A month ago, many Americans celebrated International Women's Day and witnessed the signing of the Violence Against Women Act. This month we have been looking at incidents of rape in our military as part of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
It is fitting that each of the observances could draw the attention it was due in quick succession. In a 12/9/11 article in The Guardian entitled "Rape in the US Military: America's Dirty Little Secret," Lucy Broadbent wrote: "Last year 3,158 sexual crimes were reported within the US military. Of those cases, only 529 reached a court room, and only 104 convictions were made, according to a 2010 report from SAPRO (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, a division of the Department of Defense).
Broadbent went on: "But these figures are only a fraction of the reality. Sexual assaults are notoriously under-reported. The same report estimated that there were a further 19,000 unreported cases of sexual assault last year."
According to RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network), among US civilians the average number of reported rapes is around 207,754 each year. This number would be more than doubled if the estimate of unreported rapes were included.
In 2009, thousands of rape kits were discovered, just sitting on shelves in police headquarters across the country, waiting to be processed so that charges might be brought.
Rape is not a misdemeanor. Since it is an assault on
another person, it is a felony and a serious crime. For many police departments, however, the crime is apparently not serious enough to warrant prosecution.
Subjugation of Women and the Use of Violence To Dominate Others Are the Hallmarks of Patriarchy
Two facts in particular should be kept in mind about the crime of rape. First, in civilian life, one out of every six women is raped, while in the military the rate is one in three. Secondly, about 97% of those who commit rape, whether in civilian life or in the service, never see the inside of a jail cell.
Rape, and the threat of rape, have long been a major weapon in the war on women, and are deeply rooted in human history. For thousands of years, a worldwide system called patriarchy has condoned violence on women as a means to subjugate them and thereby privilege men.
Women who resist this system are severely punished. When it became known in 2008 in Pakistan, for example, that three teenage girls who had refused arranged marriages were thrown into a pit and buried alive, a member of Pakistan's parliament declared, "These are centuries-old traditions and I will defend them." 
Even in the US, many women are killed each year as retribution for leaving an intimate partner. And on the political front, male legislators in a number of states are hard at work trying to re-institute another form of violence: forcing women to carry to term unintentional pregnancies.
reproductive capacity has always been key to their market value. Early on, the
victors in clan or tribal wars killed off the losing males and enslaved their
women. By integrating them and their children into their own tribes, they
increased the size of their future fighting force. Today, US patriarchs demonstrate a similar aim by legislating against the distribution of contraceptives here and abroad, thereby encouraging high birth rates.
Since waging war is the quintessential activity of patriarchs, they foster cultures that produce "macho" males who will not only help keep women in their proper place but can also be easily persuaded to go to war: to torture, rape, and kill.
It is obvious that American culture glorifies such behavior. Violence surrounds us. The obsession with guns drives both the marketing of shoot'em-up video games and real-life drive-by killings. We produce television programs and Hollywood films for the young male market that depict violence and often rough sex. We hear on the news that the sexual exploits that used to be bragged about in the confines of high school locker rooms are now being broadly twittered or facebooked with graphic photos. With all this, can we be surprised at the reports of rapes on college campuses? Or by our Columbines and Newtowns?
It should be no surprise, either, that when the two major threads of patriarchy--subjugation of women and violence toward others--become entwined in the military, there will also be rape and violence within its own ranks. How can the warrior male be expected to react to women in his unit as equals, when every woman needs to be shown "who's boss"?
Since it is men who drive the patriarchal system, it is up to them to fix these problems. A good start toward breaking the grip of patriarchy in our society might be for groups of men to declare their independence from the system. The best way to do that would be to refuse, and to urge other men to refuse, to fight in patriarchal wars.