Sexual Assault in Military Media Analysis

By Michelle Li

Can people actually imagaine a military women actually felt safer outside the wire than take a shower and being harassed by a man she dated. I found this enterprise story “A Peril in War Zones: Sexual Abuse by Fellow G.I.’s” on the New York Times. It is one of the articles under “Women at Arms” series.

Just like the heartbroken and weeping story “If I Die” we read in class, this article also uses kabob structure to organize different parts. First the article began with the anecdote (the juicy tomato), describing about how Capt. Margaret H. White suffered from sexual harassment and assault from the person she used to dated.

The the story zoomed out to a broader perspective that what define sexual harassment and assault. In another way, the author gave evidence to address Capt. Margaret H’s case was so far the only one out there. What is more interesting is the author specifically pointed out how sexual harassment being suppressed in the military that promote its happening.

Sexual harassment and sexual assault, which the military now defines broadly to include not only rape but also crimes like groping and stalking, continue to afflict the ranks, and by some measures are rising.

Also, the article compare the sexual assault issue in battle base to other places, say college campus, where the use of alcohol was very common. This approach, bring more personal connect from the article to the readers like me, who had never been serving in the military before.

The larger issue here, as the author suggested, is that more people criticized the military’s efforts to prevent sexual abuse, because the soldiers will not be held accountable for their misconduct during deployment because commanders’ focus on the mission overshadows other concerns.

What makes this a good story is that the author used other related example that concerns about sexual assault in the military. The case of Sergeant Phillips suggest that sexual abuse in combat zones still are there despite the transformation of the military’s policies.

And the article turned back to Captain White in the end (the juicy tomato again), using the same anecdote in the beginning. It depicted how she suffered from panic attacks and psychological pressure. White’s honest personal experience shed light on how this issue impact her whole life, and that she had to retire from the military.

For fear of running into him, she stopped drinking water after 7 p.m. so she would not have to go to the latrine at night alone.

About michelleqianli

Michelle QianLi is currently studying MCDM at University of Washington. She is a native-born Chinese and came to U.S. in 2008.
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