Today in Awful Statistics: Women in the Military More Likely to be Raped by Fellow Soldiers than Kiled in Combat
That sexism and misogyny is still rampant in the military is not in itself surprising, but we were shocked to discover just how bad it is:
“There are three types of women in the Army,” says Rebecca Havrilla, a former sergeant and explosive-ordnance-disposal technician. “Bitch, dyke, and whore.” During the four years that Havrilla was on active duty, she was called all three—by fellow soldiers, team leaders, even unit commanders. Once, during a sexual-assault prevention training, the 28-year-old South Carolina native claims, she watched a fellow soldier—male—strip naked and dance on top of a table as the rest of the team laughed. While deployed in Afghanistan, Havrilla spent four months working under a man she alleges bit her neck, pulled her into his bed, and grabbed her butt and waist—on a daily basis. When, on the last day of her deployment, she alleges she was raped by a soldier she considered a friend, it was, she says, “the icing on the cake.”
Havrilla and 16 others filed a lawsuit yesterday charging none other than Def. Sec.’s Robert Gates and his predecessor Don Rumsfeld with violating their Constitutional rights by failing to deal with the problem in any substantial way. Turns out, the military is above the law—literally—when it comes to sexual harassment and workplace equality:
“For lots of reasonable historical bases, the military has a level of civil immunity in our society which is quite high,” investigator Rohman says. “There’s a downside to that: their lack of external accountability means that they have not had to adjust in the way the rest of society has.” In particular, a 1950 Supreme Court ruling, known as the Feres Doctrine, places the military beyond the reach of workplace laws regarding sexual discrimination and sexual harassment. To make matters worse, charges are usually investigated within the immediate chain of command. “There’s no investigatory training. They don’t tell you to look for evidence,” says Greg Jacob, who spent 10 years in the Marines and rose to the rank of captain. Instead, they hand over a manual for courts martial, which explains, among other things, that the investigating officer should consider, first and foremost, “the character and military service of the accused.” Jacob says that essentially means weighing each soldier’s past and future value to the unit.
Catch that part? It’s the equivalent of being raped by a coworker, and having your boss decide who’s right and who’s wrong simply by deciding which one of you is worth more to him. Horrifying. Read the rest.
JRB: What’s the craziest thing you ever had to do at NEWSWEEK?
Nora Ephron: You know, they didn’t give you very much crazy to do there because they didn’t give you almost anything to do. I don’t think I remember ever being given almost anything to do at NEWSWEEK except to make sure whatever man I was checking the work of had gotten it right. But that was the whole problem—you didn’t get to do anything creative. You didn’t get to do anything but check other people’s work and clip newspapers and deliver mail. That was what it meant to be a girl then.
Do you think that culture still exists?
At some magazines, absolutely. But not at others … You know, in the movie business, I’m always surprised to find myself referred to as a “woman director,” instead of just a “director,” because I work the same hours and do exactly the same job that men do.
Do you think that will ever change?
Yes, no question. But I won’t be here!"
Today Marie G. McIntyre, who is apparently the workplace advice guru for McClatchy-Tribune, gives some astoundingly insensitive advice to a young woman who has just entered the workplace. McIntyre is presented with the following, hugely sympathetic, situation:
After starting a new job with a small business, I noticed that there seems to be a lot of sexism here. Everything was fine at first, but lately things have gotten worse. The older men treat the younger women terribly, and the older women do nothing to stop it.
The older men constantly make me feel inadequate because I am just out of college. They say that I should show them more respect. However, I don’t know how to deal with them when they get angry or act irrational.
I don’t want to remain silent about this situation, but there is no one to complain to. What should I do?
Since the older women are apparently exempt from this condescending treatment, I suspect the problem is not just sexism, but also a certain arrogance towards new entrants into the workforce.
Although their haughtiness is undoubtedly annoying, try to understand that you do seem quite young to these old-timers. If you want them to value your abilities, you must show some respect for the lessons they have learned in the trenches. So listen patiently to their “war stories” and make an effort to appreciate their point of view.
