The “Culture” In The Marine Scandal Exists Because It’s Allowed To

It really is that simple, and it applies to all of our armed services branches. Think about it. What is the mission when new recruits show up? What is the point of boot camp? The mission and the point is to create uniform behavior, to train future servicemen/women to follow orders. Not following orders = big trouble. Apparently not in all cases, tho.

The marines could solve this problem if they wanted to. Listening to the testimony yesterday I was struck by how wishy-washy Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller came across. Here are some of his statements:

“This is a problem with our culture,” Neller responded. “I don’t have a good answer for you. I’m not going to sit here and duck around this thing. I’m not. I’m responsible. I’m the Commandant. I own this, and we’re going to have to change how we see ourselves and how we treat each other. That’s a lame answer, but ma’am, that’s the best I can tell you right now. We’ve got to change, and that’s on me.”

“What more do women have to do to be accepted into the Marine Corps?” Neller asked in his opening statement, in which he mentioned five female Marines who recently died in combat zones. “We’ve got to earn [female Marines’] belief that they’re going to get the same opportunity as anybody else to compete and to be the best person they can be. We need to “earn the trust, of them, of this committee, and of the American people.”

“To the men in our Corps, serving today, and those who no longer wear the uniform: You’re still Marines. I need you to ask yourselves, how much more do the females of our Corps have to do to be respected? …. What is it going to take to accept these Marines as Marines?”

He blames a culture – a culture that he controls. Then he expands the issue beyond the revenge porn, lack of consent and harassment by saying:

“I own this, and we’re going to have to change how we see ourselves and how we treat each other. That’s a lame answer, but ma’am, that’s the best I can tell you right now.”

That is a lame answer. How we see ourselves? How we treat each other? That’s called expanding the specific problem (how marines are treating women) by diluting it.

He says we need to earn their (women marines) trust? – I have no idea what he means by that statement.  He appeals “to the men in our Corps” to ask themselves “how much more do the females of our Corps have to do to be respected? …. What is it going to take to accept these Marines as Marines?”

Really? These men in the Corp have a say in what women marines (who completed the requirements to be marines, and are, you know, actual marines) need to do to be accepted? What’s it going to take? Come on men of the Corp, tell us what more women marines have to do. Here’s my suggestion: It’s going to take making an example of the men participating in this behavior to change the accepted culture. Start punishing the culprits and watch how fast this “culture” changes (btw, the culture he’s referring to is the same old “boys will be boys” excuse).

Imagine if the marines treated insubordination or going AWOL the way they’re treating this behavior. Yep, we’re back to rules, and marines are trained to follow orders. Maybe, the Commandant of the Marine Corps could start by issuing an order? Commandants and other higher ups like issuing orders. That’s pretty much a big part of their job. Wringing your hands over this situation won’t accomplish anything – other than letting the behavior continued. Which seems to be the path we’re on.

If you haven’t seen the exchange between Senator Gillibrand and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller it’s worth your time to watch. Gillibrand pulls no punches. Good.


Gillibrand was not satisfied with Neller’s statements.

“We have countless victims who have come forward, and they’re not just being harassed online,” she said, her voice rising in intensity. “Once their name, face, where they’re stationed is posted, do you think the harassment ends online? It doesn’t. I spoke to a civilian yesterday who has continued to be harassed in her community because her ex-boyfriend exploited her online…so I have to say when you say to us, ‘It’s got to be different,’ that rings hollow.”

It does ring hollow. Basically you have Neller shrugging and acting like there’s nothing he can do – it’s a cultural thing and his plan amounts to appealing the men of the Corps better angels. Hollow is a generous description.

True heroes (you know, like The Few, The Proud) protect people. They don’t exploit and harass them. And if this is the way the marines behave toward their own, you have to wonder how they behave overseas. Think about that.

28 comments on “The “Culture” In The Marine Scandal Exists Because It’s Allowed To

  1. What was really interesting is that the Commandant had not answer to Gillenbrand’s question re: who is held accountable.

    Military culture doesn’t change with an order, but does change with insisting on a certain standard of behavior and providing rigid accountability for not meeting that standard. It is one of the reasons why (at least the Army) was better at racial integration. Military commanders pushed back hard on Gillenbrand when she wanted to take rape and sexual assault prosecutions out of the hands of Commanders. They assured her that they could manage it better and could change their culture without civilian law enforcement.

    But you are right — the fact that women are still subject to this kind of abuse is because the military allows it to go on.

