I was recently asked to go on the Don Lemon show on CNN nightly news and discuss the current Marine Corps scandal of a facebook group of active duty and veteran male Marines exposing without consent naked pictures of their fellow Marines who happened to be women. I agreed to do this, and therefore have formed my opinion with thought as well as deep emotion as the Marine Corps is supposed to be part of my family. In this case and many cases prior, my family has failed me and many other few men and many women who have been the target for sexual harassment, abuse- online, at war, and in the comfort of their own country. Whats is going to take to change this?
Here are my main thoughts on the issue and how this issue of extreme sexism, group think, criminal activity should change.
Actually, here are some of my deeper thoughts on this scandal/issue that must be addressed…..
First, the Marine Corps and all military services are a small entity of society. All its members are pulled from our civilian ranks at some point. What has happened with the face book group and nude pictures recently is NOT new news, and honestly is a direct result of how we see women in our society- sex objects, less than, weak, not as powerful, easy to abuse. Most boys are raised to be macho, brave, and are trained to think throwing, jumping, being like a girl, or beat by a girl in anyway is stupid , weak, and not acceptable. Most girls are raised to feel more fragile, in need of more protection, and not brave. If a girl does beat a boy in some physical battle, she is seen as heroic, if she loses it is seen as typical.
It is no different in the military, just more exaggerated as there are far few women in the military than men. It has been ok for a very long time to undermine, put down, and see women as the weaker gender (and I am not talking just physical). Look at the battle of the integration of women into combat roles. The Marine Corps drug their feet for a while before they accepted this change. With the group think mentality that is STRONG in most military services, the domination, degradation, and mentality of putting a seen weaker gender down is the norm. When this does NOT happen it is an amazing thing. Unfortunately few leaders have taken initiative to actually make it a priority to change this way of thinking.
#1: Changing this sexist mentality towards women must start with how we raise our children. You better believe I will raise baby Larson to respect women and see them as an equal.
Second, this current episode of online criminal activity is due to a lack of troop welfare in the military, specifically the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps takes mission accomplishment seriously, yet troop welfare not so much. Last year, the Marine Corps and all other services integrated women into all combat arms units. This integration has not been easy. This is history in the making, yet the Marine Corps has not taken it seriously and fought tooth and nail to not have this integration happen.
Inevitably by not making the integration of women priority, such as having specific training’s Marine Corps wide on the importance of equality, counseling individual Marines and units on the Code of Conduct and creating space to work on the integration of women was and is a huge mistake. The Marine Corps and even our society still does not fully respect the abilities women have to make a company or unit successful. Studies show having women in executive or leadership roles lead to more diversity which also lead to higher performance and increased return on equity.
Despite the success women bring units and companies, the most important thing to think about is women are human beings; human beings who want to serve their country, company, or provide for their family like everyone else. If the Marine Corps truly did care about the human beings they say they are making into leaders, then they MUST put the well being of their Marines first. I would hope that the Commandant of the Marine Corps General Neller has personally reached out to every woman who was exposed in this latest criminal activity. If not, he is NOT brave in my book and has no regard for the human beings who fight and work for him.
#2: The Marine Corps – like our society – needs to make equality and the care for the human beings, more specifically the women, who represent them a priority. If they do not do this, they will continue to fail and hurt the very people they promised they would take care of.
Third and final point, I am personally saddened and feel betrayed by my own family -o the Marine Corps. These 30,000 men in this facebook group have no excuse (and PTSD is NOT an excuse). I am a health professional who works with those who have PTSD and mild traumatic brain injuries from their time in service. Unless they have a frontal lobe dysfunction or level V on the Rancho Los Amigos TBI scale of function then there is absolutely no reason for this behavior. As a matter of fact, someone with a PTSD, depression, service connected disabilities other than what I have mentioned previously have no excuse. They have full control of their ability to demean others and do ignorant and hurtful things.
#3: Having PTSD is NOT an excuse. I am personally saddened as the Marine Corps is a part of my family.
Sadly, the young women exposed will suffer severely with or without the comorbidity of PTSD due to this gross act of injustice. So what about these women? Has the Marine Corps reached out to them? Has there been extensive effort to get these women the MENTAL health care they deserve? If not, the Marine Corps has failed yet again.
While this latest episode of injustice is NOT surprising to me, I do believe change can happen, but at the motivation must come from God or faith, bravery, and the respect for human kind at its core.
1. Little Girl: http://bit.ly/2mjYYRH
2. Business Insider Article: http://read.bi/1V19GU7
3. Woman at Conference Table: http://bit.ly/2n42PRi
Women in Iraq/Afghanistan: http://bit.ly/2ncfTDo