TRIGGER WARNING: the following article contains a frank discussion of rape. We feel this issue is of great importance, but it may cause some readers distress.
For as long as they have served in the united $tates military, women recruits have been subjected to waves of brutal sexual assault, abuse and harassment. Nowadays, however, the hit parade of headlines regarding mass rape and voyeurism by u.$. soldiers, like the cellphone footage of occupation police executions, gives the illusion that incidences have increased, when in reality this is how it has always been. These are not isolated actions, nor are they secluded to just one part of the imperialist death-cult. The epidemic has been recognized by the highest offices of the state, who express hollow concern in many cases, but are powerless to do anything about it since the massive ranks of perpetrators include so many of their colleagues and heroes. Women in the military have not been looked on with the respect of their male counterparts, but as objects to distract them from the monotony of deployment. The avalanche of sexual assaults inside the u.$. military rendered their rhetoric of “gender equality” somewhat muffled, to say the least.
“Marines United” in Abusing Women
One of the most recent incidences to catch international headlines has been the online groups of Marine men circulating nude photos collected of female recruits in the service. Though this certainly isn’t where the issue has started. A network of servicemen that includes tens of thousands of active and reserve soldiers, have all actively participated in the voyeuristic and predatory conspiracy, which is itself a mere symptom of the drive to dehumanize, rape and destroy women, harbored by the custerite hordes of settler professional troops, even if the victims are fellow custerite shocktroops. This is not something perpetrated only by a select number of jarheads and warm bodies, but by the whole rotting edifice from boots to brass. Only the most naive and sheltered soul, or rabid apologist for u.$. terror, could think this stopped at a Facebook group, the so-called “Marines United”. The non-coms’ sex trafficking rings, like that which existed at Fort Hood for many years, testify to the structural depravity encouraged and reproduced by “our boys”. This was something that was organized primarily by those in command of soldiers themselves, exercising their influence in order to perpetuate abuse. A one Sergeant McQueen was ultimately arrested for this particular instance, however the evidence from the case suggested the involvement of those above and below him.
Beyond the shadowy conspiracies and sex trafficking, there is yet another, larger trend within the military. The fiber which holds all of this together has been the overall latticed culture of silence and solidarity among men in the military that forms the basis for “Marines United” and other such cabals. This silence is perpetuated mostly because of how prolific sexual assault is, with almost two-thirds of women in the armed services reporting some kind of sexual abuse. The military is not just prone to the rape culture already pervasive in society, but it is a bastion for it, carving its brand into the flesh of those inside and outside their ranks. Like most institutions, especially those that specialize in barbarism, the victims are threatened into silence, or just ignored. They are liable to face violence, discharge or legal action against the accusers in the interests of protecting the accused. This is the case not only in the field and on the military bases and installations, but also more recently headlines have surfaced about these practices reaching prolific rates in the some of the most prestigious military academies, such as West Point and Annapolis, a reminder that in the imperialist military “discipline” does not preclude the sexual abuse of women.
In fact, all of this and more was covered in recent memory in the documentary “Invisible War” in which over 150 women were interviewed concerning their sexual assaults at the hands of other soldiers and sailors, and whose commanders protected their abusers and even engaged in the abuse themselves. This is not isolated, nor is it antithetical to the spirit of the military. On the contrary, the institutional rape conspiracy epitomizes military “discipline”, and represents a fraction of the savagery inflicted on the victims of u.$. imperialism. Of course all the imperialist militaries have similar cultures. Germany’s wannabe SS has been found to have committed atrocities ranging from the familiar sex trafficking schemes to forcing female recruits to strip in front of their male “comrades” in arms.
The Imperialist-Patriarchal Machine
It would be insufficient to talk only of the abuses carried out against female soldiers, especially when talking about the most effective worldwide woman-killing apparatus in human history, that is, the u.$. military. The imperialist military has had far more success in murdering women in the Third World, and installing regimes hostile to their freedom and existence, than they have had in “securing gender equality” internally. Let us not forget that while NATO was busy congratulating itself on fighting “inequality” in Afghanistan in the form of the Taliban, that the regime which they were maintaining so diligently had executed women for refusing to marry the men who had raped them, or that they had engaged in horrific war crimes often involving sexual humiliation and rape in the Abu Ghraib facility, and dozens more like it, in Iraq. And while they congratulate themselves still on fighting for “gender equality” against the Islamic State, they have busily supported the war efforts of Saudi Arabia, which is at this point basically a Yemeni-killing enterprise with a government.
