Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Sexual violence; diminishment of sexual violence.]

Here is a headline on CNN: 31 victims identified in widening Air Force sex scandal.

Here is the lede of that story: "The U.S. Air Force has now identified at least 31 women as victims in a growing sex scandal, a four-star general said Thursday, and there might be more. The Air Force is broadening its investigation to 'actively seek any others that may have been affected by this,' Gen. Edward Rice, the commander of Air Force Training, said."

Here is further copy from the story about what is being described in both the headline and the lede as a "sex scandal" (emphases mine):
The scandal came to light in June 2011, when a young female trainee came forward and accused her male instructor of assaulting her. Staff Sgt. Luis Walker now faces a general court-martial on 28 charges, including rape, adultery and aggravated sexual assault. He is scheduled to appear in court July 16.

In November 2011, Rice says several military training instructors, both men and women, overheard a group of male instructors "talking about incidents that were unacceptable" and reported what they heard to superior officers.

This week, the Air Force brought charges against two more instructors.

Master Sgt. Jamey Crawford is accused of giving alcohol to a female trainee and having sex with her. Tech. Sgt. Christopher Smith is accused of seeking to conduct an intimate relationship with a trainee, making sexual advances toward a trainee and carrying on a personal social relationship with a second trainee.

"The basic training environment in particular is a target-rich environment for sexual predators," says Anu Bhagwati, a former Marine Corps officer who says the problem goes beyond one branch of service. Bhagwati says there's no such thing as male instructors having consensual sex with young, female recruits.

"You cannot do anything without requesting permission from your drill instructor. You cannot use the bathroom, you cannot move from left to right, you are literally in many cases a robot waiting for permission to take a step."
People in positions of power do not "have sex with" their coerced charges. Men do not "have sex with" women who are incapacitated by alcohol. This is not a "sex scandal." This is an endemic culture of sexual abuse.

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