Earlier this month, the news broke that the Marine Corp. was investigating branch members use of Facebook to post pictures of female service members in the nude. The Department of Defense is now investigating other military branches that may have been involved with “sharing and soliciting” nude photos of military women. The article explains that these photos posted to social media were considered “wins” and goes on to say that the Marine-run page “had hundreds of these “wins,” as members took requests for photos of specific women, identified them by name and rank, and targeted them with sexual, violent comments.”
This is obviously abhorrent, and raises a lot of questions about our culture and the consistent display of sexual dominance over women. Any branch of the military is male-dominated, so why do these particular men feel it important to widely, humiliatingly, assert power over these women who are simply there for a common cause: to defend and protect the country that they love? Because that is what this is. It is an assertion of power. It isn’t just “boys being boys” because these are men. And while men are certainly entitled sexual thoughts, desires, and impulses, they should not be targeting women and taking pictures of them when they are vulnerable, when they have no other choice but to trust their environment and fellow service members.
There are many people who feel that feminism is a useless cause that brings nothing but hysteria. To those people I say: this is why we need feminism. Because even though words, and subliminal actions, and toxic thoughts, and pictures posted on a Facebook group does not physically hurt someone, it is naive to say that these things do not harm our mothers, our sisters, and our society.
I think this also raises an interesting question about responsibility when it comes to social media and technology. We often think of middle school students when we think of cyber bullying, but do we think of full grown men with a Facebook account? Even the issue of “revenge porn” has an element of purpose–to humiliate someone who you perceived wronged you. But this? The only motive here seems to be, as I’ve said before, an assertion of dominance over people who should be respected and viewed as equals.