A reader writes:
As someone who leads sexual assault prevention programming and has worked with soldiers, I will attest that sexual assault is a serious issue in the armed forces. While the statistics that the military released about the increase in sexual assaults are alarming, it may actually be a good thing. The more education you provide to service men and women around sexual assault, the more you are going to initially find an uptick in incidents whether documented or unreported, because people are more aware now.
The military is doing a ton of primary prevention education with their soldiers currently around sexual assault. Problematic behavior that would have been minimized or not even viewed as sexual assault is now being properly viewed, because of this education. Therefore you will see an uptick in reporting. This is a good thing, not a bad thing. Cultural change takes a long time, therefore you will see increased reporting and increased incidents in the military around sexual assault, but over time this should decrease. So this doesn’t mean that sexual assault is happening now more frequently; it means that people are now recognizing the problem or feel comfortable enough to properly report it.
But we should not just view sexual assault as a military issue, but a larger social issue. Females between the ages of 16-24 are more vulnerable to sexual assault than any other age group – at a rate almost triple the national average (think about the average age of women serving in the military). What we need to be looking at is the issue of men and sexual assault. Men are responsible for 90% of all sexual assault. The question, we should be asking ourselves is what about the military (and society in general) is fostering this hyper-masculinity that equates strength with power and sexual control over women.