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Misogyny and the Marines Shouldn’t Mix

Members of the Armed Forces deserve respect for the huge sacrifices they make in their line of work. Recently, hundreds of Marines expressed frustration over an incident of not just disrespect, but also of dehumanization and humiliation. The most shocking part—it’s fellow marines who committed the heinous act.

Frustration has come to a peak for female Marines and Marine Veterans after the discovery of a secret Facebook group. The group, which was called “Marines United,” had been created by male Marines. It was discovered to be filled with “revenge porn” featuring female Marines (naked pictures of the women that had been either taken or posted without their permission).

One retired veteran who was added to the group was John Albert. In an interview with Task and Purpose, he described his horror at what he found on the page. “The pictures were obviously posted without permission, and the vast majority were creepshots,” said Albert. “There were comments about raping people and stuff. I was disgusted.”

It is reported that in some cases, the women were identified by name, rank, and location in the comments.

The men victimizing their fellow Marines were publicly posting these comments and pictures through their own profiles. Albert was shocked to see the names of men he had been friends with. The group was deleted after Albert reported it to Facebook for nudity, which is a violation of the site’s community standards.

In response to the page, hundreds of female Marines and Marine Veterans have launched a Facebook group called Actionable Change, which is pressing for the end of a culture of misogyny in the Marine Corps.

Actionable Change shared a letter recently that stated, “But just as the Marine Corps holds its leaders accountable, so it must hold itself accountable when it is in the wrong. We have allowed to thrive and in some instances, even encouraged a culture where women are devalued, demeaned, and their contributions diminished.”

The Facebook group now has more than 400 members, and the letter has nearly 100 co-signers, some ranking as high as colonel.

The letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post, went on to say, “In a culture that prizes masculinity, it is easy to mistake barbarism for strength. Brutality for power. Savagery for ferocity. Yet we respectfully disagree with the notion that to fight and win our nation’s battles, we must preserve an institution where men are permitted or even expected to behave like animals, and women trespass at their peril.”

In an interview with NPR, Maj. Janine Garner spoke of an incident where a photo of her and seven other women, smiling in their Marine Corp uniforms, was shared to Instagram. Later, the photo was copied and pasted into a Facebook group.

“And I watched in real time as hundreds of people commented on this photo and said things like [how] they wanted to rape us,” Garner told NPR.

How can this culture of misogyny in the Marines be put to an end? One way Actionable Change believes the problem can be solved is by increasing the percentage of women in the Marine Corps. One of the group’s goals is to increase the amount of women in the Marine Corps from seven percent to twenty percent.

Hopefully, the Marines can find a way to guarantee these women the respect and dignity that they deserve.   

Featured Image by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa… on Flickr

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