Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Invisible War

There have been very few occasions in my life that I can legitimately say I can feel my world view irrevocably shift, but tonight was one of those times. Though I am a political science/ Pre Law major, I took a Media and Culture class this semester as an elective credit. Our homework I kid you not is to watch tv, listen to the radio and go to movies. We get to go to private screenings of movies where the actors and directors speak and we just write reports on it. For this assignment we had to attend the Dallas International Film Festival. There was a list of movies that we could use our free pass to see and I had intended to go see one about a Russian model on Thursday, but due to scheduling conflicts I had to instead see a military themed documentary this evening. As I got to the theater I looked around and saw the typical Urban Outfitters crowd of which I cannot begin to stand. The movie that I and the cast of Juno looking crowd was lining up to see was called The Invisible War and was from its description about women being raped in the military.

Let me first off say I do not get emotional. Like ever. Unless it's something to do with a dog or a monkey dying then I'm a mess. However, this movie ALMOST made me tear up on multiple occasions. What is happening in every branch of the United States military is UNBELIEVABLE. According to statistics gathered by the United States government and featured in the film, 500,000 women have been raped in the military since women were permitted to join. Mind you this is just a guesstimate since only 20% report it because their higher in command they report it to are often times the friends of the assailant or the assailant themselves. This problem isn't limited to women though with statistics suggesting 1% of men in the  military are sexually assaulted a year. Another reason these reports are never made is that when a woman reports a man often times the investigation into him is dropped or the evidence is lost then the investigation is turned on her with charges brought against her and in the cases featured in the movie, she is dismissed from service. The percentage of men in the military who have prior to joining either committed or attempted a rape is 15%, more than double the average in the civilian population.  20% of rapes in the military are reported. Of that 20%, only 2% of those will be convicted. All of the women featured were assaulted on US soil. The worst place for sexual assault was presented to be the Washington DC marine base that works with the White House and President.

What is the military doing to prevent this? Making videos that they show once a year. Hanging posters that say "Don't risk it... wait till she's sober". Telling girls they should never walk around base alone.

I could throw you statistics that I made sure I memorized at you all day, but the most shocking portion of the film was when a law suit was brought to congress by a group of women who had been violently assaulted, congress ruled against them because "rape is an occupational hazard of being in the military."

When all of the women and one of their husbands were asked if they would tell a young woman to enter the military they all said no. One even went up to a woman she overheard talking about joining and tried to talk her out of it.

Complete and utter shock. I am an ardent supporter of our military, but this shook me to my very core. People always ask me why I like politics and why I want to be a politician. This right here. I want to make a difference in cases like this. If you get a chance, watch this movie. It will change your life. It did mine.

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