Growing up, I vividly remember watching movies such as GI Jane, Courage Under Fire and The General’s Daughter and thinking to myself “wow, it would really suck if that’s how things actually were for women who wanted to fight for their country”. These movies featured everything from unabashedly sexist high-ranking officials, to major misogyny and all the way to gang rape and murder. I thought the open sexism was merely just overacting, and the covered-up homicide were nothing more than Hollywood’s imagination running amuck. And then my curious ass decided to start investigating the topic of assault and sexual abuse in the army, and I realized that the movies weren’t far off from the sad truth.
In America, it’s unpatriotic to say anything about the troops except that you love them, and while they deserve to be respected for their bravery, we need to realize that there is a very real problem in the military with assaulting and raping women. While it’s great to admire the army that protects you, they can NOT be above reproach when it comes to the mistreatment of any women, but that requires us to do something that makes many of us very uncomfortable: Challenging the people tasked with protecting our lives and our freedom. But after learning about the case of LaVena Johnson, a young woman who the military claims committed suicide by shooting herself in the head – after blacking her own eye, knocking out her own teeth, pouring acid on her genitals and somehow managing to leave a trail of blood that extended out of the tent she was found in – it’s clear that we NEED to start looking into what’s going on with the treatment women are receiving in the armed forces.
LaVena is far from the first or the last, but if we start actually INVESTIGATING what’s going on, we might be able to make her death mean something – even if the questions make us uncomfortable.
This Is Your Conscience