Monday, March 31, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Unfortunately, in times of war, the call to war and the efforts needed to promote and support military personnel tend to silence these types of incidents. Because upper level officials tend to “silence” these grievances, it is worth examining the grievance procedure and where there is room for administration “muck up,” or where it is fairly easy to “look the other way.”
In 2007, a survey conducted by the “Veterans Association reported that 30 percent of female veterans had been victims of sexual assault, and 14 percent of those had been gang raped and another 20 percent raped more than once. Sexual assault remains under reported in the military, but estimates based on surveys like this place the rate at anywhere from three to 10 times that for female civilians.” Susan Douglas writes that “various reports indicate that women in the military today continue to endure widespread harassment and even sexual assault; it just happens in tents and outposts instead of the Las Vegas Hilton.” See Douglas article. So why are women vulnerable to these attacks and what is the grievance procedure in general and what are the accommodations for those in remote, rural locations?
Some studies have suggested that the legal restrictions of preventing women from certain “combat” positions contributes to an atmosphere that views women as inferior. Other factors such as attitudes towards gays and lesbians contribute to women’s inferior status. Women who turn down sexual propositions are often accused of being lesbians and sometimes ensuing investigations result, most likely as retribution for the rejection. See Military Issue paper. Since the Iraq war, 37 women returning have sought sexual assault counseling. See Amnesty.
The first problem with the grievance procedure is the chain of command preference for grievances. Generally members who have been harassed have 2 days to file. She can place an informal complaint with a superior officer (who might have been the actor), or medical officer, or chaplain. “If a military member thinks the resolution of her sexual harassment complaint is unjust, a “complaint of wrong” can be filed under Article 138 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The “complaint of wrong” may be prepared with legal assistance, and is forwarded through the chain of command to the person exercising general court martial authority over the commanding officer. The officer exercising jurisdiction conducts an inquiry, takes “proper measures for redressing the wrong,” and forwards a report of the complaint and proceedings to the Secretary of the service department for review and final action.” See Military Issue paper.
A second problem with the grievance procedure is that in rural or combat areas, there might be fewer people to voice a formal or informal complaint to. In the event of “command rape,” the only superior officer to report to might be the perpetrator. In rural areas, there might not be a chaplain or medical professional to file a complaint with. In an Amnesty report, entitled "Camouflaging Criminals," At Camp Udairi, a rural training facility in Kuwait, close to the Iraqi border a soldier related her story with reporting her rape. "A rape examination was performed, but she received no treatment for the injuries to her head, back and knees, she said. After the exam, a commander drove her to another camp, where she was allowed to stay. She was interviewed for about three hours, she said. For the first few days, she said, a fellow woman soldier from her old camp remained with her. Then the woman had to leave to resume training, and Danielle was left alone. Her supervisors denied her requests to see the chaplain, and she was not given counseling for sexual trauma, she said." She was eventually granted leave and put in for medical discharge, after help from a civilian advocate.
However, for those whose grievances were not addressed, those returning for 2nd tours might experience PTSD resulting from not only those experiences of war, but also from rape or sexual harassment. For some, the only option is refusal leave facing court martial. See. Suzanne Swift.
These cases tend to favor the idea that in rural areas, responsible officers will look the other way from sexual harassment grievances. Unfortunately, the message to women soldiers in combat and rural areas is: isolated areas and combat zones will only make the grievance process more difficult, the military is less likely to follow administrative justice procedures in isolated areas.
Many keep quite until after they leave the military.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
From the Contra Costa times (article includes a link to the actual standards):
I was interested in this news item because I wrote a paper last year about including rape/sexual assault education under comprehensive sex-ed laws.
My research indicates that teens face a double risk: the risk children face of sexual abuse within the home and the risk of so-called "acquaintance" or date rape. How are we preparing teens to deal with the fact that a sexual abuser or rapist is most likely to be a person they know? And what can we do to empower them despite their status as minors?
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Why judge Silda Wall Spitzer for appearing at the press conferences with her disgraced husband? Who knows what any of us would do if we were in her shoes? I liked Dina Matos McGreevy's thoughts on the matter. After all, she's been "in those shoes," although I was skeptical that she "stood by her husband" when he was governor of New Jersey for the sake of their child.
I have been glad to see some intelligent commentary challenging the notion that prostitution is a victimless crime. Maybe it should be decriminalized, but would that mean that there are no victims when men pay women for sex? What about the statistics showing that most women who engage in prostitution have been sexually absued before turning to it?
All I have to say about the news that a quarter of teenage females (aged 14-19) have a sexually transmitted disease (that's one half of African American teenage females) is that we have surely been dis-served by abstinence-only sex education.
Finally, I commend to your reading today's Op-Ed piece: Postfeminism and Other Fairy Tales by Kate Zernike in the New York Times. Here's a short excerpt:
But the politics of the last few months have certainly opened a spigot on the question of where exactly society stands on gender matters. Weren’t we in what some people have long called a postfeminist era, when we thought the big battles were over, or at least that the combatants had reached some accommodation? And wasn’t the younger generation less hung up on the stereotypes and issues of the sort Mrs. Clinton taps into among older women?Assuming Zernike is correct, I'm not sure why it's taken a very high profile marital infidelity -- of all the awful things happening to women in this country and in the world (e.g., sexually transmitted disease among our teens!) -- to revive interest in feminism. I am, however, proud of you all for claiming the feminist label before it again became so obviously appropriate (or necessary) to others.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Q: "Judge Jarmon's staff includes an attractive young woman, attorney Lightner. When Lightner is present in chambers during the judge's conferences with male attorneys, the judge invariably makes lecherous comments about her. He does not make such comments in open court or in other public places. May Lightner report Judge Jarmon to the appropriate authorities?"
