While I strongly support the military’s decision to allow women to hold combat and special ops positions, I am concerned that the military thinks this will substantially cut back on sexual assaults by equalizing male and female roles.
Rather, sexual assaults in the military are endemic, mirroring those in the population as a whole. While women’s secondary status has historically made women vulnerable, their growing enfranchisement works to undercut assumptions of male/masculine superiority and the sanctity of previously all-male domains, fueling simmering resentments that can lead to assault. This isn’t true for all men, of course, many of whom respect women’s achievements and skills.
Two competing discourses dominate pop culture today: on the one hand, that women are fully equal to men and can do anything men can do, and on the other, that “men are from Mars, women are from Venus.” Packed into this cliché, propagated by, for instance, best-selling…
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