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GeorgeGee's avatar

Would you be worried about your 18 year old son being raped in the army?

Asked by GeorgeGee (4920points) November 12th, 2010

The US Government is notoriously bad at preventing rape and sexual abuse. Rape by fellow soldiers is the number one danger facing Women currently in the military, even those stationed in battle zones. Fully ⅓ of women veterans reported having been sexually abused or raped. Further the situation is getting worse, not better. Source: Time Magazine.
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1968110,00.html
The situation in prisons is no better. 65,000 former prison inmates report they were homosexually raped or abused, and the government has been similarly unable to improve this situation. Source: Department of Justice:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/journals/259/prison-rape.htm
So given an age, experience, size, and weaponry difference between for instance drill sergeants and 18 year old recruits, if the military welcomes gay personnel at all levels and hands them weapons, why would homosexual rape in the military be any less likely than heterosexual rape or homosexual rape in prisons? Would you turn a blind eye to the risk and send your daughter OR your son into the military knowing the statistics?

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30 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

No, it would be the farthest thing on my mind. When my son was in the Navy, the worst thing that happened to him was other men trying to get him to drink alcohol, but he wasn’t interested, and, years later, still isn’t.

jerv's avatar

Guys are generally safe unless they are in the brig.

Women… well, you have to consider that the military in general is a place where “bitch” is a gender-neutral pronoun. It’s a locker room environment where “Blow me!” is a common response to just about anything not covered by “Go fuck yourself!”, so I can see how sexual harassment may seem to be more prevalent than it really is. Unfortunately, the oversensitivity of some people ruins it for those that are legitimately victimized. Also understand that, especially in the Navy, it is possible to go for months without seeing a female, so any women that are around will get a lot more attention.

If I had a son, I would not worry about him being raped in the military. I might wonder why he chose Army over a real branch of the military, but that is a separate issue.

If I had a daughter, then I would worry about her being raped even if she never joined the military. I mean, college can be pretty bad.

@YARNLADY That is highly unusual for a sailor, especially one in the Engineering department. I would take the fact that the others wanted him to drink as a sign that he was actually liked; I never asked an shipmate I disliked to join me for a beer.

Winters's avatar

I wouldn’t think you really should be but as parents and it is kinda your job to look out for us youngsters which often involves worrying.

If it is any help, I’m 19 and in the army and I feel pretty secure, my buds and my chain of command are pretty trustworthy for the most part. There is only one who gets to me with his constant death threats, but he’s all talk and no action.

@YARNLADY Being in the army and an army brat, it is so hard for me to resist cracking a Navy joke. lol

filmfann's avatar

You’re thinking the gays in the Army are going to be brutes? It won’t be that way. How do I know? There are already gays in the military, and you just don’t hear about this happening!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

”...why would homosexual rape in the military be any less likely than heterosexual rape or homosexual rape in prisons?”

Because trained military personnel are paid servants of a nation. They are not reducible to incarcerated convicts serving a sentence.

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Kayak8's avatar

There is a really good book called “Conduct Unbecoming” by Randy Shilts (who also wrote “And the Band Played On). Because of the military’s policies against gay soldiers, many female soldiers who won’t “put out” are either raped or reported (by the male attacker) as being a lesbian and are then mustered out of the service.

What happens with men in prison is often rape by heterosexual men. It is called “situational homosexuality.” If a man gets another man to give him oral sex, he can often rationalize that he is not gay. Similarly, if the heterosexual male is the penetrating partner, similar rationalization can occur.

BarnacleBill's avatar

The guys who are raping guys in prison and the military would probably self-identify as heterosexual; it’s an act of testosterone, not of preference. Given the chance, the guys raping guys would rape a woman without batting an eyelash.

Pandora's avatar

There are gays in the military now. Have been for years. If the rape numbers didn’t go up before when no one knew exactly who they were, than why would it go up now. The act of rape is still a crimminal offense.
I don’t think prison is a fair comparison. They do it because they have no companions except people of the same sex. I agree with @BarnacleBill , most of those guys are heterosexual males, but if they are there for 20 or more years (and for some guys less), a warm body is a warm body. Heck throw some sheep in prison and see what the desperation will do then.
I’m sure even even the freaks who like children will settle for a young man, even though its not their cup of tea.
Rapest will simply rape when and where and who they can. Rape isn’t even about sex. It is meant to be a violent act against a type of person.
If a person wasn’t a rapist before, coming out will not make them become one.
And if a person was a rapist before, keeping silent about their sexual preference isn’t going to be a deterent.

Joybird's avatar

I will say yes. I have treated two different Marines who recounted rape experiences that were part of their indoctrination and training into the horrors of war. It’s a dirty little secret that most men who have experienced it will not discuss.

Zaku's avatar

I have read various accounts and am always surprised that this happens so much in the military, because of the severity of authority and force available. If they can shoot you for cowardice, I’m surprised they don’t make it way too scary that anyone would try raping fellow service-people.

