Semper WTF: Naked Photos of Female Soldiers Shared by Marines on Secret Facebook Group
U.S. Marines created a secret Facebook group for sharing nude photos of female soldiers.
The group, innocuously named “Marines United,” had more than 30,000 members, and more than two dozen women’s photos had been shared on it. The page also identified each of these women by their full name, rank, and military duty stations. Comments on some of the photos advocated sexually assaulting the women pictured and encouraged any Marine who did so to film it, “for science.”
Some photos were shared directly on the page, while others were accessed via links to a Google Drive account.
Two of the women pictured believe that their photos may have been shared by former partners in an act of revenge porn. Others seem to have been taken without the women’s knowledge or consent. One woman reportedly found out that one of her fellow soldiers was stalking her as a result of the investigation into the group.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has launched an official investigation, and the highest-ranking enlisted service member in the Marines has denounced the group’s activities. Sergeant Major Ronald Green said in a statement to CBS that this kind of behavior “is inconsistent with our Core Values, and it impedes our ability to perform our mission.” Several of the men involved have been fired.
The case comes at an already turbulent time for the military. The scandal broke just two months after three female Marines became the first women to join the infantry and a little over a year since then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter lifted the military’s longstanding ban on women serving in combat roles.
That decision has been subject to controversy, with opponents saying women’s integration is a form of social experiment that will lower combat units effectiveness. Supporters have argued that in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency missions, the division between combat and non-combat roles is illusory, and that many women have already in effect been serving in combat roles. Allowing them to do so officially opens up more potential for women to advance in the ranks. They also point to the successful integration of white and non-white soldiers, another move that was once decried as social engineering. And some researchers have poked holes in the claims that all-male combat units are more effective, undermining the methodology of the studies the military has done so far.
The page has existed since 2015, and reflects the ongoing problems of sexual harassment and assault within the military. Over 20,000 service members were assaulted in 2014, most of them more than once. Most do not report their assaults, in part because many of those who do face retaliation. And some women who have come forward have said that the hypermasculine, bro-y culture of the military means harassment and assault is not taken seriously. Importantly, some of those women have said that they believe they were viewed as less important and less trustworthy than their male colleagues precisely because they were not allowed to serve in combat. They believe those service opportunities could be one way for them to achieve more respect in the ranks.
Carter’s decision to open combat roles to women could be changed under the new administration, whose members are not exactly renowned for their respect for women.Current Defense Secretary James Mattis has spoken out against women serving in combat in the past. President Trump has made it clear that he views harassment and assault to be a natural outcome when you mix men and women in the military, which does not bode well for protections for victims or for women’s further integration into the military.
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Laura has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Arts in International Affairs from Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies. In addition to Reverb Press, she is a contributor at Mic and Medium.