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Essay/Term paper: "does the military continue to have sexual harassment and discrimination against women in the 90's?"

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Sex

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"Does the Military Continue to Have Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Against
Women in the 90's?"

Yes, the military does have sexual harassment and discrimination against
women in the nineties. "Firestone and co-researcher Richard J. Hurns analyzed
a 1988 DOD Survey of men and women in the military and found that 51.8 % of men
and 74.6% of women reported either experiencing or knowing of sexual harassment.
Amoung the women surveyed, 70.1% had experienced "sexual talk or behavior at
the work place [that] created an offensive, hostile or intimidating
environment." Amoung the men, 36.9% gave the same answer."(1) The percent of
women being sexually harassed is much higher than the percent of men being
harassed. Even though it is not tolerated, it still happens regardless of the
consequences, even in the nineties.

While some women's experiences have been similar to those of black men,
their integration into the military has also differed in several ways. Because
of our society's fundamental belief that protecting the home and going to war
are a man's work, men from minority groups have often been accepted more
readily in the military than the women. Women have been viewed as outsiders in
a male environment. Discrimination and harassment occurs for women because we
are entering an all male dominated area. Some areas are still restricted
because of it. For example: serving in direct combat capacities such as armor,
infantry, and special forces--branches from which much of the senior leadership
is drawn. "In 1994, the annual Navywide Personnel Survey included questions on
women's role for the first time. Some 65 percent of officers and almost 50
percent of enlisted respondents said they did not think women were fully
accepted in combat roles. While approximately 80 percent said harassment was
not tolerated at their command, almost half of all respondents disagreed that
everyone is treated equally in promotions and advancements."(2) Some of this is
bases on the presumed physical and psychological characteristics of women which
may interfere with their performances of some military jobs. For example: the
physical strength of women. People believe that women are not strong enough to
lift and carry heavy equipment or wounded fellow soldiers and that we lack
endurance to perform these tasks over a lengthened period of time. Also, there
is the idea that women can not perform strenuous tasks quickly, like loading
heavy shells into a weapon. And combat is not for the weak and slow.

Although allowing women in combat remains a top priority, women are now
serving in virtually every other occupational capacity in all four branches of
the military. A large number of previously restricted areas to women have been
opened in the Army and Marine Corps, and the Air Force has women training now
for all previously closed career fields. Even the Navy is improving, which is
a shock on its own.

Even with increasing sexual harassment cases, the rising number of women
being recruited is not due to any idealistic vision of the right of women to
serve their country in uniform. One might say this trend is driven by the need
to recruit an increasingly intelligent, well-educated, and fit military in the
face of data that reflects the shrinking amount of qualified male candidates. "
By current estimates, there are 191,399 women on active duty in all four
branches of the US Armed Forces, accounting for approximately 12.7 % of all
active duty Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Personnel. As of September 1995,
women accounted for 13.2 % of all officers and 12.6% of all enlisted personnel.
Approximately 16 percent of all active duty Air Force Personnel (officers and
enlisted) are women, followed by 13 percent of the Army, 12 percent of the Navy,
and about 4.6 percent of the Marines."(3)

Sexual harassment is believed to be increasing, but one must remember a
lot of sexual harassment goes unreported. It is a shame women are afraid to
report cases for fear of being thrown out of their job, or just plain lack of
knowledge on where to go or what to do. Women can get the feeling of not
trusting anyone in the military command easier than women for two reasons. One,
99 percent of commanding ranks are taken by men, and two, men are more likely
to help men than women. A woman can not get help from a commanding officer
that's a woman, because the commanding officer is probably in a rut of her own.
Women should join forces and overthrow the men in charge. The US would see a
dramatic difference in sexual harassment cases reported. "A Pentagon Survey of
90,000 service members showed that, overall, sexual harassment in the military
is declining, but still common, involving over half the women in the military.
The number of women reporting any type of sexual harassment in the previous
twelve months dropped from 64 percent in a 1988 survey of all the services to
55 percent, according to the report. The unreleased documents indicated that
amoung the individual services, the Navy improved the most over that period.
For 1995, that number had dropped to 53 percent. The Air Force, as in 1988,
continued to show the lowest overall percentage of harassment amoung women
surveyed, dropping from 57 percent to 49 percent."(4)

