My disclaimer is this: that I am fully grateful and absolutely recognize the ways I benefit from the sacrifices of women and men in the military. I also wholeheartedly support women who want to join the military; as I strongly believe that for some women it can be empowering and altogether liberating. So don’t misunderstand me. God knows my parents would have been liberated to send my sister and me to boot camp.
I had an exchange a few weeks ago with an army recruiting officer who works a few doors down from my place of employment. A conversation to which I still somehow feel I can’t live down whenever he comes by. Does he reference our conversation every time he is in my presence? Not ever really. But because I felt that he in a way forced his observation on me as the truth. What started out as a lame and superficial attempt to recruit me ended in a mild conversation about harassment. It went something like this:
Him: You should join the army.
Me: I don’t want to join the army.
Him: C’mon, why not?
Me: Because I don’t want to join the army
Him: That’s not a good reason. Give me a good reason why you wouldn’t join the army.
Him: That’s not true! The army has one of the best harassment programs. It’s called SHARP. The army doesn’t even mess around when it comes to that. For example, if I was harassing you and you reported it they would look into it.
Me: (more annoyed)(sarcastically respond) Oh, okay.
Is my only reason for not wanting to join the military assault or harassment? No. I genuinely have no desire to join the military. But that’s besides the point, isn’t it? Simply because men claim ignorance to the fact that such events take place, and anytime this topic is brought up too, because there are programs in place to deal with these types of situations (which ironically translates to “no longer existing”) doesn’t mean they don’t exist! The Invisible War? Hello?
I had a similar conversation with a friend who was in part recruited by the officer I had the exchange with–who also felt the need to share that conversation with my friend. Thoroughly annoyed that my friend brought up the former conversation I, nevertheless, proceeded in talking about it. He mentioned that his superior said my reason for not joining the army was harassment, which I never said. And so what if I had. That is first–my choice, and second–not for anyone to discredit.
On cue he tells me the same thing concerning SHARP and mocks me by pretending to hold a notebook in his left hand while using his right hand to ‘flip through the pages’, saying, “oh you go through your notes?” only after I had just told him I know what I’m talking about because I study issues of harassment, rape and assault/sexual assault. Does he not see that I’m also a woman?
My point is this: before giving me, a woman, a textbook answer about how effective these prevention programs are, did anyone think to ask the persons affected if these programs did them justice?
Featured photo credit here