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On Mr. Fox’s Application For A Security Position At The Poultry Facility

May 15, 2013

So a US Army NCO in charge of a sexual assault prevention program has been suspended and is being investigated for sexually abusive conduct.  No name has been released, but the conduct is being investigated as a criminal matter, and involves “pandering” and abuse of a subordinate.  This comes just days after the Air Force officer in charge of the entire branch’s sexual assault prevention program, Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, was arrested for sexually assaulting a woman in a parking lot. 

There are several ways to read this.  One, of course, is that since the US armed forces have such pervasive problems with rape, rape reporting and rape prosecution, it isn’t particularly noteworthy.  If you assume that the armed forces are basically a pack of rapists and rape-apologists, then it even a completely random selection of people to staff anti-rape positions would end up with a lot of rapists and rape apologists.  Weighing against that is that psychologist Stephanie McWhorter, studying US Navy entrants in 2009, found rates of undetected rapists and repeat rapists not too different from a similar study of a civilian population.  (As an aside, I hope someone on Senator Gillibrand’s staff has a well-thumbed copy of this.  It would seem to me to be an indispensable piece of information in dealing with sexual assault in the armed forces.)

Another way to read this is that the people in sexual assault prevention positions get there because many commanders are rape apologists and they want to put people who share their attitudes in positions to control antirape work within the armed forces.  That is supported somewhat by the history of commanders reversing jury convictions for sexual assault (see the end of the first linked article, which recounts in brief the stories both about Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin in Aviano, Italy, and Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, whose appointment to Space Command is being held up by Sen. McCaskill for just this reason.)

There’s a third way to read this, and perhaps I’m being uncharacteristically charitable to the brass by saying it’s plausible, but it’s a real problem.  Anyone who has read a spy novel knows that the safest place for a mole is to be tasked with finding the mole.  This isn’t just in fiction.  Remember Robert Hanssen?  In the 1980s, he gave the KGB the names of three of its agents that the FBI had flipped; two were executed.  He was then tasked with figuring out where the leak came from; he was supposed to find himself.  His spy career lasted 22 years.

To bring this from the realm of spy versus spy back to sexual assault, one thing that those of us who write about and work on sexual assault issues in kinky communities discuss is that some of the predators seek to clothe themselves in as much “social proof” as possible.  Some of this is just the prosaic stuff of being a joiner and a presenter and having lots of friends.  As M. Lunas at Disrupting Dinner Parties recently wrote, looking at data from one anonymous database of allegations of consent violations among Fetlife accountholders (the tool I wrote about here, all caveats apply), that paid supporters appeared to be significantly overrepresented among those with complaints against them.  This is itself evidence that can mean a lot of things; but it is a piece of the overall puzzle.  I’ve talked at some length about scene reputation and social proof and the predators’ use of it in the There’s A War On series, particularly Part 3

But more than just general social proof, the folks who have a pattern and practice of various kinds of predatory conduct might specifically seek to portray themselves as the biggest opponents of the predators.  We’ve seen that before.  See also the long cautionary tale epitomized by this person.

It’s a grim and mistrustful thing to say, but when someone says, “I really want to guard the henhouse,” it is necessary to evaluate whether they’re the fox.  To the extent that’s what is at work, I can’t particularly fault the armed forces, because it’s a social reality that catches us unaware in so many aspects of human life.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2013 8:00 pm

    Don’t we see this sort of thing happening in a lot of other areas as well? Things like paedophiles becoming sporting coaches or youth group leaders (supplies them firstly with ready access to victims, and secondly with that cloak of social respectability), or even in some cases, priests in a notoriously celibate religious grouping (again, more social camouflage). Habitual bullies tend to seek out areas where they’re going to find themselves a supply of people to be bullied (eg the police force and the army, business middle management roles) and where their status or authority will act as a counter-lever in any accusations of bullying.

    It ties in to Predator Theory, and it ties into general psychology as a whole: people will tend to repeat behaviours which give them satisfaction. People also tend to prefer to operate within a space where their activities are socially sanctioned. This means people will do their best to get into places where they can repeat those behaviours which satisfy them without social criticism. Finding a social role in which (certain aspects of) their satisfying behaviours are lauded, encouraged and respected is a real plus.

  2. M. Lunas permalink
    May 16, 2013 10:31 am

    Thanks for the link! Great post; very insightful.

  3. 300baud permalink
    May 16, 2013 1:50 pm

    According to Thomas Ricks, a well-regarded defense reporter, “For years, the services have been dumping non-performers into EO and sexual harassment billets.”

  4. Vicky permalink
    May 23, 2013 1:42 pm

    As a former military member, I can say that this has been a huge problem. People are trained about sexual harassment and rape prevention, but it doesn’t seem to do any good. We had sexual harasser in our unit, but nobody called him out on it and nobody reported him. Here is how the silencing process works: The guys in the unit will make comments like, “I don’t dare tell a woman that her uniform looks sharp these days, because she’ll report me for sexual harassment!” “You’d better not make any jokes when women are around, or you’ll get reported for sexual harassment!” “Some women just report guys for sexual harassment out of spite!”

    Okay, ladies, show of hands! Who wants to be the Spiteful Bitch who ruins some poor guys career with sexual harassment charges?


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