27 Apr 2011
A “sex scandal” broke open at a military academy in Canberra, Australia, when some cadets viewed via Skype sex between a male and female cadet. Newspaper accounts refer to the event as “consensual sex.”
How can sex be consensual as claimed in this case when, as part of the act, the male cadet had arranged for other male cadets to watch in another room which was then streamed via Skype. That turns the “consensual sex” into voyeurism and forced pornography. But how can we count how many crimes were committed here when the initial premise of consensual sex is so flawed?
No worries – as there has been no discussion of charging the boys involved (one was under the age of 18, none behaved with adult maturity). But the woman cadet upon whom sex for public viewing was had, was brought in on a disciplinary hearing on supposedly unrelated matters right after the event was made public. She was even made to apologise to her peers which was interrupted only when one of the male cadets shouted ‘Slut’. And for days afterward, the Australian Federal Police had not yet determined if any laws had been broken.
But since the Skype scandal broke in early April, and it has been called the Skype scandal as if Skype had violated the law, the woman and military regulations, as if the voyeuristic boys and their buddy in bed in front of the Skype camera had no responsibility or involvement in the incident. Neither their names nor any other reference to them appear in Australian media accounts which name the woman by her first name and do not hesitate to represent her previous behavior as if it were the cause of this invasion of her right to privacy.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith has been the public voice of reason and has expressed sensitivity to the woman cadet. An investigation was immediately launched and six enquiries are currently ongoing. But as of late April there still have been no arrests of or charges filed against the boys.
A military culture of rape? some wonder. The culture of rape is so normalised, so accepted that, in this case, we have yet to see a question of the boys behaviour or action on the number of sexually related crimes they have committed. But if you follow the Australian reporting on this case, and if Australian media at all reflects its society, the military culture of rape is a reflection of an Australian culture of rape.
There is more to the question of rape in the military than that. The military’s goal in training cadets is to produce killers and to do that, killer soldiers are trained to be remorseless for the act of taking the life of another human being. Remorseless killers are grunts, they carry with them the gang mentality one might find on the streets, destruction for the sake of itself. Whatever kinds of human beings these cadets were before they entered the military, their training for war, for why else do we have militaries but to fight wars (in the US our government makes up wars for our soldiers to fight and our armament companies to do business), dehumanises them to bring out the worst of human behaviour – the killing of another human being.
While those of us outside the military tend to see the precision of military parades complete with smart, perfectly fitted uniforms, those representations are meant for us to gloss over the grunts underneath that come out in combat, not because they were born that way but because the military trains them.
Yes, an investigation is taking place, but until we rethink the entire venture of making militaries and turning out killing machines named “the troops” for combat, we can expect little to change. That is why in my latest book I’ve called for both ‘unmaking war’ and ‘remaking men’.