Sunday, January 20, 2013

New rape patrols at US Naval Academy makes male midshipmen feel they are being regarded as potential rapists

The U.S. Naval Academy has instituted a crackdown on its male midshipmen in response to the "Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies," released in December 2012. That report showed a spike in reported cases of sexual violence and assault at other service academies but, ironically, not the Naval Academy, which showed a drop in such reported offenses. The Naval Academy reacted to the news of the drop in reported sexual assault by instituting a policy that makes its male midshipmen feel they are regarded as potential rapists.

Specifically, the Academy has instituted rape patrols. According to a professor at the Naval Academy: "A Second Class midshipman (in civilian terms, a junior) patrols the halls of Bancroft Hall (the mandatory sleeps-all home to our 4,500 students) until after midnight to make sure nobody was being assaulted; a First Class (senior) then takes over until 6 a.m. This is ridiculous for many reasons."

"There are also suddenly mandatory musters in the middle of the night to ensure that students are really trying to sleep rather than do something else."

The professor says the reaction of the student body, male and female, hasn't been good:
Of course . . . the midshipmen are infuriated—as I know by talking to several groups of them in the days that followed the abrupt tightening of the screws. Many of the men feel that they are being told that they are potential rapists; some of the women are groaning at the suggestion that they are, or should be, afraid of their male friends and classmates. "What's the problem?" one woman asked. "I don't feel afraid, and I don't know anybody who is."
The professor thinks the first step to overcoming the atmosphere of repression at the Naval Academy is to end the ban on even consensual sex. "We can't talk with the students to help them negotiate the line between permissible and impermissible sexual acts, simply because for us all are impermissible."

The "all-men-are-potential rapists" shtick has gotten old.  It is a meme that is neither effective policy for nabbing rapists, nor is it by any measure just. And, no, this attitude need not be verbalized to be communicated -- roaming the halls looking for rapists tells the young men at the Academy how their school feels about them. This rape patrol policy not only is bizarre, but as a taxpayer, I find it repugnant that the Naval Academy demonizes and reduces to caricature so many outstanding young men who would never rape anyone but who just want to serve our country.  These young men should not be made to feel that their school looks upon them as potential rapists.