Friday, October 29, 2010

Rape Culture 101 -- Is this what they fought for?

by Connie Chastain*

In the run-up to the elections, America's wars have fallen off the radar screen. But when it's politically fashionable to talk about them, you're apt to hear Presidents and other government officials refer to "our men and women in uniform." This in spite of the fact that the Armed Forces are overwhelmingly male and men do the bulk of the fighting and dying.

Still, women do make up about 20% of today's military. You have to wonder why they would fight for a patriarchal culture -- indeed, what they deem to be a rape culture that preys on women and keeps them in fear. Of course, we know that what feminists complain about and reality are different things. First, there is no rape culture and, second, government, education, business and industry promote, or at least accomodate, institutional female supremacy, so... so much for patriarchy.

Despite the lip service to the feminised military, war is men's business. It always has been, and there was a time when everyone acknowledged that. Sometimes things happen to remind us of this particular reality.

In October of 1943, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber went missing near New Guinea. It was assumed that the plane ran out of fuel on the way back to base and crashed in the Pacific Ocean. Searches yielded no trace of the aircraft, and a year later, the eleven crewmen and the photographer who joined them on a reconnaissance mission were officially declared dead, their families notified.

They were among the over 300,000 U.S. casualties of that terrible war which, for the United States, lasted from from December 7, 1941 until August 14, 1945. Eventually, the surviving soldiers returned home. They built the suburbs and created a wheeled culture where they, as breadwinners, drove the freeways into town to office and factory, while their wives stayed home to raise children. Based largely on knowledge gained in the war, they invented goods and services and made advances in medicine, transportation, housing that made their society the envy of the world.

But not everyone was amazed by these advances, or thankful to the men who made them possible. Twenty-five years later, too many daughters of these warriors, these protectors and advancers of our society, were calling them patriarachal oppressors. These women raised such a ruckus that men who had seen and experienced the horrors of brutal, global war bent over backward to accomodate their whiny complaints.

Fast forward another thirty years, and find a America not at all friendly to the grandsons and great-grandsons of the global warriors of WWII. It is a society in which men bear the brunt of military and workplace deaths, but feminists complain because not enough women occupy desks in corporate offices; a culture where boys and young men are given short shrift in education; where the government creates jobs for women during a recession in which men disproportionately find themselves without a job.

It is a society that feminists label a rape culture and wherein they describe men as possessors of "flawed" masculinity -- predators who keep all women in a state of fear. It is a society where, increasingly, women can and do make false rape accusations and face little or no consequence for destroying, or almost destroying, some innocent man's life.

Not long ago, the families of the crew of the bomber lost near New Guinea were notified that the plane had not gone down in the Pacific, after all. Wreckage of the plane had been located in rugged, jungle-covered mountains on the northern end of the island. Human remains were found. Using DNA testing, all members of the crew were identified and their families in the United States notifed that their soldiers would be coming home at last.

Among the crewmen was a gunner from Georgia by the name of Berthold Chastain, my uncle. I only recently learned of the true story of his sacrifice. Our family is still trying to grasp the new information that he was not lost at sea sixty-seven years ago, as we have believed for so long.

As I contemplate this new chapter in our family history, I can't help but wonder. Is the United States today really what he, and 600,000 others fought for, and so many died for? I cannot help but believe it is not, and for that I am profoundly sorry. As a society, we have not done right by these men.

Welcome home at last, Uncle Bert. Please forgive us.

The story of the last mission of the B-24 bomber, the "Shack Rat" --

*Connie is a member of the FRS team whose column appears here every Friday. Her blog is