After three years a Facebook page dedicated to making violent jokes targeted at female marines has finally been taken down. All it took was a state Representative writing a letter to the Defense Secretary and top military brass to say “Hey, this is really messed up and contributes to the culture of sexual abuse in the military, and you’ve known about it for years, but it’s still there. Maybe you should do something about it?”
It wasn’t actually the military that took action against the page, though, but Facebook, which removed it because its administrators were using fake accounts. Really, Facebook? After three years you yank a site for a bogus reason like that when it clearly violates the rules in your Terms of Service that “You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user” and “You will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence”? Read this excerpt from California representative Jackie Speier and tell me both those things don’t apply:
“[The page] includes numerous pictures depicting women in various forms of nudity and being verbally and sometimes physically abused. The page also includes images of women taken without their permission, inviting commenters to add their own captions. Many of the pictures imply women only advance professionally by performing sequel favors and otherwise promote the idea that women are inferior and only useful as sexual objects and sandwich makers… Individuals who reach out to the administrators of the site to express their concerns have been mocked and made the target of future posts.”
But what of the Marines? The Marine Corps Inspector General has monitored the page for three years, so clearly they were aware of its, eh, problematic elements (see: the whole darn thing). Says Capt. Eric Flanagan in a statement:
“Marines are responsible for all content they publish on social networking sites, blogs, or other websites. There is no tolerance for discriminatory comments. It goes against good order and discipline.
Marines must use their best judgment at all times and avoid inappropriate behavior that could bring discredit upon themselves, their unit, and the Marine Corps. This includes posting any defamatory, libelous, abusive, threatening, racially or ethnically hateful or otherwise offensive or illegal content.”
According to Flanagan’s statement complaints show that “both active duty and reserve Marines have been involved.” I would hope that in the three years the site’s been around the military has made some effort to find out exactly who those Marines are, seeing as sexual assault within the military is a huge problem and they’re so concerned with “good order and discipline” and all.
Aw, who’m I kidding? Sexual assault is a problem (26,000 members of the armed forces were assaulted in 2012 alone, up 37 percent from 2011), but so too is the military’s attitude toward it. Basically the way it’s set up is that sexual assault cases get handled in-house, with little to no oversight, with the result that little effort is made to prevent sexual assault, punish the perpetrators, or support the victims. It’s a fact that’s gotten increased public attention over the last few days since the Pentagon released a report detailing the rise of sexual assaults in the military. Oh, and the Air Force official in charge of the military’s sexual assault prevention program was arrested for groping a woman in a parking lot.
The Marine Corps says they’re investigating the page. Too little too late, guys. The page is down. Three years late, but it’s down. The bigger problem is still there. Work on that, maybe?