Women in the military have, unfortunately, played a vital role in perpetuating this myth of progress in the Third World, and have often become the liberal spokespersons for the continued slaughter of Afghan women in the name of their “liberation” while upholding the idea of women in western clothing as progress. It is true that the enemy they are fighting is certainly a misogynist one, which has carried out murders of women for the “crimes” of adultery and of homosexuality. However, the ongoing wars of imperialist aggression throughout Afrika and the Muslim world have claimed the lives of millions of people in the interests of global capital. The imperialists have spent decades destroying whole nations, and murdering their people with the intention of subjugating their economies and political systems; replacing their former governments with new, far more corrupt, and often archaic ones which have, under the banner of neocolonialism, cruelly repressed all notions of women’s rights and equality among the people. The united $tates capitalizes on the rhetoric of gender equality today, however throughout the 20th century they had invested a tremendous effort in the rollback of women’s gains through their anti-communist campaigns in the Third World. The ruthless opportunists have wasted no time in adapting their imperialist propaganda to the neoliberal age wherein the primary foe is the “backward” force of “Islamism” and other nationalist forces currently struggling against imperialist domination.
The imperialists have nothing to say when they are supplying weapons and ammunition and tactical support to the Philippine government fighting Communists in the south of the country, who actively list the liberation of women as one of their chief interests. No Clintonite “feminist” slogans will blind the women of the world to the material assistance given to extinguish Communist fighters in India, whose success is owed partially to their struggle for the liberation of women from patriarchal society. Neoliberal imperialism will utilize whatever slogans it has to in order to accomplish the real goal at hand: continue imperialist accumulation. In South Korea, the Philippines, and everywhere where the united $tates installs a base, they project power for the predatory sex traffickers who coerce women into service for the imperialist butchers. The testimony of those who have survived such treatment tells us all we need to know: “Women like me were the biggest sacrifice for my country’s alliance with the Americans… Looking back, I think my body was not mine, but the government’s and the U.S. military’s.” The very existence of united $tates soldiers is a detriment to women all over the world.
A Genuine Women’s Army
There is a deep confusion in the women’s movement (if one can be said to exist) that pledges to struggle for the equality of women, while its most confused and opportunist elements mark the right to serve in the imperialist military as some sort of victory. There is no way to reconcile the call for this kind of “equality” with the liberation of women and the world. Instead, we must be asking ourselves not “are we fit to fight?” but rather we should be asking the vital question of who we should be fighting for. Should we fight for our own liberation as well as for all humanity, or for the imperialists in a vain attempt to obtain some kind of superficial “equality” with those who abuse us and the world?
Women have shown time and again that we are more than capable of doing whatever is necessary, including taking up arms, to achieve the liberation of ourselves and others. Many of those whom the imperialists are actively engaged in suppressing are examples of this, such as the Naxal fighters in India, wherein more than 60% of fighting forces are women. It is a similar situation in the Philippines and in Columbia, where women make up a significant portion of those willing to fight and die for the end of imperialism and the brutal oppression of women. If we are to devote ourselves to a dangerous struggle, we should not waste time fighting for those who abuse us and others in the interests of domination. Rather, we should pursue an end to these conditions, if truly that is what we want, by abandoning the imperialist armed forces to join the real struggle for humanity and liberation.
But this is a more difficult fight altogether. The class forces of the global north are overwhelmingly bourgeois and petty-bourgeois. Women are divided along class and national lines. While women in the military are overwhelmingly white, even those who are not are overwhelmingly rich on a global scale, and whether they know it or not, are “fighting” to maintain that global wealth. When we say “women” this necessarily comes off as a stable community of interests, but it is clear that there exists no coherent bloc of women, except in the eyes of the least strategically-minded patriarchs to whom all non-men are prey, or the most naive idealists. Imperialist soldier women murder colonized muslim women every day, and if not, aid directly in their murder. “Women” is an aspiration, a maximum demand. As it stands there is no “women” in the sense which imperial “feminists” would have us believe, but women who are separated by class, nation and access to power on a global scale.
Like all settlers and petty-bourgeois elements, women in the military, women in power, women in the global north, must renounce their class stand and their interest in colonialism, racism and imperialism. Needless to say, they must renounce their membership in the most brutal imperialist institution on earth. If women in the imperialist core wish to fight, let it be for all humanity—that is to say, against u.$. imperialism. If it is our intention to make good on the promise of “women’s liberation” and if we truly believe in a capacity to unite as women, we cannot continue to align with the enemies of women, and of humanity at large. We must reimagine “women’s interests” as applying to a greater mass than only ourselves or those we know, and must extend this idea to be applicable to all women. Women’s interests must be a cornerstone, another step along the way to the realization of humanity’s liberation, toward an international awakening of proletarian consciousness.