A difficult subject, from a local angle?
One of last week’s national news items was our military’s failure to reduce sexual harassment within its ranks. This is serious (anyone dismissive should think of their sisters, daughters, granddaughters), and the military is taking it seriously.
The brass seem unable to explain the poor results, after such effort. This suggests a sub-culture of sexual violence in the military – as exists among civilians (Canada has its attacks; we mark the Montreal Polytechnique murders every year.)
How our society deals with this is a challenge for each of us, and no doubt the Prime Minister’s famous “I am a feminist” remark is a helpful part of this education. More leaders and sports celebrities might join him. Within the military, however, one fears that the Prime Minister’s statement is seen as anti-masculine or “weak”, by some macho groups.
The sexes have had difficulty dealing with each other forever; literature, movies and popular music thrive on this struggle. Once there were newspaper columns advising on this conflict! Today the subject is left, oh so wisely, to social media ... we know that won’t end well.
Does history also explain sexual aggression in the forces? In part. The military is all of us, after all, recruiting from all strata of society, all regions, cultures, religions, and economic classes – (apart from our untouchables, the 1%).
But the news suggests the problem is more widespread in the forces. Why?
Aylmer is an interesting place for many reasons, and one is its active veterans association, the Legion, Branch 033. The Aylmer Legion I’ve known, since the times of Des Murphy, has been an honourable, dedicated and community-minded organization. What could its members say about this problem in the forces? That it has always existed? That it’s grown worse? That it’s limited to a small slice of the emotionally-crippled who fear the opposite sex, just like the mainstream? It would be interesting to know what our Legion members say.
Might it be a service if the Aylmer Legion convoked a public forum on this subject?
To some civilians, it was a shock to learn over a year ago of a pro-male white-supremacist organization expanding within the forces in the Maritimes. We hear of such groups out West, and they exist around Quebec City where American-style militias are active -- apparently stimulated by local media. Is this militia movement and the forces’ aggressive male chauvinism connected?
Is hostility toward women within the ranks connected to the presence of white-supremacist and anti-immigrant groups in those same ranks? Their motives are said to include wanting to “clean up” society, preserve the purity of our white founding populations, get rid of social weaknesses and “toughen up” our country, dismiss LGBTQ people and their organizations. Don’t these motives re-enforce aggressivity and meanness? Is this the problem the military faces, a sort of fifth column which feeds on male supremacy?
Is the military focused on a symptom, sexual aggression, not the illness which incubates it? What would our Legion’s members say?