Opinion: Female airmen and sexual assault

Ryan Sampson

Ryan Sampson

Ryan Sampson is a senior

architecture major and columnist

for the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact her at [email protected].

This weekend, while browsing the Internet for something to write about, I found an article from the Huffington Post about women being sexually assaulted in the military and how the Department of Defense is not taking care of its soldiers. I am a military brat and a government employee, so I have strong ties to the Department of Defense, but even someone who doesn’t have my background should be upset by the fact that military women are two times more likely to be raped than civilian women.

When I think of the United States military, I think of a group of people who are supposed to protect us against all enemies, foreign and domestic, not one that harbors people who will so grievously harm one of its own. But then again, I feel many people in a position of power do not exemplify the upstanding morals that we should expect of an individual in their positions.

This is deemed socially acceptable. Although we act like it’s shocking when a political figure has an affair, or an athlete uses drugs, or nude pictures of an actress or starlet surface online, personally I’m rarely fazed.

As I read on, I saw that the article was filled with charts and graphs; it turned something very emotional and personal into a statistic. Those charts do not show the pain or distress each woman must have felt after being betrayed by a friend, leader, or fellow soldier, nor do they show any decline.

I feel that having the title of soldier is one of the highest honors anyone in our country can attain, and in a world where many powerful people who are considered role models do not set a very strong precedent, we need common, everyday people who will. But it’s hard to trust those who are meant to keep us safe when scandals such as the one at Lackland Air Force Base, where numerous instructors were charged with the sexual assault of Air Force recruits, occur.

While this column began as a discussion of my disgust towards military personnel abusing their fellow airmen, it will conclude as something slightly different — something I hope everyone takes to heart. One of the first things I told my First Year Experience students this year was to protect each other. In architecture, we’re very close; we are a family, and while I have never claimed to need it, the boys in the program have always taken care of myself and the other girls.

No one deserves to be sexually abused; no one brings it upon him or herself. Set an example that many public figures have failed to set themselves. Be a strong and moral human being. Men, watch out for the women in your lives, and encourage those around you to do the same; treat them as equals, not objects. Women, respect yourselves and your friends. Please watch out for one another; the world could use more people who are doing something other than looking out for themselves.