The Navy has made a strong and thoughtful effort towards the declining
of sexual harassment since the Tailhook scandal. In fact, all the services have.
Beginning this year, equal opportunity training is to be received by everyone.
Everyone should strive for not tolerating discrimination or sexual harassment.
Each person is valuable to the military, and what happens to one affects many
others. Here are some key task force recommendations:

-Evaluate each service member's commitment to equal opportunity and
document deviations in performance reports.
-Train leaders on their roles and responsibilities for equal opportunity
-Ensure the chain of command remains an integral part of the processing
and resolution of complaints.
-Strongly encourage commanders to conduct periodic equal opportunity
-Insist senior officials and commanders post statements declaring their
commitment to equal opportunity.

This shows that even though harassment and discrimination still occur,
it does not go unchallenged. People are waking up and saying "Enough is
enough." After a certain amount of complaining, anyone would say "Enough is
enough". What is ment by that is that it takes a lot of cases and re-occurring
problems for it to finally get the notice it needs.

Basis trainees are learning that at all levels, the word is getting out
that discrimination and harassment have no place in the military profession and
will not be tolerated, Air Force officials said. The recent focus on sexual
harassment in other military services has also raised attention in this area as
well. "The Air Force can not isolate itself from these social trends," states
the pamphlet. "Despite commanders' involvement and education programs, people
will occasionally behave inappropriately. It takes a strong continuing
commitment by everyone to minimize these behaviors and their effects."(5)

Once men can get over their male ego-trips, they will start to see the
women in a new light. Men could actually accomplish more working with women
instead of against them. What an amazing concept! Too bad men have not
recognized it yet. Even with the good news that sexual harassment is declining
in the Navy, it still happens by the thousands. Radios are constantly
broadcasting that the Pentagon had to stiffen regulations because so many women
said they were the victims of reprisals for filing complaints. There's this
story that many believe is the cause of sexual harassment in the military,
especially the Navy. Sailors have always been known for their bawdiness, but
the officers were at least gentlemen. Then Vietnam came. Being in south-east
Asia and increasingly frustrated by a losing war, a whole generation of naval
officers began carousing in the sleazy bars of Bangkok and the Philippines.
The Vietnam vets-- and the exploitative sexual attitudes they developed in Asia-
- arrived home in the 70's just as women were beginning to move into the ranks.
This resulted in a declining of manner and morals with the arrival of female
sailors and officers. For the men, this has ment careers wrecked by lewd
indiscretions. And the Navy's women have been forced to learn how both to go
along and to fight back-- with very mixed success. One has to wonder if we
could go back in time, and erase Vietnam, would this still have happened anyway.


1.) Donegan, p.363

2.) Navy Times, p.1

3.) Military Women Profile, p.1

4.) Capital Online, p.2

5.) Air Force News Service, p.1


1.) Archives of Family Medicine. "Women Veteran's Experiences with
Domestic Violence and with Sexual Harassment While in the Military." Vol.4. May

2.) Capital Online. "Survey Finds Sexual Harassment in the Navy and
Other Services Declines". July 3, 1996

3.) Donegan, Craig. "New Military Culture: do women, blacks, and
homosexuals get fair treatment?". CQ Researcher. April 26, 1996

4.) Military Women Profile. "Military Women by the Numbers." September

5.) National Academy Press. "Recommendations for Research on the
Health of Military women." September 1995

6.) Navy Times. "Are Women OK as Combatants? Not Really Says Navy
Survey." September 4, 1995

7.) Vistica, Gregory L. "Anchors Aweigh." Newsweek. February 5, 1996


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