In March, it came out that the Defense Department was investigating reports that veteran and enlisted Marines had joined a private Facebook page called “Marines United,” where they shared photographs of women—some clothed, some not—many of whom were their colleagues in the Marines, without their consent. Since then, it has come out that this group has a stash of over 30,000 photos, and multiple attempts to remove them have been unsuccessful; alternate versions of the original group keep popping up.
On this week’s (and next week’s) episodes of Big Time Dicks, Prachi and I are taking an in-depth look at the Marines United nude photo scandal, and on sexual assault in the military in general. Joining us this week are two women who have been on the ground fighting for women marines: famed civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, and Miranda Petersen, executive director of Protect Our Defenders, an organization dedicated to fighting sexual assault in the military.
“Women are not footnotes to history,” Allred told us. “We are the majority, and we have the right to respect and dignity and to have our voices heard. There can be no meaningful change without hearing from victims, whose lives have been endangered by posts which suggest they should be killed by ‘friendly fire’ or raped or sexually assaulted.”
Petersen also spoke about survivors, noting that most don’t come forward because they are likely to face repercussions on personal and professional levels.
“One of the misconceptions is that the Marines United scandal is this isolated incident. But really, the issue of nonconsensual pornography and the proliferation of these Facebook groups goes well beyond Marines United and has existed for a lot longer.”
She continued: “There’s clearly a culture within the Marine Corps that denigrates women, that really plays down their contributions to the service, and they also have a much higher rate of sexual violence than the other services.”
Since we recorded the podcast, the US Navy Regulations, which govern both the Navy and the Marines, have been updated to officially outlaw the distribution of an “intimate image” without the subject’s consent.
“The addition of Article 1168 ‘Nonconsensual distribution or broadcasting of an image’ to Navy Regulations serves to underscore leadership’s commitment to eliminating degrading behaviors that erode trust and weaken the Navy and Marine Corps Team,” Rear Admiral Dawn Cutler told BuzzFeed News. “It provides commanders another tool to maintain good order and discipline by holding sailors and Marines accountable for inappropriate conduct in the nonconsensual sharing of intimate imagery.”
But there is plenty more to do, which is why next week, we’re going to be speaking with Rep. Jackie Speier about legislation she’s pushing to make revenge porn illegal, for service members and civilians alike.
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