GI Jane Hell: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

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Here’s why women are taking the brunt of the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.

From womensenews:

Today, more than 12,000 service members have lost their jobs because of the so-called don’t ask, don’t tell law. A disproportionate number of those discharges are women, according to statistics gathered by the Washington-based Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network from the government under the Freedom of Information Act…

The problem for women has worsened in recent years… In fiscal 2006, women made up 17 percent of the Army but 35 percent of discharges under the “don’t ask” law. One year later, women were 15 percent of Army members, yet discharges of women increased to 45 percent of the total.

Bad as this is, it turns out that lots of these women are fingered by men whose advances they spurned.

If a man makes such a claim, the female soldier undergoes a witch hunt from which her career is unlikely to recover. The burden of disproving her homosexuality is not on her accuser, or on the service, but on her.

And what else are female soldiers dealing with while fighting a war? Rape and large scale sexual harassment.

From the AP:

Of the women veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who have walked into a VA facility, 15 percent have screened positive for military sexual trauma, The Associated Press has learned. That means they indicated that while on active duty they were sexually assaulted, raped, or were sexually harassed, receiving repeated unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature.

One woman had to share a house with 20 male GIs. At least one of her housemates made such a habit of entering her room unnanounced and generally menacing her that she took to changing in the bathroom. Another had a male co-worker ask her what her favorite sexual position was. These soldiers find photos of themselves posted with brainy captions like “the whore of [fill in name of occupied town].”

While other guys might have thrown themselves on a hand grenade for these women, would they handle the asshole who was harassing them? Apparently not. But if women complain, guess who gets ostracized and moved? Guess who gets accused of hurting team spirit? Not the men.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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