Pandora's avatar

@Joybird Its not to say that these things don’t happen but does it really make a difference. There will always be people in power who abuse their power. Professors, police, judges, clergymen, politicians, and prison guards and or the military.
One should be no more afraid of sending a child into the military than to be stopped by a police officer or even a stranger or putting your kid in camp.
My point is bad things can happen anywhere. If you want to keep a kid safe all his life than let him stay home every day. Only that isn’t practical.
I think this is just an attempt to make people afraid of gay military men/women being in service.
Being gay does not equal being a rapist any more than being a single dad or mom makes a parent a pediphile.

Joybird's avatar

@Pandora It would be more my concern that they would come home without legs or arms and mentally broken people. And rape in the military isn’t about being gay…no more than pedophilia is. It’s about power over whatever available victim is at hand. It is about forced submission and the thrill someone gains over that. It’s a sick behavior. But then sometimes the military reinforces “sick” in thinking and behavior.

ragingloli's avatar

No.
I would have disowned him the day he joined.

GeorgeGee's avatar

There have been times when joining wasn’t voluntary, and those times may return again. Disowning might be a bit harsh for a kid who was drafted. And @joybird… yes certainly it’s about power, dominance, control, all those things, but don’t you think young men with those types of issues might be attracted to the army where they’re handed guns and allowed to order other guys around?

nicobanks's avatar

Concern with rape is really just scratching the surface. I don’t have children, but if I did, and if one wanted to join the army, I’d be concerned for a whole host of reasons: injury/death through battle, injury/death through stupid accidents involving one’s own side’s weapons, succumbing to the military mindset, injury/death through one’s fellow soldier’s having succumbed to the military mindset (of which rape is one possibility), post-traumatic mental illness at having seen and been involved in the whole thing…

Seelix's avatar

I’d be just as worried about this happening as I would be about my 18 year old son being raped any day, anywhere. Just because a given percentage of men (gay/straight/whatever) are more likely than others to commit sexual assault, doesn’t mean that a young man would be any more susceptible to rape in the military than he would be anywhere else.

You know gay guys exist in the civilian world too, right?

stratman37's avatar

I’d be more worried about suicide. 10 at Fort Hood this year alone!

tigress3681's avatar

Male on male rape or female on male rape? Either way, as much as it may seem like it, the military is not actually a prison so they all can go out and get laid much the same as a student in a university or anyone else. You might also want to recognize that many of the “rapes” are merely sexual politics gone wrong, I have no statistics on this but I have seen women I knew accuse some of the most gentle of men of rape and some cry rape after voluntarily having sex with seniors to try to get ahead. Cliche? Yes. Any less true? No.

laureth's avatar

Let’s assume that gay men are just as rape-tastic as straight guys. I don’t think they are, but we’ll assume this for the purposes of this discussion. We will also assume that 10% of people are gay, even though I’m not sure that (1) this is valid, and (2) gay people would want to join an army in the same numbers that they may exist in the general population.

Currently the army is 13.5% women. That means it’s also 86.5% male. That’s 74,411 women and 478,633 men. Assuming 10% of those men are gay, that still leaves a while lot more potential rape-minded straight men (430,770). In other words, for every woman in the army, there are almost 6 straight, potentially rape-minded men. This is a ratio worth considering.

Of the males (478,633) in the army, though, assuming again that 10% are gay, and assuming that the OP only fears the rape of straight men by gay men, that still leaves a potential 47,863 potential gay-oriented rapists to attack 430,770 straight male targets. This means a ratio of about 1 gay rapist to 9 poor innocent straight men.

Conclusion: I’d be more afraid if my son were gay and went into the army, what with all those vicious rape-minded straight men about, who have been trained to not like gay people very much and might want to hurt him. However, if my gay son has any interest whatsoever in joining the army, he’s probably fit and knows the rudiments of self defense. :Þ

jerv's avatar

I will say that none of my gay shipmates ever tried anything with me beyond asking for a date, though I got a lot more of that from gay civilians who had bad misconceptions about us sailors.

GeorgeGee's avatar

@Seelix, while certainly gay guys and both straight and gay rapists exist in the general population (duh!), we don’t hand high powered automatic weapons to the general population, nor do we insist they sleep together in close quarters in a poorly supervised barracks, and get naked and shower together. You assume the chances of rape are equal in the military or the general population, but they aren’t. The incidence of rape for female soldiers is twice that of the general population.
The military’s leaders knew in advance that female soldiers would be arriving, they had the chance to implement procedures, rules, whatever necessary to keep them safe, and they haven’t, it has only gotten worse.
When openly gay soldiers enlist there are many possibilities for abuse, including the gay soldiers being abused by straight soldiers, and straight soldiers being abused by gay soldiers. Soldiers have been trained to intimidate, they have weaponry and know how to use it, they’ve been through a body building and strength training regimen, and there are intrinsic power differences not only due to these factors but also due to the unique set of laws and ranks in the military that aren’t found in the general public.
It’s easy to say “don’t worry about it, they have things under control,” but time and time again they prove that they do NOT have a clue as to how to prevent such problems.