Should the “sexism” ever escalate into sexual harassment, then you should either leave or file a legal complaint. But if these guys are simply acting like unprofessional dimwits, don’t allow their immaturity to interfere with your success.
One question to consider is how this position fits into your overall career goals. If working for this company is a valuable step towards your desired future, then you would be wise to tolerate a certain amount of frustration.
All together now: UGH. On the one hand, yes, a certain amount of frustration is a given in every job—especially the first job out of college. But smile and listen, really? And did she need to put sexism in quotes? It’s dismissive. And this woman is essentially being told that she shouldn’t speak up at all.
That said, we can’t really imagine what, exactly, the best advice would be. For us, just talking to each other made a big difference. So did talking to our male colleagues, those our age anyway. What else? How do we deal with this sort of thing in a practical, immediate way? Tell us.
Also. We poked around Ms. McIntyre (Ph.D!)’s website. Man. Listed as one of six “Potential Issues for Women”:
Power is an aphrodisiac: Women are often attracted to men with power. Unfortunately, this may include developing an attraction to their boss, leading to problematic workplace romances.
Lady, with all due respect, it might be time to hang it up.
Pixar is no stranger to accusations of gender bias—nor is Hollywood, obvs—but Ms magazine is the latest to point a finger at the production company, this time for sexism in Toy Story 3. With help from the The Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media, Ms gives us the following data:
* Out of 7 new toy characters, only one is female—far worse than the 3-1 average in children’s media as a whole.
* The boy’s mother is a) nameless and b) a nag.
* The film is peppered with jokes about how women should be quiet, are hilarious when they say something smart, and really only care about romance.
* Ken (of Barbie and Ken) is portrayed as an effete closet-case who writes in sparkly purple pen but defends his manhood by whining, “I am not a girl toy!” The take-away: the worst thing you can be is a girl. The second worst thing you be is a gay boy.
This nice little photo montage, brought to you by Film School Rejects, is a great sampling of all our favorite Pixar leads. But… ahem: where are all the women?
How Lawsuits Against Novartis, WalMart Could Change How Women—Especially Mothers—Are Treated at Work
We’ve written about the Novartis case before, but we did a little more digging and found that the precedent-setting judgment—which could amount to company paying perhaps a billion dollars in fees—will have an even bigger impact than we thought:
The Novartis verdict is deemed precedent setting because it went far beyond simple pay discrimination. Employees alleged discrimination based on pregnancy and motherhood, too—claiming that women were fired when they were on maternity leave and mocked by superiors if they were visibly pregnant. It’s these motherhood-related allegations that may have tipped the scales to the tune of the multimillion-dollar penalty. “Juries tend to react quite strongly to discrimination against mothers,” says Joan Williams, a law professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of Law and the director of the Center for WorkLife Law. “After all, these mothers, assuming they’re doing all that they should at work, are then being penalized at work for trying to live up to the ideals of motherhood; $250 million in damages? You had a jury that appears to have been incensed.”
The irony is that Novartis has been publicly praised for its policies toward women and families. Last year, Working Mother commended the company’s “impressive” pretax child-care accounts and said its policies strive to make life easier for parents. As employment lawyer William Martucci put it, companies are now going to have to do a great deal of “soul searching” to ensure that internal realities match up to external perceptions.
Ultimately, Martucci says that the verdict “will serve as a bellwether for others to speak out.” More important, it raises the stakes. “The notoriety of this verdict is likely to arouse greater interest both in individuals who believe they’ve been victims of discrimination, and in the plaintiff’s bar,” he says. With a judgment this large, more lawyers will be willing to take on similar cases, especially if they know that they can successfully represent a whole class, not just one individual. “It really does mean there’ll be a lot more litigation. The impact will be dramatic.”
Yeah, we think if we were on a jury and heard that pregnant employees were told, “oops, too late,” we would be pretty pissed too.
Once again, big ups to the twelve very brave ladies who brought this about. Their efforts stand to do more for working women and families than they probably ever imagined.