Women in the Infantry: Rape Victims in the Making?


Recently three female marines completed infantry training as part of the lifting of the restriction of women serving in direct ground combat units earlier this year. However, these women will not be assigned to actual infantry units despite completing the required training. You can read more about this here, here, and here. But why the hesitation to allow these women to serve in the units for which they qualified?

What is striking, if we pay attention to it, is the vast amount of comments on social media sites, many by current and prior military service members, claiming that if these women were allowed in actual infantry units, they would be violated and raped in a matter of minutes. Whenever the discussion of women entering all-male combat units arises, whether in casual conversation, on social media, or in formal political or governmental hearings, someone will inevitably bring up the great risk to the women of being harassed, abused, or raped. If we stop for a minute and think about this all-too common concern, it teaches us a lot about the current state of masculinity.

The fact that we can all talk about, hear, and respond to this obvious risk of rape to women in all-male units without really stopping to think about it, shows how rape is simply thought of as an occupational hazard for women. Everyone just states it as a given. Rape just happens. Duh. What do you expect from a group of male soldiers? Get over it. This type of thinking is dangerous, wrong, and displays a fundamental aspect of rape culture.

The military is filled with talk of honor, integrity, selfless service, courage, etc. When I was in Army infantry basic training we had to memorize the Ranger Creed, which has lines like:

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight.


I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

There was constant talk of duty and never failing to complete the mission. These core values are portrayed as the foundation of unit cohesion and effectiveness, and what separates the soldier from the civilian. Why then would a woman, who has been deemed by the command part of the unit and thus a fellow comrade, run the risk of sexual violence and rape?

This must either make us question the claims held up by military units about honor, integrity, duty, and loyalty or make us realize that maybe some other motivation overrides these responsibilities, namely the protection of a space for men to prove their manhood.

get back to the kitchen

The message seems to be, this is our place, and the pervasive “obviousness” of the threat of sexual assault and rape functions as a warning that expresses this “fact.” Stay where you belong, or face the consequences, which is not far from this:


We are told to protect our comrades and never let them fall into the hands of the enemy. However, a woman in a combat unit is not viewed as a comrade. Rather the woman is seen as the enemy, which threatens this tenuous, insecure idea of masculinity. This is the true threat.



One thought on “Women in the Infantry: Rape Victims in the Making?

  1. I’ve had mixed feelings about your words and given them some thought. I agree that an awareness of rape or “rape culture” should be made. I have read several articles posted on women in the infantry via facebook and actually read through the responses. Although there were many opposing opinions with harsh language, I do not recall reading one comment on women being raped should they join the infantry or combat arms.
    Actually, there were many comments of acceptance and support. It seems like the majority of the comments expressed concern over the “statistically historical problem” of females getting pregnant before deployments which would limit the combat strength of a unit. The absence of just one member in a fire team renders the team 25% less combat effective.

    There were also many concerns of standards dropping in order to allow for women to be able to pass the unit standards of fitness. Perhaps there may be some “masculinity” issues there but I do think it a valid concern. Several years ago the army changed it’s PT standards which allowed for poorer performance to receive higher scores. To me that is unacceptable. A standard is a standard. We want the best war fighters possible, not just a large quantity of inadequate troops who can not pull their own weight, let alone carry a “battle buddy” from the combat field while still fully equipped.

    As far as grunts being highly aggressive and “rough around edges” , yes. They are. They will use very foul language, make sexual and sarcastic comments (such as the meme posted above) quite often, and hold themselves to a higher worth over P.O.G.s and civilians as if they were specifically created by a God to be a perfect war fighting machine. When females join the ranks of the grunts, the males in their surprise will mind their manners for all of 2 seconds, then carry on with their natural charm. Females will in turn act accordingly as every grunt should and return the sarcasm, foul language, and sexuality without missing a beat. The will take whatever “abuse” an F.N.G. would receive when they first arrive to the unit until they prove themselves in the eyes of their comrades, not their commanding generals.

    Once the smoke clears from this grand social and political debacle, all grunts will carry on business as usual with honor and loyalty to themselves and their mission.

    P.O.G. – Personnel Other than Grunts
    F.N.G. – F**king New Guy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *