How many times have we seen military harassment and sexual assault scandals unfold on television, only to be followed by a replicated statement read by top brass condemning the actions and promising justice, accountability, and “zero tolerance?”
I can tell you that for me, it’s been too many times.
As a survivor of military sexual assault, I know firsthand that words don’t ensure justice or accountability, and that “zero tolerance” means little in a culture where violence and misogyny continue to be perpetuated. I can’t help but feel enraged when watching these statements, knowing that harsher punishments will come to the victims, their families, and those who speak out against this behavior than to those who perpetrated the abuse.
Surely, military top brass could come up with better tactics for this war on sexual harassment. Even the Marines behind the “Marines United” Facebook Page, where photos of their female service members were posted without consent, aren’t scared about the consequences of their actions. When Marine Commandment General Robert Neller spoke out to condemn the scandal, his rank and warning was blatantly disregarded as new photos continued to be posted. The lack of consequences emboldened the perpetrators, assuring them protection from “whistleblowers” speaking out against this abuse.
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