    • He wouldn’t answer her question because no one is being held accountable. And I doubt anyone will be held to account.

      • I don’t know if they could track down the owners of that FB account or even the uploaders of pictures, but starting name names and publically discipline them would be a major step.

  2. delacrat

    If you’re serious about rape in the Marine corp, you’d be calling for disbanding the corp, or at the very least, calling for women to make a-day-without-a-woman a permanent thing for the Marines.

    • That’s one of the most ridiculous comments ever written.

      • delacrat

        What’s ridiculous is your premise is that the Marine corp mission is to “protect people”. Ever heard of Haditha?

  3. Don’t look now, but it’s apparently more widespread than one Facebook page:

    • Ugh. This is not surprising one bit. From the article Alby linked to:

      “Last week, Business Insider learned from a source that members of all branches of the military have been posting hundreds of nude, unauthorized-for-sharing photos of female service members on a site called AnonIB since at least May of 2016. A Navy Times investigation published Tuesday revealed that 4Chan and Tumblr also host archives of nude photos. Some of the photos were posted in response to requests made for photos of specific women.

      In all these groups of service members, users could ask for “wins”—naked photos—targeting specific women stationed anywhere in the world, and other users would try to track them down, sometimes through ex-lovers.”

      It’s a sport to them. Women are targets.

      “Neller encouraged more female targets of online abuse to come forward, claiming that it may be hard to prosecute some perpetrators because of free-speech and privacy protections.


      Putting the onus on victims of the network of exploitation to go public or notify military higher-ups is a troubling response to this far-reaching problem. Survivors of military sexual assault often face backlash from colleagues, obstacles to advancement, and blacklisting in a hierarchical, 93 percent male military branch that is built to give perpetrators the overwhelming benefit of the doubt.”

      Report what happened, but don’t expect anything to happen? That’s hardly a way to address the problem. It is, however, a great way to make sure women don’t come forward.

      And the reason why the marines should be allowed to post and comment on these pictures? Exploiting women without their consent prevents suicide.

      “According to reporting from the Marine Corps Times, members have defended the Marines United group as a way to prevent suicide and help troops recover from post-traumatic stress disorder. Reddit user MUActual, who claimed to be a group administrator, posted the group’s policy on nude photos last year. He wrote that “explicit” content is allowed, and if members would like to share nude photos of their exes or significant others, they should ask for permission from the women first. Still, “under the fair use policy and laws regarding the ownership of digital media, [members] are not required to do so,” the administrator added. “At worst,” he went on, the photos are “juvenile, but exactly what you would expect from the kind of men who have experienced what less than one tenth of one percent of the population has experienced.” [emphasis mine]

      These men do not see women as human. They are simply objects to be exploited. And it’s no surprise to see Reddit and 4Chan listed in this article.

  4. It is hard to call it grandstanding when she asks serious questions about the safety of female Marines and the Commandant can’t answer her. It is a disgrace and his lack of an ability to answer any of her questions on accountability and changing the culture pretty much acknowledges that.

    • She doesn’t want a solid answer. She wants to be known as a keepin’-it-real congresswoman. She wants to pick apart the Commandant of the Marine Corps and look like a hard ass while doing it. She wants to look like someone who has everything that is entrusted to her in perfect order, and walk off stage to an applause. Just as men used women to satisfy their anger and lust and thus created this situation, this woman is using them for her personal political gain.

      The issue of lust and objectification has been an issue since the time of Christ, and before then. Men like myself and others who have either occasionally or regularly inappropriately used the images of women to serve our selfish desires, whether for revenge or gratification or otherwise, are not exclusive to the Marine Corps. The issue is bigger than the Commandant or the Corps. That doesn’t mean it’s not an issue, but it does mean it’s one that the Commandant will not solve by himself.

      Men need to be men, and if anything good comes from this, it will be that we will see that a boy does not become a man when he becomes a Marine. He becomes a man when he submits himself to the foremost example of a strong, powerful, safe and secure man. Namely, Christ.

      I do not understand why no one seems to want to ask the women involved, particularly those who created these photos intentionally, whether or not they may have been mistaken. Are they not victims of their own choices, at least in part?

      • Andrew is diluting through expansion. Of course this behavior is bigger than the marine corp., but this post was written about the article linked to. This story is about specific incidents in the marines. It’s about a hearing on what happened in the marines. And since when is asking the person in charge how they are handling the situation and who has been held accountable grandstanding? That’s Investigation 101. Not sure how you’d expect a hearing on this to go.

