Rape Culture in the Military

What is rape culture and how does it relate to sexual assault in the military?

First of all, rape culture is a “society [that blames] victims of sexual assault and [normalizes] male sexual violence” (“What Is Rape Culture?”). Rape culture unfortunately is consistently exemplified in cases of military sexual assault, in which the victim is faulted for being raped and the perpetrator goes unpunished. Thus, rape culture in the military, in regard to sexual assault, relates back to feminist theory in that, women’s stories and lives are not believed, respected, or treated as equal to men’s. The idea that “Boys will be boys” is accepted, while women and girls are made to shoulder the blame, is seen both in society as a whole, and specifically within the military.

Based on a study overseen by the Pentagon, it was determined that “18,900 soldiers, sailors, Marines and Air Force personnel said they were victims of ‘unwanted sexual contact’ in the 2014 fiscal year” (Holmes). For beginners, it is estimated that 80% of victims never report the assault which comes to an estimated 16,150 of unreported cases (The Invisible War). Similarly, approximately 40% of homeless female veterans have been raped during service, contributing to cases of depression and severe cases of PTSD (The Invisible War).


It is because of the flawed system, referred to as the “command-centric military legal system,” which allows commanders to deal with cases rather than lawyers. As a result, many assaults are mishandled and swept under the rug (“Military Sexual Violence”). We will further explore this flawed military “justice” in the next post.

In the graphic above, SAPR refers to the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response organization, coordinated by the United States Department of Defense. This graphic show the incomprehensible number of estimated sexual assaults in 2012, contrasted with the very few cases that ever make it to trial.

Hannah Mapes



“What Is Rape Culture.” Wavaw.ca. Women Against Violence Against Women, n.d. Web. <http://www.wavaw.ca/what-is-rape-culture/&gt;.

Holmes, Steven A. “Sharp Decrease of Sexual Assault in Military, Study Finds.”Cnn.com. CNN Politics, 1 May 2015. Web. <http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/01/politics/military-sexual-assault-report/&gt;

The Invisible War. Dir. Kirby Dick. Perf. Amy Zeiring, Kirby Dick, Kori Cioca, Jessica Hinves. Docuramafilms and Cinedigm Entertainment Group, 2012. Film.

“Military Sexual Violence.” Servicewomen.org. Service Women’s Action Network, n.d. Web. <http://servicewomen.org/military-sexual-violence/&gt;.

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