In Thursday’s paper, the New York Times ran the harrowing story of Tiffany Jackson, a female veteran grappling with the effects of military sexual trauma. Jackson had been violently raped while deployed overseas at the Suwon Air Base in South Korea, and upon her return to the states had difficulty finding and keeping a job, struggled with drugs and alcohol and fought uphill battles to keep her anger at bay. All of which, according to a growing consensus of researchers and psychologists, are common manifestations of post-traumatic stress disorder brought about by M.S.T.
But expert opinion is not enough to convince the scribes at National Review Online, which issued its own rebuttal to the Times piece and proclaimed — without a shred of evidence — that the hardships befallen upon Jackson and as many as 1 in 5 of all female servicemembers are attributable to their upbringing in underprivileged communities and not to their sexual assaults. And they engage in an especially pernicious form of victim-blaming in the process:
Now here is a tentative alternative hypothesis: Some of these women come from environments that made their descent into street life overdetermined, whether or not they experienced alleged sexual assault in the military. To blame alleged sexual assault for their fate rather than their own bad decision-making is ideologically satisfying, but mystifying. Having children out of wedlock, as a huge proportion of them do, also does not help in avoiding poverty and homelessness…
But let’s say that for these homeless female vets, it really was their sexual experiences in the military that caused their downward spiral into, as the Times puts it, “alcohol and substance abuse, depression and domestic violence.” Why then have those same feminists who are now lamenting the life-destroying effects of “MST” insisted on putting women into combat units?
Writer Heather MacDonald fails to acknowledge once in her almost 1000-word post that there is a problem at all, preferring instead to leverage the horrific rate of sexual assault and violent rape against women in the military as a means to attack gender equality in the armed forces. Nastier still, she attacks the “feminists” who are fighting for greater accountability and protections for the thousands of women who enlist.
Of course, the National Review Online has a strong lineage of sexist, misogynistic and racist remarks. In January, the conservative publication blamed the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting on the fact that women ran the school, and for years kept author John Derbyshire in their employ despite vocally questioning whether or not women should have the right to vote.