        And, no, the women aren’t responsible. Unless one views them as community property.

        • Andrew doesn’t know Senator Gillenbrand’s record here, either. She was at the forefront to move rape prosecutions to civilians rather than the military in an effort to get them taken seriously. If the Commandant had actually given a solid answer he could have blunted all of the Senator’s (righteous) fury. Unless, of course, you are making the case that the male Commandant shouldn’t have to answer to the (female) United States Senator.

        • I mean most of them took the pictures of themselves. Maybe they didn’t know what might happen with those photos, which seems a little naive, but let’s at least acknowledge the simple fact that this could not have happened without (for most of them) their cooperation. Not that it makes the actions of some men more justified.

          And anyway, given the number of Marines who are not active duty but are veterans, isn’t this really an American man issue than it is a Marine Corps issue?

          Are you raising your son to respect and appreciate women?

        • So what if they took the pictures of themselves? Those photos were not posted with their consent. Which I gather means that you do think that these women are community property.

        • Prop Joe

          If someone is fond of saying that a boy “becomes a man when he submits himself to the foremost example of a strong, powerful, safe and secure man. Namely, Christ.”, then it’s not much of stretch for me to believe they also believe all of the other “Women are a Subordinate Gender” bullshit which the creative fiction writers known as the Apostles spun into being in the years following Jesus’ alleged death.

      • delacrat

        “Men like myself and others who have either occasionally or regularly inappropriately used the images of women…”


        If you ever tire of looking at “images of women”, consider reading Marine Corp Major General Smedley Butler’s account as a “muscle man for Big Business”; “raping half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street” and ask yourself if “… they are not without blemish” is an obscene understatement.

      • Prop Joe

        You lost credibility when you gave us “He becomes a man when he submits himself to the foremost example of a strong, powerful, safe and secure man. Namely, Christ.” The idea that a boy becomes a man when he submits himself to Jesus is a myopic, self-aggrandizing, zealotous statement meant to elevate oneself while denigrating those who follow a different religion or who don’t buy into the human-spun yarn that man is only saved through faith/submission in Christ.

        • Us? Who do you represent?

          Heaven forbid I lose credibility in the comments section.

        • Prop Joe

          I have been self-appointed as the representative of a group loosely known as “Men Who Believe They Are Responsible For Themselves and Women Are Free To Decide Their Lives For Themselves”… We’re trying to come up with a better title, but that’s all we’ve got in the interim.

          Certainly, one shouldn’t care about credibility in a comments section. I would hope they have more important concerns in their lives… But when you start proselytizing by way of ridiculous tangential explanations for why rape in the military is a problem, well, you just reveal yourself to be a zealot.

        • How does one dismiss a comment section while writing in a comment section?

  5. ” He becomes a man when he submits himself to the foremost example of a strong, powerful, safe and secure man. Namely, Christ.”

    Hardly seems like much of a “strong, powerful, safe and secure man” to me, even as a fictional character. He never married. He never raised children. And without Saul of Tarsus to make him up out of whole cloth, he would have died a failure.

    You are responsible for yourself. Don’t credit Christ, don’t blame Christ — he’s an idea, not an actual person. Hope that clears things up for you.

    • I bring up the failure of Jesus of Nazareth to marry or procreate because in Jewish society of the time, a 33-year-old man who had done neither was not considered to be doing his duty as a Jewish man.

      I salute your journey of self-knowledge. Military indoctrination is not easy to overcome, and it takes a lot of courage to discard what is, in effect, brainwashing. Godspeed.

      • I’m pretty sure saving the world from its sins eternally was of slightly higher priority than marrying.

        And I don’t mean to discard all that military service gave me. There were many valuable characteristics it developed within me, for which I will always be grateful. As might you if you realized how it served and serves you.

  6. This is word salad masquerading as a question. Your question is whether Christ would approve of the morality of men who would steal the pictures of women, and then post them specifically to denigrate them. I suspect he would steer you back to the Do Unto Others idea.

    • It was two questions, not meant to be confusing and not in need of translation or reinterpretation.

      • Certainly meant to deflect away from the question at hand. Because I doubt that even you would think that Jesus would find this behavior of these men towards their colleagues at all acceptable.

        • He would rightly identify the behavior as one indicative of a brief structure that does not trust in and submit to him, and thus condemns the perpetrator to hell. He would identify the behavior as unacceptable–not the person.

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