We keep hearing that the military is losing the “War on Sexual Assault.” With each news cycle, we get fresh reports of angry politicians and new allegations of sexual assault in the military. Everyone suggests that something needs to be done, but they cannot seem to agree on what. Some people want harsher punishments. Some want a change in military culture. Others want to take sexual assault cases away from the military justice system and have them heard in civil court.
Let’s assume that the military is losing this war. If that’s the case, then we should explore all ideas and points of view about how to start winning the war. Let’s put everything on the table and determine the wisest course of action. Unfortunately, there seems to be only room in this debate for one point of view. According to the Navy Times, when General Mark Walsh told a Senate committee “that about 20 percent of female airmen had been sexually assaulted before entering the service, and offered that part of the problem was a harmful ‘hook-up mentality’ in broader society, it was like kicking a hornet’s nest.” The General was accused of blaming the victim. His point of view was not wanted.
The problem is that the General was at least partially correct. There is a problem with sexual assault in our culture as a whole. It’s not just a military problem. When young men and women enter the military they bring their culture and baggage with them. Sometimes that baggage leads to them hooking-up and regretting it later. In the military where adultery and fraternization are crimes that can lead to allegations of sexual assault, hooking-up is a problem in and of itself. We need to address that issue if we are going to have nationwide hysteria every time there is an allegation of sexual assault in the military.