Women have come a long way in a short amount of time, and there's more good news. Finally the U.S. Army announced Capt. Kristen Griest is the Army’s first female infantry officer.
This is huge — a woman in a combat leadership position. Not that long ago, Capt. Griest made history by being one of the first women to graduate Ranger School — an accomplishment that is hard for even a man. Did she receive a round of congratulations or other positive encouragements?
Once the news hit that a woman was given a combat leadership role, negative comments exploded all over the internet. Capt. Griest was getting rape threats, veterans claimed they were glad they were no longer active duty and that it was no longer "their" army, and even women commented that it was not her place to lead. Women face these types of comments daily. Just when you think the world has moved on and accepted women in leadership roles, we are reminded that sexism is still rampant. Unfortunately any woman who rises to the top of a "man's world" is subjected to this type of negativity. It is suspected that she has been given an easier path than a man's or is accused of being a political pawn. Worst of all, she is almost always threatened with rape or harm.
Take, for example, the slew of hateful and disgusting comments that ensued once the Army Times broke the story on its Facebook page:
The worst one of all was from this man:
His comment has been deleted from the page, but the outrage still stands.
Why is it that when a woman succeeds, she is threatened with rape? That it's OK to bring down the success of a woman by hoping she gets sexually assaulted? Because she deserves it? This mindset is all too familiar with the military. A 2015 Pentagon survey discovered that 26,000 respondents cited instances of unwanted sexual contact, but only 3,374 cases were reported. Why did so many victims refuse to report sexual assault? Because of fear of retaliation. This is not OK. The backlash Capt. Griest received for her promotion proves that rape culture and sexism are alive and prevalent in the U.S. Army.
Sorry, Mr. Gervasi, despite your opinion of whether or not women belong in combat, you are way out of line. No woman ever deserves to be raped. For the fact that you were born from a woman, you should at least have some respect for females.
Congratulations, Capt. Griest, on your accomplishments. It’s a shame that some of your fellow soldiers do not support you. This is an historic moment for American history. Hopefully in a few years your groundbreaking work will better our country and pave the way for gender equality across for all.
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