U.S. Armed Forces and the #MeToo Movement

February 1, 2018

February 2, 2018: As American institutions from Hollywood to the mainstream media have looked inward to address their own problems of sexism and misogyny, so has the U.S. Department of Defense. Several recent articles discuss how the #Me Too movement has mobilized action against sexual harassment in the military.

A recent Washington Post story features Marine Colonel Scott Jensen who in 2014, after months of research, compiled a briefing for general officers that suggested new ways to tackle an online culture of misogyny, harassment and retaliation among Marines. The plan was forwarded to Marine Corps headquarters but failed to be enacted amid questions about who should be in charge. Twenty-seven months later, a scandal erupted when the veteran-run website The Warhorse reported that a private Facebook group of 30,000 people was sharing images of nude female service members without their consent.  Jensen is now continuing his quest for reform as the new chief executive officer of Protect Our Defenders, a nonprofit organization devoted to stopping sexual assault in the military. Founded in 2011, it focuses on drawing attention to weaknesses in enforcement efforts, assisting victims and calling for policy change. 

Read the full story here: This Marine Tried to Stop Misogyny in the Military (www.washingtonpost.com)

A story in Task and Purpose, a news site for Army veterans, expresses hope that the prolonged media and political attention galvanized by the #MeToo movement may translate into substantive action on sexual assault in the ranks. According to the article, one of the major hurdles to effective change in the military is reforming the concept of unlawful command influence (UCI) detailed in Article 37 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The UCI gives control of judicial proceedings to unit commanders, who may end up derailing justice for their own reasons. To counter this problem, the Military Justice Improvement Act which is being introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillebrand for the fourth consecutive year, would transfer sexual assault court-martial proceedings from commanders to independent, third-party military prosecutors.

Read the full article: The #Metoo Movement Will Rock the DoD Whether the Pentagon is Ready or Not (www.taskandpurpose.com)

Military.com featured veterans groups demonstrating outside the Pentagon to turn some of the focus of the "#MeToo" movement toward sexual harassment and assault in the ranks. The demonstration organized by the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) and joined by representatives of other veterans groups was sanctioned by the Defense Department. DoD officials said currently serving military personnel could participate in the demonstration, so long as they were not in uniform.

Several of the demonstrators carried signs in support of the Military Justice Improvement Act, sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, which would change the way sex crimes are reported and prosecuted in the military.

See: Vets Groups Bring #Metoo Movement to Pentagon (www.military.com)

See also, the Military Justice Improvement Act introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillebrand

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