Alright, I promised I’d elaborate.
So you’ve probably seen me mention SAPR before, which is the Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention & Response program.
Now, I like that the Navy is trying to take steps to help protect its Sailors and Officers from being assaulted by others and each other. However, that does not mean it is not beyond criticism.
And my friends, most of that criticism has come from you guys. You who continuously speak out on how misogyny has perpetuated rape culture and allowed sexual assault numbers to rise.
Well, never let any of these fuckheads tell you that talking about it does nothing, because SOMEONE has been listening.
I went to our monthly SAPR training yesterday expecting two and half hours of slut shaming and glorifying masculinity and why women don’t really belong in the military or something…but imagine my shock and pride when the commander gave a presentation on rape culture.
I mean…not just a presentation, he told us what it was. He called it what it was: the military perpetuates rape culture and the basis of this is rooted in misogyny.
They addressed everything I’ve talked about that’s wrong with why the military can’t seem to get to the left of this issue. How the old heads higher in rank are still stuck in their ways, and still think of the military as a “Boys Only” organization and how they don’t see the women in the organization as people worthy of protection and respect in the same way they see a man.
And I mean he went into detail about it. I spoke too. I spoke a lot. And I came forward about some of my own experience with assault in the military. Luckily, my chief—who was also a survivor—was behind me and beside me, giving me support. I mean, guys, I have never been more proud to be in the Navy than I was yesterday morning. And to see people from my department—mostly men—nodding in agreement, and realizing that change can happen if we simply own the problem and fix it, instead of trying to constantly sweep it under the rug.
I think the Navy is learning to swallow its pride and admit that it’s not perfect, and that there’s need for improvement in a lot of areas, beginning with how women are treated and viewed in the workplace.
And our commander blew it out of the water when he had me and a male shipmate come up. We divided the board into a male side and female side.
Then, he asked the men: “What steps do you take to prevent sexual assault on your own person?”
Here were the answers on the male side of the board:
- Play video games
That was it. They didn’t have anything else. Most of them said they don’t even THINK about sexual assault. Mugging, yes, since we’re stationed in a shitty part of town, but sexual assault never even crosses their minds.
He asked the females what steps we took to prevent sexual assault:
- Self-defense classes.
- Carrying mace.
- Carrying knives.
- Carrying a gun.
- Avoid eye contact with suspicious strangers so as not to give the impression of an invitation.
- Make one self unapproachable entirely.
See what the commander was getting at, here? The men in the room looked shocked. Well, for the most part, most of them were glad we took such measures but the point was…why is it our Navy women feel the need to constantly live in fear of assault in ADDITION to being mugged than our Navy men?
And that’s when it dawned on them what the problem was.
In conclusion, the commander got his point across, and my master chief looks at me with a newfound respect for speaking even when I initially didn’t intend to pay attention at all.
The Navy may not be perfect, but the fact that they are finally getting to the root of the problem proved to me that our discussions here DO MATTER. It’s not passive activism since so much media is filtered through Tumblr, now. So much pressure in the media is being put on the DoD to do something about the sexual assault, and I’m guessing someone has been reading Tumblr and learning about what rape culture is and how misogyny plays a huge role.
So thank you. Keep talking. Keep discussing. Keep the fucking pressure on.