguing otherwise. And yes rape included. It wasn’t that long ago in history that women (and blacks) were considered property, not allowed to vote, and not allowed to own property. A man couldn’t rape his wife bc she was his property and had no right to object. Anything that is more prevalent gets more coverage. Less prevalent, less coverage. It’s common sense. Doesn’t mean it’s not an important issue, but the frequency with which it’s discussed is proportional. You can disagree if you want, but I think I’ve exhausted this topic, made my point, and am not going to spend anymore time on it.

            • I am pointing out that you’re ignoring my opinion based on your perception of my gender.

              Apart from children, WOMEN are the MOST PROTECTED GROUP IN THE WESTERN WORLD. They have ENORMOUS privilege in protection with VAWA, long long history of anti-rape n anti-abuse campaigning. The number 1 sexual abuse of men is STILL NOT included in the definition of rape for the U.S (Envelopment, as in a woman forcing a man to have sex with her). There is no where near the proportional level of campaigning n awareness for male rape victims not to mention men are believed even LESS than women when they tell about their rape.

              Newsflash, the overwhelming majority of men did not get the right to vote until a few years/maybe a few decades before women AND at that time THEY were property of the government conscripted/forced into war’s without any choice in the matter. The ruling elite which included both men n women had the power, most people did not. Are you honestly going to tell me that a wife raping her husband would have been believed? That women were not allowed to rape their husband via a law? Your argument might hold weight if you can prove the reverse could not happen, and there were laws specifically preventing women raping men yet in 2011/2012 the U.S updated it’s definition of rape and STILL did not include female on male abuse.

              I do find it interesting when people try to prove how oppressed women were whilst blatantly ignoring the biggest oppression in existence…conscription, where your chance of dying was enormously higher than a woman. TO THIS DAY men in the U.S still have to sign up for selective service or be denied government funding, be threatened with fines or possibly jailtime. That is a right women have that men do not, the right to get funding, etc without being on basically a death register for the next war. Gender issues and racial issues differ immensely, white women had huge amounts of privilege compared to black MEN let alone women. They’re chalk n cheese, not in anyway comparable, not to mention women are the MAJORITY of the population and today have enormous presence in society. There are rights that women have that men do not have in the U.S. What happened in the past is in the past and has little to do with modern life, but if you want to look at the past to prove how bad women got it then please point me to the 10′s of 100′s of millions of women forced to fight n die in wars whilst their men stayed home? Both genders have privilege, blacks however do NOT (in the U.S at least).

            • Danielle says:

              You’re right. Blacks do not have privilege.

          • John Anderson says:

            @ Danielle

            Forgot to do the math. 1,267,000 x .792 = 1,003,464 or about 1,000,000 men raped by women.

            Note: If someone is forced to penetrate another, It’s rape regardless of how they want to classify it.

            • Danielle Doucet says:

              Are you serious about these tables? They say NOTHING about the gender of the attacker! These men could have just as easily been raped by other men. Let’s also take a look at table 2.1 in comparison. Percentage of women raped: 18.3 %. Percentage of men: 1.4% Women suffering other sexual violence 44.6%. Percentage of men suffering other forms of sexual violence: 22.2%.

              Let me make something clear: I would never imply that most male victims are lying and I do NOT trivialize the experience of any victims male or female. Trust me, I know how traumatic and horrible it is and I know it’s just as hard for men as it is for women, but that does not change the fact that the rate is much lower. The article is merely stating how endemic the rape of women are in the military. It’s a lower number yes because women make up less than 15% of the military, but the percentage is much higher. That does not mean that male rape is less important it is just less endemic that’s all.

            • Read a few pages more and it tells you who the attacker is. 79.2% of men forced to penetrate report a female rapist ONLY.

            • Danielle Doucet says:

              Also, here is the definition of a man being made to penetrate someone else according to the link you sent: “Among men, being made to penetrate someone else could have occurred in multiple ways: being made to vaginally penetrate a female using one’s own penis; orally penetrating a female’s vagina or anus; anally penetrating a male or female; or being made to receive oral sex from a male or female. It also includes female perpetrators attempting to force male victims to penetrate them, though it did not happen.”

              Notice the “though it did not happen” referring to female perpetrators forcing males to penetrate them as a part of this survey.

            • The attempted but did not happen results were also included in the female results. You’re spending an awful amount of time trying to disprove women can rape men, what’s your game?

            • Danielle says:

              I don’t have any game. I’m not trying to disprove anything. This article is about women being raped in the military. A lot of male commentors here are trying to detract from that and have been quite successful, as this is a very emotional topic for me. The best way I can describe it is an article about minorities suffering racism and caucasian commentors saying “but I’ve suffered racism too! What about me?” Well the article wasn’t about you and the scales are greatly tipped in your favor so why does this article have to be as well? Yes it’s bad, but this is not what we’re talking about right now.

            • Think of it from the men’s perspective, because it’s actually the topic of men and rape that is severely underrepresented in these anti-rape discussions. So what happens to women at a higher rate, affecting less people is very bad but the discussion of the male victims rarely happens, so there will be an element of people discussing the male issues BECAUSE there isn’t enough said on that topic. It won’t change until we have proportionate discussions on the matter.

              Think for a second the emotions involved in a man hearing yet another article about female rape, on a site for men, when the rape of men is rarely ever discussed in society. At the moment conversations about women in rape dominate the discussion so much that it literally sends a message to men that we don’t care much about them. The scales of rape discussion are disproportionately tipped in women’s favour, they have an extreme level of awareness raised for the rape of women compared to men’s rape. Society as a whole has blame here, especially the media.

