I may be a bit late to the conversation, but it is impossible for me not to comment on the infuriating statements made by Liz Trotta on Fox News about the staggering 64% increase in sexual assaults against women in the military since 2006. Responding to reports from the Pentagon about women serving in combat, Trotta complained that money is being wasted on women in the military who are “raped too much.” The statements by the Fox News pundit well demonstrate the existence of rape culture within our society and the continued problem of victim blaming and double victimization experienced by women who have been raped.
In her rant, Trotta claimed that women want to be “warriors and victims at the same time.” She argued that women who want to serve in the military should expect to be raped and not raise such a fuss about it. She also alleged that “feminists” have demanded too much money to fund programs for sexual abuse victims.
“I think they have actually discovered that there is a difference between men and women. And the sexual abuse report says that there has been, since 2006, a 64% increase in violent sexual assaults. Now, what did they expect? These people are in close contact, the whole airing of this issue has never been done by Congress, it’s strictly been a question of pressure from the feminists… You have this whole bureaucracy upon bureaucracy being built up with all kinds of levels of people to support women in the military who are now being raped too much.”
First, I must ask, is there an acceptable amount of rape? Trotta’s tone is outrageous as she implies that we should expect rape to occur if women and men are going to be in such “close contact” with each other. Rape is not about sex; it is about violence. Thus, the disturbing notion that men in the military rape because they cannot control their sexual urges is one that is ill-informed (not to mention a major insult to all men!).
Earlier this week when Trotta defended her statements, she went on to support the male pressure cooker theory – the idea that men who rape are victims of their own inability to control their sexual urges – and claimed that men who do not rape are simply being polite:
“I certainly did not say all military men are rapists. What I believe and tried to express — apparently not well enough — is that the environment of combat, by definition, sets up a situation where basic instincts rule. The niceties of male-female interaction fade in this arena and any scientist will tell you that testosterone rules. If common sense won’t be applied to the whole question of women in the forces consider the escalating incidents of sexual abuse at the three military academies.”
According to the Fox News pundit, not being raped is a “nicety.”
The views Trotta promotes speak to the central issue that results in gender based-violence – an androcentric view of women. While some have claimed that women have achieved “equality,” Liz Trotta’s comments well demonstrates that those ideas are false. It is views like Trotta’s – which are supported by Fox News – that support and perpetuate the rape culture; they continue beliefs that women deserve to be raped, rapists are victims of their own sexual drive, and society should stop wasting resources on women who have experienced sexual victimization.
It is truly devastating that Trotta has a platform to encourage change but instead uses it to perpetuate ideas that support violence against women. My question – why is Trotta still on the air? Why has Fox News not addressed her hate speech? Certainly other public personalities have been suspended or fired for making intolerant comments. Roland Martin was suspended from CNN for an anti-gay tweet; ESPN anchor Max Bretos was suspended for making a racist statement; Rick Sanchez was fired from CNN for making anti-Semitic comments (and for calling Jon Stewart a bigot). In fact, it seems it is unacceptable to make intolerant comments about any group – that is, any group except women. In the 21st century, the oppression of women continues to be an acceptable form of hate. I wonder, when will this change?
For additional information on rape culture see Buchwald, Emilie, Pamela Fletcher, and Martha Roth. ed.Transforming a Rape Culture. Minneapolis: Milkweed, 1993.
Gina Messina-Dysert, Ph.D.: Feminist theologian, ethicist, and activist, Gina received her Ph.D. in religion at Claremont Graduate University focused in the areas of women’s studies in religion and theology, ethics, and culture. She is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics at Loyola Marymount University and Co-founder and Co-director of Feminism and Religion. Gina has authored multiple articles, the forthcoming book Rape Culture and Spiritual Violence, and is a contributor to the Rock and Theology project sponsored by the Liturgical Press. Her research interests are theologically and ethically driven, involve a feminist and interdisciplinary approach, and are influenced by her activist roots and experience working with survivors of rape and domestic violence. Gina can be followed on Twitter @FemTheologian and her website can be accessed at http://ginamessinadysert.com.