“The Invisible War” and the Ongoing Subjugation of Women in America

Congratulations to director Kirby Dick and producer Any Ziering for the pickup of their powerful new doc The Invisible War by Cinedigm Entertainment Group and New Video. I saw the film at Sundance and in addition to being a great film, it’s extraordinarily important in these times of increasing violence against and institutionalized subjugation of women. [Trailer and other videos at the bottom.]

In my wrap of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival I wrote of the film: “A heart-breaking and shocking look at rape in the military, Dick’s film details the pain, shame, horror and lasting damage caused by the attacks as well as the shocking hypocrisy and cover-ups endorsed by the military establishment.”

Some stats from the US Department of Defense:
20% of ALL servicewomen have been sexually assaulted while serving.
Women who have been raped in the military have a PTSD rate higher than men in combat.
An estimated 500,000 women have been sexually assaulted in the US military.
In 2010, according to the Department of Defense, there were 3,158 case of sexual assault within the U.S. military. It is estimated that more than 80% of those who are sexually assaulted don’t report it.

The film presents many more statistics, equally as disturbing.

While the subject matter is grim and at times the film is emotionally tough to watch, I will categorically say that this is a film everyone must see, especially educators. It’s a film that could potentially cause a sea change not only in the halls of Congress but in the high schools of America.

At the Q&A following the Sundance world premiere, a 17 year-old young woman in the audience stood up and said that while she had never been physically assaulted, verbal abuse was the norm in her school and she felt that every high school student needed to see the film because boys were not being raised to respect women. It was another poignant moment in the most emotional Q&A I have ever witnessed.

Yet Another Assault on Women
Rush Limbaugh (I find it hard to even write that pig’s name) and the recent contraception farce in Congress are only the latest in what seems a renewed assault on women’s rights in the US (and around the world) both passively (through a lack of equal pay statutes) and actively (new laws attacking women’s heath rights, archaic new alimony laws). Add to that the almost instant, near-universal forgiveness of celebrities who beat women (I’m looking at you, Chris Brown) and John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1972 call to arms seems ever more relevant. [Video below]

I find it shocking that in 2012, 92 years after the ratification of the 19th amendment to the Constitution (if you don’t know what that is, look it up) women are still getting paid less than men for the same work.

According to Time Magazine and the US Census, in 2008, U.S. Women earned only 77 cents on the dollar as compared to men. These numbers are even true in traditionally female-dominated professions, such as secretaries (83.4%). According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, the number “rose” to 77.4% in 2010. Different sources cite different numbers, but all range between roughly 77% and 82%. The numbers for African American women and Latinas are even worse, at 67.7% and 58.7%, respectively, when compared to all men.

Am I the only one who thinks this is barbaric? And whither responsible journalists? When Liz Trotta recently appeared on Fox News and basically said that when men and women serve in close contact in the military, a rise in violent sexual assault should be expected, where were the editorials by every other news organization? Where was the mass public outcry? Why wasn’t she instantly fired or at the very least, given a healthy suspension? She might as well have said the same thing about rapes on co-ed college campuses. Shit, man! Of course women are going to be raped if you let them sit at a desk next to a man and live in the same dorm!

Trotta went on to decry the system of victim support groups set up to, in her words, “support women in the military who are now being raped too much.” [Emphasis mine] Really, Liz? There’s a “too much” level in rape? Please, do tell me what amount of rape is just right? Trotta goes on to “blame” the “feminists” (as if there’s some sort of organized group) for the military finally taking steps to address the horrendous situation for women in the armed forces, referring to the rise in the budget of the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office from $5 million to $23 million as “extreme feminism.” I realize Ms. Trotta has a regular slot and that it’s labeled as a “commentary,” but how did the editor of the show not vet this?

Let’s try a little wordplay (leaving aside for the moment that men are also sexually assaulted by men in the military and that you can’t really compare types of assaults like this): Replace the word “women” with “African Americans” and the phrase “sexual assault” with “racially motivated attack.” As in “in 2010, as many as 10,000 African American soldiers were the victim of brutal, racially-motivated beatings by white soldiers.”

Can you tell me that if someone went on TV and said that racially motivated crime should be expected in an integrated military and that setting up racial sensitivity classes for white soldiers was basically a plot by the NAACP and victims support groups for black soldiers that were “beaten too much” were a waste of money, that said person wouldn’t be out on their ass the next day?

You think Rush Limbaugh would still have his job if he referred to a black man who wanted to testify about affirmative action in the workplace as a lazy nigger? Can you imagine if instead of reportedly saying “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt” to his wife, McCain had been rumored to have said “At least my hair doesn’t look like a bird’s nest, you coon” to someone on his campaign?

I guess what it comes down to, what I am getting at, is that while all discrimination is bad and some is illegal, discrimination against women seems to be the most universally accepted by society and more specifically, by male society (not that there aren’t a disturbing amount of women like Liz Trotta out there).

While men of color are quick to point out the racism that runs rampant though society (and so we should) what’s our excuse for black women being victims of intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than white women (according to the US Department of Justice)? How about the biggest killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34 being homicide at the hands of a current or former intimate partner (Africana Voices Against Violence, Tufts University, Statistics, 2002)?

Those are absolutely terrifying numbers, no matter how you look at them and there are dozens more and statistics out there, covering all aspects of society.

Unfortunately, I could go on like this for pages and pages. The bottom line is this: As a planet, we are failing in our treatment of 50% of the population. Physical, economic and psychological violence against women takes place every minute of every hour of every day in every village, town, city and country on this planet, much of it fully sanctioned by the male-dominated government and population. When does it stop?

Invisible War trailer:

Liz Trotta on Fox News:

While we’re at it, why not give Liz our first Bernie Award for Stupid Bastards for the year 2012. Congratulations, Liz!

This is a clip from the 1st season West Wing episode “Let Bartlett be Bartlett.” It’s about gays in the military, but could easily be applied to the theory that “close quarters” is the cause of the obscene stats on rape in the military (embedding has been disabled.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono: “Woman is the Nigger of the World”

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