Seelix's avatar

@GeorgeGee – I didn’t say or imply “don’t worry about it, they have things under control”. I suppose I was just thrown by the insinuation that, if you put a bunch of young men together, regardless of where they are or whether they have weapons etc., the homosexuals in the group are going to rape people.

The question struck me as homophobic; if that’s not how you intended it, then I apologize for having made a wrong assumption.

GeorgeGee's avatar

The question is really about avoiding sexual violence and protecting our 18 year olds. Suppose there were an effort to allow male teachers to have “equal rights” in supervising the girl’s showers in grade schools. Most people would grant that is a bad idea and not respectful of the girls’ privacy. We don’t have to prove or even strongly imply that male teachers as a rule are pedophiles or rapists to say it is a bad idea and a risk.

jerv's avatar

@GeorgeGee Everything is a risk. Are you saying that lesbian rapists don’t exist? Are you saying that your kid won’t be raped by a civilian out in town? Even if they never join the military? Are you saying that it is impossible for a meteorite to come crashing through your roof and crush you flatter than dead? If you are that risk-averse then you may as well kill yourself now before you are consumed by your own fear.

Then again, a lot of people think lots of things that aren’t true and I am honestly surprised that there aren’t more Flat Earthers around. I mean that in the literal sense as that term is also used figuratively as well. Many people believe all homosexuals are pedophiles who dabble in bestiality on the side, and there are also many who believe that all Conservatives are Bible-thumping bigots with low IQs.

So, unless you are saying that perception is truth then I really have to wonder about where you are coming from on that one.

GeorgeGee's avatar

wake up, @jerv. If people who drank your beverage of choice were developing cancer at twice the rate of the general population, you’d be screaming to anyone who would listen. This is a know situation, a known problem, where there is already a huge danger for women in the military. You can’t deny it, you can’t hide your head in the sand, it exists and it is getting worse. As changes are being contemplated in the composition of the military, there is every reason to believe the problems will get worse, not better. I for one would be concerned for the safety of my son whether or not he was gay.

jerv's avatar

@GeorgeGee I don’t even know where to begin, but it’s rather moot since I know you already have your mind made up and won’t listen. I have every reason to believe that people like you will cause more problems than and homosexuals and rapists, if for no reason other than sheer numbers. Your last comment started with a true statement followed by a non sequitor; a “mountain made into a molehill” overblown statement bordering on opinion by the sheer magnitude of amplification.

Just out of curiosity, have you ever actually been in the military? Or are you just reading the scream-sheets and getting a “worst of..” snapshot from that? The problem really is not any worse than most colleges, many high schools, or Texas.

The difference is that the military actually takes some steps to do something about the problem whereas the civilian world really doesn’t.

You are entitled to your opinion, but there is no way you are going to change mine.

GeorgeGee's avatar

@jerv you couldn’t be more wrong, where do we even begin? “The problem really is not any worse than most colleges” Shame on you for making a claim like this without any statistics to back you up.
Let’s compare a large university such as Ohio State to the military. Incidence of forcible and non-forcible sex offenses in 2009 on their campus of 55,000 students, a total of 20 incidents. Source: U.S. Government Dept. of Education
Compare that to the U.S. Department of Defense figures for reported sexual assault in the military for 2009, 2670 reported assaults overall (11% of victims were men, by the way), and 215 of these reported in Afghanistan and Iraq with an average of 168000 soldiers on active duty. So with approximately three times the population as Ohio State, there are nearly 11 times as many assaults. But unlike Ohio State with nearly a 50% female population, only one of seven soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is female. So do the math, the rate of sexual assault is many times higher than on any college campus.

Zaku's avatar

@GeorgeGee
20/55,000 is 1 in 2750.
215/168,000 is 1 in 781.
According to Laureth’s statistics above, about 1 in 6 people in the army is female.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics via wikipedia, “U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1999) estimated that 91% of rape victims are female and 9% are male, with 99% of the offenders being male.”

So a mathematician might expect the military to have about six times the rape rate as Ohio State, while it apparently only has about 2750 : 781 or 3.5 times the rape rate.

Of course, there are large reporting differences, large institutional differences, different conditions (different availability of women), different types of stress etc.

None of which really matters.

And, just because I can’t help chiming in again, it seems to me if I were a military officer, I would be utterly unwavering in insisting that none of my people were sexually abusing each other, and would make that extremely clear to all of my subordinates, spare no effort in getting the truth in any situation that occurred, and impose the most draconian measures available against any perpetrators.

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