U.S. Military Violence Against Women:
Transforming Your Perspectives about the Military

By Nancy Yee
Special to The Rag, a publication of the CSU San Marcos ASI Women’s Center
October 2009

Mention the word “military” and watch the people you are conversing with take sides. Typically, they fall into two categories; pro-military vs. anti-military. I’m not saying that these sentiments aren’t legitimate or that either one of them are right or wrong. I’d just like to know why we continue to take such dichotomous points of view on this subject. Why do we view topics regarding the military as black or white, all or nothing, patriotic or unpatriotic? These opposing perspectives not only serve as barriers and reasons to exclude one another, but they prevent us from understanding institutions like the military in a critical and holistic way. The consequences of “picking sides” may be more serious than what meets the eye. We can become so blinded by our own narrow point of view that important issues that permeate the military are swept under the rug. Today, women compose more than 15% of the military and they are constantly under the threat of military sexual trauma or MST. Recent reports have uncovered that women in the military are more likely to experience MST than being wounded in battle.

In our community, these women are not simply faceless individuals who serve in the military. Here, we recognize them as leaders in our community and those who are closest in our hearts. However, what the about women who are not a part of our communities, but face the same injustices at the hands of our military servicemen? Are their stories just as important? Often, when many of us hear about U.S. military violence against women and girls in Okinawa and Japan, we instantly think of “that one media report” with Condoleezza Rice. Similar to the general perspectives about the military, this understanding lacks complexity and does not fully explore such a historical problem. Luckily, our campus is fortunate enough to have a group of students and faculty avidly working on deepening our understanding of the relationship between militarization and violence against women.

The collection of research gathered by this pioneering group not only serves to inform us of how this problem is closely bound to other issues like imperialism, racism, and war, but also serves to challenge ourselves, our society, and our military to become accountable. I invite you to visit the U.S. Military Violence Against Women’s website at http://usmvaw.com and you can become their fan on Facebook at


Lastly, always remember that we can promote the military and believe in their efforts, while still having knowledge and compassion for such issues. Your recognition of the military’s downfalls does not compromise your patriotism, it emphasizes your ability to think clearly and critically about the institutions that directly influence our lives.