While Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford is garnering the spotlight with allegations that Mr. Kavanaugh groped her at a party in the 1980s, female Soldiers, at this minute, face a clear and present danger from their brothers in arms. Approximately 17 percent of our troops, to include National Guard and Reserve soldiers, are female; and female Soldiers have always known what it feels like to be out-numbered and literally “out-manned” in the workplace.
The biggest risk a female Soldier faces, in theater, is being assaulted by another Soldier.
In 2010, as the last of the U.S. troops were exiting Iraq, a female Soldier reached out to me. At the time, I was a military writer for Examiner.com. Her Command had seen fit to leave her as the sole female Soldier on a base in Iraq with a few hundred male troops. She had two things she was asking for; acknowledgment that her commanding officer had left her at risk and food so she could eat in her sleeping quarters and not go to the DFAC at night. I’m sad to say, that Soldier did not keep in contact after she left her area of operation. I can only hope she was able to get home safely.
Yesterday, I came across this on Facebook. It illustrates all too well how women have to “think differently” than men when it comes to staying safe, both in and out of the military.
Jackson Katz, a prominent social researcher:
(From a presentation done hundreds of times)
I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men; What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted?
At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they’ve been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, ‘I stay out of prison.’
This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, ‘Nothing. I don’t think about it.’
Then I ask the women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted?
Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. (As the men sit in stunned silence) the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine:
Hold my keys as a potential weapon.
Look in the back seat of the car before getting in.
Carry a cell phone.
Don’t go jogging at night.
Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights.
Be careful not to drink too much. Don’t put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured.
Own a big dog.
Carry Mace or pepper spray. Have an unlisted phone number. Have a man’s voice on my answering machine.
Park in well-lit areas. Don’t use parking garages.
Don’t get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men.
Vary my route home from work.
Watch what I wear.
Don’t use highway rest areas.
Use a home alarm system.
Don’t wear headphones when jogging. Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime.
Don’t take a first-floor apartment.
Go out in groups.
Own a firearm. Meet men on first dates in public places. Make sure to have a car or cab fare.
Don’t make eye contact with men on the street. Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.
― Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help