*Trigger Warning* Why Aren't Women Safe in College and the Military?
While women in the United States still undeniably have a long way to go before we achieve equality, we have made progress in various realms. For example, in terms of education, Oberlin College of Ohio became the first American college to admit women in 1833. In 1948, Congress passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act granting women permanent military status and veterans benefits. Both of these acts indicated unprecedented opportunities for women to influence and contribute to the country in a way in which they’d been previously barred.
And influence and contribute they have: American women have done fantastic things to serve their country and people as college graduates and soldiers. However, equality on paper is hardly the same thing as equality in real life. One of the largest obstacles women face in college and military service is a degrading and oppressive crime: sexual assault. In the past 25 years, more than 500,000 people have been sexually assaulted in the military and, though women make up 15 percent of active-duty forces, they are 47 percent of sexual assault victims. On college campuses, as many as one in four female students have experienced sexual assault. Women have fought long and hard to gain recognition in institutions of higher education and the military and deserve to have sufficient protection from rape and stringent punishment against offenders.
In both of these settings, people in positions of power have failed to effectively prosecute criminals. Women in the military often evade reporting rapes or other sexual assaults for many reasons, including doubt that the chain of command will do anything to punish the offender. Meanwhile, the US Department of Education has recently announced that 55 universities including Ivy League institutions Princeton and Harvard are being investigated for their failure to handle sexual assault on campus.
Why are these esteemed institutions abandoning women who play an integral role in their overall success? I believe the answer lies within the maintenance of reputation and image. Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer, told the Washington Times that a Pentagon survey that showed military women made up 7 percent of all female sex abuse victims in the country in 2010 despite being a fraction of the population, “is absolutely absurd and incredibly misleading but great fodder for radical feminists who aim to destroy our military.” According to Princeton alumni Chloe Angyal, Princeton seemed more concerned with maintaining the image of the school than the wellbeing of their abused students.
While young women tirelessly devote themselves to their college studies and military careers, both institutions are apathetic towards the danger of assault many invaluable members of their communities face. When the military and colleges ignore sexual assault in favor of a more appealing façade, they are discounting the harrowing effects of sexual assault and indicating to society that rape is an insignificant issue that should be ignored and that undermines and degrades us all.
More articles by Category: Education, Feminism, Media, Misogyny, Violence against women
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