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The problem of sexual harassment and the violation of personal boundaries remains a problem in the U.S. military setting. Therefore, revisiting the existing ethical standards should be deemed as the first step toward managing the problem of sexual violence in the target setting. Therefore, the goal of this paper is to examine the issue of sexual harassment in the U.S. military by analyzing the existing ethical provisions and locating the possible sources of the problem.
The situation with sexual violence in the U.S. military has aggravated significantly over the past few years. While sexual violence toward men has remained quite low, the cases of sexual violence toward women in the army have increased drastically, as the recent statistical data shows (Philipps). Due to the lack of efficacy of the current system and the resulting reluctance among women serving in the army to report about the threats of sexual harassment, the existing code of ethics (SHARP) and the approach toward promoting standards of behavior in the U.S. military have to be reconsidered.
Sexual Harassment in the Army
Among the key factors that lead to sexual harassment in the U.S. Army, one should mention the lack of ethical values and principles that would set tangible boundaries. Although the issue in question is addressed in the Army Regulation guide, direct guidelines for preventing the problem from taking place and meeting the needs of vulnerable groups and victims are not clear. Thus, establishing clear guidelines should be seen as a priority.
In addition, one should mention the current approach toward training the troops as the possible source of the problem. With the reinforcement of gender roles and the enhancement of gender stereotypes, the foundation for the development of attitudes and behaviors attributed to the phenomenon of toxic masculinity is laid (Stander and Thompson 22). As a result, the notion of respect toward personal boundaries of women in the military is eroded, which leads to cases of sexual harassment and violence toward women in the army.
While eradicating sexual violence and harassment from the context of the U.S. Army may currently seem barely possible, there are several tools that could reduce the risks of the phenomenon to a considerable degree. Revisiting SHARP to educate U.S. troops is the first step to be taken toward the intended improvement. Specifically, the role of a commander in addressing a case of sexual harassment has to be increased to reduce the risks. Currently, the role of a commander is restricted mostly to the functions of a support system, the main one being maintaining “EO assistance lines to provide advice and information on unlawful discrimination and sexual harassment” (“Army Command Policy” 52). While the specified task is critical to support victims, strategies for risk mitigation also have to be reinforced. In addition, safety has to be provided to women reporting instances of sexual harassment and violence.
The present situation with sexual violence and harassment in the army remains drastic for the U.S. Combined with the outdated SHARP system of ethics and moral standards in the U.S. Army, the lack of a strong moral compass and leadership that will encourage equality-based relationships creates the breeding ground for the reinforcement of gender stereotypes and violation of personal rights. Therefore, a framework that will allow reporting the cases of sexual violence without the fear of retaliation from perpetrators will help to manage the problem at hand and reduce the degree of threat to which victims are subjected. As a result, the problem of sexual harassment and violence in the American military setting will be addressed.
“Army Command Policy.” NRC.gov. 2008. Web.
Philipps, Dave. “‘This Is Unacceptable.’ Military Reports a Surge of Sexual Assaults in the Ranks.” New York Times, 2019, Web.
Stander, Valerie A., and Cynthia J. Thomsen. “Sexual Harassment and Assault in the US Military: A Review of Policy and Research Trends.” Military Medicine, vol. 181, suppl. 1, 2016, pp. 20-27.