A: "Yes. A judge must maintain high standards of personal conduct, both in and out of the courtroom".
(1) In no other part of the book do the authors refer to the physical appearance of one of the characters. In only one other case was age referred to. There, it was a conflict of interest between an attorney and client over a piece of real estate that they owned together as joint tenants with right of survivorship. Is the woman's age or normative appearance necessary to answer the question? If not, what does it suggest about the authors' assumptions about sexual harassment?
(2) The answer was one of the shortest (although it did cite two cases), and usually they include some description of the reasoning behind the rule or underlying law (for example, it might tell you about the evidence code or some aspect of criminal law outside of the Model Rules). Is sexual harassment an issue of "personal conduct"?
(3) The “when Lightner is present” clause suggests that these comments have to do with her presence in front of the judge. What work does linking her presence to the judge’s lecherous comments do in sustaining the logic behind the comments themselves?
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
The word "rural" is not used in the story, and the dateline is Cheyenne. Nevertheless, Wyoming is a largely rural state with a total population of just over half a million (ranked 50th in the nation) and a population density of just 5 persons/square mile. The story reports on a job training program, which extends beyond Cheyenne, that responds to some of the particular challenges that women face in the context of rural job markets, where women are much more likely to be channeled into low-paying service jobs.
Here's an excerpt from journalist Kirk Johnson's piece about a program called Climb Wyoming:
While this story is set against the dramatic economic disparities to which gender is linked in rural places, there is more to it-- namely the tremendous solidarity among women in a program that actually seems to be "working" by getting for women some of the good blue-collar jobs that tend to be so dominated by men in places like Wyoming.
But Climb Wyoming’s real core insight is female solidarity — that the group, trained and forged together more like a platoon than a class, will become an anchor of future success. New skills can go only so far in changing a life, the group’s trainers say; sometimes it takes a sisterhood.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
In an era when we have an entire cable channel devoted to reality programming, and a nationwide talent contest that draws more voters than the presidential election, the idea of having young women show off how they look in swimsuits and evening wear while twirling a baton or singing their favorites songs from “Oklahoma,” just seems a bit old-fashioned. And not because of the attitudes, but because of the entertainment value.
But some feminists seem to have a big problem with Miss America, and I really don’t understand it. From what I can tell, the Miss America Organization is basically around to provide money to further education, and the pageant is just sort of its showcase event. And after learning al little about how the system works (from my brother who judges pageant is his free time), I think it is actually a good thing.
The Miss America Organization promotes community involvement and scholastic and social responsibility in young women. The winners, if you actually bother to pay attention, are typically women planning on executive careers who are extremely intelligent and driven. This is typically the point where people point out recent scandals involving racy pictures or not knowing where Iraq is on a map, but these contestants have all come from Donald Trump’s Miss USA system, which is completely different in its approach. What I am talking about here is Miss America.
So in an era when the only real role models young girls are perpetually exposed to are drug-addicted party girls who have done little to become famous, role models like Miss America are still relevant. If a little girl aspires to be the girl she sees helping her community while furthering her education, she is much better off than getting her influences from TMZ.
Gender and political identity in the race for the Democratic nomination (and other things women seek)
Toner reminds us of what the polls show: Male voters prefer Obama by a significant margin, while female voters tend to be split equally between Clinton and Obama. Toner queries whether this is due to Obama's extraordinary attractiveness to male voters--or something else. Toner then reports the observations of several commentators. One of them is Prof. Kathleen Dolan of the political science department at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, who argues that gender is at work in the "visceral" reaction many men have to Hillary. Dolan says, “You could say men are just really captivated by Obama. But I’m not willing to say that’s what it is.” Toner writes, quoting Dolan:
From Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign on, she noted, Mrs. Clinton was confronted with a series of controversies around gender roles and stereotypes - from hairstyles to “co-presidencies” to “standing by her man” against charges of infidelity.In short, she sees difficulty in separating the "candidate" from the "woman" (the topic of other posts here and here). One thing is for sure -- as Toner suggests -- long after this race is over, we'll be ruminating over whether it was "gender" or whether it was "Hillary."
“The notion that she is a Rorschach test for where we are on gender issues was true on day one, when we met her, and it’s absolutely true today,” said Ms. Dolan. “So when people say, it’s just her, I don’t buy it.”
The same is true, of course, in other arenas where a woman's leadership is at stake. How will my male colleagues respond if the Chancellor names one of the two women candidates to be dean of the law school? Will they be able to fall in behind a female leader? How do students respond to female professors who fail to live up their maternal (or, for younger women, sexualized) expectations? Is gender the problem, or is it just that individual woman's (1) lack of experience; (2) lack of intelligence; (3) personality (read that "bitchiness") . . . you fill in the blank.