Monday, March 19, 2007

Female PTSD and Rape

The NYT magazine story about women in the military has some startling quotes from women:
''You're one of three things in the military - a bitch, a whore or a dyke,'' says Abbie Pickett, who is 24 and a combat-support specialist with the Wisconsin Army National Guard. ''As a female, you get classified pretty quickly.''

'They basically assume that because you're a girl in the Army, you're obligated to have sex with them,'' Suzanne Swift told me at one point.
Not so surprisingly, when approached for sex by their commanders, women feel coerced into saying yes, since the demand comes from a position of authority. The worst part is, these kinds of assaults seem to be on the rise in wartime. Although the VA has made progress in making it easier for women to report the assaults, it seems that women report that the overarching patriarchal culture discourages them from even reporting the assaults. There's a sense that women must fight the stereotype and be just as "tough" as the men.

I have problems with this attitude. Many women who work in extremely male-dominated fields seem to adopt attitudes about higher standards and an acceptance of harassment. By adhering to the standards, accepting the attitude, these women are in a way saying it's "okay" to treat women this way. It's true that the personal cost for reporting harassment is often discouraging enough, but I think we should reward the women that are willing to come forward and take a stance against such patriarchal dominance. No woman should have to choose among three choices: bitch, whore, or dyke.

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