Sexual harassment is something that many women and girls go through. Unfortunately, this type of violence can threaten everyone, regardless of their age, status, orientation, or place of work. Thus, the army is not yet a place where sexual violence does not exist, on the contrary, it is a serious and urgent problem. As the number of sexual assaults and harassment continues to increase steadily, the development of specific programs and projects is critical. The Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program (SHARP) was created for this purpose. This initiative is a proactive program of the US Army, which aims to stop all kinds of sexual violence in the military. This particular program should have a positive impact on the current situation in the US Army, creating a safe environment for all employees there.
Finding the reasons for the high level of sexual harassment in the military is quite a time-consuming process. However, it is believed that the main blame lies on the deep social problems of American society. Initially, women’s military service was limited to quotas, as well as professional and legal restrictions. Thus, there was a situation in which women were excluded from the main processes of service, as a result of which a special relationship was born between them and male commanders (Rosenstein et al., 2018). Among other things, the army is traditionally a very masculine place, where strict hierarchy and division rule. Hence, sexual violence against women in the military directly depends on their status as a minority in a predominantly masculine collective. In the same sense, men who do not correspond to hegemonic masculinity and represent the subsidized type of masculinity also suffer (Rosenstein et al., 2018). In other words, hegemonic masculinity is based on dominance over women and marginal masculinity. Thus, it is this kind of masculinity that leads to a continued increase in the level of sexual harassment in the army.
The SHARP program specifically addresses all types of sexual harassment and violence in the military. Moreover, this program reinforces the army’s actions to prevent cases of violence through special training. Members of the military should recognize signs that someone is being abused, as well as have special preventive skills. However, despite the fact that SHARP meets all the standards of the US Army, the program does not show outstanding results. The level of violence continues to grow, and the number of new cases of sexual harassment increases. The recent death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, who according to her family was repeatedly subjected to sexual harassment, confirms that SHARP needs to be refined (Rempfer, 2020). In order to most effectively address a problem such as sexual harassment in the military, SHARP should pay attention to the root of the issue. Thus, the prevention of violence should begin with the elimination of masculinity in the army, which is traditionally imposed on cadets, military personnel, and commanders.
In conclusion, the problem of sexual violence affects all professional spheres of activity, and the army is no exception in this regard. The implanted hegemonic masculinity and traditional gender issues concerning the military are the primary reason for the continued increase in sexual violence. For this reason, in order for SHARP to become an effective program that can really fix this problem, the roots must be examined. Sexual violence and harassment are unacceptable practices that should not exist in today’s civilized society. For this reason, the army leadership should use all possible methods to combat such a drastic problem.
Rempfer, K. (2020). Sexual assault and harassment prevention program ‘hasn’t achieved its mandate,’ says army secretary. ArmyTimes.
Rosenstein, J. E., Angelis, K. D., McCone, D. R., & Carroll, M. H. (2018). Sexual assault and sexual harassment at the US military service academies. Military Psychology, 30(3), 206-218.