Since yesterday’s historic decision regarding women in combat, I’ve heard a number of different responses, but I feel compelled to respond to one of them. There are some who are citing the occurrences of rape of women in the military by fellow officers as a reason why they should not be allowed into combat situations.
I so appreciate that these people are coming at this from a place of concern, but the way to stop rape from happening is not to deny women the same opportunities as men because some men are predators. In terms of allowing women into those conditions, every 107 seconds another American is sexually assaulted.
These dangerous conditions for women are not exclusive to the military, they are an every day reality in the world in which we live. And if we’re arguing that women should not be allowed into situations where this is a constant threat, we’re arguing that women should not be allowed to live in this world. But this is the only world we’ve been given, making the only viable option to work to change it.
Removing possible victims from the situation does not stop rape, it merely postpones it. It is also impossible to remove all possible victims, as men are victims of rape as well – a fact which this argument of protecting women from combat situations ignores and devalues.
The way to stop rape is to show that we, as a society, have a zero tolerance policy toward it. That we, as a society, do not marginalize the victims rather than dealing with the perpetrators. And that we, as a society, fully believe in and support equality between men and women.
Rape must stop happening in the military and it must stop happening in all other areas of the country and world. And the only way to stop it is to make a conscious and constant effort to change the way society views women and sexual assault.
I’ve heard some people saying that they are all for equality, except for combat situations. This is a mutually exclusive sentence. One can not be all for something except for when they’re not. And if we want to live in a world where rape is not a constant threat we must be truly all for destroying these double standards and this culture in which women continue to be placed on a different level than men.
As a woman, I don’t want to be looked down on as less than. And I don’t want to be placed on a pedestal to be adored and protected.
Equal footing. Nothing more, nothing less. Anything else perpetuates the toxic aspects of our culture that feed into the frequency of rape.
Women having equality in combat situations is one step closer to that changed world. And I am excited and proud to see it on the horizon.
If you want to do more to help move towards a world with less rape, check out the wonderful work being done by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN): https://rainn.org