            • John Anderson says:

              @ Danielle

              “Notice the “though it did not happen” referring to female perpetrators forcing males to penetrate them as a part of this survey.”

              No, it said that women ATTEMPTING to rape men didn’t happen because each attempted was SUCCESSFUL. That just shows that the male victims were in a more vulnerable position than the female victims.

              “It also includes”

              Notice the word ALSO.

  2. John Anderson says:

    “this week National Public Radio is reporting on the rape of women in the US military. And the evidence of a systemic rape culture is damning.

    The Department of Defense is estimating there are 19,000 sexual assaults each year in the military.”

    From NBC News

    “According to Nate Galbreath, senior executive adviser to the U.S. Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO), a 2010 survey found that 4.4 percent of active-duty women and 0.9 percent of active-duty men “indicated that they experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact in the year prior to being surveyed.”

    That math equates to about 19,000 sex-offense victims per year inside the armed forces, including about 10,000 men and 9,000 women.”

    It might not be politically correct or expedient, but I think it’s important to recognize that 56% of the victims of military sexual assault are men. What purpose is served by making 10,000 rapes of men appear to be 10,000 rapes of women?

    • Thanks John,
      NPR did cover that part of the story and I’ve brought that into the article here as well. Men face a slightly higher total numbers of rape than women do in the military. But they outnumber women dramatically.
      When you take into account this numerical disparity, men face about the same chance of being raped in the military as they do in the civilian population, while women face a much higher likelihood of being raped in the military than in the civilian population. About a one in four chance.

      • This is reported rape.

        But my explanation for the disparity would be that rape is mostly done by the other sex (for both men and women), and there’s simply less women.

        • John Anderson says:

          In the civilian world, the perpetrator is a woman in about 80% of the sexual assaults against men according to both the CDC (non prison rape) and BJS (staff on prisoner rape in adult prisons). It would be interesting to see if the percentages hold. If that were the case, about 8,000 rapes would have a female perpetrator and male victim.

          • Typically, rape in the military is perpetrated by ranking enlisted persons and officers. I doubt a private has ever raped a ranking officer and gotten away with it.

            • John Anderson says:

              I would think that you would be right except that conventional wisdom has been so wrong. Who would have thought that 40% of intimate partner rape would be women raping men and men would be 50% of the victims? Who would have thought that 50% of prison rape would be staff raping inmates? Who would have thought that 80% of that would be female staff raping male inmates? Who would have thought that the rate of rape among female inmates would be three times higher than among males in both adult and juvenile prisons?

        • That seems unlikely in this case. The military is more akin to prison in terms of the gender breakdown, and I suspect that there are more men who are raped who did not come forward because of DADT and because of the potentially greater contact they would have with their abusers than females.

      • “When you take into account this numerical disparity, men face about the same chance of being raped in the military as they do in the civilian population,”

        That depends on what one counts as “rape”. The CDC researchers excluded “being forced to penetrate” as rape to admittedly lower the overall rate of rape against male. The rate the CDC reported as 1 in 71 or 1.4%. The CDC reported that 1 in 20 or 4.8% of men reported being forced to penetrate. Since the latter actually counts as rape in all 50 states, if one adds it in with the first stat the rate of rape against males comes out to 1 in 16 or 6% of the total male population, which I think is still an underestimate, but at least closer to the truth.

        And as Schala noted, the military rates are based on reported cases, and males are far less likely to report rape than females. I would assume this would be even more true in the hyper-masculine culture of the military. I am shocked the reported rate is higher than 0.5%, however, I highly doubt that only 0.9% of military men are victims of sexual violence.

        • I have an aunt that is a lawyer in the Air Force. It’s pretty normal for women not to report these things. So while in civilian culture, males may be less likely to report rape than females (although I still question this and don’t accept it as “absolute fact), I do not think you can automatically make the assumption that it would apply to military situations as well. Civilian life and military life are very different.

          Also, if you are going to use statistics to back up your point, then don’t also simultaneously try to hinder statistics that may not align with what you believe. I think that most people question how “honest” and “true” most statistics are to begin with anyway. You can always find a way to argue why a statistic may not be accurate.

          I also notice that in these discussions, we only talk about men that rape women and women that rape men. What about men that rape other men or women that rape other women? These other situations seem to not get any discussion time at all.

          • Erin, it is well documented that male are less likely to report their abuse to the authorities and less likely to disclose abuse than females. There is no reason to assume this would change in a military environment.

            As for the statistics, the CDC researchers stated, “Being made to penetrate is a form of sexual victimization distinct from rape that is particularly unique to males and, to our knowledge, has not been explicitly measured in previous national studies. It is possible that rape questions in prior studies captured the experience of being made to penetrate someone else, resulting in higher prevalence estimates for male rape in those studies.” This is not an issue of statistics not aligning with what I believe; this is an issue of feminist researchers refusing to count an act as rape that legally counts as rape to deliberately lower the potential rate of rape against males.

            Regarding your other point, I made no specific distinction about male survivors beyond that we are marginalized. However, you can answer your question by asking it of yourself: when do you talk about male survivors of any type or female survivors of female rapists? If you never bring the subjects up, why would you expect others to?

            • Danielle says:

              Yeah because the feminists have that kind of pull. The CDC is run by them. It’s a huge conspiracy.

  3. Military rape isn’t just about women and men in the military. The US military is raping women, men and kids everywhere. Their sexual assault rate is higher than that of the rape capital of the world in Africa.
    But these numbers don’t count the civilians that they rape and are also ignored.

    http://www.theusmarinesrape.com/FaceBook.html

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