Thursday, July 14, 2022

Sexual Assault in the IDF

IDF soldiers in a mixed gender unit (TOI)
Sometimes political correctness (PC) can be our worst enemy. I am not dismissing it in its entirety.. There are valid reasons to be PC in some cases. If for example a minority feels uncomfortable being referred to with certain appellations, it is only fair to respect that and refer to them as they wish to be referred.

But being PC can sometimes result in tragedy. This is not an exaggeration. This is particularly true in the area of feminism as it is currently defined. Which is better called egalitarianism – the idea that men and women are equal in all respects except for their genitalia. And therefore any and all aspects of societal participation is as legitimate for one as it is for the other - without exception. 

There is not a doubt in my mind that this is a fallacy. A fallacy which Judaism recognizes. Without going into the variety of all the differences, I want to focus on one very important one: sexuality. 

Psychologists have long ago correctly determined that the human sex drive is very strong in both sexes. But it is not expressed in the same way. In the vast majority of cases men are more aggressive in acting on sexual impulses than are women. I think that is evidenced by the vastly greater number of sexual assaults by men against women that women against men. 

Judaism recognizes the power of the sex drive and therefore requires a number of precautions designed to minimize sexual contact. One very important one being Hilchos Yichud – the law that essentially forbids a man and a woman (who aren’t married to each other) to seclude themselves alone in a room together. The sex drive being what it is may draw them together into a promiscuous relationship – or even a one night stand. 

Although Yichud is designed to prevent even consensual sex, it also minimizes the incidence of sexual assault. The counter argument that Yichud is not the issue and that sexual assault can and does often happen regardless - is true.  But it is also true that it eliminates at least one avenue of assault.  

It is also true that sexual assault is a stand alone issue that has been insufficiently dealt with – even today with all the progress we’ve made. But that doesn’t mean that a few simple precautions along the line of Jewish law would not benefit - even non Jewish women – and reduce the incidences of assault.

 All of which brings me to a troubling article in the Jerusalem Post which in part says the following

As the Israeli military continues to grapple with cases of sexual assault, data shown to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee revealed that despite thousands of complaints. only 31 indictments were filed in 2020.

The IDF released figures of sexual assault for 2020 in February of last year. A total of 1,542 complaints were made, including 26 cases of rape, 391 obscene acts, and 92 cases of distributing photos and videos.

In comparison, there were 1,239 complaints filed in 2019, and 514 complaints filed in 2012. 

Obviously the point being made by the Post is about the woefully low number of indictments compared to complaints. That is indeed a troubling problem that grossly short changes the rights of women in the Israeli military. It will very likely increase the number of assaults since the fear of consequences are so low. 

But I am more concerned about the high number of assaults reported each year. I believe that number would be substantially reduced if common sense would be applied in how military service for men and women is executed by the state. Which should not be done the way it is now. It should instead be done by requiring separate units for men and for women. 

While there will still be incidences of sexual assault, I am thoroughly convinced that the numbers would be substantially reduced if that were done. How can they not be if the contact between them is substantially reduced? 

It is true that men need to learn how to control their impulses. But it is also true that if you reduce the contact between the sexes it will reduce the number of men acting on them. 

I strongly believe that today’s PC version of feminism increases the number of sexual assaults causing unnecessary misery to the lives of women that would have been spared that trauma. And the humiliation of the military establishment - with rare exception - practically ignoring accusations of by women who were assaulted!

This is not to say that I am against military service for women. I am enough of a feminist to believe that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. But I also believe that the more men and women serve together, the greater the chance of assault. I am also opposed to women in any combat roles at all for additional reasons which are beyond the scope of this post. But surely they can serve in non combat roles which are separated from their male counterparts as much as possible.  I realize that there will be some instances where that might be impossible. But to the extent that it is, that policy should be implemented. 

I still maintain that I am a feminist. The old fashioned kind that defines it as treating women with the same dignity as men and treating them equally in the market place of salary demands. There is no way that women should be paid less than a man for the same job. This is yet to be fully corrected even our more politically correct times. But egalitarianism goes well beyond human dignity and equality in the workplace. Which I believe contributes to the high number of assaults taking place in the military. 

True, I am a ‘geezer’ - and  I grant  that my views of feminism are archaic. But I nevertheless believe that women will be much better served if they are not placed in situations where they are more vulnerable to assault. Too bad that the egalitarian spirit of the times will not permit it.